Note: The following lecture is as good a place as any to begin. It has served countless times to call home the prodigal wandering in the pigsties of worry, frustration and fear. Just as much of the work in this volume, it serves well to be read aloud.
TO DISCOVER REALITY AND UNCOVER TRANQUILLITY WE BEGIN WITH THE NOW.
Now is the only "time" one is ever concerned with. Reader, consider this a moment, because here and now, a magnificent first fact of Truth begins to unfold. It has to do with now; the primacy of now; the allness of now; the absoluteness of now.
When do we see a flower? That is, what time does the seeing take place? I see the flower now, we say.
When do we see the picture of a flower in a book? Now. When do we smell the fragrance of a rose? When do we touch it, enjoy it, experience it? Now.
When does one hear a voice or a melody? When does one experience the occurrence of any event? Now!
Listen carefully: When do we remember the event? When do we reminisce about the event? When do we think about the past? Now; always now!
When do we dream of a future event? When do we plan and calculate concerning future activities? Now. All experience, all activity. All memory of the past, dream of the future, thinking and thought taking are inevitably, invariably "happening" in the now. Isn't this so?
So you see, it becomes evident to anyone who stops long enough to acknowledge it, now is the only time we are ever concerned with. It is always now! We cannot escape it.
Even so, what has humanity done to now? What has man done to this ubiquitous, all-inclusive, ever-present now? He has made it the most infinitesimal part of a great time system. He has sandwiched it between a past that stretches infinitely in one direction, and a future that extends forever in the other. He has relegated it to the merest razor's edge on a sliding scale between a past and a future. Is this not so? To humanity, now—this very moment of Awareness—is so fleeting, so ephemeral and transitory, that one cannot find it on the very device used to measure it. Try to point to now on your watch and it is instantly past, a memory.
Ah, but when do we recall the memory? Now. When do we see the watch? Now. When does one speculate about the fleeting nature of humanity's time? Now. When does one awaken to the fact that he is never concerned with a past or a future except right now? Now! When does one experience? Now. So, reader, when do you expect to discover Reality? When do you expect to experience a "healing" or a "demonstration"? When do you expect to experience completeness and happiness? Now!
THINKING ACTS LIKE A VEIL
Look at a flower. We see it now. We behold its form now. We are aware of the flower, right here, right now; but suppose we think about something else while looking at the flower. Think about that big bill that is past due and worry a little. What seems to happen to the awareness of the flower? We are not as aware of it as before, are we? We are looking at it with eyes that hardly see. It seems fuzzy, hardly noticed, but the same rose is there; the same beauty, the same form, the same grace and magnificent delicacy is right before us to be beheld and enjoyed, but we hardly see it. We are too busy worrying about the bill. We are too busy thinking.
The bill is not now. All that is now is the awareness of the rose. The rose in all its loveliness is now. The bill is nothing more than a memory that is not in this now-awareness unless we choose to put it there.
We see that thinking is like a film spread over the eyes; like a mist that covers the whole face of the land; like a veil; like looking at the flower—and everything else—through a glass darkly.
NOW IS ALWAYS ALL RIGHT!
We view the rose again. It is here, within Awareness which is aware now. The time of Awareness is always now. Right now, Awareness includes a rose. Look at it closely. See it with rapt and undivided attention. Behold with enthusiasm! This is beauty here and now! While so aware, can we be aware of worry, fear or grief in the same now? Are we? Absolutely not! The "return" to "now" is an automatic departure from the not-now, past and future.
As we shall point out in the coming pages, now is always all right! It is filled with beauty, grace and magnificence, containing no sight, sound nor sensation that is not absolutely harmless and altogether perfect. You shall very soon see and understand—even before you finish this volume—now is filled with peace, serenity, sassy and sparkling happiness. It is filled to running over with everything one thinks he needs.
So, as we turn from the memory of the past and dreams of the future—as we turn from thinking—we are neither ignoring Reality (as the world contends) nor burying our heads in the sand to escape the "press of circumstances." Contrariwise, we find ourselves returning to the perfection at hand, to discover anew that now is all that is real and all we ever need be concerned with!
Here "troubles" are not ignored, nor is a home or business neglected. Here we see with the clarity with which the rose is seen when we are not weighted down with fear and consternation. Here we see things as they are, and accordingly, know better what to do.
Have you heard these words?: "Behold, now! Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. Now I am with you always. The kingdom is here and now. You can tell the signs in the sky but you do not know to test this now. Now are we the sons of God. Now! Now! Here and now! I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Reader, this now, here and now, is a basic fact of Isness, God, Reality. There is no need to be over-concerned with a past or future when the transcendent NOW exists to enjoy and be.
"BUT WHAT IF ... ?"
Those who have just begun to hear about and ponder the transcendent nature of now are ever anxious to create hypothetical situations and present them to us in the gravest tones to see how "this new way of looking at things" will take care of it. "But, what if such and so . . . ?" they ask, picturing something they think most awful. "Suppose you should see this or that horrible mess, what would you do then?" they ask, to see how we will rationalize or explain away a situation that is not even a part of this now in the first place—except as a harmless dream!
Over-concern with the not-now is a portion of the farcical foolishness that has us so in the habit of overlooking the beauty, wonder and perfection of the moment. Jesus admonished those who questioned Him along these lines to "look on the living One (the now-awareness) as long as you live . . . " He likened their concern about the not-now to a corpse.
Reader, before I found Tranquility, I had to concede honestly that I was ever concerned with the present now-awareness, alone and only. I had to see that all speculation about a not-now was a silly waste, tending to hide the beauty of the moment. It is the business of dreaming, wondering and worrying, so to speak, that appears to present a confused now in need of correction. To stick to the now is to find it perfect, without need of correction—and containing nothing to fear!
When these hypothetical situations are tossed into my lap, I can only ask where is any of it happening in this here-and-now? To those who persist in struggling with the not-now, I say again as it was said before, "You have dismissed the living One—Now—that is before you and have spoken about a corpse." (Thomas, Log. 52.)