Monday, July 09, 2007

Salvation is Here and Now

It's Monday, back to the work week, so I ought to get back to work on processing "The Power of Now." I read this section last week during my trip to the woods, and it really spoke to me, especially now after this past weekend and the subject of taking up hobbies:

"Most people pursue physical pleasures or various forms of psychological gratification because they believe that those things will make them happy or free them from a feeling of fear or lack. Happiness may be perceived as a heightened sense of aliveness attained through physical pleasure, or a more secure and more complete sense of self attained through some form of psychological gratification. This is the search for salvation from a state of unsatisfactoriness or insufficiency. Invariably, any satisfaction that they obtain is short-lived, so the condition of satisfaction of fulfillment is usually projected once again onto an imaginary point away from the here and now. 'When I obtain this or am free of that -- then I will be okay.' This is the unconscious mind-set that creates the illusion of salvation in the future.

"True salvation is fulfillment, peace, life in all its fullness. It is so be who you are, to feel within you the good that has no opposite, the joy of Being that depends on nothing outside itself. It is felt not as a passing experience but as an abiding presence. In theistic language, it is to "know God" -- not as something outside you but as your own innermost essence. True salvation is to know yourself as an inseparable part of the timeless and formless One Life from which all that exists derives its being.

"True salvation is a state of freedom -- from fear, from suffering, from a perceived state of lack and insufficiency and therefore from all wanting, needing, grasping and clinging. It is freedom from compulsive thinking, from negativity, and above all from past and future as a psychological need. Your mind is telling you that you cannot get there from here. Something needs to happen, or you need to become this or that before you can be free and fulfilled. It is saying, in fact, that you need time -- that you need to find out, sort out, do, achieve, acquire, become, or understand something before you can be free of complete. You see time as the means to salvation, whereas in truth it is the greatest obstacle to salvation. You think that you can't get there from where and who you are at this moment because you are not yet complete or good enough, but the truth is that here and now is the only point from where you can get there. You 'get' there by realizing that you are there already. You find God the moment you realize that you don't need to seek God. So there is no only way to salvation: Any condition can be used, but no particular condition is needed. However, there is only one point of access: the Now. There can be no salvation away from this moment. You are lonely and without a partner? Enter the Now from there. You are in a relationship? Enter the Now from there."

This is such an important thing for me to remember. I can take up all the hobbies in the world, but not one of them is going to give me happiness. Doing them may bring out the happiness that is already within me, but they won't provide it. Finishing my novel will not give me inner peace; completing a cross-stitch project will not make me a better person.

On the other side of the coin, I need to quit saying "When I finally get the house organized I'll get back to needlework again, " or "I'll get back to writing once Mabel heads off to college." This is just like saying "I won't dance in public until I'm a size 8" or "I can't wear a sleeveless shirt until I work out and make my upper arms firmer." All we have is Now. If I want to do something, this moment is the only one I have.

Can I tell you how wonderful it was to ride my bicycle yesterday? What an exercise in staying conscious and present: you have to stay constantly in the moment, watching for traffic and potholes, staying balanced, leaning into the turns, judging which gear to be in as I'm pedalling uphill. And it enables me to be in my body and appreciate what it can do; I feel the burn in my legs, my lungs taking in more air as I increase my pedalling.

Best of all, my daughter is in seventh heaven that she can go bike riding with me. We took two bike trips yesterday, the second at her request. With me at her side she could go down streets and into neighborhoods she's not been allowed to go down before.

"We should do this every day!" she exclaimed as we rode down one tree-lined street, and that moment still makes me so very happy. See? The bike riding itself wasn't making the happiness; it was being in the present, sharing a moment with my daughter that didn't involve the distractions of a blaring TV set, computer game or CD player. It was enjoying the Now.

On the surface this post doesn't have much to do with food or eating issues. But then, that's the whole point of this journey: I'm finding my happiness in the Now, not using food and eating to gratify me, console me over past hurts or numb myself so I don't worry about the future. When I allow myself to be in the Now I am free from compulsive eating and negative thinking. That freedom is salvation, and that salvation is here and now.


Jenny said...

I like that in the here and now. I am doing less of 'when I am .........I will........' and hadn't realized it until I read your post. It's so true, Now is the only real thing we have, and the only thing we have control over.

I hadn't had a hobby apart from reading before I had kids. After my second son was born, I discovered scrapbooking and I haven't looked back since. I love the 'therapy' of creating something while it appeals the practical side of me as I am creating a living pictorial journal for my family. I take time out every Friday night to go to a crop and enjoy several hours with my girlfriends. Therapy on more than one level!

Anonymous said...

When I looked into what freedom 'is' I found that it means 'unburdened as possible'. Not heavenly bliss or a 'free ride' thru life, but more not being encumbered by others and yourself too!

I smiled to read of your bike ride with your daughter. Now that is 'bliss' and LOVE in ways that nothing else but the joy of your two sharing that activity could bring. I would say you were 'free' then too :)

I would also say this is a positive emotional experience to savor. Too often the thought of us having to 'process' emotions focuses on negative ones. Its easy to forget that positive emotions are way too quickly over with.

ehugs, Katcha