Nothing exists at any time other than right now.
Except in the perception of the mind, there is no past or future – only the present moment.
It can be a difficult concept to grasp, since, as humans, we’ve been conditioned to regard time as three distinctive, separate phases: past, present and future.
The power of present awareness – of living in the moment – is unleashed when we leave the mental realms of past and future and experience true life, which is always right now, in the present.
Our ego – that part of our thinking which causes all our emotional pain - is essentially a malfunctioning of the mind. The egoic mind has an addiction to past and future, but it’s a phantom entity that doesn’t actually exist, beyond being a pattern of electricity buzzing in our brains.
If you fully engage yourself in the present moment, the ego ceases to be. All emotional pain stops. All your fears fall away. All your hurtful memories vanish.
Understanding and practicing this has cured me of depression. It’s transformed me from living a shadow existence and hating life, to being a happy, optimistic and content man.
I don’t use the word ‘cure’ lightly. I suffered for more than half my life with crippling, often suicidal depression and now it’s gone.
Some people get really annoyed with me when I write about depression. One person even suggested that, since I hadn’t actually committed suicide, I could never really have been suicidal and probably was never depressed at all – perhaps just a bit down in the dumps or something.
I spent more than 20 years of my life crawling through that hell, with only very brief lucid periods of what – at the time - I described as happiness, but even those bright flashes of life were nothing compared to the joy I experience now, nearly every day.
(If anyone has a problem with that statement, then tough titties. I’m still cured.)
But I digress…
One of the common arguments I often hear against the truth that there is only the present moment would be something like: “But I just read your Tweet from two hours ago, which proves that the past exists.”
The thing is, when did that person read my Tweet? Was it two hours earlier than their present moment, or was it in their present moment?
In, of course.
Here’s a way to look at it:
The Great Wall of China was built around 2200 years ago.
Although it existed 2200 years ago, it doesn’t exist then. It exists now.
And despite the fact that it may very well still be existing in another thousands years, it doesn’t actually exist in 1000 years hence… it exists now.
If someone flew out, today, to whichever country The Great Wall of China is in, took a photo, then flew back, perhaps they’d say: “Here’s proof that The Great Wall of China exists – rather than existed or will exist. I stood there and took it myself.” (Of course, it wouldn’t be proof at all – it would only be proof that a photo of The Great Wall of China exists in my present moment.)
At which moment did they take that photo, though? Their present moment, at the time, which had now become just a memory.
Everything is done in the present moment, simply because there’s no other place.
Now, life wouldn’t be too traumatic if these arguments were always over travel destinations and interesting structures… it’s when traumatic events and situations occur, and are held on to that problems begin to manifest in our minds.
This is an extreme example, but say you witnessed a fatal road accident and you saw stuff you simply didn’t ever want to see – the car set on fire and you heard screaming from within, then silence…
… your brain records it all, and in a way far surpassing any man-made technology we have available to us.
Hours, days, months and even years later, this event could still be causing you serious emotional damage – playing over and over and over again in your mind - yet, the event doesn’t exist in your present moment.
Then, someday – and however much the recollection of the crash hurts when you mind drifts into replay mode – something beautiful and breathtaking catches your eye… glowing golden clouds lit by a Sunset, say… and for a few seconds you’re just there… just being… awed by the sight.
For an instant, your mind stops reminding you of the horror in your memories and you escape into the present moment. All of your troubles fall away.
However, without the awareness that this can be controlled, the memories will soon come back and begin their looping play to you, again.
Unconscious living (in the ego, in the past and future) is like walking around carrying a box of photographs of things you want to forget, but you obsessively look at them, over and over again.
Conscious living (present awareness, living in the moment) gives you the ability to choose when to look at the photos, or not look at them at all.
Depression is a constant, obsessive cycle of mental negativity.
The cure for depression lies in breaking that cycle and letting go of the thoughts that cause you pain.
Just two years ago, I never thought I’d escape from that agonising maelstrom.
Now, through present awareness, I’m cured.
I’m sure some people will be rankled by me saying this, but this is my reality.