The experience of the present moment is an experience of Presence. It is called Presence simply because it’s what we experience when we are fully present. Although Presence is too mysterious, rich, and profound to be captured by words, we have many words for it, including Stillness, Silence, Ultimate Reality, the Now, Essence, the Sacred, Wholeness, the Mystery, the Divine, “the peace that passeth all understanding,” Unity, Oneness, Love, Truth, and Awareness. These are all attempts to describe the ineffable experience of being in touch with who we really are.
We use words such as stillness, silence, peace, and love to describe Presence not only because we become still, silent, peaceful, and loving when we’re in Presence, but also because when we become still, silent, peaceful, or loving, we drop into Presence. Thus, many of the words that describe Presence are both a description and a prescription for experiencing it.
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There is nowhere that the Divine is not. Stop a moment and really take this truth in, because the mind has a very different perception. If really grasped, this truth will change your life. Everything you see, everything and everyone that exists, and everything that happens is a manifestation of the Divine. The Divine is not only behind every good act, but also behind every evil one, which is what happens when the you that you think you are is lost in fear and the illusion of being separate. The Divine is both the perpetrator and the victim, the lover and the hater. It plays every role that has ever been played because there is no other. There is only the illusion of other.
Imagine that—there is no other! The mind is so good at imagining, but it has difficulty imagining Oneness because it goes against its programming. So when Oneness is experienced, as it is momentarily many times even in one day, it isn't acknowledged. Oneness goes unnoticed, unappreciated by the mind. Worse than that—Oneness is rejected by the egoic mind because acknowledging it would threaten its existence. The ego doesn't exist in Oneness; it can only exist in separateness. The ego is created by and perpetuates separation. That is the very definition of the ego. The ego and Oneness are at odds, or so it seems. However, Oneness designed life to be this way, so Oneness has no problem with the ego, although the ego has a problem with Oneness.
This may sound obvious, but you have to want happiness to have it. You have to want to be happy more than you want to be you (the egoic self), with all your stories, beliefs, opinions, judgments, dreams, and memories. Happiness will never be found in being you, not even in being a better, improved version of you. It can only be found in losing your self—losing all thoughts that relate to the me, the false self—and finding your true self.
This is the price to be paid for happiness. Happiness isn’t attained by improving ourselves or by working harder or by having more money, more beauty, more success, or more friends because we won’t ever have enough of these things to make the ego happy. As long as we are focused on the me, we won’t find happiness because the ego doesn’t know how to be happy. Only in realizing we are not the ego—we are not who we think we are—will we find true happiness. When we discover who we really are, we don’t need anything to make us happy because we already are happy.
I received some very good questions from someone recently, and it seemed that it might be helpful to share the answers in a blog post. So here they are, with my answers below:
Q: I am now on my second time through your book Embracing the Now. I have a couple questions that hopefully you can help me with. How does soaking in the moment and having hopes, dreams, goals, etc. work together? I see that you are active and writing books, but how does that come about if you are observing life and just being?
Being present in the moment isn't just a matter of just being, soaking in the moment, and observing life. Being in the Now and living in the Now is not a passive experience but includes action. When we are present in the moment, we become aware of the urges, impulses, and inspirations to move, speak, and take action and we follow those impulses. These movements and actions come from Essence, our deepest self (not the ego) and move us forward in our life if we notice them and allow them to move us. So being present is not just a matter of being and observing life but also of moving in response to Life—to how we are called to move, act, and speak. Being present is a way of being and living that is quite different from following the egoic mind’s suggestions about what to do and how to be. Those suggestions and ideas are primarily conditioning and not necessarily true and wise, although following this conditioning is how most people live.
When we are present in the moment, we don't need the ego’s hopes, dreams, or goals to motivate or guide us because we are guided intuitively moment to moment by something much deeper than our egoic thoughts. Hopes, dreams, and goals are often our egoic mind’s idea of how we should live. However, some of our dreams and goals come from a deeper place—from Essence. We feel them deeply in our soul, and they move us to fulfill them. We feel them and we might then think about them, but these deeper goals arise from deep within us, not from our mind. They do not originate in the mind. These deeper dreams and goals are worth pursuing, and we are guided intuitively in pursuing them moment to moment.
Stressful thoughts and feelings happen, and they seem to be our stressful thoughts and feelings. As long as they feel like ours—as long as we’re identified with them and believing them—then our stressful thoughts and feelings take us for a ride. We can get off this ride and into a different relationship to our thoughts and feelings by recognizing that they are part of our humanness, part of the human condition, and not a reflection of who we really are.
Our thoughts and feelings don’t belong to us. We didn’t put them there or create them. It would be more accurate to say that they belong to all of humanity. Thoughts and feelings come with being alive. They are part of the human animal, part of the body-mind that we operate through. We are not the body-mind or our thoughts and feelings but that which animates the body-mind and uses it as a vehicle to experience this glorious world of form. Yet, we are programmed to experience our thoughts and feelings as ours.