PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS
This month we are spending our time celebrating and commemorating our personal, individual spiritual growth and expansion by looking at where we've been, where we are and where we are going - we are specifically calling it "Bridge Across Time".
Last Sunday's talk was inspired by the Sufi poet Hafiz' beautiful statement: "I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the Astonishing Light of your own Being."a And we had an inspiring time with it.
Today we are going to build on that by realizing that to fully shine our Astonishing Lights and to fully experience the manifestation of our highest visions and deepest dreams, we must live in the only place we can - that is, in the present moment.
BE HERE NOW
Now that may sound a little bit contradictory to what I just said. Didn't I just say this month we are looking at where we've been, where we are and where we are going? And now I said we must live in the present moment. Which is it!?
How can it be both?
I'm glad you asked!
When we look at where we've been, acknowledge it, accept it, shine the Astonishing Light of our own Being on those places that seemed dark through forgiveness and release and even honor it . . .When we set our sights, our intentions, our vibration, our energy on our expansion and expanded experiences in the future . . .When we do those two things . . . and then when we come into present moment awareness and choose to live full out right here and now, we amp up our ability to have our dreams, hopes and desires for our lives brought into manifestation. We magnify our power to create a joy-filled life - currently, as well as in the future.
In fact, I love this Note from the Universe:
"Did you know that the single most effective piece of advice ever given to anyone who wanted a life partner is the exact same single most effective piece of advice ever given to anyone who wanted to live in prosperity?! Which also happens to be the single most effective piece of advice ever given to anyone who wished to discover their purpose, foster peace on earth, improve their health, or dance Gangnam Style?! What is that advice? BE HAPPY NOW. Whoop! Whoop! The Universe"b
Since ancient times, spiritual masters of all traditions have pointed to the now as a key to fulfillment and happiness.
In the Christian gospels, it says things such as: "Nobody who puts his hands to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God."c Pretty explicitly telling us not to live in the past.
Or the passage in Matthew, where Jesus says: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about tomorrow."d "Not to worry about tomorrow" could most definitely be interpreted to mean "live in the present now."
Coming before Christianity, the whole essence of Zen Buddhism consists in walking deeply in the now, to be so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who we are in our essence can live.
"Now" is also central in Sufi teachings. Rumi, who was a Sufi, wrote: "Past and future veil God from our sight; burn up both of them with fire."e
And Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth century spiritual teacher, summed it up when he said: "Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. There is no greater obstacle to God than time."f
I love these words from Dr. Ernest Holmes in the Science of Mind: "We should erase the thoughts of yesterday that would rob us of today's happiness. [Then he suggests saying] 'There is nothing arising out of the past that can disturb me. I loose all things that in the past have caused anxiety. The Spirit knows no past and is not affected by the belief in any. The past is swallowed up in the victory of a perfect present, which is filled with love and protection.'"g
I love those statements and since he suggests we say them together, I think we should! I'll chunk it down. Repeat them, please.
"There is nothing arising out of the past . . . . that can disturb me. . . . I loose all things . . . that in the past . . . have caused anxiety. . . . The Spirit knows no past . . . and is not affected by the belief in any. . . . The past is swallowed up . . . in the victory of a perfect present, . . . which is filled with love and protection."
Let's do that last line again:
The past is swallowed up . . . in the victory of a perfect present, . . . which is filled with love and protection."
The he goes on to write: "Equally, we must not have fear of the future. [and he suggests we say] 'I see that the future is bright with promise. It beckons me forward into a more complete realization of my own worth and my rightful place in the Universe. All my tomorrows are happy and filled with harmonious occupations. I look to the future with great and pleasurable anticipation, knowing it expands my opportunity for radiant self expression.'"h
Let's say those affirmations together.
"I see that the future is bright with promise. . . . It beckons me forward . . . into a more complete realization . . . of my own worth . . . and my rightful place in the Universe. . . . All my tomorrows are happy . . . and filled with harmonious occupations. . . I look to the future . . . with great and pleasurable anticipation, . . . knowing it expands my opportunity . . . for radiant self expression.'"
We have a New Thought paradox that can sometimes hang people up and I alluded to it before. It is the concepts of creating a life of our dreams while living happily in the moment.
I love the concept of having high involvement in our dream and low attachment to it, meaning we are excited and passionate about our growth, expansion and dreams, and we do what we are guided to do in our mental and physical worlds [that's high involvement] and then we release the future entirely and live full out right here and now [that's low attachment].
Holmes has one more statement in the SOM, that is important for us today: "I love my past and my future and understand that they are but continuations of the one unbroken chain of life. There is no future to be afraid of and no past to bring discord into the present."i
So if we release the grip of the past and the fear or anticipation of the future - what are we free to do in this moment?
Let me change that question a bit.
If YOU release the grip of the past -whether that past be 10 minutes ago or 10, 20, 30 years ago -- and release the fear over what tomorrow will bring or release the idea that tomorrow will be better, what kind of power is there for you right now!? The answer is: All the Power there is! Because God is in this present moment!
"The present is my point of power" is an affirmation I love. Say it with me. "The present is my point of power!"
There are some lines from Zorba the Greek that are appropriate for us this morning. They go like this.
"I say, what are you doing at this moment, Zorba? I am sleeping. Well then, sleep well.
"What are you doing at this moment, Zorba? I am working. Well then, work well.
"What are you doing at this moment, Zorba? I am kissing a woman. Well, kiss her well Zorba and forget all the rest while you are doing it. There is nothing else on earth, only you and her."j
We all have the opportunity to, in essence, kiss our life today in one moment after another. There is nothing else but this moment, so experience it to the fullest and live well.
Eric Butterworth once said: "The only demonstration there is, ever was or ever will be is in and of divine law and the only time it knows is now."k
So do not pray to heal tomorrow; pray for the consciousness of wholeness now and then live, to the best of your ability, from a place of wholeness.
Do not pray that tomorrow or the next day you find a job; affirm that you are in your right place now and then act as if you are!
Do not pray to become what you want to be; know that you are it now, a perfect Expression of the Divine, and then behave like you are.
Do not pray for greater abundance, feel yourself outrageously blessed and abundant right now and be so grateful for it!
Recall Jesus' words: "You say it is six months until the harvest, but I say unto you, lift up your eyes for the fields are now white unto harvest."l
The power of present moment awareness is experiencing the presence of God.
So, I want to share a letter with you from an Astonishing Light in another church, who had a present moment awareness. It reads
Dear Pastor and all of my wonderful spiritual family.
Enclosed you will find my old Arizona Quest Card or EBT Card. When I first came to Arizona in 2010, I was very ill with my bipolar disorder and had just come out of a lengthy hospitalization. I had quit my job a few months earlier and had lost my apartment - if it weren't for the love of my mother, who suffered greatly during this period, I would not be alive. She brought me to Phoenix, a place where I had never wanted to live, and started the long process of nursing me back to health.
After a couple short-lived jobs, I had no choice but to apply for government assistance and was awarded with AHCSS and this card. During the first year and a half of living with my partner, this EBT card and my allotment of $120 per month was what we bought groceries on. We had little else.
In October of 2012, we started attending your church and at the end of the year, I got my first long-term job at Life Challenge because I was referred there by your Director of Operations. This disqualified me for EBT, but because I wasn't making very much money, I was afraid, so I kept this card in my wallet in case I would need it again. But, somehow we not only made it, we thrived.
Today, when I went to the bank, I pulled out this card by accident and it made me think. [there's the present-moment awareness]. Now, working at an even higher paying job that I really love, I'm no longer afraid that I might need this card again someday. And this is because of the love of my family and spiritual friends at the church.
The people at the church have given me the knowledge and tools to live a better life, to love myself, and to live in the security that comes with a real relationship with God. I have even found, doing the 90-Day Tithing Challenge, the ability to repurpose 10% of the money that comes to me toward a truly magnificent and great purpose - spreading enlightenment and love to my community and to the world. If just one person who is like I was -- at the end of their rope -- comes to church and changes their life like I have done mine, there's no price too big to pay for that reward.
I'm sending you this EBT Card because that part of my life is over and I want you to hold it in your hand as tangible proof of the great thing that my spiritual family has done for me. I hope it reaffirms your own faith as sending it to you has done mine. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
P.S. I recently got a raise I didn't ask for nor was I expecting; I received over $500 in bonuses that I wasn't expecting, I have $10,000 more than I need for my college loans, I recently got into a master's program at ASU - and so much more!
Wow. Present moment awareness. Present moment awareness. It is in the present moment that the great I AM lives and moves and has Its being.
I want to leave you with a short poem by the prolific author anonymous. I've shared it before, but it seems so perfect for today, I hope you will indulge me in sharing it again. It's called I AM:
I was regretting the past, fearing the future.
Then . . . suddenly, my Lord was speaking.
My name is I AM.
When you live in the past with its mistakes
And regrets, it is hard.
I AM not there.
My name is not I WAS.
When you live in the future with its
Problems and fears, it is hard.
I AM not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.
But when you live in this moment,
It is not hard.
I AM here.m
Because my name is I AM.
aSufi poet Hafiz
bNote from the Universe
gDr. Ernest Holmes Science of Mind p 245
hDr. Ernest Holmes Science of Mind
iDr. Ernest Holmes Science of Mind p 246
jZorba the Greek Nikos Kazantzakis
mauthor anonymous I AM