Whilst sitting peacefully at home we can suddenly think of or remember an unhappy event, and then we feel sad. There could be absolutely nothing wrong with our lives in the present moment, yet a memory has intruded upon our peace and taken it away.
This self-inflicted pain reminds me of Jesus’ words of wisdom in Lesson 190 of the Workbook of A Course in Miracles. “It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you.” Workbook, p.361. Yet, at times, it seems as though we really are affected by external events or people.
The problem stems from our inability to continually live in the present moment. Watching my cats sitting serenely by my side, I can see how human beings must have somehow lost the wonderful insouciance that animals have because they live only in the present moment. There is no past or future to a cat or dog. There is just now, and it is obvious how much they enjoy the present moment. As far as we know, yesterday and tomorrow are concepts that animals know nothing about. We would be much happier if we were like that.
Yet we remain trapped in time. A guilty feeling because of something we didn’t do, or could have done better, takes our agitated minds back into a non-existent past. The past isn’t here anymore, but we pretend it is by thinking about it! And a thought about a future fearful event can also rob us of our present peace. The future isn’t here either, but we pretend it is by thinking about it! What a gift it must be to be able to live only in the here and now.
Lesson 308 reminds us: “This instant is the only time there is.” In this lesson Jesus tells us: “Time’s purpose cannot be to keep the past and future one. The only interval in which I can be saved from time is now. For in this instant has forgiveness come to set me free…?” W453
And spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tollé, in his book Practising the Power of Now, says the present moment is the most precious thing because, “It’s all there is…the Now…is your only point of access into the timeless and formless realm of Being.” p.23.
We may not realise that we are trapped in time because we tend to be very busy. It’s only when we are able to slow down and watch our thoughts that it becomes pretty obvious that living in the now is not the easiest thing to do. But it is certainly worth the effort to monitor our thoughts and to gently bring them back into the present moment whenever we realise they have gone wandering back into the past or forwards into the future.
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