Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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The Now, the Future, and
the Phantom of Contradiction

by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

See also these related articles on the levels of consciousness:
Index of levels of consciousness
Levels and dimensions of consciousness
Om and the seven levels of consciousness

Apparent contradiction

It has become a widespread suggestion to live "in the now," to be fully present at every moment. This is often described as the key to living in the world and to spiritual attainment. There is a plethora of books, CDs, seminars, and retreats that follow this theme, and provide suggestions on how to accomplish this. Yet, at the same, there is also a suggestion that one needs to plan for the future. Not only does one need to plan his or her own, personal life, there is also the urgent (based in time) need to plan for our collective future, both as humanity as such, and as an ever evolving planet, where it appears that this same humanity might be busily destroying other life, if not the whole planet as a living organism.

This is where the trouble seems to come in. How is one to balance this suggestion to "live in the now" with the suggestion to "plan for the future?" It sounds like there is contradiction, conflict or opposition between these two realities of past and future.

No contradiction

There is actually no contradiction or conflict whatsoever, once we come to a deeper understanding of what "now" means. If we consider past, present, and future only as mental phenomena, of what our brain or mind is doing at the moment, then there definitely can be contradiction or conflict. Mind races back and forth among the current moment, the replaying of past events, and the projection of future activities. To sit quietly and reflect on memories of old friends and special places can be quite pleasant. To quietly reflect on how we might plan our future personal, spiritual, family, or worldly life is very useful and fulfilling. To sit quietly, enjoying nature, the companionship of a loved one, or simply resting in the moment is very soothing. However, each of these are processes "of" the mind.

The MENTAL aspect of NOW
is experienced at this level.
The FUTURE is usually planned
at this level of mind.

Beyond the conscious, waking state mind, there is an unconscious functioning, a still deeper reservoir of latent impressions, and the pure consciousness that is underneath. That consciousness is never anything other that pure present or now, in the sense that it is prior to the emergence of the mental processing we know as past and future. It is described as never born and never dying.

aspect of NOW is at this level.
You CAN plan the future while
remembering this deepest level of NOW.

The main obstacle to this is that fact that most people, though very nice and sincere in their spiritual pursuits, have not yet consciously experienced this eternal level of being in the "now." Until that happens, there appears to be a contradiction between the mind processing in the processing moment and constructing future scenarios. The confusion is not between "now" and "future," but rather, between the use of the word "now" to describe a mental state of functioning, and the use of the word "now" to describe the transcendent realization of that which is prior to any issue or question whatsoever about time, whether present, past, or future.

If we are trying to juggle the mental version of "now" with the mental version of "future," then there might be some issue of contradiction, conflict or challenge. However, if we are trying to juggle the transcendent, eternal, untainted, ever present consciousness version of "now" with the mental version of planning for the future, there is no contradiction or conflict whatsoever.



This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.