Once upon a time, several years ago, I wanted to get to the top of a mountain.
It was a sacred mountain in a very hot country. Made sacred because Sri Ramana Maharshi had an awakening or enlightenment there and sat for many years to 2 different caves.
And maybe it was sacred before that.
So a group of us set out quite early in the morning to try and miss most of the heat.
There is a path up as far as the caves – maybe a quarter of the way up – but then its steep, with bushes, long grasses, huge rocks and very few trees. Views down to the temple and the city. As we got higher the views were less clear because the air was hazy.
I found it harder and harder, slower and slower, hotter and hotter.
It felt like the mountain was testing me and I wondered whether i would make it to the top. But then, thinking stopped. And it was like time stopped. And I could only be in that moment – there was no future moment. I could only be in that moment – hot, sweating, focused on lifting my foot and finding a place to put it.
The lesson I learned on this mountain on this occasion was a strong one – focus deeply on this moment, on this step. There was nothing else. No future. No time.
We often say to people to do one step at a time as a way to encourage people. The notion of one step at a time implies that there is a future moment and it will lead somewhere. But we don’t know!
It is even more powerful to stay fully in the moment with no thinking that its going to get somewhere. To just be here now, as you are.
The time in this step/moment feels like it expands. (Well, who knows when a moment starts and ends anyway?)
Because actually we don’t know if there is another step ahead of this one.
We don’t know what is in the next moment. Even though we would like to know and often spend much time planning and preparing.
So just live this step, this moment. Live it fully.