Live In The Moment

The light of our individual consciousness passes through the film of deep rooted past memories (Vaasnaas, tendencies, dispositions, undigested desires, etc.) and throws images on the screen of our brain. Because of the conditioned or deluded state of our brain, what we perceive is distorted and tarnished by the feelings of likes and dislikes.

Since all memories are in the transient mind, what is remembered cannot be Real. The changeless Reality is in the eternity of the “Now”, not in the memories of yesterday or the worry of tomorrow.

In this regard, the injunction in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is very succinct — don’t dwell on the past, live in the present, explore better options now, improve the thinking (Soch-ਸੋਚ) by learning Giaan (Wisdom), and future will take care itself.

  • ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਅਬ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Whatever you have to do – now is the best time to do it (sggs 1159).
  • ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਮਿਲੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਹੈ ਏਹ ॥: Listen, O my mind, my friend and darling: now is the time to meet (your Mool). (sggs 20).
  • ਆਗਾਹਾ ਕੂ ਤ੍ਰਾਘਿ ਪਿਛਾ ਫੇਰਿ ਨ ਮੁਹਡੜਾ॥: Look ahead; don’t turn your face backward (sggs 1096).
  • ਵਤ ਲਗੀ ਸਚੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਬੀਜੇ ਸੋ ਖਾਇ ॥: The opportune time to sow the True Naam (Giaan or Wisdom) has arrived. He who sows it will eat its fruit (sggs 321).

The sense of time-space-causation arises when the illusioned mind engrossed in “Parpanch” (i.e., duality, affairs of this fleeting material world, deception, ostentation, trickery…) is in movement from past to future. In other words, the illusion of time-space-causation comes into being only if we hold on to the memory of the past and the future. The moment our mind stops intermingling between these two, the illusion of time ceases to be. The only Truth is the eternity of the present moment. It’s called by many names in the Gurbani such as “Ik Shinn”, “Ik Khinn”, “Ek Khinaa”, “Ik Pall”, “Ek Palak”; “Abb”, “Ih Velaa”, “Vatt”, etc. Whosoever keeps his consciousness focused unto this eternity of the present moment (or NOW), day and night, becomes liberated while alive (Jeevanmukta).

But the phantom of the compulsive and instinctive mind tries to live in the past or the future and makes everything look like permanent — from our pains, children and spouses to our dogs and cats…

The transient nature of all phenomena is a universal truth. The Gurbani asks us to be mindful of this universal truth. That is, the impermanence of everything we see.

  • ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਮਿਥੇਨਾ ॥: All that is seen is an illusion (sggs 1083).

However, a doubt-ridden (Bharam) mind objects to the truth that the nature of all phenomena is transient. As a consequent of this faulty thinking, we cause ourselves to suffer when we try to cling to what’s fleeting and make it permanent. “Why it is like this?”. Or, “Why it is not like this?”. Or, “Only if it was like this.” Thus the list of complains goes on and on.

There must be a sound reason as to why the Gurbani time and again reminds us of the temporary nature of everything we see in this world!

For one, understanding impermanence of people and things helps us appreciate the time we spend with people and things we care about.

For example, if we know somebody will disappear in a few days, wouldn’t that help one appreciate the time of those few days he spends with that person he cares about?

Mind’s separateness from its Original Blissful Nature (Mool…) is the sign of not living in the presence!

Thus, understanding and awareness of impermanence of people and things helps us live in the present moment. Otherwise, the phantom of the mind will pull us into the memory-lane of the past, and fictional reality of the future — project us into the future to worry about things that may or may not happen. Because this phantom of the mind is never satisfied with the present moment — it will always desire something else.

  • ਆਗੈ ਪਾਛੈ ਗਣਤ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਕਿਆ ਜਾਤੀ ਕਿਆ ਹੁਣਿ ਹੂਏ ॥: No account can be made of the future or the past; who knows what (we) were or what will be? (sggs 1238).
  • ਹਮ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਜਾਨਹ ਆਗੈ ਜਿਉ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਖੈ ਤਿਉ ਠਾਢੇ ॥: Ham jaaniaa kachhu… (sggs 171).

Life presents itself to us only one moment at a time. In other words, as the Gurbani says the life comes one breath at a time!

  • ਹਮ ਆਦਮੀ ਹਾਂ ਇਕ ਦਮੀ ਮੁਹਲਤਿ ਮੁਹਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: We are human beings of one breath and we do not know the duration (term, limit, etc., of our life) and the moment of our departure (i.e., death). (sggs 660).
Maya is living in the past or the future, instead of the present moment!

Thus, the length of a man’s life is measured by the breath! Therefore, the present moment or the present breath is all we ever have! This present moment or the present breath is where life unfolds. If we look back, nothing exists! For we cannot go back in time.

Therefore, except for this present moment, there is simply smoke on both sides (i.e., past and future).

Accordingly, the Gurbani asks us to live in the present moment and focus attention on each breath “ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ”. If we constantly observe breath, by and by we will realize that we (as Mool, Jot Saroop…) are different from the breathing. Thus constantly observing breath will keep the mind under constant watch.

  • ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ॥ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਉਤਰੈ ਚਿੰਦ ॥: With each breath, remember “Gobind” (Mool…). (So that) worry within (your) mind be erased (sggs 295).

The Gurbani tells us that our Mool (Jot, Source, Pure Presence, Original Blissful Nature…) is here and now — not after death, or some other time (past or future), or “up there”, or “there yonder”!

  • ਸਭ ਕੈ ਸੰਗੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਵਨ ਹਾਜਰਾ ਹਜੂਰਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (The Lord) is with all; (He) is not far away (from anybody). He is the Cause of causes, ever-present here and now — Haajraa Hajoor ||1||Pause|| (sggs 987).
“Surrender” (“ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ“, “ਸਰਨਾਇ “…) and living in the NOW are one and the same.

Thus living in the eternity of the NOW is the highest state of the conscious mind. The person who lives fully in the “now” is a true Giaanee or the Gurmukh: the Enlightened Being who sees beyond duality (Doojaa Bhaav, Maya) and knows the oneness of All. Such person remains undisturbed in all situations.

Truly so contented within (Sat Santokh), he accepts the life as it presents itself to him (Bhaanaa or Hukam Mannanaa). Like the river water, he flows freely with the life, finding his way around the “ups” and “downs” of the life, and letting go of everything that blocks his energy. He faces everything in the Light of the eternity of “NOW”, not in the darkness of the past or the future.

But, the Gurbani time and again confirms that such people are very rare in this world!

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਰਲੇ ਪਾਈਅਹਿ ਜੋ ਨ ਰਚਹਿ ਪਰਪੰਚ ॥੫॥: O Nanak! Rare are those, who do not create “Parpanch”. ||5|| (sggs 297).
Filed Under: fleeting, Gurbani, Maya, Illusion, Dream
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23 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Peter Jansen

    Dear T. Singh,

    First of all I want to thank you for your time and efforts in maintaining this website. Your reflections really help me getting a better understanding of the teachings in the SGGS.
    I love your article. I do not yet fully (of even partially) comprehend it. This leads me to a question:
    Living daily life and earning a honest living, it looks to me like we need to remember things from the past (e.g. to do your daily job, where you left your carkeys) or the future (e.g. dentist appointment). How can I place this in the light of living in the ‘now’? In daily life, where everything is time-bound, how can we live in the ‘now’ without thinking and /or anticipate on the past or the future (although they don’t exist)? Since, as you call it, the 99,9% of the world lives in past or future, how can we focus just on the ‘now’ and still function (as I understand the SGGS does not wants us to pull ourselves out of day-to-day live, but rather continue our search in the midst of daily living)?
    I am looking forward to your reaction.

    • Thank you Peter! And welcome to the Gurbani Blog

      (as I understand the SGGS does not wants us to pull ourselves out of day-to-day live, but rather continue our search in the midst of daily living)

      Well said! This is also my understanding.

      Living in the present does not mean to forget or not remember car-keys, children, spouses, and so on.
      The Gurbani teaches us continue to live in the midst of Maya, BUT DETACHED (the attitude of non-attachment)! To put it otherwise, be in the world but not of the world! However, according to the Gurbani, Maya cannot be transcended without detachment:
      • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Binu bairaag na shootasi maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.). ||1|| (sggs 329).

      Which is like, as the Gurbani puts it, walking on a double-edged sword!!

    • Sundeep Singh

      There is a distinct difference between having to use thought as a tool (to remember) which is perfectly fine as you are conciously aware of what you are using it for, and the mind aimlessly wondering all day long and mostly unconciously going undected. Ponder this…

      All the best

  2. Ranjit

    Sardar ji which advice gurbani gives our children & parents relation make strong

    • Dear Ranjit Ji,
      Please do not keep posting the same comment again and again. You have already repeated this comment above, as well as in an another article also.
      Thank you Ji.

  3. Ranjit

    Sardar ji which advice gurbani gives our children & parents relation make strong

    • Thank you Ranjit Ji.

      I don’t know what you mean by “children & parents relation make strong”,
      But, I see this message appear over and over in the Divine Teaching of the SGGS:
      • ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਸਗਲ ਸਮਗ੍ਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਅਸਨਾਹਾ ॥੧॥: Children, wife, home and all other possessions – love (attachment…) of all these is false. ||1|| (sggs 402).
      • ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਬੰਧਪਾ ਕੂੜੇ ਸਭੇ ਸਾਕ ॥: Mother, father, children and relatives – all relations are false (impermanent, ਸਾਥ ਛੱਡ ਜਾਣ ਵਾਲੇ …). (sggs 47).

  4. Sundeep Singh

    The eternal truth of the Now, the fleeting thoughts disappear when we are rooted in the present. People take themselves to be the thoughts, but how can one be a thought? Find the root of this ‘i’ thought. We are That which is aware of thought. This has to be experienced by the individual conciousness. Satnaam

  5. Singh Maninder

    T.Singh Thank you so much for posting beautiful blog .
    Keep posting

  6. Chitranjan Dev

    I really felt the peace and Bliss when we concentrate on Breathe smoothly and calmly with the love of God in Mind. It brings us a lit closer to our True Blissful Nature. Now I have started doing it regularly.
    It is also a of type of Meditation/Psychological Technique taught by many spiritual teachers. Our Spiritual Teacher SGGS has taught this before to us.

  7. Taranjit Singh

    Vaheguru jio!!!

  8. prakash S Bagga

    One can learn a true art of living from the messages from SGGS ji.
    One can observe there are broadly two types of messages in SGGS ji .One type of messages provide complete n perfect knowledge about THE CREATOR Prabhu Abinaasee and Other messages as instructions from THe CREATOR to all human beings about how to live a real life free from the influence from Maya.

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