I see only the past.
Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about it. Yet that is precisely why you need new ideas about time. This first time idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.
Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past? You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning. Do you, then, really see it?
(From A Course in Miracles)
Applying this concept to the idea of living in the present moment (at least in terms understood by mainstream practitioners of “new age” thought), not only does it become unbeneficial, for if one tries to live out their lives seeing the world outside of memory then nothing can be done for this person would have no ground foundation to do anything upon, one would also be unable to function in the everyday world. For to truly “be in the present” rooted outside of memory would mean that one would no longer be able to recognize anyone, one would be unable to even know where they lived. Essentially, all that would be operating would be the base functions to keep the body alive.
One would feel hunger, but wouldn’t necessarily know whether or not eating out of a trash can would be bad for one’s health (since we only know these things because we have been taught them through past experiences and learning). What would happen to us if we were to take the teaching of “Living in the present” without fully understanding what was meant by those terms would essentially render us as helpless as a baby. For we move through life filtering out information based on past experiences, and (at least how some present this “new age” teachings) it can sometimes be interrupted as if living out one’s life referencing to the past was somehow “spiritually incorrect.” Which is why a correct understanding of “Living in the present” is needed. For not even the Great Masters and Avatars lived in the present in a sort of “no references” to the past way.
If that was the case, no Master would ever have been able to run a temple, for how would they know which temple was theirs or the fact that they had a temple at all be it not for past memory and learning? What seems to be the case is that when the teachings of “Live in the now” was given, it was not meant to take into consideration what we would consider “Time.”
For in the universe there may be “Two” types of systems running. “Objective Time” and “Subjective Time.” “Objective Time” (as subjective creatures), appears to be outside the scope of what our Human apparatus can comprehend (at least as far as the intellect is concerned). Where as “Subjective Time” is what we all experience, subjectively. For an hour to me may not experientially be the same length of time for you and since in actuality all we have access to is our subjective experiences, it can then, therefore, be said that we have experienced two separate lengths of time within an “Objective” finite set length of time. Looking at it from this light, the idea of “Living in the present” as in living in the “Objective” present not only becomes something that has no meaning to us, since objectivity is not something we have access to, it also appears to be an impossibility.
The sheer impossibility of doing such an activity such as “Living in the Present” truly comes to light for we cannot see life without referring to the past. We cannot even truly see “this moment” because even light takes time to travel and process the information in our brains. So essentially, by the time our brains have finished processing the information, the “moment” we were looking at has already passed. Essentially showing us that we are going through life with a kind of “lag” effect going on.
This lesson in the Course therefore, seems to be pointing at something else entirely. To simply be rooted in what we have access to; pure Subjectivity. Spirituality is not about denying the past, it is not about denying anything at all. For the moment you have deny something you have classified it as being apart from you. And something that is apart from you cannot be used to help you gain access to the “whole.” For how can we seek complete cosmic unity by denying a part of life? We are not to deny life or any part of life, only to understand our relationship to it. To “live in the present” is to simply be focused on whatever it is you are doing without constantly thinking about what you are doing.
If I am having some tea, of course past learning is going to come into play to assist me in choosing the tea I like, in helping me to know which tea would not upset my stomach. Yet, once all the checks have been done, I can now subjectively enter into “just this moment” with my tea and merge with it. For there is nothing else happening in the entire world except what I am doing right here right now. To live in the present moment, is to simply Live. To be aware that right here right now something is functioning in me, and there is an awareness of this functioning. That sensation, that knowing of this inner awareness is “THIS MOMENT.” And the one who is able to stay with just this inner recognition has bridged the gap. In bridging this gap, we enter into that space in which intellect cannot follow us into.