Isn’t it ironic how the word “present” comes after future and past in the dictionary, when being presently aware always is the ultimate goal of most spiritual practices! The dictionary defines “present” as; a moment or period in time perceptible as intermediate between past and future; now. Now being considered; actually here or involved. In short, my answer would be ‘to be aware means to BE in the moment.’
“For most people, presence is experienced either never at all or only accidentally and briefly on rare occasions without being reorganized for what it is. Most humans alternate not between consciousness and unconsciousness but only between different levels of unconsciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle
Unconsciousness for me means, being identified with your thought processes and emotions, your reactions, desires, expectations, attachments, and aversions. It is people’s normal state, and in that state you are run by your egoic mind, and unable to be present in the moment, always identified with some past or future event, never really enjoying the here and now.
When you learn to be a witness of your thoughts and emotions which is an essential part of being present, anything unconscious dissolves. Most people are totally absorbed with the self and disconnected from their higher state of “being”, always seeking and uneasy with their lives, never really satisfied. Love, peace and happiness cannot flow until you have freed yourself from mind dominance. As Mohanji says, “Be intelligent, leave your mind alone.”
Many people use alcohol, drugs, sex, food, work, television, games, gambling, even shopping as anesthetics in an unconscious attempt to remove the basic unease. When this happens, you create an addictive habit, and all that is ever achieved is short-lived and unsatisfying, often leading to your own self destruction.
The undercurrent of constant unease started long before the rise of the Western Industrial Civilization, which now covers almost the entire globe, it manifests in an unprecedented acute form. Resistance to the Now or Present moment as a collective dysfunction is intrinsically connected to loss of awareness of ‘Being’ and forms the basis of our Dehumanized Industrial Civilization, I like to call it, “The Ego Dominated World”. This collective dysfunction has created a very unhappy and extraordinarily violent civilization that has become a threat not only to itself but also to all life on the planet.
Knowing this means that you and I must make our primary reality that which is within us and our secondary reality that which is outside of us, in the world around us, and if not, then at least be as interested in what goes on inside you, as what goes on in the outside world.
Why is this so important? Very often we find ourselves in situations that create emotional pain and it is at that moment that we should think deeply about where that pain comes from, why is it that we feel uncomfortable, irritated, angry, sad or depressed. “Know Thyself”, means understanding yourself, how you think, what you think, how you feel, what you feel and why. Many people are far too identified with the emotional trauma they experienced in the past and bring it into their present moment experience, thereby completely losing the beauty of “being” or presence. Furthermore, it is your subconscious patterning, and negative ego that creates turmoil within, but those are subjects for another day.
The ideal is to deal with the past on the level of the present, in other words; pay attention to the present; to your behavior, to your reactions, moods, thoughts, emotions, fears and desires as they occur in the present, in other words, “know thyself”. If you can be present enough to watch all those things in you, not critically or analytically but non- judgmentally, then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence.
You find yourself not by going into the past, but by coming into the present. What is essential is your conscious presence, for that dissolves the past!
“If you are truly at peace and fully present, when people around you behave in an unconscious manner, you won’t feel the need to react to it, or give your energy to it.” – Belinda Snyman
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