72. Live In The Present

Consider the idiosyncrasies of men and notice their different ways of thinking!

Some men live exclusively in the past. That is to say, they only begin to understand an event when it is past. Thus it happens that they never really rejoice at an experience, nor do they recognise its grave and weighty importance until it is past. It is but later that they begin to talk of what has happened and to extol the delights they enjoyed or to grieve over past affliction. Hence in continually speaking of what is past, either sunning themselves in pleasant memories or in grieving over sad ones, they completely overlook what is going on in the present. It must first become old and past before they value it.

Another category of man lives in the future. They set all their wishes and hopes on the future, forgetting the present which has so much to offer them, they forget to bestir themselves so as to make their dreams come true.

Both these categories, to which the greater number of men belong, do not, as it were, really live on earth at all; they fritter away their time. And again there are those who, on hearing my admonition to
live in the present will surely put a wrong interpretation on my words, thinking perhaps that I would incite them to enjoy the delights of the moment in a life of frivolity! There are many who are willing to saunter through life accepting all pleasant things that come in their way!

My words do indeed summon every one to heed the passing moment, and this not casually, but with heart and soul. The
present hour must be felt to be replete with life, and whether it bring grief or joy, it must be really experienced to the full. Man must be awake to what the moment brings, all his faculties must be on the alert; only thus can he profit by his life on earth; only thus learn the special lesson that it should teach him. Neither in meditating on the past nor in dreaming of the future can a man gain anything to carry over with him into the next world.

If he does not keep his senses on the alert, he cannot mature, for maturity depends on the personal experience of a man. If he lets his life pass without being inwardly impressed by the events of the moment he returns empty handed. As he was not awake and gained nothing he must incarnate again and live the time on earth over again.

A life on earth is a step in the existence of a man. Every single step is of such great importance that it cannot be disregarded, and man must firmly take his stand on each as a sound basis before he can reach the next.

If a man will but picture to himself his whole existence as a series of steps leading upward from this earth to the light, he will clearly see how he must consciously solve the problems set on each individual step before he can proceed to the next, for the higher step cannot develop till he has done so. He must first gain insight on one step before he can even see the next, and he must be furnished with the experience he can gain on one step before he is strong enough to recognise and climb on to the next one.

And so it goes on from step to step. Man will never reach the high ideal he has in view, if he keeps his eyes fixed on it alone and does not heed the steps leading to it which he must mount. Such steps as he must hastily build for himself would be too unsubstantial and flimsy and would break down at his first trial to ascend.

This danger has been provided against in as much as the next step cannot develop till a man has learnt all that the previous one teaches. He, therefore, who does not wish to spend half his existence on one and the same step, always returning there, must devote himself absolutely to the present, so that he may rightly comprehend it and learn what is real spiritual gain for his further use.

Neither will he lose from a worldly point of view, for it will be greatly to his advantage never to expect more from his own time and his fellow-men than they can really give, thus he will never be disappointed but live in harmony with his surroundings.

If, on the other hand, he lives in past memories or in dreaming of the future, it can easily happen that his expectations outstrip the limits his
present sets. Then he lives in discord with his time, suffers accordingly, and makes those in this immediate neighbourhood suffer too. It is right to think of the past and learn the lessons it teaches and to dream of future possibilities for the sake of the zest and encouragement they give to activity, but fully conscious life itself must only be in the present.