Derivative 12: Focusing on the Present Moment Relieves Suffering (The Now Derivative)
According to the Cause Principle (P6), we suffer because we want to be in some imaginary past, future, or other now. If these are our root desires, then when we let go of desire we must be in the present and accepting the way things are. When you want that new sports car, what you want is to be in an imagined future or a different now where you have that sports car. When you let go of the desire for the sports car, you are accepting the here and now where you don’t have one.
Once you have generalized your desires into desires for not-nows, this point is rather obvious (it’s just transposition applied to propositional logic). But it is a very useful way to re-frame to problem. As I said in the discussion of the the Detachment Derivative (D11), letting go of your desires is not easy. When letting go of desire is too hard, you can try focusing on the present and accepting it for what it is. This can still be hard, but it is often easier than trying to let go of our desires. It is often not as good as letting go of the desire, because the desire is still there. But getting from the desire to a point where we are not suffering can help us to let go of the desire the next time. That memory of going from desire with suffering to acceptance without desire can help motivate the letting go.
Paying attention to the here and now can also avoid suffering directly. Often we are so caught up in our delusions of the other times and places we wish were real that we screw up things where they are real. This can range from bumping into people on the street to forgetting important appointments. The former may be a minor bit of suffering, but the latter mistake can have serious repercussions. I have found that paying attention to the here and now not only makes the suffering I have easier to deal with, it brings me less suffering as I go through life.