by Leonard Jacobson: We have been given free will, which simply means that we have the freedom to choose.
Every day we make choices and the choices we make lead inevitably to the consequences that follow. For example, the food you choose to eat today will affect your weight, health and sense of well-being tomorrow. If you choose to remain angry or to hold onto past resentments, or if you choose to repress your emotions, there are consequences that will affect your life and relationships. Many of the consequences that we are living with today can be traced back to choices that we made in the past, sometimes going all the way back to childhood.
If you are not happy in your life or your relationships, try to identify the choices you made in the past that have led to your unhappiness. By connecting the choice with the consequence, you will see that you are the creator of your suffering. You will recognize that you are responsible for whatever is happening in your life, which will free you to revise your choices. You can make new choices that will result in different outcomes for you.
However, at the very heart of free will, there is a fundamental choice that most of us are unaware of. This fundamental choice not only affects every aspect of our lives but it also affects the life and journey of the soul. It will lead to a transformation of how we choose to live upon this earth.
As it is now, we live with a constant stream of thought, most of which is unconscious and unintended. Our minds are rarely silent. All thought takes us into the past or future. There are no exceptions. This means that we are living almost exclusively in the past or future world of the mind. We are living in a world of memory, imagination, concept, idea and belief. Essentially, it is a world of separation and illusion. It is as if we are living within a dream, and we do not realize this until we awaken out of the dream.
To awaken out of the dream is to awaken out of the past and future into the present moment. It is to awaken out of illusion into the truth of life revealed through the present moment, free of our projections, judgments and beliefs. It is to awaken out of separation into the realization of Oneness.
To come out of the past and future into the present moment IS the fundamental choice. Until you awaken into Presence, something very significant is missing in your life.
When you are truly present, your mind is silent. You are an awakened Being, at least for those moments that you are present. And as you relax into Presence you will experience feelings of peace, love, truth and Oneness. To be present is your natural state. It is as simple as bringing yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it, or smell it in this moment, then you can be present with it.
The only way to leave the present moment is to think. All thought takes you into the past or future. And if you believe in your thoughts, opinions and beliefs as somehow being true, then you will become imprisoned within the world of the mind.
There is nothing wrong with thinking. I am not against thinking, nor am I against using the mind. Without thought, you cannot participate in the world of time. The problem is that most of humanity is addicted to thinking. Our thoughts never stop. When you are living and functioning within the world of the mind, you are living with all the limiting beliefs, emotional wounds and traumas that formed in early childhood. A painful and limited past is projecting onto the present moment, distorting your sense of yourself and your experience of life. This is what has happened to humanity over thousands of years.
Very few know that this fundamental choice is available to them. Even if you are aware of this choice, it is not enough. You have to know how to become present and relax and settle into Presence. And you have to know how to integrate awakened consciousness into everyday life, so that even when you are participating in the world of time, you never go so far into the past or future that you disconnect from Presence.
But it is not that simple. When you are lost in the mind, the ego is in charge. It is the custodian of the separation. It does not want you to become present and it is very skilled at keeping you imprisoned within its world of the past and future. It will bring up thoughts and feelings of anger, blame, resentment, guilt, shame and judgment, all of which take you into the past and imprison you there. It can just as easily tempt you out of the present moment with the promise of future fulfillment, which will take you into an imaginary future. When you become famous, successful or very wealthy, you will be happy. When find a new husband or wife or build a new home you will be happy. But these are false promises designed to keep you in the future and under the ego’s control. It can even seduce you with the promise of enlightenment at some time in the future, but enlightenment can never happen in the future. It can only happen now.
Now let us compare the ego’s false promises with what the present moment has to offer you right now. If you bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you, your thoughts will stop. You will open into peace as all the pain and limitations of the past drop away. Anxiety about the future will dissolve. You will open into an entirely new dimension of yourself and of existence.
When you are present, you are love. You are acceptance and compassion. You are without judgment. You are empowered from within and you feel free to be yourself and express yourself honestly and authentically. As you deepen into Presence, you will open into Oneness. At the deepest level of Presence, you will experience the living Presence of God in all things present. At the deepest level of Presence, Heaven on Earth is revealed.
There are so many opportunities to be present each day. Whenever there is no need to be thinking, bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. Gradually, the seed of Presence will flower within you and you will find yourself becoming more and more established in Presence.
It does not matter what you are present with. You can be present with a flower or a tree. You can be present with a bird as it soars through the sky. You can be present with the distant mountain. You can close your eyes and be present with your body as it breathes or you can be present with the sound you hear, moment to moment.
For thousands of years, awakened masters have been sharing the way of awakening with us, but very few of us have responded in a way that leads to liberation. Sooner or later, every human will have to ask the question, “Which world do I choose to live in – the past and future world of the mind or the world of now?” The consequences that flow from this fundamental choice are radically different. One choice leads to Heaven on Earth. The other leads to a kind of Hell on Earth. Our ultimate destiny will be determined by this fundamental choice.
Leonard Jacobson is an awakened spiritual teacher, mystic and author, who is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. He has been teaching people how to become fundamentally present and arise in mastery of the mind and ego for over 30 years. Find more of Leonard’s work at www.leonardjacobson.com.