Live in the Present
The present moment is all we have, and it becomes the doorway to true calm, your healing refuge. The only place you can love, or heal, or awaken is here and now, the eternal present. Create life a day at a time. You cannot know the future. It is a mystery. But you can plant beautiful seeds here and now and learn to tend them with the love and courage and survival instinct that is inborn in you. Somerset Maugham once said, “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” He wrote marvelous novels, the only way we can, a page at a time.
Becoming aware and mindful is not some magical cure. Your problems will not automatically and easily disappear. Being anxious and sad, angry and fearful, hurt, lost, and even despairing in difficult times is part of the natural process of suffering. Even being overwhelmed by challenging emotions is a natural part of the journey. If you judge yourself against some impossible ideal of how you think you “should” be feeling and acting as you struggle, you’ll only add to your suffering.
Being alive is finding ourselves in the midst of a great and mysterious paradox. There are ten thousand joys and sorrows in every life, and at one time or another we will be touched by all of them. We will all experience birth and death, success and loss, love and heartbreak, joy and despair. And in every moment of your life there are millions of humans just like you all over the world who are being confronted by situations that are equally overwhelming and are struggling to somehow learn how to survive them. As George Washington Carver said, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong … because some day in life you will have been all of these.”
Listen to your thoughts with mindful awareness. You will see the evanescent nature of thoughts, that they are fleeting ideas, all impermanent. And then you can begin to realize that just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it—much less act on it—and certainly not get caught up in the whole stream of them. You can release the mind of some of its more dangerous patterns. Observing the mind with mindfulness brings liberation.
After you learn to see what’s in your mind and learn to release or disidentify with the unhealthy patterns, you discover a deeper level of liberation. My teacher Sri Nisargadatta explained it like this: “The mind creates the abyss and the heart crosses it.” When you rest in the present moment with mindfulness, you open to a presence which is timeless and beyond the understanding of thought. It’s by returning to the awareness beyond thoughts that you experience real healing. When your mind and heart open, you realize who you are, the timeless, limitless awareness behind all thought.
This excerpt is taken from the book, “A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times.”