So what is the secret to happiness and peace of mind?
It is to live in the present moment.
That sounds like something a motivational speaker would say, and how many actually do it?
The answer is - everyone.
Everyone is always living in the present moment - there is actually no escape from the present moment. If you're thinking of the past, you're doing it NOW. If you're thinking of the future, you're doing it NOW. You never move out of NOW. Time seems to float by, but do you ever leave NOW? Is there ever a time you aren't living in the present moment?
So then what's the problem? Why is there still unhappiness and a lack of peace, when we're only ever IN the present moment?
It's the very drifting of the mind to the past and future, and the solidity of belief that they are real and substantial, that causes a lack of happiness and peace of mind.
The first step is to notice the mind's tendency to drift out of the NOW. Notice how the mind creates suffering by regretting the past or anticipating the future. This is desire and fear.
All the ancient teachers, sages, and religious leaders throughout time have pointed to this one aspect of the mind as the source of suffering. Desire and Fear.
But once it is noticed how the mind does this, we're immediately beyond it, observing it. It really doesn't touch us, what the mind does. With attention, we can notice the creation of desire and fear immediately arising in our own awareness or consciousness.
And with repeated witnessing of the mind's tendencies, there comes a spontaneous realization that Happiness and Peace are the actual natural state of consciousness - the mind is an OVERLAY of seeking, searching, of finding this present moment to be just a means to an end to get something desired or avoid something feared. The only thing needed to realize Happiness and Peace of Mind is to notice that any arising of a lack of happiness and peace is only the mind's drifting. This is the basis of meditation or prayer - finding that inner silence in which the sound of thought arises.
With this realization, each moment is precious and a miracle in itself. The details, which we found so awe-inspiring as a child, are once again found to be magnificent, once the "grown-up" mind's tendencies to overlay suffering are noticed.
And in this direct realization of the preciousness and unavoidability of the NOW - it may become clear that the very person you take yourself to be, the solid and separately-existing entity which is a reference point for all the suffering, is nothing more than a presently-arising thought, a concept, a false belief. If you're aware of the mind, what you really ARE must be prior to the mind.
What you are is this pure impersonal consciousness in which the personal arises - the I AM on top of which the "I AM this and I AM that" is applied.
Yes, that image of "I" is in the past, it's a dead image, just like any memory.
In the immediacy of this moment, on the razor's edge of NOW, no "I" can be found, no "ME" really exists. The only thing that exists is just the pure actuality of what is happening, the sound of a bird singing, the hum of the computer fan, the pitter-patter of little dog feet, the sensation of breathing or heart beating. This is beyond any words, because the word is never the thing.
The "ME" only happens as a presently-arising thought, when the subject/object duality comes in - this is the nature of the mind - to separate into the object and the subject seer- ME.
So who is suffering? Isn't suffering a reference to this ME? I am sad, I am tired, I am lonely. And where, in the immediacy of this very moment, is this "I", without going into memory to recall the appearance of the false continuity of the life story?