Search This Blog


Buddhism in the News


Monday, September 17, 2007

Enlightenment is in the Present Moment

The hallmark of the enlightenment process is in being "here" and not "there." Indeed, the focal point of continuity is in being here at all times. The famous message of Ram Dass to "Be here now" is what results when one is adept in this practice. It is laborious in that it requires great perseverance -- we are up against lifelong patterns -- but it is a major enlightenment practice because it can break through our basic conditioning. The secret of success in continuity practice is to eliminate any sense of failure. From the moment we begin, we are successful. The only measure of success is this moment, right now. Are we here? If we are here, our practice is perfect. The fact that we have just returned from out yonder, or that we might take off again in a few seconds, is not relevant. Without this practice, we would always be spaced out. We would rarely experience being here. Thus, each moment we are able to break the pattern, we have succeeded.

- David A. Cooper, Silence, Simplicity and Solitude from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith

James: Humans worry, it's what we do as partakers of the unsatisfying feast of samsara. We worry about our health, our families, our friends, our jobs, our country, our world and our environment. And we even worry whether we are worrying too much!! We also worry about our spirituality. A common spiritual worry I hear in Buddhism goes something like this, "Am I progressing adequately towards Enlightenment?" We are setting ourselves up for discouragement the minute we ask ourselves questions like this.

Why? Well, first off the idea of a progression means that there is something permanent to build and add to and that is our first unskillful thought. When in reality there is nothing to build and nothing to add to, just essence, just the present moment for what it may or may not be. It is perfect despite what limited perceptions or judgments we might place upon it. By the way, we want to avoid words such as "wrong" or "bad" or "mistake" because it merely adds more stress, worry, discouragement to the situation. It focuses on the delusion of duality instead of the flow of co-arising. Instead we use words like skillful and unskillful to emphasize that we can hone our thoughts, words and deeds just like any other skill. This is another reason that we use the word "practice" in Buddhism because there is no "pass/fail" dogma. We practice much like one would practice golfing or archery or any other skill.

In my opinion, it is not about building anything but being, just being here as Mr. Cooper mentions above, which brings us to the adequacy question. We are adequate just as we are, now whether we accept that or not is a different dilemma but our basic essence is perfect, beautiful and more then adequate. This brings us to going "towards" "Enlightenment." Enlightenment or awakening occurs in the present moment, not out there somewhere. There is no top of the mountain where a guru resides to grant us our Enlightenment diploma.

Everything that Buddhism teaches about awakening to Enlightenment resides right here, right now in the present moment. It isn't anywhere "out there." It reminds me of the old adage, why go to the store to buy milk when you have a cow at home?

~Peace to all beings~

PHOTO: Rabbi and author, David A. Cooper

Stumble Upon Toolbar


FRITZ said...

This is so simple.

This, I can do.

And most importantly, if (when) I disappear into worry or tomorrow or yesterday or a daydream, I will not be concerned that I 'messed up'.

Because we're always all here, anyway.

We just have to have some simple faith. Easy!

Kuan Gung said...

Excellent stuff here!

clyde said...

Yes. Thank you.

PeterAtLarge said...

Nice, James. But no cow here at my house. Gotta go buy milk. Cheers, PaL

Adrienne Parker said...

I once used a signature quote: "Meditation is an instantaneous awakening to the moment." I adore the focus on "returning to the moment" and everytime we return, that's it, success once again.

Keep coming back now, ya hear?

They call him James Ure said...


It is simple and the more we awaken to it the more we realize that all things are simple. It helps doesn't it to strip it down to pure essence and focus on the present moment, as that it all that we experience. Why make it harder on ourselves?

Yep, there is no "messing up." Nothing it cut in stone. We have many chances and opportunities to adjust our presence on the path.

Some might see having to go around and around again in rebirth as a terrible situation (and yes, we all want to be liberated from that).

However, it is in a way quite compassionate as we don't have the pressure of only having "on shot" to get it "right."

Kuan Gung:

Thank-you. I am inspired by that quote. It really hits the core.


And thank-you!!


Thanks. As for milk, yeah, I buy soy milk myself. I'm hippie like that.

They call him James Ure said...


I love that quote. So true.

MelancholicMudra said...

I love David Cooper's quotation because it reinforces the simplicity of doing what we need to be doing. Coming across this quote in your blog was great timing for me as I wondered how I could be meditating at peace one minute and then an hour later be caught up in the worst kind of depressive thinking.

"The secret of success in continuity practice is to eliminate any sense of failure. From the moment we begin, we are successful. The only measure of success is this moment, right now."

That helps, a whole lot, thanks.

They call him James Ure said...


I'm so glad that this post helped you as much as it helped me. It is a great reminder. I have been enjoying your blog by the way.

all-star-j said...

thank you for your message. I just have one question that remains with me. I can see that there is a notion that in the present moment we are arleady enlightened. But the very things that constitute the enlightened state--infinite peace, blissful paradise, non-duality--are simply not there(granted that at times when present there's a lighter air, and a degree of inner calm)i would be deceiving myself if i described those moments as enlightenment. so my question is is the present moment just a patient waiting, or does the notion have other justifications i'm unaware of.
thank you
peace be with you

They call him James Ure said...


I apologize for taking this long as I lost your comment in the shuffle but I hope this finds you.

I believe from my studies and learning that the enlightenment isn't a state of perfect bliss. True, it is a peaceful state a lot of times.

That said, I've been taught that enlightenment is (in part) a state of being where one isn't moved too much one way at moments of "good" and "bad."

ShareThis Option