the power of now is a book i often go back to. i still remember reading it at a time i was pretty unhappy in my life. i was mulling a cross-country move to LA or SF. my NYC life at that time wasn’t fulfilling. i had friends, but i kept them at an arm’s length. i was very successful in my job, but i was miserable. the family i grew up in and always believed was a rock-solid source of strength, was unraveling. i was terribly lonely.
things are very different now. for many reasons, but i think mostly because i finally allowed myself to acknowledge my pain. not destroy or undo it. just see it for what it is. that, my pals, was when i crossed into Zen Col territory. do i always reside in zen land? hell’s no. i’m human, with flaws like everyone else. i still experience pain and inflict pain on others. it’s the human condition. nowadays when i find myself way far off the path, i pick up Practicing the Power of Now for a refresher course. lately i’ve been listening to the audio book. it’s very soothing. here’s an excerpt:
Pain is inevitable as long as you are identified with your mind, which is to say as long as you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. I am talking here primarily of emotional pain, which is also the main cause of physical pain and physical disease. Resentment, hatred, self-pity, guilt, anger, depression, jealousy, and so on, even the slightest irritation, are all forms of pain. And every pleasure or emotional high contains within itself the seed of pain: its inseparable opposite, which will manifest in time.
Anybody who has ever taken drugs to get “high” will know that the high eventually turns into a low, that the pleasure turns into some form of pain. Many people also know from their own experience how easily and quickly an intimate relationship can turn from a source of pleasure to a source of pain. Seen from a higher perspective, both the negative and the positive polarities are faces of the same coin, are both part of the underlying pain that is inseparable from the mind-identified egoic state of consciousness.
There are two levels to your pain: the pain that you create now, and the pain from the past that still lives on in your mind and body. Ceasing to create pain in the present and dissolving past pain – this is what I want to talk about now.