There is no such thing as a “present moment”

In the final chapter of my book, I make what many mindfulness enthusiasts would consider a blasphemous request, “Offer up the illusion of being in the present moment! Awareness is not about being in the present moment. Awareness is beyond manifestation and cannot be contained within any particular moment. Awakened presence is the effortless, unperturbed, unelaborated reception of experience—not the effort of trying to be in a present moment.”*

Today, I happened upon the Dalai Lama’s succinct explanation of why there is no such thing as a present moment. Watch it below and consider renouncing the foolish act of trying to be in a present moment.

 

*Miller, L.D. (2014) Effortless Mindfulness: Genuine mental health through awakened presence. Routledge: New York.

22 thoughts on “There is no such thing as a “present moment”

  1. I suppose it also depends on what is meant by “the present moment”.
    Mindfulness helps us to live much less in the past of in worrying about the future.
    If we live in the here and now/present moment we are able to take things in our stride giving them the correct amount of attention.
    When we worry about the past we set up the conditions for depression while future angst is all about anxiety.
    Too much focus on now however runs the risk of becoming another kind of prison rather than the liberating idea that it is for many.
    Sandy
    vajrablue.com

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  2. This is something I`ve been thinking about and, purely on logical grounds, there is no such thing as the present moment – at least not in our awareness. As soon as we try to focus on the present moment, it has gone and so on …… How long is ” the present moment” ? A tenth of a second ? A nano second ? It is beyond measurement, or at least outside any attempts we might make to measure it.
    It`s purely awareness and is beyond language or any attempt to explain what the expression means – it is also continually changing and moving on, as life is because it is the fundamental basis of life.As someone once said ” the only thing we can be certain won`t change is the fact that everything changes”.
    Thanks for another brilliant post.

    Graham Smith

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  3. Being a mindfulness educator, this post got my attention. Thank you so much for it! I am breathing deeper and feeling more spacious…and re-looking at how I view the ‘present moment’. I am grateful to you for your post…blessings to you, Lorrie

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  4. Thank you for this. It always seemed to me that if we talk of the ‘present’ we are still talking about time, which is on-going, and is relative to what period we are talking about, and that as soon as you say ‘present’ it is gone by. it seemed to me that the work is about awareness, being aware, conscious, being in the awareness. At least, for me, that seems to me to be the work for me…that is, the practice for me.

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  5. When we use the term “present moment” in reality we’re pointing at the ever-changng flow of experience at the point of experience. Breaking a moment down scientifically is abstrating an object, which is something for the mind to play with. This is like saying there is no such thing as sensation at a quantum level, for instance.

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  6. Great post – DL makes it sound like at an early stage “present moment” is like a teaching aid. As you go deeper into the practice it is the awareness that it’s not possible. I know from trying to be so focused when I switched on a light, or blew out a candle or stood by as a patient died – time of death – is so crucial to the medical staff. I really appreciate your comparison of “awakened presence” to present moment. I also appreciate the commentary that has followed.

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  7. Nice post and thread, and the topic is excellent.
    I have thought about this and my simple approach: Just “be”.
    Trying to be in the present moment is something I would do only if I believed that I was not there in the first place.

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    • Totally agree, Rick – too much thinking can be a very bad thing. We tend to be defined as people by what we do , not who we are, so we`re encouraged to keep on “doing”. It`s hard then just to ” be”, but so important to learn.

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      • Indeed! Trying “to be in the present” is like trying “to be in the air”. You either are, or you are not. Excessive thinking regarding past and/or future; where we do not exist, rob the present; where we do exist.

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  8. Fascinating!
    Like the Tower of Babel
    We just think ourselves into insanity…
    Careful with the world of duality and trying to be too concrete or too profound. Both can be illusionary. Both are legitimate in their meaning not necessarily contradictory.
    Let’s appreciate our limitations and fallibility as well as our unique understanding and our ability to express share and interpret.
    With gratitude to each,
    Gisela Triana

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