Being in the present moment—also known as mindfulness1—is a way of being and perceiving described in a number of ancient texts from traditions descended from the Religion of the Sun, including the Vedic/Hindu, Taoist, and Gnostic Christian traditions,2 and is recorded as being practiced by the Pythagoreans.3 It’s described as being attentive to the “plain truth of the moment,” without being “possessed by ideas of the past [or] preoccupied with images of the future.”4
This state of perception is said to be found by ceasing to daydream, quieting one’s emotions,5 and being attentive to the perception of the world through one’s senses with equanimity.6789 In this state, it’s said that one’s pure original insight and integral nature emerges, inner peace and clarity can be found, and one can gain detachment from desires, passions and self-centered ideas.10 It is said to involve a direct participation in every moment, free of mental concepts and attitudes, in which “the observer and the observed are dissolved in the light of pure awareness.”11 It is not described as a practice to sit down and do, as with meditation, but as a state of perception to incorporate into one’s everyday life.12
Scientific research has also shown mindfulness can measurably improve well-being and cognition. For example, studies show it can increase grey matter density in the brain, enhance neural pathways, improve memory attention spans and mental processing, be associated with higher levels of empathy, and may help to reduce anxiety and stress.13141516
Listed here are texts related to the Religion of the Sun with references to being in the present moment (note this is a work in progress and will be expanded as further research is conducted):
- The Bhagavad Gita, Chapters 2 and 5
- The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCIV (Translation by K.M. Ganguli)
- The Katha Upanishad, Chapter 1, section three, verse 3-13
- Hua Hu Ching, Chapters 10, 21, 26, 45, 52, translated by Brian Walker
- Gospel of Luke 11:34-36
- Gospel of Mark 13:33-37
- The Gospel of Thomas (translated by Thomas O. Lambdin)
- The Teachings of Silvanus (translated by Malcolm L. Peel and Jan Zandee)
- Iamblichus: The Life of Pythagoras or On The Pythagorean Life, The Daily Program. Taken from The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, compiled and translated by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, p. 81 – 82
- Iamblichus: The Life of Pythagoras or On The Pythagorean Life, Temperance and Self-Control. Taken from The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, compiled and translated by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, p. 105
- The Flight of the Feathered Serpent, Book One, Chapter 15, p. 109-111
- The Awakening of Perception by Belsebuub
- Gazing into the Eternal by Belsebuub
- How to be Aware by Belsebuub
- Searching Within by Belsebuub
The posts below contain excerpts of teachings on being in the present moment drawn from various ancient traditions related to the Religion of the Sun (coming soon).
- Greg Flaxman and Lisa Flook, Ph.D. Brief Summary of Mindfulness Research, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: http://marc.ucla.edu/workfiles/pdfs/MARC-mindfulness-research-summary.pdf.
- The Gnostic Christian text the Gospel of Peace describes it as like person who “comes to himself and awakens” as if “awakening” from “ignorance” or “sleep.” See: Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer (translators and editors), The Gospel of Truth, from The Gnostic Bible: Revised and Expanded Edition (Shambhala 2003), Available on The Gnostic Society Library website: http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/got-barnstone.html. It is described being on “watch” in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 13:33-37 WEB) and the Book of Thomas the Contender, translated by John D. Turner from The Nag Hammadi Library published by The Gnostic Society Library.
- lamblichus: The Life of Pythagoras or on the Pythagorean Life, The Daily Program. From The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, compiled and translated by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie (Phanes Press 1987) p. 81 – 82.
- This is a Taoist description. See: Brian Walker (translator), Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu, (HarperOne 1995) chapter 21.
- Ibid, chapter 45.
- Ibid, chapter ten states: “The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next.” It advises one must “Let this monkey go” and “Just remain in the center, watching.”
- See: Juan Mascaro (translator), The Bhagavad Gita, (The Penguin Group: first published 1962, reprinted 2003). Chapter 2, Verses 62-65. “But the soul that moves in the world of the senses and yet keeps the senses in harmony, free from attraction and aversion, finds rest in quietness.”
- The Katha Upanishad describes being in the moment as like chariot rider whose driver (representing the intellect) keeps the horses, representing the senses, “under control” and directed by “firmly held” reins, representing the disciplined mind. Thus one rides the chariot (the body) in a “mindful” conscious way. Otherwise, if the mind is “never firmly held” the senses are “unmanageable” like wild horses, which instead pull the chariot according to whims, leading to karmic rebirth. See The Katha Upanishad, F. Max Müller (Translator), From The Upunishads, Part II, verse 3-13, 1879. Available at sacred-texts.com: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe15/sbe15012.htm.
- For example, The Flight of the Feathered Serpent teaches: “The Path starts in the physical body with the five senses. To awaken is to learn to use them, and not confuse them with you.” It explains that the heart and mind are “the senses of the true vigilance” and one should consciously use the mind “to perceive what the five sense capture.” See: Armando Cosani (Author), The Flight of the Feathered Serpent, Absolute Publishing Press; 2nd edition (December 2008), p. 109-110.
- Juan Mascaro (translator), The Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verses 14-15, 62-65; and chapter 5, verses 20-24.
- Brian Walker (translator), Hua Hu Ching, chapter 26.
- Ibid, chapter 52.
- Flaxman and Flook, Brief Summary of Mindfulness Research.
- Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, and Sara W. Lazara, “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density,” Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30; 191(1): 36–43: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/.
- Christina Congleton, Britta K. Hölzel, and Sara W. Lazar, “Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain,” Harvard Business Review January 08, 2015 (accessed August 2017): https://hbr.org/2015/01/mindfulness-can-literally-change-your-brain.
- Jeena Cho, “6 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Mindfulness And Meditation,” Forbes July 14, 2016 (accessed August 2017): https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeenacho/2016/07/14/10-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-mindfulness-and-meditation/#2b285bd363ce.