For me, THE POPPY is not just a flower. Because of its brief blossoming time, I have come to see it as a symbol of transience. The sense of transience, on the other hand, goes hand in hand with the knowledge that I must be and live HERE AND NOW.
I have many different images of these beautiful flowers: on paintings, on crockery and kitchenware, on jewelry and so forth. I even called my apartment in one of the Lithuanian resort towns, which I have dreamed into existence “The Poppy Republic”. I have decorated it with a variety of poppy ornaments. Poppies accompany me everywhere and remind me that I should be aware of the present moment, the here and now. It is this moment that is the most important, and it is this moment that is perpetually balanced on the brink between the future and the past.
To me TO BE HERE AND NOW means:
• Not to regret the past, because it is already gone. Why worry over that which I have or have not done, or what may or may not have happened? We should free our souls from the old negative feelings and outdated attitudes that threaten to poison our present. It is best to be a friend of one’s past than its hostage, and to remember that you can never step twice into the same river.
• Not to worry over the future, because it is not here yet. No-one can tell what could be waiting for them, what may or may not be; the future is enveloped in a thick fog of uncertainty through which we cannot see. There is no use worrying over the possible consequences of yesterday’s decisions, which we can never fully foresee. We should not judge the future by the past; each of us is worthy of a future which is better than the past. It is the Universe that is going to decide what is to happen tomorrow according to our deeds, actions, thoughts and intentions of today, and according to how virtuous we are at this given moment. The future is the result of today’s actions and thoughts.
• To be calm, self-aware, just, loving, balanced, sincere, grateful, virtuous, and a good and happy person right here and now, that is, today. We should enjoy life today, and make no attempt to escape from the issues, challenges and failures we are faced with. We should accept them as part of our experience and move on with your head up high. We should exist in the present, try to make use of each little moment and praise our Creator for it. And it is in the here and now that our body, mind and soul ought to be balanced. After all, whatever we do, we do with the purpose of being happy. Then why not just be happy today – right now?
When the Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him the most, he replied: “Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”
From now on, each day is to be the happiest day ever, and I am to accept and be thankful for anything fate might have in store for me. I am letting go of the past and accepting the present. May my Boat of Anxiety sail back into the past…
Throughout our lives we swing like pendulums. Each stroke of the pendulum carries out too far in a certain direction – toward joy or sorrow, hope or despair, happiness or misery, success or failure, love or hate, light or darkness, and many other inner states and experiences. One morning we may be basking in incredible happiness and bliss; the next it may seem that the day could not have been worse or more miserable, though only yesterday we were confident, serene, joyful, filled with the love of life, and everything around us appeared delightful and invited us to enjoy ourselves. The events of a single day could be more than enough for anyone. Life can suddenly turn so sour it may seem to lose all meaning. Then we can only think, “Why, oh Lord? What did I do to deserve this?”
When we are in a critical situation, we try to reflect, to understand what is going on and what we ourselves are thinking; we try to explain everything by rational means. Unfortunately, however, we tend to blame our surroundings or other people; it hardly occurs to us that it is be ourselves, our mindset, our thoughts that were the cause. Our current surroundings have been shaped by our own thoughts; we have attracted them by thinking in a specific way. If you are unhappy, you are probably prone to self-doubt and indulging in negative, sad thoughts. If you are ill, you must have been thinking or talking about illness all the time or listening to others doing the same. If you are deprived, you must have been overly concerned with being poor, or perhaps you thought that riches bring nothing but disaster. The list could be continued indefinitely. You get whatever you think about. Why blame others? Take responsibility for yourself, your thoughts, the sheer restlessness of your mind.
When a problem arises, rather than concentrating on its essence and searching for a solution that would be the most appropriate for the circumstances, we frequently panic and exaggerate the significance of past and potential future events, while failing to realize the meaning and paramount importance of the present moment. We are so shocked at what has happened to us and so frightened of what may happen later that we lose our cool; we are no longer able to think about the present and in terms of the present, and to seek a solution in the here and now.
The worst part is that our relationship with the problem becomes far more important than the problem itself. We lose track of anything other than ourselves: “Why me? Why do I have to suffer so much?” We look for a pretext to blame someone else, then for other pretexts behind that pretext. We never think of ourselves as the culprit. Even worse, whenever the same happens to someone else, we are indifferent, but when it comes to ourselves, the situation seems grossly unjust. It never occurs to us to ask ourselves: “Why? What have I done to bring this about? Which of my thoughts or actions may have caused this problem?
Eventually, we reach such a state of inner turmoil that our mind is overloaded and “short-circuits”. It can no longer distinguish between past, present and future, which in turn results in the deepest depression. Rather than continuing to be our friend, it turns into our enemy, which thrashes about in a vortex of our own making and causes more anguish and pain.
Where does all our awareness vanish during such moments? Where is about ability to choose our response to a particular event? Where is our ability to stay calm in the present moment, despite being torn between our memories of the past and our fear of the future? Whatever is our consciousness thinking? What about our reason? What decisions do we make? Where is the source of that overwhelming fear that completely clouds our minds?
No matter what may happen, be it a horrible disaster or a small nuisance, we should remain calm and not become distracted. We have to learn to respond to any given situation appropriately, and not to overestimate either the past or the future. We must discover and cultivate the inner peace of mind and heart from which a proper solution would be born, so we can make the correct decision and be guided by reason rather than emotion.
We are glad when we succeed and disappointed when we fail. We regret that which we have or have not done, that which did or did not happen. What we often fail to realize, however, is that this is merely the circle of life. The brightest morning always comes after the darkest night, even the largest, most devastating tsunami will eventually turn into a quiet, harmless little wave, and there are deep valleys next to the tallest mountains. Life is constantly moving forward; everything is changing, in flux, and no-one can remain happy all the time. It is said that the only thing that never changes is change itself, and for a good reason. Each of the states that overwhelm us will pass. All we have to do is realize this and relax, because “this too shall pass”.
In order for life to be as balanced and full of harmony as it can be, you must learn to love life itself. You must first learn to love yourself, the people around you, you must love nature, God and any living creature on this Earth; you must love everything there is to love, and think and act in accord with the laws of the Universe. You have to travel down the road of your life with an open heart. The better and more virtuous a person is, the more simpler, easier and calmer the flow of their life, and the more acceptable and harmonious their surroundings. Everything around them starts to change for the better. Once we have attained a state of balance in our thoughts and in our whole being, we will attract an ever-increasing number of good people and situations into our lives. We should be friends with love, peace, virtue, goodness, wisdom and awareness. With friends like those we can change our lives and those of our loves ones, transform them into something much better than what they are today.
I wish you to remain aware of the here and now. I wish you this with my whole being.