What is awake—like the flow of life itself—has no beginning and no ending. Where it appears is right here, right now. We may imagine we are on a journey from birth to death, or from ignorance to enlightenment, but the journey always begins and ends in the present tense, in the present moment’s experience. The movement of awakening is ultimately a return to Now, a journey that opens us to the altar of this moment. This moment is seen to be the expression of the timeless in time. Now is the truth of the moment and the truth of what is experiencing the moment. A single truth, actually, that is not what the mind imagines or can even conceive.
Now is perfectly free to be. What is awake in us intimately and fearlessly meets any moment, any experience, any feeling, any expression as itself. It does not turn away from fear or confusion, nor hold itself separate from suffering. Being Undivided, what is awake in us is awake to both the relative and the absolute dimensions of life simultaneously. It does not judge ugliness or beauty; it neither longs for bliss nor fears the transformation called death.
Being whole, it lacks nothing. Being whole, the moment is seen to be wholeness. The Seeing and the moment are one. Without self-consciousness, yet aware of consciousness, the Mystery sees from beyond time. Yet without time, the timeless could not experience itself.
This moment is the only moment where being awake is possible. It is neither something we can hold onto from yesterday, nor a thing to achieve tomorrow. It is here now, in this moment, in this experience, in this expression of being. This moment is the only moment that exists; yet this moment is not even a moment. To speak about “this moment” is to speak about the expression, experience, flow and truth of Now. Yet Now is not a measurement of time.
The altar of this moment is empty, yet both contains and illuminates whatever appears. The altar of this moment is sacred but holds no ideas of what is holy and what is not. The altar of this moment encompasses an unspeakable Mystery, and the ordinary moments of life that flow from it. Gratitude is the only response of the heart awake to Now, and yet there is no one thanking and no one to thank. Whole-hearted devotion to the moment becomes a love affair with life—not just the good, the beautiful, the true, but the whole of life as it unfolds. Mind will not comprehend the Mystery, yet mind springs forth, moment-to-moment, creating the ten thousand things that Impermanence will wash away as we live open to the continual arising and dissolving on the sacred altar of this moment.
First in a series of excerpts from The Altar of This Moment