Be Where You Are

We tend to spend the whole day chasing our brains. The brain has a to-do list that’s a mile long. Every time you scratch off a completed item – or give up on an item when you realize you’ll never get it done – a new items appear at the bottom of the list.

Then we have to go to the trouble of prioritizing. Item number 14 needs to move up to item one by Tuesday. Suddenly item five has become an crisis. So you do number five at the same time you’re doing item one. Now you’re multi-tasking. And the horror of multi-tasking is that there’s no such thing. You can alternate back and forth between two tasks, but even the most buzzing brain can’t focus on two things simultaneously.

This is how we live our lives. The brain just loves this busyness. And when it’s time to take a break from tasks, we put our brain on the treadmill of media where our thoughts spin endlessly on the hamster wheel of psychic energy. Even sleep doesn’t bring rest as our dreams spin wild.

OK, time to go back to Paul Simon’s lyric: “Slow down you move to fast. You gotta make the moment last.”

There is a moment, and it lasts forever. It’s where your true life takes place. You don’t have to go on vacation or off to the mountains to find peace. Peace exists within you. You are peace. The brain is not you, no matter how much it insists it is.

Let the brain rage on. You can’t stop it. But you can slow down your breathing and realize You Are Here Now. And the You Here Now is peace itself. Nothing fancy. The You Hear Now is everything, and no noisy brain can disturb its eternal peace.

Advertisements

Nothing Exists But the Now

What time is it? It’s now. What times is it now? It’s still now. How about now?

Everything is now. Life seems linear. We’re young and then we’re older, and then we’re older yet. Or so it seems. That’s the story we live by. But in reality, the past doesn’t exist and the future doesn’t exist.

I’ve often thought our lives may be like the novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. In the tale, Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. He continually shifts from one moment in his life to another with no apparent reason. One day he’s a boy, then he finds himself in mid-life, and then he’s a child.

Vonnegut may have been on to something about how we actually live our lives – in a scattershot of time rather than a linear progression. Yesterday, I may have been five. Today I’m in mid-life. The only continuity is now. Right here, now.

When I was a teenager – which may have been yesterday – a friend challenged the notion that we die. He was unconvinced. I said, “Of course we die.”

He shook his head and asked, “Have you died?”

I replied, “Not yet.”

He said, “Then how do you know you’re going to die? You think you’re going to die because people told you you’re going to die, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“How do they know you’re going to die?”

“Everybody dies,” I replied.

He laughed. “That’s just what you’ve been told, but you haven’t died. So you don’t know?”

At the time I thought it was a crazy conversation. Yet it haunted me. Now it doesn’t haunt me because I’ve come to see what he meant. All I’ve known is a constant now. I believe in the now, and what’s there to believe in anything else?

 

Everything Is Not Enough

Lately I’ve been listening to the late Texas folksinger/songwriter, Townes Van Zant – always worthy time spent. One verse in particular stood out. On first blush, the words are rather plain. But the power of Van Zant’s words floored me on this recent go through. The lyrics come from the song “To Live Is to Fly”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JGc2CvM0EQ

Everything is not enough;
nothing is too much to bear.
Where you been is good and gone;
all you keep is the getting there.

While Van Zant is not ordinarily considered a spiritual songwriter, great songwriting always has spiritual aspects. You can’t say anything truly meaningful without saying something spiritual.

The first line, “Everything is not enough,” captures the crux of life. In this illusory world, true satisfaction is not possible. Since the world is an illusion, it cannot nourish. We must take nourishment from the vision of oneness within. So “everything” is the world could never be “enough.”

As for the second line, “nothing is too much to bear,” we get another look at the same thing – the world can’t give us what we need. Indeed, if we look to the world for satisfaction, we will receive “nothing,” and that’s a heartbreaker – it’s “too much to bear.”

The next line, “Where you’ve been is good and gone,” shows that the past also cannot nourish. Where we have been is “gone.” Then, he shows what we can “keep” from our experience in this world, it’s “the getting there.” The “getting there” is the now. We get to keep the now. It’s all we receive in this world because it’s the only thing that’s real.

These simple words sung in the folksinger’s vernacular – no fancy or poetic language here – says something quite powerful about what it’s like to be alive. In just 24 words, he has said enough to fill a book.