Acting in the present moment to make the most of your time on Earth
Life consists of a long series of present moments. The present moment is where we
actually live, and also where we create the future. So it follows that we should:
1) enjoy it; 2) act wisely.
The way to achieve compassion, the mechanics of making living beings flourish, is
to put the right conditions in place, like when we tend and nurture a plant in our
This is a very different way of doing things from the one we may be used to: the
intellectual, ego-driven, calculating way of trying to control results and outcomes.
The problems with this are that the mind is intimately tied up with the emotions
and self-interest and is part of the ego in general, so we cannot rely on it to be
objective in a long-term sense when it comes to thinking about what is best for others
as well as oneself. The ego, since it is heavily influenced by the emotions, will
tend to want what feels good for "you" right now.
We cannot control the consequences of our actions, and we just cannot micro-manage
the future to the extent to which the mind, and ego, would like.
But to put the right conditions in place for flourishing to happen places all the
emphasis on our actions in the present moment; promotes stillness, and a meditative,
here-and-now attitude; promotes virtue (the quality of our actions); promotes joy
and optimism and cheerfulness and reduces stress (because we are building a better
future for ourselves and others).
Activity becomes a patient unfolding of events. We trust in the wisdom of the deep
The most important thing is to find out what is the most important thing.
Intuition may be said to be a form of deep physical knowledge. If, say, we are learning
to play tennis, at first we have to be told what to do and to consciously follow
the right moves. But in time, and after much practice, thanks to neuroplasticity,
this knowledge becomes hard-wired into the brain and we can effortlessly do it well
without thinking. In fact, if we think about it, this ruins our playing technique.
Truth and compassion are both intuitive – we can intuitively feel them as well as
know them intellectually. Both are part of our physical reality as living beings.
Compassion, the universal pressure to flourish, the Healing Principle, is part of
the fabric of nature. Observation, awareness, is intuitive too.
This contemplative approach to action forces the ego to take a back seat. We can
“feel” what is the right thing to do – this is the “still small voice of God”.
Actions take place in the here and now, so therefore can be part of mindful meditation.
Striving and non-striving
You can’t always cure, but you can always care.
Striving means to focus only on the end goal. Non-striving means to take notice
of every step in the journey and to make it of good quality. This way, if we aim
high and fall short, we have still got somewhere.
Slow down and be diligent. This means to carry out every step of a task mindfully
and properly. If you slow down, you should work faster overall, in a more relaxed
and comfortable way.
There are certain strategies we can use to access intuitive wisdom and to promote
flourishing in a long term ethical way. We cannot control the consequences of our
actions, only the actions themselves.
seek to find knowledge: facts and information about the situation. Observe dispassionately,
without making value judgements.
Recognise that you are putting the right conditions in place in order to eventually
bring about a solution to a problem.
Judging introduces subjectivity – how you personally feel about something – but,
important as this is, it is a separate issue, and is not part of the objective reality
of how something really is. Observe and acknowledge your emotions as a part of the
overall reality of the situation.
You know how you feel about something, what it means to you, but can you see it as
it really is? Our perceptions tend to be tinged with meaning, coloured by our beliefs,
and by our emotions, reflecting our hopes (about opportunities) and fears (about
Judging means to make a final decision that something is a certain way.
If you’re only seeing things from one angle, that excludes all the other angles.
Therefore you are not seeing the situation in the round; you are not seeing the whole
Everything has multiple causes.
Everything has multiple aspects or facets – some “good”, some “bad”, some you like,
some you don’t.
Every situation has multiple influences acting upon it. The more and bigger the
influences acting on a situation, the more significant the situation is likely to
Try looking at your situation from a “bird’s eye view” or from the viewpoint of a
disinterested third party. Talk it over with friends. Research has shown that we
are often wiser about our friends’ problems than we are about our own.
Lateral thinking and perfect compassion
When you act, each person affected by your action, including yourself, is to receive
the maximum benefit and least harm available to them.
We could define “lateral thinking” as being able to see a problem, question or situation
from a number of different angles, and then use this knowledge to find an elegant
solution to a question.
When our actions affect others, some of those other angles will belong to each of
the people involved. To understand the points of view of others is known as perspective
As our knowledge deepens, through observation followed by illumination and more observation,
perhaps in a back and forth of theory and experience, we integrate the viewpoints
together, trying to understand the structure, and the elements and the relationships
between them, of the whole situation. Perceiving it in the round. We can see that
our emotions and own personal self-interest are a part of the situation along with
all the other parts.
We may say that this process brings us towards objectivity.