You only have control over the present, so live it to the fullest. Bhagavad Gita
These are troubled times. We have an equal number of members who can look out for tomorrows and others who are glad for their todays. I am looking forward to what our kiddo has to say about this.
In the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, a great deal of the philosophy is centred on the NOW. Meditation is an important part of the spiritual experiences in the oriental way of thinking and in their philosophy. Karma or to call it by its popular interpretation, Fate has an integral part of our thought processes.
We instinctively believe that whatever happens, happens for the best. Whatever happens in our lives is a result of the two bundles that we carry in our souls, Paapa and Punya…sins and merits. When we concentrate on our deeds, on our doing, we are in fact focussing on the NOW. Meditation helps us to….
Be present in the present as the present is the presence of the Supreme Presence.
Current day self-help teachers advise us to live in the present. We can give our best in the present because we are there totally in mind, body and soul. The past is important. It gives us the experience to mould our present reactions to a given situation. We must and should plan for the future. Whether we look at the past or expect from the future, in actual practice it is the present on which we have total control. Whatever action has to be taken is in the NOW.
However, this is not easy to do for the mind is a monkey. It will wander and not let us focus on the present. It requires willpower and that is not an easy thing to harness. So one of the things that our philosophy tells us to do is to spend our moments of uncertainty, doubt and vacillation with service. When we turn our focus to giving, to serving somebody else’s needs, the focus becomes NOW, the present.
Eckhart Tolle, has written a great deal about the Power of Now.
He says, “DO NOT BE CONCERNED WITH THE FRUIT OF YOUR ACTION — just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord”. This is a powerful spiritual practice that is also one of the basic tenets of the Gita.
Tolle says, be where you are. “Learn to look around without interpreting. See the light, shapes, colors, textures and be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be”. We automatically tend to connect the dots when we are in any situation. We do not look at a rainbow and just look at it, absorbing its beauty, the wonder of it. We are programmed to look for the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow. We want to see if there is just one, or 2 rainbows. We want to click the photograph for our eternity. We are afraid that a rainbow will never happen again. We want to time it, to call a few people to see it, WhatsApp it and ……..
One of the biggest obstacles to being fully present is our cultural, universal obsession with the idea of more and instant gratification. We want more food, more information, more news, more hits on Facebook, more money, more material things, more experiences, travel etc. etc. And we want all this just now. We are highly impressed by people who are informed, hyper-busy, who multi-task constantly and who are “achievers”! We say and admire the person saying s/he must be important! In today’s technological world, this instant gratification of ‘more’ is available non-stop …easily, instantaneously, simultaneously and in a never ending list of possibilities. Being busy all the time playing mind games, there is no time for doing things that will really improve our being qualitatively. With so much information, we are lost for what is truly relevant. So much stimulation has left us blasé and unfeeling. Multitasking is only making us a Jack of all trades, master of none.
Tolle says “When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. The realm of Being, which had been obscured by the mind, then opens up. Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you, an unfathomable sense of peace. And within that peace, there is great joy. And within that joy, there is love. And at the innermost core, there is the sacred, the immeasurable, That which cannot be named”.
When we train ourselves to realize deep within us that the present moment is all that I will ever have, our whole being changes and becomes still.
Yasmaannodvijate loko lokaannodvijate cha yah |
Harshhamarshhabhayodvegairmuk- to yah sa cha me priyah ||
“He, by whom the world is not agitated and whom the world cannot agitate, he who remains calm in times of joy, anger, fear and anxiety, is dear to me.” Says Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. It is a great lesson to remain calm and composed, both in times of joy and in sorrow. This helps to maintain a sense of equanimity. When I accept this moment fully, then I gain ease in the here and now and with myself.
Here are two stories about living in the NOW
Arjuna and the Fish Eye
In the epic Mahabharata, the renowned archery master Dronacharya was training the five Pandava brothers in the art and skill of archery. Karna was also his tudent.. Karna was the stepbrother of the Pandavas, but nobody knew this. There was a keen rivalry between Karna and Arjuna.
One day, the five Pandava brothers and Karna were tested on their skill. Guru Drona tied a wooden painted fish high on a tree branch above a pool of water. He then asked each student to shoot the fish in the eye while looking at the image in the water below.
As each student came up to perform the feat, Guru Drona asked, “Son, what do you see?”
The oldest, Yudhisthira, answered, “The sky, the tree, the …,” and before he could finish, Drona stopped him mid sentence and asked the next student to take his place.
The next Pandava, Bhima answered, “The branch of the tree, the fish, the…,” and was rejected.
Karna, who was easily the best archer too failed in this test. Finally Arjuna, the ace-archer, was asked the same question. He immediately answered, “I see the eye of the fish.”
Guru Drona was delighted and said, “Shoot!” Arjuna’s arrow unwaveringly pierced right through the eye of the fish.
A Zen Story
After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.
“There,” he said to the old man, “see if you can match that!”
Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old man’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a faraway tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.
“Now it is your turn,” he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.
Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.
“You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.”
This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog topic that was suggested by Raju. Please do go over to the other bloggers to see how they are comfortable in their NOW.