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How will the next chapter of your story read?

19 May 2014   Shanti Gowans

How will the next chapter of your story read?

What would you do today if time were no longer the finite commodity by which we measured our accomplishments?

What if there were no clocks? Not in your car, on the walls, computer or phone. What if there were no watches or timepieces either? Only skyward approximations, illuminating from the universe's originating source, the faithful rising and setting of the sun.

While we're at it, let's also remove calendars, birthdays, holiday celebrations and election years. There would merely be the rotation of the planet and seasonal metamorphosis of climate and foliage, reminding us of the fragile impermanence of all that is.

Work would still exist and life would still go on, albeit at a more leisurely pace, and gracious, forgiving speed. There would still be 24 hours in the day and 52 weeks in the year. However, without conventional tools to tell us so, this tasty morsel of conversational minutiae, is reduced to arbitrary party faire.

What exactly is time?

Ultimately speaking, it is a concept. Much like a country's borders, it was contrived by human beings to provide mutually held beliefs by which we can organise our lives. Certainly, there is grand usefulness found in this design. However, as a planetary population, it seems we've taken this tool of convenience and premeditated our world around it, losing sight of the fact that at its core, time is an intangible illusion.

By removing the rigidity of societal calculations, the 'x' number of years each of us has spent roaming this planet, has been nothing but a single continuum, broken up by fitful nights of sleep. Without fretting over age related accomplishments, milestones, aspirations or projections, we awaken to each new day and what has changed? Everything? Nothing?

The hallucinatory imagery of the past does not truly exist. Neither do our simulated fantasies of the future. These two insoluble elements of our existence are poised in a constant state of culmination at the apex of the present moment. These guideposts have however, instead of providing direction, been mistaken for our destination.

Missing the signs due to our focus on the past and future, something has been lost. Don't you feel it? In the pursuit of chasing our dreams, what many of us have traded, in addition to our present, is our ability to give freely. Pragmatic generosity and compassion, on a global scale, are missing at levels that rise above glib quotes passed through social media. How we are conditioned to look at life has actually robbed us of living.

The Vedic understanding is in the belief that compassion cannot be forced; that it may be derived only through the process of mental purification. Because of this, we've only a superficial grasp of what it means to love.

This is far too bleak for the millions of us taking baby steps towards embodying our altruistic ideals. As prosaic and cliché as popular quotations of streaming sagely wisdom may appear, at least it demonstrates hope. Even the largest of blazing infernos begins with a single spark.

Hope however, is not a strategy.

If we are the hero in this epic novel called life, what is the plot? To pay off the mortgage? To go on a pleasant holiday? If the predictability of security replaces our inherent need for raw spontaneity, we risk losing interest in our own story. And if absorption in our own pursuits supplants our ability to freely and generously care about others, we've lost something even more valuable.

Hope may not be a strategy but if it sparks desire and this desire ignites action, that is a formula for change. Humanity, as a whole, is in dire need. We're losing the ability to see past our own desires into the lives of millions who are suffering, truly suffer, on a daily basis.

Perhaps the Vedic belief is misguided in its assertion that purity that begets generosity and compassion. It is repeated acts of compassion and generosity that contribute to mental purity. 

"...if you gotta care for one day...that one day man, better be your life...because that's all you got. If you got a today you don't wear it tomorrow, man. Cause you don't need it... Tomorrow never happens."

Janis Joplin, Ball and Chain

The only mastery we will ever truly gain over the passage of time, is continually re-discovering the present moment. This seemingly long stretch of days, nights and seasonal transformation, simply provides a vivid stage upon which our temporal existence is acted out. It is not the dawning of each new day, but along every point of life's continuum that presents an opportunity for us to choose. An infinite string of tomorrows, only ever arriving in concept, will always remain one day too late to make a difference.

De-conditioning ourselves is a challenge. Recognition is only the first step. Actively working to stay in the moment and sidestepping the trappings of the future, is a practice that requires continual re-focusing. We are not accustomed to being at peace with ourselves which is what finally occurs when the past and future are released. The best we can do now is work at it. Engagement in our own lives must become a priority; after all, what else do we have?

How will the next chapter of your story read?

Choicest blessings and namaste,



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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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