So, to live in the present is not an ideal, remember. If you make an ideal out of it you have missed the point. To live in the present can be rightly translated as: to live without ideals. That is the meaning of living in the present. To live in the present means to live without ideals, to just live herenow and remain open and remain ready – whatsoever the future brings, remain always welcoming and receptive. don’t force the future in a certain way, in a certain direction. Let it happen.
To be in the present is not an ideal. But I understand your question. There are people who have made it an ideal. It happens because we have become so accustomed to transforming everything into a neurosis, so that even if elixir is given to you, you will transform it into poison. You know only one thing: how to transform everything into a poison.
For example, Buddha says: Through desire there is misery – so if you become desireless, there will be no misery.
Now, this is a simple fact, stating a simple truth. What happened? People started creating a new desire: to be desireless. This is how you transform every truth into falsehood.
Buddha is saying: To be in desire is to be miserable. He is not saying desire about what: desire as such creates misery – because in desire you start moving from the present, you start thinking of the future. You start thinking of dreams – you are going to do this, and this is going to happen; and if this happens you will be happy, and if that happens you will be very, very miserable. The moment you start dreaming and desiring you have missed contact with life; you disconnected. You are no more living in those moments of desire. Those moments of desiring are death moments. Life has stopped flowing. You are frozen.
Whenever you are in desire you are not alive. Life and desire can’t exist together. They are two gestalts, you can have only one at one time. If you move into desire, life disappears; if you are living, desire disappears.
Have you not seen in some psychology books a certain picture of an old woman? And in the same picture, in those same lines, is hidden a beautiful young woman – both are there. But if you look at the old woman, then you cannot see the young woman. If you look at the young woman, then suddenly the old woman disappears. They are both there in the same lines, but you can see only one at a time. Your gestalt changes. When you are looking at the young face, then those lines are making a new pattern. Because of this pattern, the other pattern cannot be seen. When you start seeing the old woman, the young woman recedes back; because of the old woman’s pattern, you cannot see the new woman’s pattern. You cannot see both together. Because you cannot see both together, whenever you are with one the other becomes non-existential to you. And you know both are there; still you cannot see.
Exactly the same is the case with desire and life. If you desire, life is no more there; you stop living. The same energy becomes desire, so no more energy is available to live. When you start living, desire disappears because the same energy has become life; you cannot desire any more.
Alive moments are desireless moments. Desireless moments are alive moments. It is a simple statement about life’s patterns, gestalts.