By Dennis Sullivan
“The load from the past is the present misery,” (Ramana Maharshi)
Pardon me. May I ask you a question? How come you don’t live in the present moment? I mean, all the time. You broke loose from captivity. The captivity of the unconscious majority-way of living. The one dominated by past and future.
Maybe my assumption is faulty. Maybe you do live in the Now. You know it’s the way to go. If you’re not spending your time in the Now, why not? Simply stuck in the past? Weighed down by the”load of the past,”, as Ramana Maharshi says?
We’re not on automatic, are we? All these classes? All these retreats? You’re telling me we’re on automatic. I’m not buying it. Stumbling through life? Bumping into the furniture? A bumper car at the amusement park? Not you and me. Then what is it?
Unconscious living? Not us. Oblivious to right now? Well…maybe…sometimes. The past lures us. Attracts us. It tries to tell us who we are, what we are.
Why do you find it fun, exciting, intriguing? Reviewing. Re-living. Regretting. Celebrating last week’s accomplishments. Lamenting a lot. Sometimes slipping into “coulda, shoulda, woulda” world. Frequently, the past controls our projector and our movie screen. Sometimes?
Maybe more often than we like to admit. We roll with it. I know. I’m right there with you. We’re not victims. We allow it to happen. Why do we do that?
I’m tired of that word, “Why.” Aren’t you? We always know. We delude ourselves that we don’t know. But we always know. We do it out of habit. We live in the past out of habit. That’s the answer.
And the future pulls at our sleeve. We build castles in the sky. We imagine our trip next month. Most of us feel like we need “something to look forward to.” We’re in dreamland. We totally miss out on Now. That’s the answer.
Many of us are scared like heck what the future might bring. Television programs, all those sick drug commercials, fuel that fear. “What will I do if I run out of money?” “Who will take care of me in my old age?” “What will happen to me if I get sick?”
Fearful imaginings often dominate our attention, if we let them. The “need to know.” The news. Attention-grabbing headlines. Politicians and their claptrap. The government. Calamities. Catastrophes. Magnets. Yanking us rudely out of the present moment. With our consent. Of course. We’re not victims.
Do you truly know the value of the present moment? Most of us haven’t spent enough time there to really become acquainted with it, have we? Look at it this way. The past is gone, sure as last night’s dream. We think about it. We dwell on it. Poof! Like it never happened. Except that we breathe life into it. We bring it back into our mental movie theater for re-runs.
And, the future? Out there somewhere. Purely thoughts and pictures. Same as last night’s dream. Now is always yours. Now is always new. Let’s nail it down. What keeps us from living in the Now?
Now, takes a little work. It’s much easier to turn on that rusty old projector and run the oldies. It’s a great escape to dink around with future pictures.
Now demands that we stay very awake. It requires “Mindfulness,” meaning your mind is right here, right now. A bird chirping. A car starting. The breeze. The sun on your face. Your your breath in and out. Your feet in your shoes. Your shoes on the floor. You feel your body parts. The clothes on that body. Your weight in the chair. Your eyes just blinked. You watch all your movements, including mental action.
It’s basic wakefulness. Attention to what’s going on around you, and within you. Wakefulness vs. unconsciousness. It requires being “an expert thought watcher.” Watching each movement of mind. Never letting it sneak off on its own. Keeping a very close eye on it all the time. Reeling it back in when it goes running off somewhere.
Remember the Karate Kid? “Wax on. Wax off?” Thoughts in. thoughts out. No grabbing onto thoughts. They lure you where they want to go. We don’t know where that is. But it is not here. Now.
The thief continually robs you of the present moment. The usual culprit. The ill-reputed nag. It brings you all unhappiness, all troubles, all problems. What is it? Thoughts. Thinking. The usual suspects. Thinking steals the present moment from you. It steals you from the present moment. It’s unconscious fascination with thinking. It’s the sheriff handing the keys to the town over to thought-land. You forget to pay attention. Outlaw thoughts slip in unnoticed. You end up living under this thick veil called thoughts. The present moment is blocked out.
The ego mind dominates. It captivates. If you allow it to. Billions of people take instructions from their think. Yessir. Whatever you say, sir. And off they go, over the falls, hundreds of miles from Now. Life without the bang bang bang of thoughts? Not easy for us to imagine, is it? What’s more, it scares the living heck out of most of us. No thoughts? No thinking? How could I live like that? Who would I be? What would I do?
I need my trusty companion to tell me what to do. To give me information. To jump in and fill the void. I need it to remind me of past pleasures and pain. To replay my story. To help me plan. To think what I’m going to do next week. To help me figure out where I’ll be in five years. And down, down we go.
Here’s how to get out of the past and future, and into Now. Drop thought. Be here Now. Over here. Beyond thought. Drop thought. Be here Now, again, and again. Let go. Let God. We’ve heard it hundreds of times. Do we know what it means? It’s too simple. Is that what you’re thinking? It is simple.
It means, let go of thoughts. And your infinite Self is there. The real You. Behind all that past and future pandemonium. Be here Now, and Now, and Now… The infinite Self is there, waiting for you patiently. Just as it always has been. Be here Now. Get the mind out of the way. Drop wanting control immediately. Maybe quite a bit of insecurity. Drop it immediately.
Resolve to live Now. You know you want to do it. It takes more than a decision made over and over again. It takes, following through on the decision. Continually drop whatever stands in the way, called thoughts and feelings. Decide to live in the Now. It’s where all the gifts in the universe await you. Decide you can release and move beyond the thought distraction of past and future. Decide to immediately see mental noise as wanting approval, wanting control, or wanting security. Immediately let go of wanting approval, wanting control, or wanting security.
Decide. Release constantly. Thoughts of past and future quiet. You are the infinite Now. When stuck, let go of wanting to control whatever you’re feeling. Practice continually. Live in the Now. Be continually happier and lighter. And just be, and be, and be—and you will have everything. Free yourself of the tight, heavy shackles of past and future. Step out of the shadow of thought into the bright sunlight of the present moment. Take a deep breath.
Experience the new You.
Now is always new.