There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the present moment.
Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it as though he thought it were somewhere else. No one seems to have noticed this fact. But grasping this firmly, one must pile experience upon experience. And once one has come to this understanding he will be a different person from that point on, though he may not always bear it in mind.
There has never been something truer and more obvious that I have thought about so little.
My whole life has led up until this point. This moment, when I’m typing (and editing)(and editing again)(and editing for the last f-ing time) was brought upon since birth. My parents made a bunch of choices for me – grade schools, food to eat, playgrounds to play on, values to focus on. That base led me to begin making choices for myself – friends, girlfriends, college, career, wife. Then my wife started making choices for me – everything since marriage.
And all those decisions brought me to the mental state when I said screw it, I’m going to become a samurai warrior. I started reading these samurai books. Tonight, I am up late and I read this. And now I’m typing and trying to remain in the moment.
Everything you’re doing right now has so little to do with the decision you made yesterday, and so much more to do with every decision you’ve ever made in your entire life. That’s amazing to think about. It puts less of the blame or credit to your situation on anyone else but yourself. And it’s empowering to know that in time, you can change whatever you want in life by making different decisions.
And I can do that by being true to the purpose of the present moment. This is a powerful, powerful statement. I know I don’t do this all the time.
So, how can someone live in the present when he has his future to think about? His kids’ future to think about. His past mistakes that weigh on him. But that’s just it. This quote isn’t saying not to think about the future or the past, but it’s saying to live for the ‘purpose’ of the present moment. And that purpose may be to do something for the future. Or to make amends for something you did in your past. And living in that purpose of the present moment isn’t getting drunk with your friends the night before a big presentation. It isn’t staying on your Blackberry when you are spending time with your kids.
Ask yourself, ‘What is the purpose of this moment?’ The answer to that question won’t be difficult. The subsequent behavior shouldn’t be either.
And if you live for the purpose of that present moment, you will have a ton of great moments. This is how you build a great life. You start living in a collection of great moments, while constantly building to even better moments.
It sounds both impossible and simple at the same time. But after understanding this quote, there isn’t another way I’d want to live.