KEY EIGHT: STAY PRESENT

TRANSFORMATIONAL QUESTION:
Am I forgiving the past and allowing the future to unfold?

It is hard to stay in the present moment. It is like jumping into the void not knowing if we will be held by the arms of the universe. The good thing is that after doing this once or twice you know you will be okay. But you have to take the risk to know this with an inner certainty.
     Most of us fill up our consciousness and our lives with stories about the past and expectations of the future. All of this just clouds the mind and troubles the heart. None of it is necessary.
     When we stay in the present complexity falls away. Complexity comes from ego consciousness with its net of shame and blame. When the ego is surrendered, the drama disappears. We return to the breath. We become present here and now.
     The present is the only place where we can truly be alive and aware. It is the place of power and the place of peace. In
the present moment, the field of possibility remains open. Opportunities abound. This is a place without limits. It is the place of pure awareness.
     The present is the center of the universe. You hold the keys to the inner sanctum when you drop the past and future and come into your heart. It is that simple. Take a deep breath and be present. Breathe and be. That is all.
     For most of us, that isn’t enough drama. We are afraid to be bored, so we allow ourselves to drift back into some old story. The story brings up old beliefs and feelings and we recycle them. This keeps us entertained. The problem is that it also sends us back into fear.
     When we aren’t recalling the past, we are anticipating the future. We’re scheming and dreaming. We are bringing our shame and fear forward, connecting the past to the future. That insures that our experience will be the same and our ego will feel secure.
     While recycling the past and reliving the thoughts and feelings there, we try to plan, stage, or engineer the future. Naively, romantically perhaps, we expect the outcome to be different. This is like going on a cake and ice cream diet when you are trying to lose weight. It is completely absurd. The way to meaningful change is to drop the past, not to engage it or up the ante.
     Human beings can be strange creatures. They put their money into the pinball machine and play the same game over
and over again, expecting to hit the jackpot. When they lose their money, they believe that their time will come. They don’t
seem to get bored by old stories and groundless pipe dreams.
     Why do people take drugs, after all? They want to escape from this moment, perhaps because they are bored, or maybe
because they are in pain. So they expand and contract their awareness chemically. They look through the kaleidoscope
and things seem really cool and interesting. There is nothing more fascinating than the light show going on in their own minds. Meanwhile, they forget to go to work. They skip dinner and go out looking for something to eat at 3 AM. Do you know who is out on the streets at 3 AM?
     Okay. Some people just don’t get it until it smacks them in the face. So be it. You can’t force someone to stay present if he is afraid to be here or doesn’t want to be.
     Reality is never as bad as we think it is. If we will justbreathe and be, we will see through the veil of the past and meet the future head on. It is not what we expect. It is much brighter and more interesting.
     Corinthians tells us “First we see through a glass darkly, and then face to face.” As we awaken, we begin to see “what
is,” not what we expect or what we fear. Seeing “what is” becomes a revelation. It does not meet our ego expectations.
It does not belong to our fear. It offers us a new way, a new vision, a new experience.

Dropping the Past

One form of the transformational question is merely to ask ourselves if we are focused in the present or if we are focused
on the past. If we answer this question honestly, we will see that we are usually focused on the past. That’s okay. We don’t
have to beat ourselves up about it. We just need to see “This is all about the past. My goal is to stay present.”
     This practice brings us into the present moment. Of course, we will keep leaving it and go back into the past, but that is okay. Our practice keeps bringing us back. Gradually, we are able to stay present for longer periods of time.
     When you focus on the past, shame and fear come up. This is a great opportunity to see the baggage you are carrying
around. See that baggage and you might get some insight into why you are carrying it around. The more you see and feel
the weight of the past, the easier it is to unburden yourself. Nobody wants to carry that bag of bones around. It’s way too
heavy and it makes a lot of noise. When you walk, everyonecan hear the skulls rattling around in that big sack.
     Carrying the past around limits your experience of the present moment. You can never be really here. The more you
zone out, the least effective you are. You might not even be able to put one foot in front of the other. If that’s true for
you, take a sobriety test. You might not be drunk on alcohol, but you might be drunk on yesterday, last week or last year.
     Freedom comes when we can be fully present in this moment. Everything else is just one form of bondage or another.
     Don’t be afraid of the present. It is not going to swallow you up. That’s what the past does.
     It is like a giant alligator that pulls you down into the depths of the river. But the present doesn’t do that. Being in the present is like floating in a canoe without any paddles. You have a great view, but you don’t know where you are going.
     Every time we abide in the present, we have an opportunity to trust the universe. Either the river knows where it is going
or it doesn’t. To be sure, sooner or later, we will find out.

Allowing the Future to Unfold

One thing that you can be sure of is that “You don’t know where the river is going.” You haven’t a clue. The sooner you
know this the better.
     Ask yourself how many of your well-made, carefully constructed plans have come to pass. Are you a great manifestor,
or do you keep forgetting The Secret ? Be honest now. If you are like most of us, you have to admit that life rarely shows
up the way you want or expect it to.
     I have news for you. There is no secret. Everything is in plain sight. You just have to open your eyes. I’m telling you
straight. Neither you nor I know diddlysquat.
     Neither you nor I can engineer or control our life. If we could, we would all be engineers, instead of poets, or priests
or gas station attendants.
     The person on a spiritual path may talk about the law of attraction, but he has no idea what is going to show up in his
life. If he tries to tell you otherwise, he is lying. Most people create unconsciously. Even those who create consciously do
so only part of the time. The result is always a mixed bag.
     That reminds me of a friend of mine who manifested a Lamborghini in his driveway. Unfortunately, he also manifested a ten ton elephant sitting on top of it, so that car was not only useless, it cost him a lot of money to get it taken to the junkyard. Not to mention the elephant. Did I mention that it was a white elephant?
     In the land where the law of attraction rules, the elephants are always white. That’s because they are more “spiritual.”
     Anyway, I am sure that you get the point, even if you don’t agree with me. New-Age-speak doesn’t die very easily. Maybe that’s because there is no 12 Step program for it yet!
     You can’t have a guarantee of anything in this life. Nobody is going to tell you exactly what is going to happen
so that you can prepare for it. Don’t waste your time going to psychics and astrologers, priests or pundits. Nobody knows.
They don’t even know for themselves, never mind for you.
     Even if someone could tell you what the future would bring, it would be meaningless. They could not tell you how you would respond to it. And knowing in advance what would happen might make it even more difficult for you to be present with it when it does happen.
     Really this is a big can of worms. Stop trying to manifest this or that. Give it up. Go fishing instead. That’s the best use for those worms. And waiting for the fish to bite keeps you present and alert.
     If you need a spiritual tag for it, call it Zen and the Art of Fishing. If you write the book, please remember I gave you
the title.

Sunshine and Blue Sky

I don’t know why Christian mystics see unknowing as a cloud. I think it would be more accurate to say that “thinking
you know” is a cloud. By contrast, “knowing that you don’t know” is like a bright sunny day with clear blue sky. You see
everything as it is. Nothing is shrouded or hidden.
     It gets even more pristine and stunning if you can see it without judging or interpreting it. Just be present and see “what is.”
     Know that as soon as you judge, the clouds come rolling in. You start seeing through a glass darkly again. You don’t see
what is when you see it through your filters.
     When you look through the lens of fear, life seems darker than it is. Fear dulls everything down. Blue becomes grey.
Colors fade as they do when the fabric frays.
     But learn to hold your fear gently, and the full color of life is restored. Don’t make your fears real. They aren’t. Just hold
them gently and the clouds will pass by.
     This spiritual practice asks us to stay alert and witness life as it unfolds. The witness doesn’t become attached to what
he sees, but lets it come and go. He does not try to predict or control life, but surrenders and moves with it, like a branch
or a leaf falling in a stream.
     Detachment is one of the great fruits of spiritual practice. Because we let go of the past, the present is always new. It
arrives unencumbered and free to be what it is. We are also free to respond to it in a way that feels right in the moment.
     This is the freedom we have worked for all our lives. The freedom to be ourselves and to allow others to be themselves.
The freedom to let life unfold in us and through us.
     This is where the journey ends. This is where we return to stillness. The drop of rain falls into the ocean and becomes
the ocean. This is the end of separation.
     Mystics have written about this moment. Now it has arrived. Conditions have come to an end. The door to eternal
love has opened and we are ready at last to cross the threshold.
     Here personal and impersonal merge together. Love and beloved are one and the same. We abide together in the
oneness. Our reunion with the divine is now complete.

Important Things to Remember

All that is dwells in this moment. When you dwell with it, you know:

  • @ You are not separate from your True Self.
     
  • You are not separate from your brother or sister.
     
  • You are not separate from God.
     
  • You are both witness and participant.
     
  • You are the bringer of love and the one who receives it.

I wish you many blessings. 
Namaste.

Paul Ferrini Teaching
Key Eight: Stay Present