It is NOW!
It is NOW in San Francisco.
It is NOW in New York.
It is NOW in Tokyo.
It is NOW in Timbuktu.
It is NOW everywhere.
It is forever NOW.
NOW is not a moment sandwiched between the past and the future, it is the only moment that is real. NOW is the only moment in which one can engage one’s mind, body and heart with whatever is out there; it is the only moment in which all our senses are engaged with existence. It is the only moment in which we can shed tears or jump with joy, punch someone or kiss them, smell a rose or get pricked by its thorn, sip a glass of wine, watch a full moon or make love.
The past is a memory and the future is yet to happen. Both past and future are mental constructs. This moment is the only moment in which we can experience reality or Reality. If one is searching to know what is real and looking to experience it, it is possible only in this moment; only NOW.
Rumi, perhaps the greatest poet ever to have lived, describes the present moment thus:
“In every instant there’s dying and coming back around.
Muhammed said, this world is a moment, a pouring that refreshes and renews itself so rapidly it seems continuous,
As a burning stick taken from the fire looks like a golden wire when you swirl
It in the air, so we feel duration as a string of sparks.”
Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks[i]:
I am in awe of Rumi, he was not only a brilliant poet and a mystic, he was prescient enough that he wrote about time in the thirteenth century, in terms similar to quantum physicists of the twenty-first century.
According to quantum physicists space and time come in very tiny “packets” or quanta that appear to our senses to be continuous, echoing Rumi- “this world is a moment, a pouring that refreshes and renews itself rapidly it seems continuous”, Rumi goes on to explain how “as a burning stick taken from the fire looks a golden wire when you swirl it in the air, so we feel duration as a string of sparks”.
Hollywood movies are like that too, they are still frames projected at 24 to 40 frames per second which give the illusion of motion. This is due to a phenomenon called “persistence of vision”. Persistence of vision is a characteristic of our optical system where multiple still images merge into one in our minds, giving the illusion of motion. Quantum physicists theorize that our “real world” is like that, and Rumi, if he were alive today, would have rightly proclaimed “I told you so”. The implication is that our world dies and is reborn moment to moment. Let that sink in.
We should measure our lives in terms of the moments that we have lived consciously being aware of all our sensations, feelings and thoughts. A human being with a lifespan of seventy years has approximately 2.2 billion present moments or NOWs, we sleep through one third of these moments, which leaves us with approximately 1.5 billion NOWs when we are awake. On average most of us spend 75-90% of our waking time either ruminating about the past or thinking about the future, which means that we live consciously in the present moment approximately 150-375 million moments out of 2.2 billion moments that are gifted to us at birth.
Our lives can be viewed as a series of NOWs strung together, like pearls on a string. Every NOW that we are not living consciously is a moment-lost forever. We can never recover our lost NOWs. This present moment is a gift, we are alive only in this moment, we can touch, feel, smell, see and hear only in this present moment. There is no way to engage our senses in the moments that have past nor in the moments yet to come. NOW is it!
Truth, Reality and all that exists can only be experienced in the NOW. It does not matter whether we are atheists, agnostics, or devoutly religious this moment is the only moment we have to experience whatever we consider to be the absolute truth.
When I am rooted in this moment I experience life more intensely. For example, in this moment as I am writing this sentence, I am intensely aware of every keystroke that I am hitting on the keypad. I can see a thought emerge in my mind, I can feel the calm in me (my emotion), I am aware of the sensations in my fingertips as they slide over the keyboard, I feel the tension in my neck. I have lost myself in the task of writing this sentence. This moment is brought to me by my senses. My sense of touch, smell, sight, sound and taste operate only in the moment, they have no memory nor an ability to sense the future. It is our mind that remembers a past and imagines a future. So, in some sense, pun intended, time is a creation of the mind. Take the mind out of the equation and all that is left are sensations of touch, sense, sight, sound and taste. This is why animals and plants live in the moment. They sense and react in the moment.
Humans have this unique ability to dwell on the past or imagine a future that is yet to come. We are often reliving our past or imagining a future both at the expense of this moment. We let life slip through our fingers by not paying attention to the present. Present is the only time that matters. We can’t change the past, the future is not here yet, this moment is here and now.
Be. Here. Now.
This I believe:
- There is a difference between living for the moment and living in the moment. This moment is all we have to experience life to its fullest.
[i] (The Soul of Rumi, 2002)