THE FOURTH UNIVERSAL TRUTH
NOW IS THE MOMENT THAT MATTERS.
For many, this is the big one.
Most of us, most of the time, are not where our bodies are. Our minds are away in the future or the past.
I anticipate a wry smile on my wife’s face as I write this. Years ago, in my more intense and anxious times, she observed, “You constantly worry about what happened yesterday and what might happen tomorrow, but there must be a way for you to be happy today.”
Oh. Right between the eyes. For me, a turning point.
Of course we have to think about tomorrow, or we can’t plan. But in this age of information and complexity overload, it’s even more vital to discover the peace that flows out of living in the present. There’s more happiness to be found in the journey than in the destination.
Being present here and now is a choice. And it has profound implications for those of us who seek a better life.
Brace yourself. Right now, wherever you are on your life path, you are in your current spiritual home. Whatever your circumstances, you are in heaven… now. As Jesus of Nazareth said, “Heaven is right here in the midst of you.” You have only to open your eyes to see it.
What? That’s outrageous! My path is paved with broken glass! I walk in a valley of sorrows! How can you possibly represent that as heaven?
Your perception is everything. It determines your next thought, your next feeling, your next move. Heard this story?
There were twin boys, one a permanent pessimist, the other a constant optimist. To curb their extremes, their parents hit on a plan. For the twins’ birthday, the pessimist got an entire room full of toys, and the optimist got a huge pile of manure. The pessimist muttered contemptuously that the toys were boring junk. The optimist dug into the manure in a frenzy, shouting, “You can’t fool me! Where there’s manure, there’s got to be a pony!”
Your perception is literally everything, because you are entirely the creator of your own reality (the first universal truth). Your conscious thoughts accumulate in your powerful subconscious, which projects your life around you like a movie (the second). Of course if you know it’s a movie, it’s difficult to truly involve yourself, so your conscious mind, by design, has forgotten the process so your experiences can be real. So life is an illusion at one level, and utterly real at another. You are both the movie director and the character.
Your perception is all that stops you accepting immediate ownership of heaven and moving in. But look inside yourself, not outside. Looking for it elsewhere is like riding out to look for your own horse.
Go inside and find that vast being called Consciousness. Not God, because that word implies a being separate from us, generating ideas of Satan and sin, judgement and death. It also implies that heaven has entrance qualifications which vary from culture to culture. Such a heaven would surely need compounds with high walls and no windows.
Do you see where this is going?
Change your perception and you change everything. Live as if you were in heaven right now and you can make it so.
But don’t mistake me. That does not mean that pain would vanish. You will always generate painful challenges for yourself—that’s built into the eternal adventure of Consciousness—at some level you want those challenges. But recognizing that you are in heaven now does have one handy little advantage.
You will stop suffering.
Pain without suffering?
Hypnotists understand this perfectly. Have you seen documentaries on surgery that uses hypnosis rather than anaesthetics? Some patients feel no pain at all. Others feel what seems to be pain but they don’t feel bad about it, as if they stand back from their own bodies and observe the pain from a distance. Pain without suffering is a state of mind you can choose. The poet Milton said, “The mind is a place in itself. It can create a heaven out of hell, or a hell out of heaven.” New Zealand author Janet Frame, when told that she had terminal cancer, said, “Ah, another adventure.”
But there are two obstacles in the way. First, you may be addicted to your own life drama.
What? You’ve got a nerve!
Think about it. If you can’t be without your drama, that’s addiction. There’s no blame here; this is not about fault, but cause. The cause is your accumulated beliefs which began contributing to your now even before you were born. Many are so deeply mired in their dramas that their drama becomes who they are. To contemplate removing the drama can feel like contemplating suicide.
Second. The prospect of instant heaven produces a condition-red, ego security alert. Your ego will push every alarm button it can reach.
The popular meaning of ego disguises its real potency. Your ego’s job is not to raise you above others, but to maintain you as a separate entity—disconnected from Consciousness—so that you can go about your life with independent free will. That’s its job description. It knows nothing else. It needs you to think that you are not in your spiritual home, so that you will then long for the homecoming, and have creative adventures on the way back.
To boost your journey, your ego whispers the essential message, You are distinct and unique. Fine—you need that in order to be human—but it moves right on to, Anything that is not your mind and body is not you. Then it’s, You are isolated and alone. And for some, the ego can even whisper, Your suffering makes you special.
You might then, without knowing it, be instinctively unwilling to stop suffering. Ego makes a terrible master and it will willingly turn you into a slave. And where does it get all these destructive whisperings?
It feeds on your thoughts. Whenever you dwell on the idea that you are alone, or separate, or isolated, your ego fattens. Many people spend entire lives feeding egos that reward them only with suffering.
Isn’t it time to control who gets to dine in your restaurant?
Ask yourself this. If ego’s purpose is to maintain separation from Consciousness, and if that separation generates fear, how might that crop up in human mythology?
Satan. The religious symbol for ego.
Mainstream religions do not suggest that it’s desirable for God to rid the cosmos of Satan, because they intuitively understand that both separation and connection are fundamental to the adventures of the soul. Separation and connection are fission and fusion in equilibrium. The one has no meaning without the other. Together, they are the primary cause of all form, a dynamic dancing duo, exquisitely balanced. Cosmic tango.
So your ego does not have to be destroyed, only demoted from master to servant. Do that by deliberately turning your thoughts from your separateness to your connection with Consciousness. From hell to heaven. Accept, with all your heart, that heaven is yours for the taking, here on earth.
Here’s an ancient story:
An old monk and a young monk journey through a forest and eventually come to a stream. There, waiting anxiously on the bank, is a beautiful woman. She tells them she is afraid to step into the water, which is swift and swollen by the rains. To the astonishment of the younger monk, the older immediately offers to take her across. She accepts the offer, climbs onto his back, and clings tightly to him as he steps carefully through the stream and safely out the other side. She thanks him and waves the two monks farewell as they continue their journey.
They walk in silence, until the agitated younger monk can bear it no more; then, reproachful words pour from him.
‘How could you allow yourself to commit the sin of touching a woman?’
The older monk looks at him in surprise and says, ‘Are you still carrying that woman? I put her down back there by the stream.’
How long have you allowed yesterday and tomorrow to imprison you? How long have you been chained to a painful past? How long have you been shackled to an anxious future? What are you filling your now with? Do you have a now, or are you always living around the corner?
There is no absolute, fixed, past or future. There is no time at all, only a vast, ever-expanding now. Any physicist will tell you that the concept of time is a human invention. Modern science has known this for years, but in the West we have not known how to apply this truth to our lives.
Have you noticed how some people are most contented when alone with their hobbies? In that time, there is no time. They are present, totally focused on the minutiae of now. You can do it with any activity that absorbs you. You can do it with meditation. But you can also achieve that state while immersed in the everyday events of life.
To truly live in the present moment is to know heaven, regardless of time or circumstance. Whether you’re naked or clothed, hungry or fed, poor or rich, in pain or in pleasure, each of those can transform, so that it becomes merely part of the vast riches of heaven. But if you insist on dragging a painful past or fearful future into the present, you can only wait and wait in life’s ante room.
Your ego will shout, it’s not as easy as that!
But I say it is. And when you’ve tried it enough, you will feel amazingly light, as if a great burden has been lifted from your shoulders. You could also begin to wonder, “Who am I?” That’s a question you will keep answering here on earth, as it is in heaven.
You will keep answering it throughout eternity.