Current Update as of May 16, 2006
Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies
Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
Since the 1971 publication of Ram Dass' seminal book, Be Here Now, the "now" has been a popular exotic spiritual destination, like Tibet, for many seekers of truth. Unlike Tibet, no one has every actually been to the now; no one has ever wandered its streets, shopped in its markets, snapped pictures, or brought back souvenirs.
now is like the mythical yeti that is purported to prowl the high
white solitudes of Himalayan plateaus. No one has ever touched one,
or slept with one.
A nameless Chinese sage once remarked, "99.9% of everything you do and of everything you think is for the sake of yourself. And you don't have one." This is as good a cliff as any to jump from, because just as there is no "self," there is no "now." At least, there is no now to perceive or experience, no now to think of in the way we think of the past, future, beer, birthdays, or fishcakes.
Before moving on, we would be wise to reflect on what Rumi, the great poet of now, has to say: "However you think it is, it's different than that!" Take heart: just because the now doesn't exist, it doesn't mean the now isn't real. Let's pause here. Breathe this in: the now is real, but it doesn't exist. Breathe, relax, breathe. Okay, let's continue.
How can the now be real, but not exist? In the same way that a quark can be over there while still here. In the same way that whenever we are given two choices, we should always pick the third. In the same way that Woody Allen says, "Students achieving oneness can move ahead to twoness." In the same way that a déjà vu experience actually comes from the future to haunt the present, disguised as the past.
participant in one of my workshops once told me he had trouble "being
in the now." I asked him to show me where he went when he wasn't
being in the now. At first he didn't understand.
I asked him what kind of thoughts he gets lost in. He said, "Thoughts about the past, or the future." Then, he made the fatal mistake: "If I could just keep my thoughts centered in the present, in the now, I know I'd be better off, happier and more effective."
Really? Hmmmmm...no! NO! NO! Off with their heads! Over the cliff we go!
This is where the yeti, the now, quarks, reverse time, fishcakes, and columns of rioting Zen masters collide with copulating cosmic star systems to produce major major headaches of implausibility. Aspirin won't help. Books won't help. Meditation won't help. Secret words from nondual comedy clubs won't help.
The passenger-side outside rear-view mirror of many cars is inscribed with this bit of text: Caution: objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
Our thoughts are like these mirrors, each distorting reality in a peculiar and particular manner. Unlike the auto mirrors, the text on our thoughts should read: Objects in thought are farther than they appear. Thoughts about now are just as distorting as thoughts about the past, the future, or grandma's red bike.
This is why Lin-Chi, a great Zen master, once said, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha." What he means is that any thought, idea, image, or concept of the Buddha is not the Buddha.
All thoughts and images of the Buddha must be killed in order to realize (bring into reality) the true Buddha. So it is with the now. We can't think that thoughts about the now are the now. So it is with the self. We can't think that thoughts about our self, the Self, or our no- or nonself have anything to do with reality, which is far far far and farther still away from anything seen in the thought-mirrors of our minds.
did I say "no one has every actually been to the now"?
Because the self is an object in thought, appearing closer than
it is. So it is with time.
people speak about now, about being present, about the power of
intuition and spontaneity, but they don't speak from now while being
present, intuitive, and spontaneous.
we are going to speak about now, about reality, then both should
shoot from us like Independence Day fireworks, booming and exploding,
spewing sparks and geysers of light never before seen, never before
heard, surprising and delightfully original.
beyond the thinking mind is an unending field of love and quiet
beauty. One can lie down there, and live in eternity. This field
cannot be seen by the mind, it cannot be known by the mind; it can
only be felt and found with the heart.
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