The One True Thing

Earl R. Smith II, PhD

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What is the one thing in your life that is that certain? It has a reality and significance unlike anything else. Your thoughts, memories and aspirations are manufactured realities. The one thing that is certain is that you are alive in the moment and experiencing what it brings to you.

Certainty is the feeling of the breeze on your face. The sound of your breathing. The beating of your heart. And, yes, the thoughts and emotions that you are experiencing at the very moment.

The unshakable foundation of your experience is the unavoidable certainty of being alive and sentient in the current moment. It is the only reliable truth in your life.

Then why do most people pay so little attention to it? Why is everybody not filled with a wonder and persistent curiosity about the endless parade of true, real experiences showing up in every moment?

I believe that the answer is that most people think that what happens is what matters. In thinking that, they overlook what makes a moment so real – the awareness of what is happening.

If your focus is on what is happening, then there will always be a feeling that something better could be happening in its place. Zen calls this grasping. It is reaching for something other than the truth of the present moment. You tell yourself that something else should be happening and then focus on making it happen. But, in doing so, you leave the reality of the present moment and move forwards a virtual reality which Buddha called the source of all suffering.

But what if you decide that the most important thing is to be aware of what is happening? What if what is most important is the nature and experience of your awareness of the present moment?

Satisfaction and the joy of being alive flow from the fundamental awareness of whatever is happening. This is the wellspring of your existence. The life force that is uniquely who you are.

It is a strange thought when first encountered. The real treasure of any present moment is unavoidably the awareness of that moment and not in the content of our experience. What we perceive with our senses is not the core of who we are. All that is out there. The single exception is our awareness of what is happening.

You are not the accumulation of your experience. You are the awareness of those experiences and so much more that bring joy to living.

More than any other, the sudden and complete realization of this simple insight has changed the lives of people who I have mentored. It is a truly transformational awakening.

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD

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