Dealing With Past, Present and Future: The power of here and now
In life we experience two main emotions: one is pleasure, the other is pain. They come and they go; they are a normal part of the human experience. But what happens is that our minds try to maintain the good and push away the bad. It’s a kind of tug-of-war where we say “I want this” and “I don’t want that.” This has the result of causing struggles in our lives.
The mind tries to hold onto pleasurable events and push away or control painful events. It becomes restless and tries to dominate our experiences. What happens is that we suffer because we are hanging onto that which ultimately isn’t real. The mind tries to categorize, separate and divide events; it tries to seek pleasure and drive away pain. This process causes suffering. But what is real at the deepest level is our witnessing of the events (and what is there even before this witnessing occurs). What is real is the beautiful, perfect balance which we call the universe as well as the existence of the that which cannot be described. We are all that – an inexplicable, perfect entity.
Every one of us should see ourselves as the sky: the glorious, infinite sky. When a beautiful, fluffy cloud goes by and we jump into it, we say, “Oh, this is fun! I really like this!” and we want to experience it and stay there instead of letting it pass. When a dark cloud comes by, it is ominous and seems to cover us so that we feel we are the dark cloud. We might stay inside it because of all the pain and suffering. Ultimately, what happens is that we forget that we are not the clouds, but the sky. If we identify with being the infinite sky, when the dark cloud comes along bringing pain we will witness it but not identify with it. We won’t label it, but rather just experience it, and then it will go. The same is true with pleasures. When they come, we should enjoy them and witness them, but realize that they are not who we are. When we attempt to hang onto the pain or pleasure, we bring suffering on ourselves. If we just let them come and go, and flow with life, we can enjoy the beautiful light clouds while they’re there and realize that the dark clouds will pass. If we can witness this, we will return to the memory that we’re the infinite sky and all will be well.
At the deepest level, it’s important to know that we are even beyond witnessing, beyond the sky, beyond anything that can be described. We should try to be that. The sky and the clouds, they all come from us. We need to realize that everything occurs in the present moment, and this very moment is all that exists. The past and future exist but everything is happening in the present moment – right here, right now.
The present moment contains a true reality that the past and future can never possess, because they can only be held in the here and now. The past is always just a memory. When we remember something from the past, it is just that – something remembered. The future, on the other hand, is imagination. It is never real, because you have to imagine it in order for it to be a truth in the here and now. The past isn’t real and the future isn’t real, except for how we experience them in the present time. If we think of memories, they only occur in the present time because they need to be remembered in order to exist. The past and future, therefore, cannot exist except in the here and now. The present moment is all there is. All things and memories are embraced and truly experienced 100% in the present. If we go back to our earliest memories, we can ask ourselves: Has anything changed? The only thing that changes is the event. Our experience or witnessing of the event remains the same.
For example, I remember visiting my grandparents on their farm and there was a huge snowstorm, and then a great snow bank which we played in when I was very young. I remember going to pre-school, beginning to color and draw. It was a wonderful experience. I remember my dad taking me to the backyard where we had a slight hill and riding a bike for the first time down that hill. But the experience, the witnessing of those events is exactly the same as now when I have a home, am married, am raising my own children, working, riding a car or going on vacation. The experience of these events is the same. Even though the events and my interpretations of them have changed, the experience of the events has remained the same.
A way in which to explore this is to glance through photo albums; look through pictures or mementos that jar your memory of the past. While you do this, remember the events but see that who remembers and witnesses the events is always the same. Although events change, there is always a sense of “I am.” Even when we are dreaming, there is an essential, ultimate part of ourselves that witnesses the dream. “I am” remains the same, whether in a dream, a memory or a situation that is happening right here and now.
Allow yourself to experience the pure bliss of everything being complete and whole, right here and right now. You can do this by not trying to fight life or suffering. If you can flow with life, then the suffering will disappear. You will understand that life is perfect and realize that pain and pleasure will pass but what remains the same is the witnessing of them. When pleasure or pain comes, we should not try to hold onto them or be defined by them. If we do, that in itself will cause suffering. Instead, flow with life and realize that all is well. The mind can’t achieve this state, but if you let go and just be, life becomes beautiful. In that state, you will see that even suffering can possess beauty. Flow with life and truly, all will be well.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and creates a podcast and articles that explores the world of Enlightenment available at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com He also has a blog at http://www.Meditation-Enlightenment.com He is the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com He has a weekly podcast that explores the world of Happiness at http://www.HappinessPodcast.org If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is DrPuff@cox.net