'Sunset Over The Hill'
In one sense, we can choose to be here now or, at least, learn to be here now more than we are now being here now. In another sense, we cannot escape being here now. So, oddly, the spiritual life entails learning to be where and when we are anyway.
After his wife died, Mulla Nasrudin wedded a widow. The union was soon in trouble, for both Mulla and his wife kept talking about their former spouses.
One night, lying in bed, they began talking again about their previous partners. Suddenly, Mulla shoved his wife off the bed. She was very upset about this, so the next day she complained about Mulla to her father.
The father-in-law was rather angry about this and wanted an explanation. He asked Mulla why he had pushed his daughter off the bed. Mulla said, "Sir, please believe me; it was not my fault. There was not enough room." "What do you mean?" asked the confused father-in-law. "Well," said Mulla, "with my former wife and her deceased husband in the bed with us two, there were four of us. So, she just fell off!"
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Memory can easily encroach on today, on this moment, and we can miss the blessing of now. The more we allow the past to drop, the more it loses power. Part of having intentional times in silence is to observe how the past covers over the present.
In silence, we might find how we take long excursions into the past. Here, our mind is captivated by something that happened recently or years ago. We totally forget the joy of enjoying the present, communing with Grace.
So much of our human suffering arises from fear of the repetition of past suffering arising again or from judging ourselves for past mistakes. We might also enjoy reliving the past, for we feel it is better than our life now. Yet, we need not criticize ourselves for this. Instead, we gently release the past that is not really the past - it resurfaces only as a memory, so forming part of the present. The past has no more substance than the future. Neither is.
The heart always lives now - the eternal now. When the mind moves to the past, the heart stays in the present.
The closer we draw to the Beloved, the more we are released from the past. In this release, is healing from the suffering lingering into the present. With this healing, we find ourselves more able to be and love freely in the present.
One could argue that reflecting on the past is good if the memory is pleasant. One cannot logically deny that. However, ruminating on the past can become an emotional attachment. A little ruminating is one thing, especially if it is to remain grateful for blessings or persons. Much ruminating on the past, however, likely indicates one is trying to escape life now. Why engage excessive reflecton on your past, when the only life you have is your life now?
Additionally, when established in the unity of Presence, one can reflect on the past or project into the future without being caught by either, but few persons can do this for most are established in idenity of self as ego. The ideal is to work with detaching from memory into the past or future - for both are memory -, so to establish the whole being in the unity of the heart. One learns to listen with the whole self to the moment. Then, the attraction to past and future lose power to draw consciousness away from now.
This is signified in the "I AM." When saying "I am ...," that is without a was or will be, even I did or will do. This "I am" has no object to define, qualify, limit, or expand it. "Am" cannot extend into the past or future. The real I, not the fabricated I, or ego, is this timeless presence, is the heart. The heart is this "I am" in the "I AM."
The present is much like Mulla and his wife's bed. There is only so much can be in it. And this moment is always a fulness. So, this moment is sufficient to this moment, is it not? Possibly, then, we would do well to learn to be in communion more with the present fulness.
Stop, feel this moment. Relax into it. Let it touch you, all over. Feel the intimacy, as the space between your senses and the present dissolves into unity. This moment is full of God.
Peace to All!
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on mystical traditions, especially Christian and Sufi, with extensive notes on the teachings and imagery in the poetry.