A Special Day
Today is a special day. And why, you may ask, is it special? Well, in fact, because it is the only day. Yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow just a dream. All we have is this moment, this day. It is reminiscent of the passage in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass where the Red Queen says: “The rule is: jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today.” Living in the past or the future is actually a denial of the here and now in which we find ourselves, and is a dangerous form of delusion.
We are actually in an eternal now, whether we see it that way or not. And it is in this now that we have to realize whatever it is that we would like to achieve. The problem that stands in our way is the mind. The mind has an overwhelming tendency to wander: dwelling on the events of the past, and worrying about what may happen in the future. This is a significant problem because in order to achieve anything at all, we have to be here and now.
If we want to do anything worthwhile with our life, we need to curb the mind’s habit of meandering all over the place. If our attention is anywhere other than here and now we are living in a dream world, a fantasy, with little or no connection to reality. We need to develop mental discipline, at least to the extent that when we want to concentrate on something the mind complies.
It’s not that we’re incapable; after all if we watch a particularly interesting movie we tend to be totally focused on what’s happening in the movie, to the extent that we forget our body and our normal lives – we actually live in the context of that movie while it’s playing. But when the movie ends, then we return to ourselves and we say, “Oh, it was only a movie!”
If we could generate such concentration at will, we could achieve a great deal. One of the characteristics of those who achieve greatness is that they have the extraordinary ability to focus totally on the task at hand. But what if we have difficulty concentrating or keeping our mind focused on our goal? How can we hope to achieve anything if we have problems in this regard?
The temptation, in the face of great difficulties, is to simply give up and say, “Oh, this is too much for me – let me try something easier.” But if we find ourselves starting to think like this then we need to sit down and consider our options. If we give up the high road, then we are of necessity on the low road. If we give up the pursuit of our spiritual goals, we are left only with the world.
We should ask ourselves one question: does the world have what we truly want? Is there, in this world around us, that which promises lasting happiness and peace? Has anyone in this world ever experienced unmitigated happiness and peace without periodic phases of pain and misery?
We already know the answers to these questions. Would we really choose the way of the world rather than face up to and deal with our shortcomings and weaknesses? Would it not be better to address our perceived shortcomings and work to overcome them in order to progress towards our goal? Would it not be worth it to put forth continuous effort, knowing that it is putting us on the high road that leads to the ultimate goal of existence?
We have not to achieve anything great in the context of the world around us. Many have found that to achieve worldly success they have had to surrender their personal integrity and principles, and at the end of the day find themselves looking in the mirror at a face that they no longer recognize as their own. This is too high a price to pay for anything. We need to re-evaluate our priorities. What is most important to us; worldly success or inner peace?
In Glimpses of the Great Master, Hazur Maharaj Sawan Singh had this to say:
You have not to do anything in the positive sense of the word, in order to realize God. Simply undo what you have done in the way of making your prison house, and there you are, God already, Truth personified already. But this undoing of what has been done is to some a very hard task. The truth is that all your attachments, all your loves and hatreds, all your desires are shackles and chains – these bind you. These do not allow you to see God. These are your prison house. … To realize the Truth is to become master of the universe, and to entertain desires is to acknowledge bondage, thraldom and slavery to the things of the world – flesh and objects. Everybody desires to become Christ, everybody wants to realize Truth, to become a prophet, but very few, if any, are ready to pay the price.