That Is That: Essays About True Nature
Being in the Present Moment
WHAT IS THIS MOMENT’S TREASURE?
What is this moment’s treasure? There is so much happening right now as you read these words.
Thoughts, feelings, desires, sensations, and the whole world of objects and events are all taking place
in this very moment. And yet, we often look outside this moment for happiness, satisfaction,
freedom, and even our true nature. When you look outside of what is actually happening, all you can
ever find is an idea or a fantasy. That's what not being in the present moment means, not that you are
actually somewhere else, but that you are looking somewhere else. The only other place to look is in
your own mind, at a story about another time, or even a story about the present moment.
The tricky thing is that our stories are very convincing. The mind is a good storyteller. And
every now and then, one of our stories comes true: The thing we were imagining actually happens,
although never exactly as we imagined it. And if we are honest, we have to admit that this is quite
rare. However, any psychology student will tell you that an intermittent reward is more powerful as a
reinforcement than even a constant reward. We are so powerfully rewarded when a story our mind
tells comes true that we simply overlook the many times our stories turn out to be irrelevant.
Where is there a more constant reward? What can we pay attention to that is accurate and true?
One thing we can say about our present moment experience is that it's always accurate and true. We
don't have to wonder if it's going to come true or not, since it already has! So the content of our
present moment experience is always true. Even the thoughts we are having in the present moment
are truly thoughts. It is undeniably true that we are thinking whatever we are thinking, even if the
content of the thought is not true. So every experience we are having right now is a true experience.
It has some reality and significance, unlike the content of our thoughts, which may or may not have
If our present moment experience is always real and true, why do we pay so little attention to it?
Why aren’t we filled with wonder and curiosity about this endless parade of true, real experiences
showing up in every moment? That fact that we aren't fascinated by what's happening in the present
moment isn't due to any lack in the present moment but to the simple misunderstanding that we think
that what matters is what happens, when what makes a moment satisfying and worthwhile is the
awareness of what happens.
If our focus is completely on what is happening, then there's always something better that could
be happening instead. And since our minds are good at telling us what could or should be happening
instead, we tend to focus on what could or should be happening. If what matters is what happens,