Like small children, those of us on a spiritual path sometimes want to tug on the sleeve of those walking nearby and ask, “Are we there yet? Are we any closer to enlightenment?” Perhaps the question should be rephrased: “Are we here yet?” Because as long as we see enlightenment as a goal and oneness with God as a destination, we will be forever on the path. “There” seems to imply an ending, the achievement of an intention, the reaching of a final destination, whereas “here” is more about the present moment, right before us. “Be here now,” Ram Dass wrote. In truth, we are always living in the “here” of eternity, an infinite present in which time does not exist. The problem is we can’t recognize it because our vision is blocked by visions of “there.”
Time to take off those future-colored glasses and look around without any questions, aspirations, or parameters. Where we are now is full of light and God, even during a pandemic and social/political unrest. World events are throwing us all back into the present moment repeatedly. We want to plan our lives and map out future events to create certainty in the midst of seeming chaos. Yet this is a time of no certainty, and the chaos we perceive is actually dynamic change in motion. The illusion of permanence that many of us have subscribed to for so long is being overturned by continually shifting circumstances. We keep trying to bring back what we once knew as normal life: social gatherings with friends, travel, school openings, regular jobs, elections. The trouble is none of that is playing out in the same way, even when we try to force the issue. Nothing is the same.
Every day we are pointed to the present moment as the only workable way to live, as the greater truth of our lives. Perhaps our collective enlightenment is coming to us through the back door. Awareness doesn’t always arise from long years of practice and devotion. Sometimes it appears unexpectedly in the middle of sudden out-of-control life events. In this unprecedented time in which the world as we knew it has been turned upside down, individuals are learning to let go of the future in favor of the present. In casual conversation with socially distanced strangers on my morning walks or in line at the grocery store, I find that we often speak of living “one day at a time,” appreciating each moment. This also comes up in emails and social media posts from friends around the globe. It seems to be a worldwide experience: remembering the wisdom of Now.
Here is our reality, here is universal truth, here is enlightenment. Not in some distant future or at the end of an extended quest. Profound realization can catch you off-guard within crisis and uncertainty. We want life to run smoothly and predictably, but it never does. If you can return to living one precious breath at a time, one heartbeat at a time, you may find peace and connection when all else appears to be upheaval and loss. Life is many things, but at its heart it is love and oneness with others and with God. Expanding planetary awakening is showing us that now. As our gaze returns to the present, instead of the past or future, we recognize, for the first time, the light shining in all we see, including ourselves. Elusive enlightenment right here, right now, in the never-ending present moment.