Tag Archives: enlightenment

Absorption in the Current

We have all been conditioned to look at ourselves and each other and notice that we are human beings, separate from other human beings, having been given particular tasks to work on. Our differences have been accentuated. Each of us has different challenges, different strengths, different personalities and a different path to the divine. We see ourselves as unique expressions of the human experience, as unique flows within a greater flow – the one which animates all life. These flows might together be called a “current”, because of its energetic similarity to how electricity flows through our houses, streets and towns, splitting and coming together as it enters our homes to be utilized by all of our personal needs, in all of our individual, unique and personal spaces.

“Current” can be another way of talking about the electric-like energy which animates life – which moves through all of us to lesser or greater degrees depending on how open we are to it. If we are open to it (if our circuits are not blocked with unintegrated material) it can provide us with physical energy, with perspective, information, creative ideas, and with knowing what to do and what to say in the flow of the present moment.

This current flows into our human bodies’ electrical networks through our connectedness with the larger system of which we are a part. Yet through hologram-like structures in our seemingly separate human organisms, we actually are not just connected to the larger system but contain and are the larger system. Defying linear logic, we contain the larger system and the larger system contains us equally.

Neither do we leave our human selves behind in order to connect with the larger energetic system, current or field. Instead we discover access to the larger current through embracing the fullness of being individual humans. As the self-rejection and making-wrong patterns so long embedded in the human psyche let go and the fragmented parts of our humanity begin to be gathered and embraced, then the energy is able to flow through the circuits of the human system as the larger current itself.

Thoughts, actions, words, feelings, sensations appear in our human experience as unique expressions of the larger energy, the current itself. The human is not moving along in a current not his/her own, it is instead what we actually are most deeply. Neither are we surrendering to the current as if to an external force or deity. The experience is one of actually being the current, the animating force of life, as one ventures into the world participating with creative input that blossoms when our personal histories and our unique perspectives join with the greater flow of life.

We then find that we are a unique and irreplaceable part of something quite beyond our small and separate selves. We see that we have a contribution to make that is unlike anyone else’s. We may be one intelligent being together, but as individuals we also each carry a unique and important thread very much needed by life. We are each needed for the strength of the whole and our impact enhances its effectiveness in expressing the new possibilities for humanity’s future now emerging.

An Evolutionary Movement at Hand

An excerpt from Alice’s upcoming book:fog.jpg

“Although there is a lot of argument about the word evolution regarding the origin of the humanity (evolution versus the other creation stories) we will stand aside from the fray here and look at the subject a bit differently.

“If we consider human evolution in terms other than purely biological (such as in terms of our ability to learn new behaviors in order to survive) it is easy to see the movement of it all around us in our individual experiences. We are developing new thought processes, behaviors, skills and capacities as we go through whatever our lives bring us, both individually and collectively. This is the kind of human evolution that plays an integral part in our daily lives, only it shows up in such small increments that we rarely bring it into focus.

“We are taught in school about ‘natural selection’ and ’survival of the fittest’ in regards to evolution, but giving some focus to the ‘adaptation’ involved is a broader and less biological way to explore the relevance of evolution to our everyday lives. Adaptation is the capability we and other organisms have to adjust ourselves to new conditions when they appear in our environment (in order to be naturally selected or to survive). It is the ability to alter our way of life, our habits and our behaviors when it is necessary to do so for survival or for other things that matter to us. It is about our ability to meet each moment freely and creatively and to let go of old habits of thought or behavior.

“This world situation that we are facing is inviting us to let go of old fear-based thinking habits that have in the past formed our ways of thinking about the world and its problems. Our old ways of thinking have brought us to this point – a point beyond which they are no longer able to help us survive and thrive. Through seeing ourselves and the world from a perspective outside of our old filters and frames, our perceptions are altered and we naturally are freed from old outworn thinking and behaviors that no longer serve us. We are then able to adapt ourselves to the new environment presented by the times we live in, and become creative in our relationship with it.”

© 2010 Alice Gardner from her upcoming book “Making Sense of Tumultuous Times” (working title).

First book: “Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice” available on Amazon, as a kindle book, other ebook, or at your local bookstore by request.



Having a Way ofUnderstanding Life that Allows Room for Awakening

Sunrise

While getting back to writing again after a long pause, something has been coming up that seems to shed a lot of light on my own and other’s stories of awakening.  The title above reflects what it is all about, and it is being a rich and fascinating exploration for me that I would like invite you to join in with as you read on.

What I notice in relation to my own awakening is that there are many areas where the actual living of the newly awakened perspective has been as easy and natural as water running downhill. But there have been other areas in daily life where earlier stages of development seem to naturally take over and temporarily hijack me into re-identification with familiar patterns of reaction and discomfort.

I had read that, once realization came, all the reactivity and discomfort would be finished. In an absolute way, that statement is totally trueit is all finished (based on the new identification with my always-already-awake Self). And yet at the same time, there still can be moments of disconnect from that awareness and then there is reactivity. Yes, this reactivity and discomfort are seen in the context of being a part of the grand perfection of everything, and yet that doesn’t mean that they are to be ignored as they are transcended.

The discomfort that arises is functioning as an attention-getting device that is part of a constructive process of gradual personal acclimation to that perfection, in order that it may be more fully lived.

A cognitive framework that allows discomfort and reactivity its place in the perfection of things then becomes important. If our internal thought structures are open enough to allow for anything and everything that shows up to have a legitimate part to play in life, (and we don’t reject some things and disassociate from them) then everything in life becomes a support for awakening.  Life can naturally move towards greater and greater capability of the individual person to fully live in daily life that which we have realized ourselves to be.

I am fascinated to be giving the field of human development an overview, and am especially fascinated to see it correlating with the recent developments in both neuroscience and child development. It seems that we humans are at an amazing transition-point in history because we are now able to see and make sense of our own development over the eons in a clear way that has not been cognitively possible before. As we have developed the capabilities of our neo-cortex (pardon my oversimplification here) this has allowed us new perspectives on who we are and changed the world that we see.

Along the way, the increasingly complex ways in which we construct thought-based knowledge have also revealed themselves, as have the mechanics of perception. This obviously pertains to the way that we construct the personal self in its entirety. This self-construction process that has occurred in us as individuals is the bedrock that lies under all the rest of our thinking. It serves as a foundation that allows or doesn’t allow whole spectrums of experiences in any particular life.

These new perspectives also bring in a new possibility—that we may be able to allow life to deconstruct parts of our personality structure that are outgrown and no longer helpful. This means that the real Self is now more able than ever before to maintain a personal identity (a small me) that is operationally functional at a high level, in that it is serving the real Self and allowing the One which is awake to live through the personality more freely.

One of the ways that our personal thought structure can potentially hamper us pertains to the way it integrates ideas about spiritual awakening (by any name). It may even go so far as to firmly disbelieve that such a thing could ever happen in our own life, or it may be more subtle than that. Some of our assumptions and beliefs are closed systems with set interpretations of everything and these kinds of closed systems do not allow for the openness or space in which awakening can occur. The uncomfortable moments in life are faithfully offering us clues to ways in which we may be hampering ourselves, interfering with life’s inherent tendency to develop itself through us.
How our personality structure interprets what happens to us is significant in terms of our ability to actually live the realization that becomes available to us. Whether we have pursued realization through one of the great traditions, been outside them, or whether awakening has seemed to pursue us, the outcome (awakening, enlightenment, gnosis, self-actualization, Christ-consciousness, et al) will, at least in terms of our ability have it available back to our daily lives, be dependent on the structure that we use to interpret, understand, know anything in our lives.

For instance, if we operate through a thought-based personality structure that is totally dominated by the need to be right and have others be wrong , then any experiences of non-egoic awareness will be interpreted and contained by those structures. The outcome would almost inevitably be a difficulty in even seeing anything that lies outside those structures. Through our thought we draw meaning from our experiences, and create the world that we experience by a necessary censorship of our sensory input that guards us against overwhelm.

Similarly, if the conceptual structures that build the individual personality have, throughout that person’s lifetime, ostracized the “bad” parts of who they are, then those parts need to be included somehow within the whole in order for the realization to be fully lived. This disowning of parts of ourselves is a major contribution of  psychology to the spiritual seeker’s dilemma. I have recently discovered that new information from the field of psychology describes very well the pattern behind the arising of these disowned parts of my own psyche that I described in the latter parts of my book. Knowing about this cognitively gives me a framework for allowing the reclamation process to proceed with a higher degree of comfort. It lets me relax.

This exploration seems to be about how the structure of any individual’s thought-based personality has a role to play in allowing space for awakening and how it can provide a conducive environment for awakening both before, after and during any realization of who we really are. These thought-based capabilities of the “small me” seem to now be offering themselves to be wielded as a tool in the hand of that newly discovered Self and are coming into alignment with the movement of life itself as it animates the individual person.

We live in a monumental time, and the dying of the old ways of operating need not cloud our perception of what is arising in its place.

© 2009 Alice Gardner

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Spring, Rebirth, Easter and the Natural Self

poppy.jpg

I hear they are having a good sugaring season in Vermont this year! The sap rises up through the maple trees after being underground all winter with the first warm sunny days of spring. It splashes generously into buckets and pipelines, and then onto breakfast, feeding us sweet-loving humans with the nonchalant grace of nature’s plenty.

The bird-song celebrates each spring morning with unabated joy made into sound. We have mockingbirds in my neighborhood. They stun me each morning with the purity of their joy.

Nature loved winter too. Winter is a season a lot like we’ve been having in our human affairs because of our long-time enslavement to mind’s creations and its seeking after comfort. But nature loves winter too. We need the winter part of the cycle. In nature a lot dies back in the face of the cold. In our human development a lot dies back in our times of discomfort. Our perspectives change. Old models fall. We go back to essentials. We are no longer fooled by trinkets and baubles. We get motivated to find what is real and substantial… what doesn’t change when everything is taken away.

And then spring comes! From our journeys into darkness, at some point the thaw begins. That which was solid becomes liquid. That which was stuck becomes free. Rivers flow again towards the ocean.

In the Christian tradition Easter has a wonderful symbolism that seems to refer directly to what we are talking about here. Jesus is a wonderful example of how even the worst possible thing can happen to you, yet Life/God/Christ is at work in the midst of it, rising again from whatever grave there has been. Jesus’ death, the interval in between and the way Christ rose on Easter all point to a rebirth process that nature is displaying every springtime. Jesus, the human being, had to say “thy will be done” for his true identity, the Living Christ, the awakened One to take over.

The problem I see in the Christian tradition’s use of this story, is that being “The Christ” (or being one with the “Father”)is understood to be something lofty and unattainable for regular people. Same with Buddhism. No monk or minister would dare to utter such words of blasphemy as to say that they were also That! But they are! They are–with no diminution of Jesus’ attainment or Buddha’s, and no illusions as to anyone’s human vehicle being infallible first. In spite of all warts they/we are already that, always have been, and so, dear reader, are you.

Its just that over the past few thousand years we’ve maintained and passed on a load of cultural and familial conditioning that causes us to identify with the imperfect little human story that we’ve been told is what/who we are. And all the time it wasn’t true.

I invite you to open to your inner springtime. Nature is encouraging and encouraging us towards this. Rather than relating to “Christ or to “enlightenment”, lets just call this our “natural self”. This has the same feel as watching how a tree moves in a gentle breeze, a brook running downhill or when listening to a bird on a spring morning. But this is felt when looking at yourself, at who we truly are, behind/before all the thinking. Our entire surroundings everywhere, even and especially in a nasty place that isn’t what we wanted, life is calling to us to notice what we are. It is time.
Poem to Spring Love

Buds breaking, in motion
Towards the lushness of summer leaves
Through the quick celebration of flowering,
Life paints itself
With a delicate paintbrush
On the hills
In a thousand shades of green,
As I drive between them
In awe and gratitude.
Yesterday my wonder was full and complete
In Love with the world;
Overflowing…
Today is new again; remade through your touch.
There is the ecstatic arch of my spine
Alive in the bedrock
Deep under the swell of the hills
Rising and falling, riding the greater breath.
Your touch is in the penetration of air
into unfurling leaf.
Your eyes awaken remembered green
Touching the hills with springtime.
Your voice celebrates in birdsong,
The joy of being alive.
Thus do you enrich the ground of this day.
I split like a seed.
The roots stretch
Into the mysterious dark for nourishment,
Feeding the unfurling bud
In it’s journey toward the sun.

© 2008 Alice Gardner

If you wish to explore these subjects further you may wish to consider purchasing my book at Amazon.

Morning

foliage.jpg



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Sunlight touching treetops,
Birds awakening…
Morning rises after night
With a constancy and grace.

While politics swirl
Conflicts rage, economies teeter,
Hurricanes roar,
Morning dawns over all
Without apology or praise
But with simple welcoming
Of all that is lit
By its presence.

What kind of love
Embraces this wild world
With such a welcome?
What love is this, that
Contains such
Darkness and strife
When the world
Refuses to conform
To our demands for
Outer peace,
And then wraps us
In such wonder
And grace?

Fear, war, starvation,
And so much else
Are included in the
Grace of morning light
On a darkened world.

In the light’s first
Touch of a leaf
There is something that
Embraces all of what we are
And includes us
In the full circle
Of life as it is.

We see that we are
Something whole
And seamless,
And perfect.

The heart of each morning
Offers with outstretched hands,
An expansion, a release
Out off our self-made prisons
Into a world ruled by a love
That excludes nothing,
A love we can trust,
A love at peace
With all things.

Even this, and this, and
Especially and
Whole-heartedly
This.

 


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by Alice Gardner © 2008

The Eye of The Hurricane

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Hurricane Season 2008

By what handstormclouds.jpg
Are these winds stirred
To spinning
Around their still center?

What force could give
Such power as this
To crush the structures
Of our lives?

These winds move
With violence
Against our human ideas
Of progress and security
Sweeping away
As impertinent desires
Our wish to have peace
On our own terms.

Have we been dreaming
Of a world peace
That doesn’t include storms?

Can we step outside of
Our ideas about the peace we want
Enough to notice the peace
That already rests in the center
Of this wild world?

A peace that rests gently
While the storm winds
May strip our lives bare,
Leave us homeless, and
Disengaged from our settled lifestyles.

A peace right in the center of
Our questionable survival
In any other moment than this.

This stillness in the center
Emerges with the violent winds.
The two exist as one,
inextricably connected,
Two sides of a coin, inseparable.

Can we accept this invitation
To welcome a peace that includes
What we have labeled as trouble
And strife, and been frightened by?

Can a wild wind
Flattening our landscape
Externally or internally
Be a part of something
Beyond our comprehension
And perfect, just as it is?

We don’t know.

But we notice
In hurricane season,
The power of resting openly
With such unanswerable questions.
And we notice,
(Even while the winds of change
Are blowing violently)
What doesn’t spin—
The peace beyond understanding
In the internal
Eye of the hurricane.

By Alice Gardner © 2008

Actuality

mtmadonnasunrise.jpg

Actuality

Aside from ideas
About what suns are,
What turns…
How it all works,
An actual sunrise
Touches the treetops
In golden light.

This is a miracle of refraction
Performed without
Knowing the word
Yet pouring like a clear stream
From the heart of itself
Golden and radiant.

Noticing this,
Seeing what this is,
This sunrise touches–
Brings attention to–
The actuality here,
So often hidden, but always
The seed in the core
Of this human life,
Housed in flesh, yet
Not confined thus,
Remaining radiant and
Golden as sunrise.

Behind all ideas of who
Watches the sun coming
And sprinkles words on paper
Calling them poetry,
The actuality of the morning
Infuses what it touches
With something quite else,
Something wonderous.
This fleshy bundle…
A miracle in itself,
But what it houses!
What it houses!

This actuality finds itself
In each ordinary life, and
In the fading stars, the rising orb,
The birdsong
Amongst the tangled shrubbery–
In every single thing.

Oh, miracle beyond knowing
I am returned again to actuality
By your hand.

I arise with the sun.
An opening into a simplicity
Already here, yet
Just becoming visible.

I am a window to actuality.
Take my words, and
Look through me, if you will
At this world’s morning.

© 2008 Alice Gardner

Synchronicity and Being an April Fool

Early tomorrow morning I will be catching a flight east that I bought several months ago. My job at Stanford came to a finish last week, and I planned to visit family and friends in New England. It just so happened that there was a plane change in Chicago in the middle of the trip. Just a few days ago I received a big surprise! I was invited to come be in the audience for an Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago that will be focused on A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

I know almost nothing more than this still, but the synchronicity of the invitation to come to the show at the same time when I just happened to be in Chicago anyway made it hard to say no. So I will be stopping in Chicago on my way east and will let you all know what that is like on this blog when I have the chance. I had been talking by email to Joan Tollifson, who has lived in Chicago for years and is planning to move to Oregon, and so asked her what hotel to stay at in town. Well, that night she just happened to have dinner with someone who is one of the subscribers to the Wide Awake Living newsletter and who evidently has a very nice guest room where I have now been invited to stay during my time in town. Oh my goodness. It sure looks like life wants me to go to Chicago! I am not someone who ordinarily would ever see the inside of a TV studio. It’s funny how when you let go of the reins of your life, you really had better mean it, because you might just end up doing things that you never would have done otherwise. This has a similar feel to it as the experience I had of being “moved” from Vermont to California. The context it falls in is one of having numerous job applications and interviews for my next position at Stanford, and nothing coming of it so far. Interesting. Mind wants to know what’s going on, but it just doesn’t know. I’m just doing the next obvious thing all the time and seeing where it goes. Maybe if life doesn’t give me a job, its an opportunity to put a lot of focus on writing the next book. But what’s up with this Chicago thing? I know better than to try to guess.

Spring

 

Eckhart Tolle on Oprah, Chapter 2:

Changing the Focal Point of Our Lives to the Present Moment

On the second web-cast of Oprah Winfrey’s phenomenally large online class with Eckhart Tolle, the stand-out for me was when Eckhart talked about making the present moment the focal point of our lives. Eckhart has a wonderful way of saying inspiring things using such plain language that we can all get it, no matter what our spiritual or religious background might be.  We can see into the meaning of his simple words, and connect with the reality that they are pointing to.

We heard in his earlier book “The Power of Now” about the importance of the present moment—about how the past and the future are not real in the same way that this present moment is realpast and future are just ideas that are programmed into our minds.  This must have resonated with many of us, because the Power of Now has been on the best seller lists for so long. Now Eckhart has written A New Earth and it has already sold 3.5 million copies, even before Oprah started this class. We must have an abiding interest in this message! And we want to knowafter exploring our interest and enjoying these wonderful books, is there a way that we can actually experience this reality that Eckhart is talking about in the midst of the commotion of our busy daily lives?

What would it really mean to change the focal point of our lives to the present moment, and to stay living in the world? If we are willing to really have that happen for us, what would it mean for our lives?  The content in each of our lives is different obviously, so the exact details of what would change would be as unique as we each are as people.  On the other hand, there are universal patterns about this inner shift that Eckhart is referring to.  One of these is expressed so succinctly by the description he uses of having a space develop between our sense of self and our thought processes. This space occurs and expands as we disidentify with our thought processes, and relate to them instead as a wonderful tool that we (an identity outside of them) use. In our lives up to this point, we have been fused with these thoughts that go through our minds, as if our ideas about ourselves are actually equivalent to who we are. When we stay in the present moment and notice that our thoughts are arising and are something quite separate from who we are, then a space is appearing. At first it may seem vague and fleeting, but over time if we keep giving this our attention, the space seems to widen and become permanent and “normal”. We notice our thoughts as if from a slight distance, as only being thoughts and not having anything to do with who we are.  We no longer look to our thinking processes to provide us with crucial information about who we are, and so are freed in a wonderful way from reliance on our thoughts, feelings or circumstances conforming to our preferences.  They no longer affect us in the same way.

This lack of reference to thinking for clues about our identity, doesn’t leave much possibility for using the past and future as focal points for our daily living. Past and future turn out to not exist outside of our thought processes.  We can watch our thoughts creating both. Meanwhile it is all happening in a present moment that seems to be pregnant with possibility and vitality.  When we stay with it enough to recognize the incredible beauty of the life force expressing itself around us in a myriad of forms, it can feel quite overwhelmingly and radiantly beautiful, no matter what the content of it is.

If what we are going to do today or how we are going to behave in a particular situation has been a compulsive recreating of the past (making today be much like yesterday and projecting that into tomorrow) we become freed from that.  Although such freedom from the past is generally felt to be wonderful, what is sacrificed to get there is the knowing of what will be happening in the future.  To the mind, this tends to be a profoundly unacceptable situation because of its need to control life, and mind may be making noisy complaints about that. The noise, however, is occurring on the sidelines of awareness once we are experiencing the space that we have been referring to. It is just mind doing what minds do, making noise and being a tool that is trying unsuccessfully to retain control over its rightful master, you.  It no longer is needed for that particular job. You already know who you are.

As we allow the present moment to be the focal point of our lives, we are freed from the domination by our thoughts that has been the normal human condition for thousands of years. We are freed to live our lives without compulsive referencing to ideas about what is possible and the world opens up to us. We use the mind to reference practical thingswe don’t want to forget our phone number, or forget how to cook dinner. Mind is the most amazing and practical tool when it comes into its rightful place of serving something beyond itself. And when it is not needed, it can rest. What is here in this focal point of the present moment then, is the simple yet vitally alive world that surrounds and includes us. We feel the wind in our hair again. We see the incredible vitality in the world around us—we see God (or call it Life, or Love) peeking at us out of everything. We experience the joy that every birdcall has all along been offering us.  The veil of thinking has been lifted off of the world, and life as it is, including our own, can now be experienced.

Experiencing the world in this way is such an overwhelmingly wonderful experience that once it is felt, it forever remains as a motivation for the sometimes time-consuming process of learning to live it in the midst of everyday life. At first it may be that even little disturbances like a harsh word or a traffic jam with jump-start mind into such compelling noise that the experiencing of the present moment may not be possible until that event is long passed.  But gradually over time, with steady attention to who we really are, we are able to stay conscious in the little things and only more charged and potent events can throw us. Gradually we come to live our whole lives in this new world. We have changed the focal point of our lives to the present moment, and our world reflects back to us the incredible gift of the Life that we have been given and that we are.

© 2008 Alice Gardner

www.wideawakeliving.com
Author of Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice”

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Eckhart Tolle & Oprah: Changing the Focus of our Life to the Present Moment

poppy.jpg

On the second web-cast of Oprah Winfrey’s phenomenally large online class with Eckhart Tolle, the stand-out for me was when Eckhart talked about making the present moment the focal point of our lives. Eckhart has a wonderful way of saying inspiring things using such plain language that we can all get it, no matter what our spiritual or religious background might be. We can see into the meaning of his simple words, and connect with the reality that they are pointing to.

We heard in his earlier book “The Power of Now” about the importance of the present moment—about how the past and the future are not real in the same way that this present moment is real—past and future are just ideas that are programmed into our minds. This must have resonated with many of us, because the Power of Now has been on the best seller lists for so long. Now Eckhart has written A New Earth and it has already sold 3.5 million copies, even before Oprah started this class. We must have an abiding interest in this message! And we want to know—after exploring our interest and enjoying these wonderful books, is there a way that we can actually experience this reality that Eckhart is talking about in the midst of the commotion of our busy daily lives?

What would it really mean to change the focal point of our lives to the present moment, and to stay living in the world? If we are willing to really have that happen for us, what would it mean for our lives? The content in each of our lives is different obviously, so the exact details of what would change would be as unique as we each are as people. On the other hand, there are universal patterns about this inner shift that Eckhart is referring to. One of these is expressed so succinctly by the description he uses of having a space develop between our sense of self and our thought processes. This space occurs and expands as we disidentify with our thought processes, and relate to them instead as a wonderful tool that we (an identity outside of them) use. In our lives up to this point, we have been fused with these thoughts that go through our minds, as if our ideas about ourselves are actually equivalent to who we are. When we stay in the present moment and notice that our thoughts are arising and are something quite separate from who we are, then a space is appearing. At first it may seem vague and fleeting, but over time if we keep giving this our attention, the space seems to widen and become permanent and “normal”. We notice our thoughts as if from a slight distance, as only being thoughts and not having anything to do with who we are. We no longer look to our thinking processes to provide us with crucial information about who we are, and so are freed in a wonderful way from reliance on our thoughts, feelings or circumstances conforming to our preferences. They no longer affect us in the same way.

This lack of reference to thinking for clues about our identity, doesn’t leave much possibility for using the past and future as focal points for our daily living. Past and future turn out to not exist outside of our thought processes. We can watch our thoughts creating both. Meanwhile it is all happening in a present moment that seems to be pregnant with possibility and vitality. When we stay with it enough to recognize the incredible beauty of the life force expressing itself around us in a myriad of forms, it can feel quite overwhelmingly and radiantly beautiful, no matter what the content of it is.

If what we are going to do today or how we are going to behave in a particular situation has been a compulsive recreating of the past (making today be much like yesterday and projecting that into tomorrow) we become freed from that. Although such freedom from the past is generally felt to be wonderful, what is sacrificed to get there is the knowing of what will be happening in the future. To the mind, this tends to be a profoundly unacceptable situation because of its need to control life, and mind may be making noisy complaints about that. The noise, however, is occurring on the sidelines of awareness once we are experiencing the space that we have been referring to. It is just mind doing what minds do, making noise and being a tool that is trying unsuccessfully to retain control over its rightful master, you. It no longer is needed for that particular job. You already know who you are.

As we allow the present moment to be the focal point of our lives, we are freed from the domination by our thoughts that has been the normal human condition for thousands of years. We are freed to live our lives without compulsive referencing to ideas about what is possible and the world opens up to us. We use the mind to reference practical things—we don’t want to forget our phone number or forget how to cook dinner. Mind is the most amazing and practical tool when it comes into its rightful place of serving something beyond itself. And when it is not needed, it can rest. What is here in this focal point of the present moment then, is the simple yet vitally alive world that surrounds and includes us. We feel the wind in our hair again. We see the incredible vitality in the world around us—we see God (or call it Life, or Love) peeking at us out of everything. We experience the joy that every birdcall has all along been offering us. The veil of thinking has been lifted off of the world, and life as it is, including our own, can now be experienced.

Experiencing the world in this way is such an overwhelmingly wonderful experience that once it is felt, it forever remains as a motivation for the sometimes time-consuming process of learning to live it in the midst of everyday life. At first it may be that even little disturbances like a harsh word or a traffic jam with jump-start mind into such compelling noise that the experiencing of the present moment may not be possible until that event is long passed. But gradually over time, with steady attention to who we really are, we are able to stay conscious in the little things and only more charged and potent events can throw us. Gradually we come to live our whole lives in this new world. We have changed the focal point of our lives to the present moment, and our world reflects back to us the incredible gift of the Life that we have been given and that we are.

© 2008 Alice Gardner
Author of Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice”