Present Moment, Only Moment

Live in the present moment. This seemingly simple teaching is the basic foundation of Buddhism. However, often people misunderstand the meaning of this idea.

Almost every Sunday, students and others with an interest in Buddhism visit our temple. Often, these visitors confuse living in the moment with living for the moment. When a person lives for the moment they are unconcerned by the effect their actions will have on others and on their own future. All that matters is their pleasure now. Although they may have fleeting joy, they most likely will cause future suffering. Buddhism addresses the difference between not worrying about the future and not caring about the future.

When someone lives in the moment, they are fully aware of the world around them and of their actions. A person like this is mindful. They realize that everything is impermanent, nothing remains the same. Joys will pass, as will sorrows. The past cannot be changed and the future is undecided. All that ever exists is the present moment, the eternal now. A mindful person embraces this eternal now.

Shortly after his enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha gave a sermon in which he presented the Eightfold Path. This Eightfold Path deals with eight aspects of life and the ways in which an enlightened person lives their life. A life lived by the Eightfold Path can overcome suffering. A mindful person lives every moment in this way.

There are various methods used to become more mindful. The most basic is to do everything to its fullest. When eating, savor each mouthful. When listening, listen deeply. When working, focus completely on the task at hand. As you practice this mindfulness in every facet of your life it will become your everyday way of life.

Another more widely known method is meditation. The traditional sitting meditation is “zazen.” While sitting zazen, one tries to calm the mind. Although thoughts arise, one does not cling to them. Free from our grasping, thoughts come and go. The breath is a focusing tool. Many people count their breaths. As they breathe in they count “one.” As they breathe out they count “two.” When they reach ten they begin again. Whenever they realize that thoughts have become distracting they return to their breath. The practice of returning to the breath also applies to everyday life. Whenever you become upset about past events, or are worrying about the future, you can use this breathing technique. As you return to the present moment you will be able to see more clearly.

The pace of modern life is such that we are constantly thinking about past actions and worrying about the future. We spend our lives everywhere but in the present moment. Until we realize that the present moment is the only moment we will never be able to fully live our lives.

For more information about Buddhism or meditation in Kenosha contact me at