The Gift of Now (Part 2)
In the Moment
In part 1 – Patience and the Irony of Now, I addressed the ego’s version of now as a need or desire that must be instantly fulfilled. It is the ego’s version of eternity – the ongoing need to occupy every moment with something outside of myself, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. The ego is purposive. The work of the ego distracts us from the gift and power of now.
To most of us, now is simply a moment in time, and because we are so embedded in time, the concept of now, also known as the present moment, is elusive. The idea of a constant called now seems ridiculous because it is obscured by the illusion of time. The gift (and power) of now becomes a continually passing thing lost in the receptive cycles of minutes, hours, days and years. Yet, despite our ability to measure time, all we every really have is now.
In ancient Vedic texts like the Mahabharata and The Yoga Sutras, the first word of any important writing set the theme of what was to come in the rest of the material. The Yoga Sutras, begins with the word, “now”. Therefore, it must be an important concept and deserving of our attention. In a sense, the author is asking the reader to uphold the idea of “now” throughout the rest of the book.
The Yoga Sutras begin:
Now the exposition of Yoga is being made. ATHA YOGĀNUŚĀSANAṀ.
Now sets forth the meaning, purpose, and application of yoga. “Now” is the key word. It represents the present moment without fear of past or future. Yoga is now—a practice and guide to the immeasurable gift and power of the present moment.
This idea of now goes far beyond the practice of giving your undivided attention to someone or something. Although it may be helpful to some, it is not simply a matter of concentrating. In fact the gift and power of now will slip away under these pretenses. Now is the closest approximation we have to eternity while living in a dualistic world of time and space. Eternity is not time going on forever. It is the absence of time —something totally foreign (and often frightening) to us as bodies living in a temporal world. This is where faith becomes very helpful. Not hope, but faith. Hope is often buried in the quagmire of form. Years go by, and yet hope clings to a distant day when circumstances go my way. Faith rises above the form of any situation and looks for a better way in heart and mind—a clearer perspective that brings inner peace regardless of the outcome. Remember, every sage that walked the planet spoke of this inner experience as the source of happiness and peace. In a world of constant change and ongoing violence, wouldn’t it be nice to learn of and join with an eternal Reality that is not of this world? This is our yoga and it requires faith.
Yoga is not only a way to get exercise. Yoga must include the practice of being present, centered, joined, connected, etc. Any word will do, regardless of the situation. It must be available to all! Of course the yoga asana practice increases mobility and decreases pain, but at a higher level, it is also an opportunity to practice joining with an ongoing inner experience of peace and joy called now. How awesome is that? You can have the best of both worlds—inner peace and outer comfort!
This journey-less practice in heart and mind brings purpose to our lifetime, as the yoga student uses each and every moment as a teaching situation that sets them free to the higher, inner gift of Now. Like a dream, we cannot deny the temporal world we live in, but rather than being limited to the world (and being afraid of it), we can give it a higher purpose: to expose our attachment to the reality of time as our only reality.
Look at the news – the drama, the hype, the pain, the allure, the glory, the hope, the competition, and most of all, the suffering, and begin to see how captivating it is. We cling to these things because it is all we know. It’s what our senses tell us to be true. We cling to these things because it is all we know. It’s what our senses tell us to be true. But our senses are senseless without Presence—a guide that is known only when we slip past the senses to the here and now. This takes practice.
Moment by moment, the inner gift of Now is certain, kind and helpful because it is a reflection of whole, healed Love. The ego can worry and complain, but Nowness cannot. It is a state of mind denied by many, yet accessible by all. Nowness is the source of all peace and joy, and while it cannot be found in form, it can be reflected here through spirit in all that we do—not necessarily as a way of bettering the world, but as a way to teach love to oneself. Yoga is a way of thinking, and what you think is critical to both spiritual and worldly success.
The inner practice of yoga never stops. Therefore, our ongoing yoga practice is to be aware of any discordant thoughts or actions and begin to realize that that they take us out of the gift and power of Now. It is not our yoga to monitor others in this way. It is entirely a do-by-self practice. When this simple yet profound idea is taken to heart, if even for a moment, the goal of inner peace and joy is instantly attained. Yoga is now!
(To be continued… The Illusion of Time as A Cover to Nowness)