Monday, 24 September 2012

Living in the present

I have received a comment from a good friend quoting Swami Dayananda, which states "the present moment is undefinable. It is not even a micro or a nano second. One cannot stop the motion of time to live in the present".  So I thought I will write a bit in detail explaining what I mean by living in present.

Yes, ‘present’ is undefinable as a container. But usually we refer to the time content only by the word present.  This content can be small or big as in present moment or present millennium. In the present, we act physically with our sense organs and also mentally with our mind.  Mind can be focused on the action we are engaged in or employ itself in an activity connected with it or may be, even totally unconnected with it.  For example, as you are reading this blog your eyes are travelling over the words while the mind is absorbing the meaning, forming an overall picture.  This it can do with concentration, eyes and mind focused on the words, with no disturbance and without simultaneously reacting to the ideas or it can do without concentration, i.e. with a background noise like music, or forming a judgment simultaneously about the idea or comparing it with similar ideas, it has read, even at the time of reading itself or merely wandering elsewhere in totally unconnected fields.  Reading with concentration as explained first, is an example of living in the present. This is true of any action, whether it is listening, eating, walking, praying, meditating etc.  This means that when our body is involved in any action our mind must also be 100% in it, without travelling back or ahead or tangentially.  Actions include enjoyment of fruits of actions as well.  When there is a total acceptance of the results without complaints or without excitement, then we are living in the present, while experiencing the fruits of action.  When mind and body as a single unit are focused on the action, then we are living in the present, while acting.

Our thoughts are mostly about the past or the future and not on the present. So when we live in the present, we have a thought-free mind and a thought-free mind is a happy mind, free of stress and tension. This happiness is not the one coming from external things or events, but the intrinsic happiness that is one’s real nature and that comes from mind’s quietness.  It is this happiness we enjoy in deep sleep, when the mind is totally quiet and the sense organs are not in contact with the outside world.  When the mind is absolutely quiet, one is in contact with one’s real Self, Consciousness, which is of the nature of happiness only.  For our real Self is in essence, Brahman, whose nature is Sat, Chit, Aanand i.e pure Existence, pure Consciousness and pure Bliss.  Present always, is. This isness is pure Existence, Sat.  When one can consciously keep the mind quiet, one is in one’s true Self and so enjoys true bliss.  It is this happiness that realized souls like Ramana Maharishi enjoyed and radiated always.
Though we may not be able to live in the present continuously in all our activities in the waking state like these realized souls, we can make a beginning by practicing it at the time of prayer at home and at the time of our visit to any temple.  As our eyes are fixed on the form, let our lips chant His Nama and mind be contemplating His glory.  This effort to live in the present can be slowly extended to our other activities like eating etc., and through this let us root ourselves more and more in our real divine Self  by living in the present. When practiced over a time as a sadhana, this will help us to attain purity of mind by imbibing the positive qualities that Sri Krishna describes as Daivi Sampath in the 16th chapter of Gita, besides helping us to lead a stress free happy life, with no regrets for the past and  fear of the future.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Getting old

We all live in two planes all the time, physical and mental.  In the physical plane we have no option; we have to live in the present.  However much we want, we will not to be able to reverse our body makeup to the past, or forward it to the future. The millions of cells in the body constantly undergo change executing their dance of creation and destruction faster at young age, pace slowing down as the body gets old.  At a certain stage the destruction is at a greater rate than creation, a clear forerunner of what is in store for the body as a whole. So in the physical plane one is compulsorily forced to live in present. 

But in the mental plane, it is a different story. Here we have the option to stay in the present or wander in the past or fly into the future. Most of the time we either live in the past or in the future, to escape from the present or due to the mind’s fickle nature, thus compensating for the body’s inability as well. Mind moving in the past brings in worries, regrets and guilt feeling to the present and moving in the future brings fear and anxieties to the present. One may ask: Do we not relive happy moments of the past? Do we not have pleasant expectations of the future? Yes, we do at times feel happy recollecting past moments of joy or bask in future expectations of happiness. But if we carefully analyse these moments, we will discover our nostalgia for the past is tinged with regrets and visions of future happiness laced with fear of possible pitfalls in the path to future. So negative emotions are inescapable when our mind stays in the past or runs into the future.  Not only that.  Our negative emotions in the present like anger and hate get fuelled by our thoughts from the past. This tendency to live in the past gets more pronounced as one gets old. 

As one gets old, one finds one is losing control over the body, with each part declaring its independence one by one or sometimes collectively. Some lose their functions partially/ totally. As for future, more helplessness and afflictions, not to speak of exit stare at one. One tends to feel lonely and neglected as one feels one has lot to offer by way of advice but there is no one to listen to it, nor has anybody time to listen.  So to escape from all that one takes refuge in the thoughts of past. This in turn leads to depression and to self pity.  Unless one comes to terms with advancing age and learn to accept the present with all its drawbacks, one will find life miserable and in turn make life miserable for others as well who want to help.

To accept and live in the present:
Keep yourself happy always.  When you feel really happy, your heart is full and there is no room for negative emotions.  Even if you cannot feel happy, fake it to make it. For whenever you feel happy, you are very much in the present, with neither past haunting you nor future threatening you.

   Keep yourself engaged to discover the divinity in yourself, which Sri Vivekananda declares as end and aim of human life.  Study, reflection and Satsang are three important aids in this regard.  Study of sastras namely Gita and Upanishads with the help of a good commentary or by listening to a good teacher, reflection on the sastraic teachings, getting the doubts cleared through discussion with the likeminded peers or by referring to the teacher and satsang or association with people who have the same tastes in sastraic study will help one to get focused in discovering one’s links with divinity and also stay focused in the present.

   Stay tuned to the presence of God in all things, while maintaining through prayer your links with God, God as Karmaphaladhata who can give you the strength of mind to bear the strong adverse Karmaphalas and minimize or mitigate the weak adverse Karmaphalas. Let not the frailities of the body affect your mind by remembering that old age is another role you are playing in the stage of the world as childhood, youth, and middle age, in the past, and all these roles do not really affect your real Self, Athma, your link with divinity