"You are looking for what is looking."
~ St. Francis of Assisi
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Be Still.....Be Now.....Be Present
Now is all there is. There is no other time. The past and future are concepts that can be thought about now but they can never be experienced now.
We believe in the illusion of a separate self. Self is only a concept. Eckhart Tolle, (Stillness Speaks, 2003) explains, "The mind is incessantly looking not only for food for thought; it is looking for food for its identity, its sense of self. This is how the ego comes into existence and continuously re-creates itself."
Trees, water, sky, hills--why do we divide life up and name the parts we have created?
The ego, manufactured by the mind, tells you who you are. The ego tells you that you are a body and its thoughts. Since you are a body, you can die. Since you can die, you are always in danger. Now must be broken up into pleasurable things, that are to be moved toward, and painful things that are to be avoided. Life is divided in two-- living and dying. The ego tells you that pleasure and life are the same and that pain and death are the same. This perpetuates the ego's practice of constantly resisting now--telling you that your life has problems that must be avoided and solutions that must be found. Suffering is born out of the stories we tell ourselves about pain. "Inner alignment with now is the end of suffering." (Stillness Speaks, 2003)
There is a tension that constantly moves us away from now. It says, "Go do something." It says, "Accomplish this." When a goal is accomplished, it is quickly replaced by another goal, and the moving away from now continues. It constantly seeks some time other than now. Instead of experiencing now as it is without labels, judgments, and descriptions, this mind-made self causes your true self to become lost in thought. To keep denying the reality of now, just as it is, it perceives and then describes life to you. You begin to have a relationship with life.The fact that you are life becomes obscured.
The ego chatters incessantly. It tells you that there are things outside you and things inside you. Things that are inside you are admitted into consciousness. Things outside you are denied and become subconscious or are projected "out there" so that they can be judged and related to as if they are separate objects. The ego divides up the whole of reality into parts that it names and counts. "The landscape is made up of separate things. This is a tree, that is the ground, there is the sky." This abstracting denies the fact that there is no real dividing line between the tree, the ground, and the sky--or between anything and anything else. Everything is connected.
By moving away from now and into an imaginary future, or into a remembered past, the ego seeks to establish its existence and keep the mind from discovering the truth by accepting what is now. In the future, it tells you, you can add this or that or something else to yourself and become bigger. Tomorrow you will have accomplished more. Next year you will make more money. Further denying now, the ego ruminates about the past and all its horror. Still continuing its denial of now, the ego sometimes tells you about the "good ole days" of the past.
By breaking up life and moving away from now, the ego is addicted to dualistic knowledge. This is good. That is bad. It never allows reality to be experienced and known directly as a whole just as it is. The ego can only continue its existence by thinking about life. The ego cannot exist in the only time there ever is: Now.
How do you stay in the now? You feel life as it is. You experience instead of describing experience. You observe thought instead of believing it and becoming lost in it. You accept what is instead of resisting it. Even if something is happening that you would rather not be happening, you can feel and accept that you don't like what is happening now. Consistent with the Serenity Prayer, learn to change what should be changed and accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed. Just be and accept that there is nothing you need to do and nowhere you need to go. Things are the only way they can be. Stop resisting now.
That doesn't mean to stop living your life and having accomplishments. It means to be present while you are living life and having accomplishments. Feel your life. Accept and be with the feeling without labeling it or describing it or resisting it. Every success in recognizing the ego and its motivations can be built upon. Along the way, learn to observe the ego's criticizing of your progress in staying present. Eventually, it will lose its motivation to continue its chatter. When it collapses, along with its mindless emotional thinking, you will know yourself and find "the peace that surpasseth all understanding." All that is left is the timeless now.
Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks (Novato: New World Library, 2003 and Vancouver: Namaste Publishing, 2003), p. 27, p. 118. Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters (Bantam Books, 1980). Ken Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness, 20th Anniversary Edition (The Theosophical Publishing House, 1993). A Course in Miracles (Foundation for Inner Peace, 1985). Tony Parsons, As It Is (Inner Directions Publishing, 2002).