The Power of Now
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Chapter One: You Are Not Your Mind
The Greatest Obstacle to
Freeing Yourself From Your Mind
Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought
Emotion: The Body's Reaction to Your Mind
The Greatest Obstacle to Enlightenment
Enlightenment - what is that?
A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One
day a stranger walked by. "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar,
mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. "I have nothing to give
you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you are sitting on?"
"Nothing," replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it
for as long as I can remember." "Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger.
"No," said the beggar. "What's the point? There's nothing in there." "Have
a look inside," insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the
lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was
filled with gold.
I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to
look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even
closer: inside yourself.
"But I am not a beggar," I can hear you say.
Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of
Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even
if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of
pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they
have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is
infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.
The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some super-human
accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply
your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is a state of
connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something
that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater
than you. It is finding your true nature beyond name and form. The
inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of
separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive
yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear
arises, and conflict within and without becomes the norm.
I love the Buddha's simple definition of enlightenment as "the end of
suffering." There is nothing superhuman in that, is there? Of course, as a
definition, it is incomplete. It only tells you what enlightenment is not:
no suffering. But what's left when there is no more suffering? The Buddha
is silent on that, and his silence implies that you'll have to find out
for yourself. He uses a negative definition so that the mind cannot make
it into something to believe in or into a superhuman accomplishment, a
goal that is impossible for you to attain. Despite this precaution, the
majority of Buddhists still believe that enlightenment is for the Buddha,
not for them, at least not in this lifetime.
You used the word Being. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of
life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only
beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and
indestructible essence. This means that it is accessible to you now as
your own deepest self, your true nature. But don't seek to grasp it with
your mind. Don't try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind
is still. When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely
in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To
regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of
"feeling-realization" is enlightenment.
When you say Being, are you talking about God? If you are, then why
don't you say it?
The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of
misuse. I use it sometimes, but I do so sparingly. By misuse, I mean that
people who have never even glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the infinite
vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew
what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew
what it is that they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd
beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as "My or our God is the
only true God, and your God is false," or Nietzsche's famous statement
"God is dead."
The word God has become a closed concept. The moment the word is uttered,
a mental image is created, no longer, perhaps, of an old man with a white
beard, but still a mental representation of someone or something outside
you, and, yes, almost inevitably a male someone or something.
Neither God nor Being nor any other word can define or explain the
ineffable reality behind the word, so the only important question is
whether the word is a help or a hindrance in enabling you to experience
That toward which it points. Does it point beyond itself to that
transcendental reality, or does it lend itself too easily to becoming no
more than an idea in your head that you believe in, a mental idol?
The word Being explains nothing, but nor does God. Being, however, has the
advantage that it is an open concept. It does not reduce the infinite
invisible to a finite entity. It is impossible to form a mental image of
it. Nobody can claim exclusive possession of Being. It is your very
essence, and it is immediately accessible to you as the feeling of your
own presence, the realization I am that is prior to I am this or I am
that. So it is only a small step from the word Being to the experience of
What is the greatest obstacle to experiencing this reality?
Identification with your mind, which causes thought to become compulsive.
Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don't
realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is
considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding
that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being. It also
creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering.
We will look at all that in more detail later.
The philosopher Descartes believed that he had found the most fundamental
truth when he made his famous statement: "I think, therefore I am." He
had, in fact, given expression to the most basic error: to equate thinking
with Being and identity with thinking. The compulsive thinker, which means
almost everyone, lives in a state of apparent separateness, in an insanely
complex world of continuous problems and conflict, a world that reflects
the ever-increasing fragmentation of the mind. Enlightenment is a state of
wholeness, of being "at one" and therefore at peace. At one with life in
its manifested aspect, the world, as well as with your deepest self and
life unmanifested - at one with Being. Enlightenment is not only the end
of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the
end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking. What an incredible
liberation this is!
Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts,
labels, images, words, judgments, and definitions that blocks all true
relationship. It comes between you and yourself, between you and your
fellow man and woman, between you and nature, between you and God. It is
this screen of thought that creates the illusion of separateness, the
illusion that there is you and a totally separate "other." You then forget
the essential fact that, underneath the level of physical appearances and
separate forms, you are one with all that is. By "forget," I mean that you
can no longer feel this oneness as self-evident reality. You may believe
it to be true, but you no longer know it to be true. A belief may be
comforting. Only through your own experience, however, does it become
Thinking has become a disease. Disease happens when things get out of
balance. For example, there is nothing wrong with cells dividing and
multiplying in the body, but when this process continues in disregard of
the total organism, cells proliferate and we have disease.
Note: The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly,
however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not
so much that you use your mind wrongly - you usually don't use it at all.
It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This
is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over.
I don't quite agree. It is true that I do a lot of aimless thinking,
like most people, but I can still choose to use my mind to get and
accomplish things, and I do that all the time.
Just because you can solve a crossword puzzle or build an atom bomb
doesn't mean that you use your mind. Just as dogs love to chew bones, the
mind loves to get its teeth into problems. That's why it does crossword
puzzles and builds atom bombs. You have no interest in either. Let me ask
you this: can you be free of your mind whenever you want to? Have you
found the "off" button?
You mean stop thinking altogether? No, I can't, except maybe for a
moment or two.
Then the mind is using you. You are unconsciously identified with it, so
you don't even know that you are its slave. It's almost as if you were
possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be
yourself. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the
possessing entity - the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the
entity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of
consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a
vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny
aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that
truly matter - beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace - arise from
beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.
Freeing Yourself From Your Mind
What exactly do you mean by "watching the thinker"?
When someone goes to the doctor and says, "I hear a voice in my head," he
or she will most likely be sent to a psychiatrist. The fact is that, in a
very similar way, virtually everyone hears a voice, or several voices, in
their head all the time: the involuntary thought processes that you don't
realize you have the power to stop. Continuous monologues or dialogues.
You have probably come across "mad" people in the street incessantly
talking or muttering to themselves. Well, that's not much different from
what you and all other "normal" people do, except that you don't do it out
loud. The voice comments, speculates, judges, compares, complains, likes,
dislikes, and so on. The voice isn't necessarily relevant to the situation
you find yourself in at the time; it may be reviving the recent or distant
past or rehearsing or imagining possible future situations. Here it often
imagines things going wrong and negative outcomes; this is called worry.
Sometimes this soundtrack is accompanied by visual images or "mental
movies." Even if the voice is relevant to the situation at hand, it will
interpret it in terms of the past. This is because the voice belongs to
your conditioned mind, which is the result of all your past history as
well as of the collective cultural mind-set you inherited. So you see and
judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted
view of it. It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person's own worst
enemy. Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously
attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause
of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease.
The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the
only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start
listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular
attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old gramophone records
that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what I
mean by "watching the thinker," which is another way of saying: listen to
the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence.
When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say,
do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would
mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You'll
soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching
it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a
thought. It arises from beyond the mind.
So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but
also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of
consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a
conscious presence - your deeper self - behind or underneath the thought,
as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly
subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through
identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary
and compulsive thinking.When a thought subsides, you experience a
discontinuity in the mental stream - a gap of "no-mind." At first, the
gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become
longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace
inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness
with Being, which is usually obscured by the mind. With practice, the
sense of stillness and peace will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its
depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep
within: the joy of Being.
It is not a trancelike state. Not at all. There is no loss of
consciousness here. The opposite is the case. If the price of peace were a
lowering of your consciousness, and the price of stillness a lack of
vitality and alertness, then they would not be worth having. In this state
of inner connectedness, you are much more alert, more awake than in the
mind-identified state. You are fully present. It also raises the
vibrational frequency of the energy field that gives life to the physical
As you go more deeply into this realm of no-mind, as it is sometimes
called in the East, you realize the state of pure consciousness. In that
state, you feel your own presence with such intensity and such joy that
all thinking, all emotions, your physical body, as well as the whole
external world become relatively insignificant in comparison to it. And
yet this is not a selfish but a selfless state. It takes you beyond what
you previously thought of as "your self." That presence is essentially you
and at the same time inconceivably greater than you. What I am trying to
convey here may sound paradoxical or even contradictory, but there is no
other way that I can express it.
Instead of "watching the thinker," you can also create a gap in the mind
stream simply by directing the focus of your attention into the Now. Just
become intensely conscious of the present moment. This is a deeply
satisfying thing to do. In this way, you draw consciousness away from mind
activity and create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and
aware but not thinking. This is the essence of meditation. In your
everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that
normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention,
so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you walk up
and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to
every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present. Or
when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions
associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the
movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on. Or when you get
into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and
observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful
sense of presence. There is one certain criterion by which you can measure
your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.
So the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is
this: learn to disidentify from your mind. Every time you create a gap in
the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. One
day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would
smile at the antics of a child. This means that you no longer take the
content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not
depend on it.
Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought
Isn't thinking essential in order to survive in this
Your mind is an instrument, a tool. It is there to be used for a specific
task, and when the task is completed, you lay it down. As it is, I would
say about 80 to 90 percent of most people's thinking is not only
repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often
negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you
will find this to be true. It causes a serious leakage of vital energy.
This kind of compulsive thinking is actually an addiction. What
characterizes an addiction? Quite simply this: you no longer feel that you
have the choice to stop. It seems stronger than you. It also gives you a
false sense of pleasure, pleasure that invariably turns into pain.
Why should we be addicted to thinking?
Because you are identified with it, which means that you derive your sense
of self from the content and activity of your mind.
Because you believe that you would cease to be if you stopped thinking. As
you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your
personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego.
It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant
thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but
when I use it here it means a false self, created by unconscious
identification with the mind.
To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are
considered important. This total reversal of the truth accounts for the
fact that in the ego mode the mind is so dysfunctional. It is always
concerned with keeping the past alive, because without it - who are you?
It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued
survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment there. It says:
"One day, when this, that, or the other happens, I am going to be okay,
happy, at peace." Even when the ego seems to be concerned with the
present, it is not the present that it sees: It misperceives it completely
because it looks at it through the eyes of the past. Or it reduces the
present to a means to an end, an end that always lies in the
mind-projected future. Observe your mind and you'll see that this is how
The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you cannot find the
present moment as long as you are your mind.
I don't want to lose my ability to analyze and discriminate. I wouldn't
mind learning to think more clearly, in a more focused way, but I don't
want to lose my mind. The gift of thought is the most precious thing we
have. Without it, we would just be another species of animal.
The predominance of mind is no more than a stage in the evolution of
consciousness. We need to go on to the next stage now as a matter of
urgency; otherwise, we will be destroyed by the mind, which has grown into
a monster. I will talk about this in more detail later. Thinking and
consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of
consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but
consciousness does not need thought.
Enlightenment means rising above thought, not falling back to a level
below thought, the level of an animal or a plant. In the enlightened
state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more
focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical
purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there
is inner stillness. When you do use your mind, and particularly when a
creative solution is needed, you oscillate every few minutes or so between
thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind. No-mind is consciousness
without thought. Only in that way is it possible to think creatively,
because only in that way does thought have any real power. Thought alone,
when it is no longer connected with the much vaster realm of
consciousness, quickly becomes barren, insane, destructive.
The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against
other minds, gathering, storing, and analyzing information - this is what
it is good at, but it is not at all creative. All true artists, whether
they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.
The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. Even the
great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a
time of mental quietude. The surprising result of a nation-wide inquiry
among America's most eminent mathematicians, including Einstein, to find
out their working methods, was that thinking "plays only a subordinate
part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act itself."1 So I would
say that the simple reason why the majority of scientists are not creative
is not because they don't know how to think but because they don't know
how to stop thinking!
It wasn't through the mind, through thinking, that the miracle that is
life on earth or your body were created and are being sustained. There is
clearly an intelligence at work that is far greater than the mind. How can
a single human cell measuring 1/1,000 of an inch across contain
instructions within its DNA that would fill 1,000 books of 600 pages each?
The more we learn about the workings of the body, the more we realize just
how vast is the intelligence at work within it and how little we know.
When the mind reconnects with that, it becomes a most wonderful tool. It
then serves something greater than itself.
Emotion: The Body's Reaction to Your Mind
What about emotions? I get caught up in my emotions more
than I do in my mind.
Mind, in the way I use the word, is not just thought. It includes your
emotions as well as all unconscious mental-emotional reactive patterns.
Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet. It is the body's
reaction to your mind - or you might say, a reflection of your mind in the
body. For example, an attack thought or a hostile thought will create a
build-up of energy in the body that we call anger. The body is getting
ready to fight. The thought that you are being threatened, physically or
psychologically, causes the body to contract, and this is the physical
side of what we call fear. Research has shown that strong emotions even
cause changes in the biochemistry of the body. These biochemical changes
represent the physical or material aspect of the emotion. Of course, you
are not usually conscious of all your thought patterns, and it is often
only through watching your emotions that you can bring them into
The more you are identified with your thinking, your likes and dislikes,
judgments and interpretations, which is to say the less present you are as
the watching consciousness, the stronger the emotional energy charge will
be, whether you are aware of it or not. If you cannot feel your emotions,
if you are cut off from them, you will eventually experience them on a
purely physical level, as a physical problem or symptom. A great deal has
been written about this in recent years, so we don't need to go into it
here. A strong unconscious emotional pattern may even manifest as an
external event that appears to just happen to you. For example, I have
observed that people who carry a lot of anger inside without being aware
of it and without expressing it are more likely to be attacked, verbally
or even physically, by other angry people, and often for no apparent
reason. They have a strong emanation of anger that certain people pick up
subliminally and that triggers their own latent anger.
If you have difficulty feeling your emotions, start by focusing attention
on the inner energy field of your body. Feel the body from within. This
will also put you in touch with your emotions. We will explore this in
more detail later.
You say that an emotion is the mind's reflection in the body. But
sometimes there is a conflict between the two: the mind says "no" while
the emotion says "yes," or the other way around.
If you really want to know your mind, the body will always give you a
truthful reflection, so look at the emotion or rather feel it in your
body. If there is an apparent conflict between them, the thought will be
the lie, the emotion will be the truth. Not the ultimate truth of who you
are, but the relative truth of your state of mind at that time.
Conflict between surface thoughts and unconscious mental processes is
certainly common. You may not yet be able to bring your unconscious mind
activity into awareness as thoughts, but it will always be reflected in
the body as an emotion, and of this you can become aware. To watch an
emotion in this way is basically the same as listening to or watching a
thought, which I described earlier. The only difference is that, while a
thought is in your head, an emotion has a strong physical component and so
is primarily felt in the body. You can then allow the emotion to be there
without being controlled by it. You no longer are the emotion; you are the
watcher, the observing presence. If you practice this, all that is
unconscious in you will be brought into the light of consciousness.
So observing our emotions is as important as observing our thoughts?
Yes. Make it a habit to ask yourself: What's going on inside me at this
moment? That question will point you in the right direction. But don't
analyze, just watch. Focus your attention within. Feel the energy of the
emotion. If there is no emotion present, take your attention more deeply
into the inner energy field of your body. It is the doorway into Being.
An emotion usually represents an amplified and energized thought pattern,
and because of its often overpowering energetic charge, it is not easy
initially to stay present enough to be able to watch it. It wants to take
you over, and it usually succeeds - unless there is enough presence in
you. If you are pulled into unconscious identification with the emotion
through lack of presence, which is normal, the emotion temporarily becomes
"you." Often a vicious circle builds up between your thinking and the
emotion: they feed each other. The thought pattern creates a magnified
reflection of itself in the form of an emotion, and the vibrational
frequency of the emotion keeps feeding the original thought pattern. By
dwelling mentally on the situation, event, or person that is the perceived
cause of the emotion, the thought feeds energy to the emotion, which in
turn energizes the thought pattern, and so on.
Basically, all emotions are modifications of one primordial,
undifferentiated emotion that has its origin in the loss of awareness of
who you are beyond name and form. Because of its undifferentiated nature,
it is hard to find a name that precisely describes this emotion. "Fear"
comes close, but apart from a continuous sense of threat, it also includes
a deep sense of abandonment and incompleteness. It may be best to use a
term that is as undifferentiated as that basic emotion and simply call it
"pain." One of the main tasks of the mind is to fight or remove that
emotional pain, which is one of the reasons for its incessant activity,
but all it can ever achieve is to cover it up temporarily. In fact, the
harder the mind struggles to get rid of the pain, the greater the pain.
The mind can never find the solution, nor can it afford to allow you to
find the solution, because it is itself an intrinsic part of the
"problem." Imagine a chief of police trying to find an arsonist when the
arsonist is the chief of police. You will not be free of that pain until
you cease to derive your sense of self from identification with the mind,
which is to say from ego. The mind is then toppled from its place of power
and Being reveals itself as your true nature.
Yes, I know what you are going to ask.
I was going to ask: What about positive emotions such as love and joy?
They are inseparable from your natural state of inner connectedness with
Being. Glimpses of love and joy or brief moments of deep peace are
possible whenever a gap occurs in the stream of thought. For most people,
such gaps happen rarely and only accidentally, in moments when the mind is
rendered "speechless," sometimes triggered by great beauty, extreme
physical exertion, or even great danger. Suddenly, there is inner
stillness. And within that stillness there is a subtle but intense joy,
there is love, there is peace.
Usually, such moments are short-lived, as the mind quickly resumes its
noise-making activity that we call thinking. Love, joy, and peace cannot
flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance. But they are
not what I would call emotions. They lie beyond the emotions, on a much
deeper level. So you need to become fully conscious of your emotions and
be able to feel them before you can feel that which lies beyond them.
Emotion literally means "disturbance." The word comes from the Latin
emovere, meaning "to disturb."
Love, joy, and peace are deep states of Being or rather three aspects of
the state of inner connectedness with Being. As such, they have no
opposite. This is because they arise from beyond the mind. Emotions, on
the other hand, being part of the dualistic mind, are subject to the law
of opposites. This simply means that you cannot have good without bad. So
in the unenlightened, mind-identified condition, what is sometimes wrongly
called joy is the usually short-lived pleasure side of the continuously
alternating pain/pleasure cycle. Pleasure is always derived from something
outside you, whereas joy arises from within. The very thing that gives you
pleasure today will give you pain tomorrow, or it will leave you, so its
absence will give you pain. And what is often referred to as love may be
pleasurable and exciting for a while, but it is an addictive clinging, an
extremely needy condition that can turn into its opposite at the flick of
a switch. Many "love" relationships, after the initial euphoria has
passed, actually oscillate between "love" and hate, attraction and attack.
Real love doesn't make you suffer. How could it? It doesn't suddenly turn
into hate, nor does real joy turn into pain. As I said, even before you
are enlightened - before you have freed yourself from your mind - you may
get glimpses of true joy, true love, or of a deep inner peace, still but
vibrantly alive. These are aspects of your true nature, which is usually
obscured by the mind. Even within a "normal" addictive relationship, there
can be moments when the presence of something more genuine, something
incorruptible, can be felt. But they will only be glimpses, soon to be
covered up again through mind interference. It may then seem that you had
something very precious and lost it, or your mind may convince you that it
was all an illusion anyway. The truth is that it wasn't an illusion, and
you cannot lose it. It is part of your natural state, which can be
obscured but can never be destroyed by the mind. Even when the sky is
heavily overcast, the sun hasn't disappeared. It's still there on the
other side of the clouds.
The Buddha says that pain or suffering arises through desire or craving
and that to be free of pain we need to cut the bonds of desire.
All cravings are the mind seeking salvation or fulfillment in external
things and in the future as a substitute for the joy of Being. As long as
I am my mind, I am those cravings, those needs, wants, attachments, and
aversions, and apart from them there is no "I" except as a mere
possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted.
In that state, even my desire to become free or enlightened is just
another craving for fulfillment or completion in the future. So don't seek
to become free of desire or "achieve" enlightenment. Become present. Be
there as the observer of the mind. Instead of quoting the Buddha, be the
Buddha, be "the awakened one," which is what the word buddha means.
Humans have been in the grip of pain for eons, ever since they fell from
the state of grace, entered the realm of time and mind, and lost awareness
of Being. At that point, they started to perceive themselves as
meaningless fragments in an alien universe, unconnected to the Source and
to each other.
Pain is inevitable as long as you are identified with your mind, which is
to say as long as you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. I am talking
here primarily of emotional pain, which is also the main cause of physical
pain and physical disease. Resentment, hatred, self-pity, guilt, anger,
depression, jealousy, and so on, even the slightest irritation, are all
forms of pain. And every pleasure or emotional high contains within itself
the seed of pain: its inseparable opposite, which will manifest in time.
Anybody who has ever taken drugs to get "high" will know that the high
eventually turns into a low, that the pleasure turns into some form of
pain. Many people also know from their own experience how easily and
quickly an intimate relationship can turn from a source of pleasure to a
source of pain. Seen from a higher perspective, both the negative and the
positive polarities are faces of the same coin, are both part of the
underlying pain that is inseparable from the mind-identified egoic state
There are two levels to your pain: the pain that you create now, and the
pain from the past that still lives on in your mind and body. Ceasing to
create pain in the present and dissolving past pain - this is what I want
to talk about now.
Excerpted from The Power of Now. Copyright © 2001 by New