The past few months have been difficult and tiring. I went to the doctor because I thought there was something stuck in my right eye, but it turned out to be simply a case of “dry eyes,” probably brought on by too much caffeine, stress and aging – nothing serious. I’ve been focusing on living in the present in order to persevere to the end of this ordeal. “Living in the present,” “being in the moment,” and also the concept of “mindfulness” all relate to this idea of finding happiness right where we are. How difficult!
Specifically, I’ve found incredible encouragement in SGI President Ikeda’s writings from the Living Buddhism March 2016 issue.
We all think that we have plenty of time left in our lives. But none of us knows when death may overtake us. We may die in the next instant. That is the true reality of life…Today will never come again, so each day must be treasured, lived mindfully, with complete commitment. The past no longer exists. The future isn’t here yet. All that exists is this present moment, and in a flash, the present becomes the past. Upon reflection, life is nothing more than the accumulation of each present moment.
– “Making the Most of Each Day” Living Buddhism March 1, 2016 p. 42
It is hard to live this way. It’s easy to get distracted from the present moment. Our minds wander off toward a million other ideas: worries, to-do lists, anxieties, hopes, dreams, regrets, plans for the future, and memories, both good and bad. My mind especially has this tendency, but I’ve found that if I really concentrate on staying involved and present where I am and who I am with, I am much happier. It’s a little easier for me to communicate, which is always a challenge. And I worry less about all the crazy people traipsing after me everywhere I go.
In Nichiren Buddhism there is a concept called “three thousand realms in a single moment of life” (Japanese ichinen sanzen) which teaches that the past, present and future are not separate from one another, but continuous and connected through the law of cause and effect. The simultaneity of cause and effect means that eternity is encapsulated in the present moment.
With this perspective, living in the moment really does have profound meaning. It allows us to make the most of the time we have here on Earth as well as change our lives for the better – to create a better future than the past.