This Latin aphorism means, ‘seize the day’. The urgency of this phrase perfectly captures the message that the mystics and saints have been conveying to us throughout the ages by sharing their experiences, teachings and even their personal life examples. They tell us that it is critical that we stop procrastinating and wasting our precious breaths by dwelling on the past, worrying about the future and immersing ourselves obsessively in our temporal affairs. All we have is the present moment, today, here and now, and there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. They maintain that this lifetime is not a mere coincidence for us to simply eat, drink and be merry, but a valuable opportunity to prepare and embark upon the most important journey we will ever undertake. A journey that will take us back to our source, our Father, where we can finally experience true and lasting joy.
We began the journey when the Master blessed us with the gift of initiation. We committed to doing two and a half hours of daily meditation. In addition to following the three other vows, we voluntarily pledged to devote ten percent of our day to this most important task. This daily practice of two and a half hours, dedicated to stilling the mind at the eye centre, is not an arbitrary length of time chosen at random by the Master. The mystics say that it is the minimum time required to break through the surface level of ordinary consciousness and raise it to the eye centre where our true journey begins.
Are we living up to our commitment? We have the rest of the day to deal with our needs and responsibilities. But in today’s fast-paced world, this somehow does not seem adequate. The irony is that although we have acquired many so called ‘time saving’ devices and instant modes of communication, we have also become enslaved by them, thereby eliminating many of their benefits. If we simply observed how much time we spend on our mobile phones, tablets and computers, we would be very surprised to learn how much of that precious time was actually wasted.
The mystics explain to us that meditation itself is an exercise in being here and now. It exemplifies Carpe Diem. When we live in the present, we become fully alive as our consciousness reaches far beyond the limitations of our ego. By helping us become still, present and concentrated in the now, meditation is a great training. When our attention is in the now, it is difficult for us to be trapped by our own mind. We develop the strength, will power and fortitude required to go through life experiences that are a result of the unfolding of our karma.
So what can we do to seriously take heed of the Master’s advice? When we take any other type of worldly journey, we plan and prepare; we make sure we have everything that we need to make the trip successful. Likewise we need to prepare for our spiritual journey by adjusting our lifestyle so that we can make time for meditation rather than fit it in as an afterthought.
We must have self-discipline and make some sacrifices so that priority is given to this aspect of our lives. We also have to filter carefully what we expose ourselves to every day. Our mind by nature is very impressionable, and quickly absorbs all types of stimuli. The choices that we make, and the actions that we take are guided by our thoughts. To create a state of mind that is conducive to meditation, we can consciously try to abstain from anything that promotes anger, lust and tension. These make strong impressions on the mind and will be the first things that will come to mind when we try to concentrate.
There is no perfect formula and no shortcut to our destination. We can only ride on the wings of his grace by putting in genuine effort in our spiritual life. Carpe Diem – who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Foolish wayfarer, why do you delay?
Take heed, the day is short,
And long is your way.
The sun in the east has lit the torch;
Now is the time for your homeward march.
Move swiftly, reach home
Before the sun turns pale;
The hours are fleeting and long is your trail.
Treasure the chance, don’t falter or lose heart;
Be free of all cares and make a start.
Reach home, and from fear and doubt be free;
Loitering midway, you will come to misery.
Foolish wayfarer, why do you delay?
Long is the way and soon will end the day.
O kind Lord of Mira, Thou in Thy grace
Gave her a path, short and easy to pace.
Mira, The Divine Lover