Live in the Present Moment

Many aspects of organized and institutionalized religions (Mazhab-ਮਜ਼ਹਬ) are concocted, imaginary, myths, fantasies, hearsays, impractical, unnatural and laughable that defy commonsense. But we believe anyway!

SIKHI is NOT a spirituality of AFTERLIFE or AFTER DEATH.

Instead, SIKHI is a spirituality of the HERE AND NOW! Hence, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS teaches us the technique of living life in the NOW or PRESENT MOMENT — to remain in the present means to focus the mind on the present. Sounds simple but for most of us its like chewing iron to implement. According to the Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak or SGGS the present is the only reality.

  • ਵਰਤਮਾਨ ਵਿਚ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਹੋਵਣਹਾਰ ਸੋਈ ਪਰਵਾਣਾ॥ ਕਾਰਣ ਕਰਤਾ ਜੋ ਕਰੈ ਸਿਰ ਧਰ ਮੰਨ ਕਰੈ ਸ਼ੁਕਰਾਣਾ॥ : The accepted Sikh (of Baabaa Nanak) is one who lives successfully in the PRESENT (NOW). Whatever the Creator does (in the HERE and NOW), he accepts with gratitude as His Hukam (Will). (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 18).
  • ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਅਬ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Whatever you have to do – NOW is the best time to do it (sggs 1159).

An another primary principle of Sikhi is to remain within the confines of the Divine Hukam (System-Rule-Law-Order of the Nature…) and thus become ‘Sachiaaraa‘ or God-Realized.

  • ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਐ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ ॥ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥: How then can I become God-Realized being within (‘Sachiaaraa‘)? How can I remove the obstacle of my non-realized state within? O Nanak! (The way to realize Creator within is to) remain within the confines of His Hukam (the System or Law of Nature…) and abide in Sahaj, as (Creator and His Hukam) is contained with us. ||1|| (sggs 1).

So, who or what is it that is living in the past, future or the present? The future is yet to be and we should not be anxious about what might or might not be. The past is history and cannot be changed, so there is no point in regretting about it etc. It is our mind that constantly travels between the past and the future. Thus most people are busy either brooding over the past or worried for the future!

Hence the SGGS asks us to remain in the present to live life fully.

The Gurmat Wisdom teaches us to turn the wandering mind around, and turn it within (i.e. introvert), and make it live in the Eternity of the ‘NOW’, not in the memories of yesterday or the anxiety of the tomorrow.

The human mind by its very nature refuses to be still and looks for ways to wander around in the past and the future.

Movement may be good for the the gross body-frame, but stillness is good for the mind.

  • ਸੁੰਨ ਸਹਜ ਮਹਿ ਬੁਨਤ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: I’am now weaved in spiritual stillness (i.e., established in a state beyond Bikaar, Maya…). ||1|| (sggs 1158).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਵਡ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਠਾਕਿ ਰਹਾਇ ॥੨੧॥ : False ego-sense (Haumai) and myness is a great disease, (however, a person who lives daily life by the Wisdom of the Guru) stills this great disease from within. ||21|| (sggs 756).

‘Now’ is the best time!

Gurmat is NOT a religion (Mazhab-ਮਜ਼ਹਬ) like other worldly religions. In fact, Sikhi is a distinct Way of life based on the Unique and Revolutionary Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

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

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 worries of tomorrow.

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

  • ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਮਿਲੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਹੈ ਏਹ ॥ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਜੋਬਨਿ ਸਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਤਬ ਲਗੁ ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ॥ : O Beloved Mind! Listen! The time to Realize the Creator is HERE AND NOW. (Realize the Creator NOW) while there is life and breath in me. (sggs 20).
  • ਆਗਾਹਾ ਕੂ ਤ੍ਰਾਘਿ ਪਿਛਾ ਫੇਰਿ ਨ ਮੁਹਡੜਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਿਝਿ ਇਵੇਹਾ ਵਾਰ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਜਨਮੜਾ ॥੧॥: Look ahead; don’t look backwards — contemplate for Spiritual Awakening now, continue this journey for higher State of Enlightenment. Nanak, this is your only chance to realize God, here and now, there is NO BIRTH AGAIN. ||1|| (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 (Now) will eat its fruit (sggs 321).
  • ਜੇ ਵੇਲਾ ਵਖਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਤਾ ਕਿਤੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ : If the good and bad of times (for Bhagti) is the discourse, then when will be the Creator be contemplated on (Bhagti)? (sggs 35).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਾਤਉ ਉਲਟਿ ਪਰਾਵੈ ॥੫॥: (Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad) turns the outgoing mind around. ||5|| (sggs 414).

The sense of time-space-causation arises when the illusioned or wandering mind engrossed in ‘Parpanch‘ (i.e. Maya, affairs of this fleeting material world, ostentation, deception, trickery, Pakhand etc.) 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 worry of 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 (NOW)

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 Shabad Based Conscience focused unto this eternity of the present moment (or NOW) becomes liberated while alive (Jeevanmukta), Here and Now.

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 truth — the impermanence of everything we see. That which is Real never ends, and that which ends is not Real! The Gurbani Teaches us that anything seen is ephemeral — it will soon disappear.

  • ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਮਿਥੇਨਾ ॥: All that is seen is an illusion (sggs 1083).
  • ਤਿਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਨ ਕੀਜਈ ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਚਲਣਹਾਰੁ ॥: Don’t carry affection for which is just fleeting (perishable). (sggs 21).

However, a doubt-ridden 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.

There must be a sound reason as to why the Gurbani time and again reminds us of the temporary or fleeting 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 Jot Saroop indicates not living in the PRESENT moment!

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.

  • ਅਬਹਿ ਨ ਮਾਤਾ ਸੁ ਕਬਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਤਾ ॥: One who is not intoxicated (with the Divine Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) NOW, will never be intoxicated. (sggs 855).
  • ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਖਿਨੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਲਿ ॥: O my mind! Every moment, remember the Naam (Wisdom…). (sggs 1259).

Life presents itself to us only one moment or one breath at a time.

In other words, as the Gurbani teaches us, the life comes one breath at a time!

  • ਹਮ ਆਦਮੀ ਹਾਂ ਇਕ ਦਮੀ ਮੁਹਲਤਿ ਮੁਹਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: We humans exist for one breath at a time, not knowing (allotted time of) the life span or even what will happen next. (sggs 660).

Love or attachment of 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 a 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-Saas Saas‘). If we constantly observe breath, by and by we will realize that we 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 is Here and Now — not after death, or some other time (past or future), or ‘up there’, or ‘there yonder’!

  • ਬੇਣੀ ਕਹੈ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਰੇ ਭਗਤਹੁ ਮਰਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਿਨਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੫॥: Says Baynee – Listen O devotees, nobody has ever attained liberation after death. ||5|| (sggs 93).
  • ਸਭ ਕੈ ਸੰਗੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਵਨ ਹਾਜਰਾ ਹਜੂਰਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (Rabb) is with all; not far away (from anybody). (Rabb) 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: who sees beyond duality (Doojaa Bhaav, Maya) and knows the oneness of All. Such person remains peaceful and undisturbed in all situations.

Truly so contented within (Sat Santokh), he accepts the life as it presents itself to him (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).

In short, to live in the moment is to live with Shabad Based Conscience. According to Gurbani in SGGS, if a person lives life with such Awareness, then he/she will not have to suffer later in life:

  • ਅਗੋ ਦੇ ਜੇ ਚੇਤੀਐ ਤਾਂ ਕਾਇਤੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥ : If the mortal is conscious before hand (ਸਾਵਧਾਨ – wise, prudent or heedful etc.), then why he be punished later (i.e. then not have to face consequences later). (sggs 417).
  • ਬੇੜਾ ਬੰਧਿ ਨ ਸਕਿਓ ਬੰਧਨ ਕੀ ਵੇਲਾ ॥ ਭਰਿ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਜਬ ਊਛਲੈ ਤਬ ਤਰਣੁ ਦੁਹੇਲਾ ॥੧॥: You were not able to make yourself a raft (of Naam – Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) when you should have. When the ocean is churning and over-flowing, then it is very difficult to cross over it (i.e., when already drowning in the Bhav Saagar of Maya or Bikaar, then not possible to escape). ||1|| (sggs 794).
  • ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ ॥੨੦॥: (So long there is breathPraan) accomplish the task (of God Realization) yourself ( i.e. with self-efforts: Shabad-Vichaar …). ||20|| (sggs 474).


  1. Excellent!!
    Following lines were so impactful.

    “ 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).”

  2. Dear T Singh Ji
    Thanks for lovely article
    I wish to ask your opinion
    Is Naam sinónimous to ConsciousNess or just merged in the being just here ,A WORD
    MAI ANDHALE ki tek
    Tera NAAM khundkara
    Thanks again

  3. Thank you all for your replies. These will certainly help me to get a better understanding. I deeply appriciate your efforts.

  4. 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

  5. Thank you Chitranjan Dev Ji!

    You said in your email reply:

    Nice Question by Peterji….What I understood by SGGS and listening to Gurmukhs/Sipritual Masters… Living in Now means nothing is disturbing u frm past or future….Remaining in a blissful / Jyot Swaroop state in the present…Doing all ur daily activities…. Because Humans are not past , future or even present…We are just presence or exixtence orMool Swaroop…which is beyond time and space. So all tenses of time disappears…This is what my little knowledge tells me…Dhan Guru Nanakdevji….

    Well Said!

  6. Thank you for your reply.
    This certainly makes a lot of sense. I should have thought if this myself. I make sure to read your article about Detachment to gain a better understanding of the interplay between these two.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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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