The following is an excerpt from The Practice of Happiness, a book by John Kehoe.
Each moment of time is a point in the journey. A point unique and unlike any other point that has come before or will come in the future. Each moment of time is a destination that has been arrived at, whether planned or not. To drink deeply from the moment is to increase your life force — to be aware and awake and alive. To miss the points in the journey is to miss the journey. To think or believe that the points in the journey should be something other than what they are is to miss the essence of the points. It is to miss the journey. Some moments match our expectations of what we think they should be and some moments do not. All are points in the journey. All are jewels and beads in the sacred necklace of our life. The present moment is always filled with infinite treasures. It contains far more than we are capable of receiving. We, however, get into the habit of categorizing our points as good or bad, exciting or dull, important or unimportant, according to both our expectations and interpretations of them. Our expectations and interpretations are filters and blinders that rob and hide from us the essence of what is before us. This is one of the great tragedies of life, because what is before us is nothing less than the miracle of life. It is so easy to miss it, not see it. We get busy. We get preoccupied. We get lost in our own fantasies and worries and expectations when all around us our life is unfolding in the most miraculous ways.
Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. — John Lennon
The now is always perfect, vibrant and full. If you think it is less than perfect the problem is with you. Stop and think about this fact. Every moment is utterly unique and will never be repeated again, not in all of eternity. This fact alone should focus your attention on what you’re experiencing now. Surrender to the moment. Let go of thinking. Enter for a moment the place where all problems dissolve. When the rational mind is silenced, the intuitive mode produces an extraordinary awareness. Our environment is experienced in a direct way, without the filter of conceptual thinking. And what do we see and experience? Everything becomes grander and fuller, and we discover that we need nothing other than what is before us. There is a sense of wonder and awe, and we see beauty and meaning where none existed before. When you reign in your consciousness and focus it on the now, life becomes much more alive and vibrant. Worries and stress dissolve. Concerns over some possible future events seem absurd. Why worry when the now contains everything you could possibly need? There will be plenty of time to worry tomorrow.
Take no thought of tomorrow — tomorrow will look after itself. — Bible scripture
When you lose yourself momentarily in the now there is a connectedness to all things. You realize clearly that there is nothing in life to be gained or attained that is not already here and now. Not only is what is happening in our life more than sufficient to make us happy, it is positively perfect. We need nothing, and yet contain everything. Walt Whitman, some say America’s greatest poet, said it well:
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
you shall possess the good of the earth and sun . . .
there are millions of suns left,
you shall no longer take things at second or third hand,
nor look through the eyes of the dead . . . nor feed on the specters in books,
you shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
you shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself. And then he gets to the point: There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Ironically now is always with us, but we are not with it. Where are we? In our minds. Thinking about other things. Not noticing. Not letting the fullness of life in. But with practice we can learn to dissolve into the now, moment by moment. You can begin by thinking of the now not as a concept but as a place you can go to. A different dimension, as it were. And it is a different dimension. It is the delicious sensation of experiencing reality without thinking. Pure awareness. Zen mind, child mind. Being fully aware. Being with what’s happening. Try it now. Put down your book and look around you. No expectations. No thoughts. Just notice. What does now look like? Let your eyes go wherever they want. Let them linger where they want. Notice colours, shapes. Everything is perfect in what it is. What does now sound like? Let any sound enter into you. You are the witness to this reality. It is unfolding in front of you. Just be with it. Let it all in. Let it swallow you whole. Time stops and it’s as if you have entered the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom is my own awakened consciousness. The insects hum, and the hum bores a hole through the illusion and touches me deeply. When awakened like this I see clearly. The veil is lifted. I find myself at home within the mystery. All and everything is contained now. Here, this very second. What am I striving for? Why should I worry? There is nothing in life to be gained or attained that is not already here and now. There is dignity and wonder in living life moment by moment. In meeting life’s challenges moment by moment. In letting go moment by moment. No you can’t do it all the time, but you can do it sometimes. You can do it whenever you remember to do it. Whenever you want to do it. We can go at will to the inner stillness and wonder. Start by trying to go there at least once every day, even if only for a few seconds. Watch yourself. Be conscious of when you’re there and when you’re not. Notice how you feel when you’re in the now. Gradually you will become more adept at it. Sometimes it will happen naturally and sometimes you will trigger it. It’s simply a matter of desire and awareness-the desire to be more alive and the awareness that there is another dimension we can enter each and every moment.
Be on guard that you don’t get sidetracked in the superfluous activity and not pay attention to the living of life. — Joseph Campbell.
You’ve been looking to be happy and fulfilled and at peace with yourself. You’ve been looking everywhere but where you are. Open up to the now and discover that all is contained within this very second. You need search no longer.