Sunday, May 1, 2011

Remaining Present in Rapidly Changing Times

The last few weeks have been intense, and many of you may have felt as though you were in a ‘pressure cooker.’ However, by time this is posted, most of you will be feeling much more settled and secure, more content with yourself and your life, and more optimistic regarding the future.  There will be more vitality and less stress.


It is all a part of rapidly changing times. When ‘the times are a changing,’ it is extremely important to remain present, as a living, aware, conscious entity, fully alert in the existing moment, remaining inwardly still. Otherwise we might get caught up in changing times on the outside and forget our true nature on the inside.

To be honest, and which you might have already concluded, this is a challenging time for those living on the planet Earth. We are facing changes unlike anything that has happened in our lifetimes, and unlike most of what we know as ‘recorded history,’ which is exceedingly more limited than most have any idea. A lot has happened on the planet that our current so-called ‘civilization’ has no idea of, as there are no records from the past in the sense that we recognize as such.

Records have been left, such as the pyramids and the sphinx from ancient Egypt, for example, but modern people have lost touch with the secrets of correctly interpreting them. I wonder what will be left of our ‘modern age’ for future generations to puzzle over. What would they think of us if all that is left, for example, is Disneyworld?

To make it through this time of intense changes, it is very important that we remain consciously present and that we focus our awareness on the Truth of the present moment—not on what is happening on the outside, for that occurs in time, which is of the physical world only. The Truth is never anything that can be described in words as a story, for that is one definition of an egotistical melodrama. The Truth, although eternal, doesn’t ‘continue’ in the linear way we ordinarily experience life.

A fellow recently wrote: "You say to replace unpleasant feelings with pleasant feelings. Yet sometimes it feels as though there is nothing present other than the unpleasant feeling, and that there is no one around interested in replacing it or doing anything about it at all except mope around in it.

"My own thing is sadness. Sometimes it gets very intense when I let myself get involved in some poignancy that I have taken personally. My wife’s thing is anger. Sometimes she becomes the embodiment of anger, and there’s no one else at home. Later she herself says, ”It was as though I could do nothing about it, like someone else had completely taken over.”

"So she gets angry at me when I’m sad, because she thinks I’m being weak, and I get sad when she gets angry at me, because I feel like she doesn’t even like me anymore, much less love me. How can someone be so mean to the person they supposedly love?

"‘So, Ram, what’s the way out of this? How do we gather the power to replace all this heavy stuff with something more cheerful and uplifting? Doing so sounds great as philosophy or theory, but often it doesn’t feel the least bit realistic."

Let’s return to the paragraph preceding the letter: To make it through this time of intense changes, it is very important that we remain consciously present and that we focus our awareness on the Truth of the present moment—not on what is happening around us, for that is in time and of the physical world only. The Truth is never limited to anything that can be described in words as a story, for that is one definition of an egotistical melodrama. The Truth, although eternal, doesn’t ‘continue’ in the linear way we ordinarily experience life.

The letter, as sincere and honest as can be, was still only a story. Sure, the emotions he describes are very heavy, very overpowering, and can fill us so full there is no room for anything else. Anger and sadness both have the capacity to take over and dominate our psychic system. They are triggered and nurtured by describing stories, inwardly to ourselves or outwardly to others, that seemingly confirm the reality of the perceived ‘cause’ of our unpleasant emotion.

Unpleasant emotions are a great hindrance to sadhana, especially when one becomes a habitual pattern, triggered by anything of even the slightest relevance. There will be sadness, there will be anger, there will be grief—though grief is not truly in the category of ‘negative’ emotions.’ It is something deeply human that must be completed once it arises, or the energy of it branches into other problems of a physical or psychological nature.

This is why we urge you to be as cheerful and lighthearted as possible. These states are like lights keeping the darkness away. Don’t seriously consider anything that seems that serious. Remain true to your lightheartedness and you can never go wrong.

As Bob Dylan said, The times are a-changing. I was a teenager in 1960. I remember life then. By 1970 life and the world seemed very different. Back then, we couldn’t have comprehended the world as it is today, with our instant messaging back and forth, even writing this blog and knowing that others will read it within minutes—not long ago that would have seemed like science fiction, yet even science fiction never came up with this one, or with many of the things that we take for granted today.

Speaking of different ‘times,’ it is important to honor each period of time for what it was, understanding that each time was complete as it was without necessarily having to be ‘continued.

Sometimes we cause ourselves great unhappiness because we want to mix up times, we want to bring another time over into this time, or think this time should be different from how it ended up, and we can never be content or fulfilled as long as we persist in our dissatisfaction with the present moment.

As a personal example, I enjoyed being a father and a family man when my children were growing up. Sometimes I tend to feel as though my children should be still young, still running around outside, still needing me in the same ways, still being around where it feels good just to watch them. So I need to honor that time for what it was, knowing that it was complete in itself. Honoring it for what it was, I can be happy about it, I can be in harmony with the natural order of things. I can be content in knowing my children are all very happy, all enjoying their lives as they make their way in this world.  They have what they need and their future looks bright.  I have much gratitude for that.

The best time, the most perfect time, is NOW. Yet we find this so hard to believe, so threatening to accept. How could now, this ordinary, uneventful life I live, be the most perfect time? That’s ludicrous. Either we think the past was better or we think the future will be better. We have a hard time believing that right now is the best time possible.

If we only understood that what we know as ‘God,’ or pure Consciousness, or the inner Self shared simultaneously by all, is beneficent in nature. Whatever created us and sustained us until now is still looking out for our interests. Yet we lose awareness of this and we forget gratitude for all that we have. God is a loving God. We are love. We have so much love within our heart. Imagine how much love is in God’s heart. Of course, ultimately, we share the same heart. So the source of love is quite vast—even supremely infinite.

The Truth of the present moment cannot be described in words or comprehended as concepts. It is the deepest, simplest, and most fundamental experience we have from moment to moment, although it remains very still. It is our own Awareness of Being, which exists ONLY in the present moment.

The Truth is not about whether have a headache or a backache or not. It is not whether we’re feeling good or not either. Neither is it whether we’re thinking a true thought or not. Regarding this, we have a tendency to assume that what we’re thinking is true, yet we rarely investigate it to be sure. What is currently happening in the physical, emotional, mental, and even psychic realms are included in the Truth of the Present Moment, but none of them, in themselves, represent the full Truth.

Awareness cannot be described; it can only be alluded to.

The Truth is that which enables us to see and know what is happening on all those other realms. In the Upanishads it is said that pure Consciousness is the Witness of the mind. Indeed, It watches over all, without description or judgment, appreciating the perfection of it all.

The Witness, or inner Observer, sees nothing going wrong anywhere. With great equanimity, and with supreme compassion, It watches the cosmic movie of life, not only appreciating it, but actually delighting in it.

We do not live in a time where life on earth is intended to be easy. Over time, it will get more and more challenging, although the beings being born now are up to the challenge. For now, however, certain planetary tensions have released a bit, and everyone should find it easier to feel better for a while, to rest up and rejuvenate—even as we go about our daily activities.  Gather your energy now, when it is relatively easy to do so, for later on we will be challenged.

If we remain attuned to that in us which is always perfectly present, and ignore the apparent changes happening all around us, we live in the awareness of the inner Self, which is very comforting and blissful. If, however, our attention is pulled into the ever-changing outer world of objective humanity, it will be challenging to even remember who we are.

Deep within is a great light. It is the light of pure Awareness, illuminating all that is perceived. Truly, it is the light of the world; without it the cosmos could not exist. Meditate on this light, even while performing daily activities, and soon you will light up the room you sit in, you will radiate light into your environment and to all who know you. Focus on light in the heart and you will become lighthearted. Become aware of the light that fills your head and extends above it as subtle rays of energy, often perceived as an aura.

As you practice focusing more and more on the inner Light, and seeing the Light pervading and permeating the universe, even your inner worlds, including your dreams and beyond, you will become more and more established in your own conscious Presence right here and now, just as you are. And you will become more and more detached from the constantly changing world all around you, the world perceived by the five physical senses.

Practice being present and still inside, while simply noting, with great equanimity, the constantly moving and ever-changing world on the outside, and your life will be transformed in ways you could never imagine.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

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