“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
The inevitable death. Your death. The fact that all of “this” is not going to last forever. The thought of your own existence not continuing can be scary. Sound depressing? Well, contemplating your own death doesn’t necessarily have to be. Lately, I’ve been thinking about death almost every day. I find it interesting that the older people get, the more they seem to think about death. On the other hand, thinking about death is almost non-existent with younger people. I think it would greatly benefit younger generations to be more mindful of death.
Mortality salience, or realizing that your death is in fact, inevitable, can give rise to a much more appreciative, fulfilling, and present life. This appreciation and fulfillment can be found with or without any consideration of religious beliefs. In other words, your ability to appreciate life’s moments doesn’t depend on whether or not you’re religious. This is not to say that religion or a belief in the afterlife isn’t helpful, as religion is very helpful to me. There’s more to it than just religion in and of itself. A deep attention and presence is still necessary to fully appreciate the significance of what’s really going on from moment to moment. Being mindful of death and our mortality is a catalyst for this.
Most of the time, it appears that we all casually gloss over some very significant and deeply profound moments in our lives. Even the moments that can be categorized as mundane have just as much significance and profundity as any other moment. Sometimes, those moments don’t seem to register as important “in the moment.” Later upon reflection, perhaps as memories, we may feel those moments were in fact, significant, but we weren’t really “there” for them. We find it hard to connect to the present moment when we are incessantly looking for happiness in the future, which never arrives.
I admit that I sometimes find it difficult to fully connect to the present moment. I always want to connect so deeply to every moment I spend with my wife and kids, for example. At times, my mind wants to wander off to other things like work, household responsibilities, bills, etc. It’s like my mind seems to have a mind if it’s own. This wandering of my mind takes me out of the present moment. I think it’s a big deal for someone to be aware that they’re not present. Sometimes, awareness is half the battle. For me, presence is more than just being there physically. I want to be there deeply, spiritually, and mentally. I have to say that meditation has helped me very much with awareness, equanimity, and connecting to the present moment. I’ll write more specifically on meditation in another article.
Many great thinkers, such as Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, and Sam Harris, speak extensively on this very topic. Although Alan, Sam, And Eckhart have different perspectives, they all agree on this; We all seem to live our lives for the purpose of getting to the next moment. “I’m here so I can get there,” instead of just being here now. We need to appreciate and connect to the moment we’re in, not spending the moment mentally looking to the next.
Here’s a great short video from Sam Harris’s, Death and the Present Moment speech.
I would recommend watching Sam’s full 1-hour speech which can be found here.
Here’s another excellent two-minute Alan Watts video put together by Tragedy and Hope.
Let’s live in and connect deeply to the present moment.
This moment is just as significant as any other. This moment.