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There is a vast amount of talk about living in the present these days, and the underlying philosophy seems to be limited to the idea that we are always in the present, therefore that is all that we must attend to. I think that is the appropriate response for an amoeba because it doesn’t appear that they have much memory. They respond to their environment and pull back from things that are noxious to them. They do have some memory, I’ve read, because they don’t instantly go back to that exact spot.

About a year ago I was taking a bath (I’ve taken more since then), and an ant was reconnoitering the four-inch square tiles that make up the wall at the foot of my bathtub. I watched him for about fifteen minutes to see if he was learning the pattern of the tiles. This tiny brown ant most definitely was learning, because after inspecting about six tiles carefully by going all around them, he navigated the ones further up the wall much more quickly. It appeared he had discovered that they were square and were all the same, so once he hit an edge and a corner he knew what to do and would run along the new edge of the next tile to the next corner quickly. There wasn’t much of interest in the middle of the tiles because they were cleaner, but the joints between them contained more dirty possibilities.

The point of that little digression was that even an ant has learning and concern for the future situation and responds to it. The people who get too locked into the instant of the moment are not behaving like living beings and certainly not sentient human beings, but like rocks.

Meditation makes sense when it helps a person focus their attention on what needs attending to, even when that is calm blankness. Restoring a mental state of calm lets a person see the reality of their situation more clearly and thus gather the truth of the facts better and thus gather knowledge better and thus apply their wisdom of the future of the situation better and thus live their lives better and thus help the whole community that they are immersed within to thrive better.

Meditation is not for converting one’s self into a stone but into a fully functioning being who is fully conscious of the past, present, and future.