The Banality of Good

If I had to sum up all of the mystical and kabbalistic wisdom I managed to absorb thus far into one catchphrase, it would be this: Learn to live in the moment. It is, for me at least, the foundation upon which all other pursuits are based. If we cannot master the art of perceiving the truth and meaning inherent in the here and now, then what value is there to the cosmic pondering (and ego pandering) that spans the vastness of time and space, and purports to look prophetically into the future?

I remember when learning how to drive I was taught by my wise and esteemed father to always look ahead to avoid hazardous situations, and keep my eye on the rearview mirrors to see what’s going on around me and what’s coming my way. But, at the same time, to never take my eye off the car in front of me. This is the art of driving, and of living. Focus on the road beneath you, but never lose sight of the road ahead of you or forget what’s behind you.

Becoming a master of the moment sounds like a simple and obvious path to spiritual enlightenment and bliss. So why haven’t we all gotten there yet? Because in order to be a master of the moment, I have to cease being a slave to the past and a servant of the future. I have to free myself of all distractions and attachments that take me away from the moment, so I can focus on the task at hand. Not so simple anymore, but there is a way: By designating specific times to immerse myself in past reflection and future contemplation, I free the rest of my life for living in the moment. And, fittingly, even those times of reflection and contemplation do not take me away from the moment, since that itself is the task at hand at that moment in time.

In a rapidly evolving (some would say devolving) technology-driven world, one that seems to disembody us from living in the moment, how do we connect ourselves and our children to the values and beliefs we hold dear? As with all things, the ultimate lesson is not to preach the manifesto, but to live it – to live every moment in a conscientious way, to listen to what the moment and the people and the birds and breeze or whatever is present there is telling us. To reject the distractions and anxieties that interfere with this type of living, and assign them to their designated time.

In my writing and teaching, I have found that I am most effective when I am being, rather than writing or teaching. Writing or teaching implies that I am here, the reader/student is there, and the message is something that is being forced from here to there. Being means that we are both entering a space in which all is one, where souls merge and a common voice emerges, and the writing or teaching simply flows. On the surface, the wisdom may be similar either way, but only through being is the wisdom an authentic and lasting creative experience that penetrates the heart and mind of all those involved – because it is alive, it is in the moment.

People who achieve great things and are humble (or who want to appear to be) often say that they were simply in the right place at the right time. The truth is that at any given moment we are all in the right place at the right time. Right now, I am the right person in the right place and in the right time. The question is, do I have the presence of mind to acknowledge this fact in the moment itself, or only in retrospect when being interviewed for my biography?

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