This book project, “The Present Moment,” represents a marriage of two aspects of my life that I had failed to see as intertwined until recently. First, I have been involved in various ways in the business and legal world for many years. I began my professional life working for elite corporate law firms, worked as a financial consultant to a major foundation, served on the boards of local non-profits and global for-profit companies, served as an ethics expert in the Enron civil litigation and for the SEC, and count as friends some of the most successful business people in the country. I am also a University professor with a specialty in professional ethics.
Throughout these years I have also had an unsteady- until recently- but persistent interest in the spiritual life and Eastern thought. This sporadic interest became a more focused one perhaps five or six years ago. I was living through a difficult time and a friend suggested that I read the classic text of Eastern thought, the Tao te Ching. I bought a small paperback copy and kept it in my briefcase. I started reading, and rereading it, often. When stuck in airport terminals, amidst all the hustle and anxiety that swirls through such places, I would often take out the Tao and read, sometimes memorizing one of the short passages. The rest of the world would for a time slip away and I would be at peace.
These two worlds, the business/legal and the Zen/spiritual, seemed dissonant at first. Superficially, the contentious negotiating session in the law firm conference room seemed the antithesis of the Zen monk’s solitary meditation. One seemed a world of action while the other a world of repose. But in recent years I have come to see that this is all a mistake. The essential qualities needed for successful passage in the often frenzied and ceaselessly competitive professional world are precisely the qualities needed for those seeking the enlightenment of the Way.
I will not make false promises to you that embracing the ideas of this book will necessarily make you rich or lead to the CEO’s office. I do believe that living presently in the way I describe in this book strengthens you for the struggles of the material world, yes. I do believe that this way of living demands qualities and attitudes that can help you achieve your material ambitions. I do believe that this way of being gives you power, in the only true sense of that word. But perhaps more importantly, I know- not just believe- that if you struggle to live each moment in this way, you will possess a sense of peace and strength that no amount of material success can provide.