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My presence makes the present significant

My presence makes the present significant
April 14
20:59 2020

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life, and gets stuck at the banks, that it becomes a problem. By flowing with life I mean acceptance – letting come what comes and go what goes.

Desire not, fear not, observe the actual, as and when it happens, for you are not what happens, you are to whom it happens. Ultimately even the observer you are not. You are the ultimate potentiality of which the all-embracing consciousness is the manifestation and expression.

The memory of an event cannot pass for the event itself. Nor can the anticipation. There is something exceptional, unique, about the present event, which the previous, or the coming do not have. There is a livingness about it, an actuality; it stands out as if illuminated. There is the ‘stamp of reality’ on the actual, which the past and the future do not have.

Q: What gives the present that ‘stamp of reality’?

There is nothing peculiar in the present event to make it different from the past and future. For a moment the past was actual and the future will become so. What makes the present so different? Obviously, my presence. I am real for I am always now, in the present, and what is with me now shares in my reality.

The past is in memory, the future – in imagination. There is nothing in the present event itself that makes it stand out as real. It may be some simple, periodical occurrence, like the striking of the clock. In spite of our knowing that the successive strokes are identical, the present stroke is quite different from the previous one and the next – as remembered, or expected. A thing focused in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own reality that I impart to the present event.

Q: But we deal with things remembered as if they were real.

We consider memories only when they come into the present. The forgotten is not counted until one is reminded – which implies, bringing into the now.

Q: Yes, I can see there is in the now some unknown factor that gives momentary reality to the transient actuality.

You need not say it is unknown, for you see it in constant operation. Since you were born, has it ever changed? Things and thoughts have been changing all the time. But the feeling that what is now is real has never changed, even in dream.

Q: In deep sleep there is no experience of the present reality.

The blankness of deep sleep is due entirely to the lack of specific memories. But a general memory of well-being is there. There is a difference in feeling when we say ‘I was deeply asleep’ from ‘I was absent’.

Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain. Both make the mind restless. Moments of pleasure are merely gaps in the stream of pain.

Q: Is pain a cosmic fact, or purely mental?

The universe is complete and where there is completeness, where nothing lacks, what can give pain? A part of the whole seen in relation to the whole is also complete. Only when seen in isolation it becomes deficient and thus a seat of pain.

No thing in existence has a particular cause; the entire universe contributes to the existence of even the smallest thing.

Excerpted from ‘I Am That’. The 123rd birth anniversary of Nisargadatta Maharaj is being observed on April 17

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