I bought my I-Phone about three years ago. Now my photo library is completely full so I can’t take any more. I never really look at the photos I took so I also never delete any. Today it was time to delete some. Going back over these old photos, memories came up. One thing that every photo had in common was me and the fact that I was very happy. I don’t mean I was in every photo. I mean that when I took each photo I was very happy. That’s why I took it, to try to capture that moment of happiness. So these were kind of like photos of happiness.
There were pictures of beings who I love very much. There were pictures of my cat Zen who I no longer have. There were pictures of my children and family who live on the East Coast far from Sedona. There were pictures of Ahna who I was in a two year relationship with up until a few weeks ago.
So looking at all these photos brought up memories. Memories of how happy I was when I took each photo, memories of how much I love each of those beings and the other beings in these pictures.
And as I was scanning through each of these photos I was also aware that my body was experiencing symptoms of detoxification from the water fast I was on, which I do three times a year. There was fever, weakness, headache and general uncomfortable feelings, much like the flu. It was worse than it usually is. And unlike most sunny days in Sedona, today was overcast, rainy and cold. I usually begin these fasts in accordance with changing weather and today it was changing.
As I looked at these photos of happy times with the beings I love but am no longer physically with and compared that with the present condition of flu symptoms, a cold and rainy day and being quite alone, a feeling of profound sadness arose, a feeling of missing what once was. At that moment I did not experience the happiness I usually do. At that moment, as I looked at these photos, as the memories were triggered, I felt quite alone and distinctly unhappy.
You might have had times when you experienced something similar as you looked over old photo albums, a sense of longing for what once was, a sense of feeling things are not quite as good as they once were when some of those beings you love were still in your life or still alive, or when you were younger. It is quite common for humans to experience this.
What may be a little different here is that I know where those thoughts and feelings come from. And I’m very aware of it. They come from the ego. And I also know that the ego is a liar and not to be trusted. The ego is not my friend. The ego doesn’t lie intentionally. It just can’t know truth. This is something most people are not totally aware of. Most people are not even aware of their ego – the little voice in their head that goes by the name of I – or that their ego is not who they are.
If I were not aware of this, I would simply continue suffering. If I were not aware of this I would not be happy.
Because I am aware of the ego, I can listen to these thoughts that create longing for the past and suffering, but I don’t have to believe them. I can instead listen to present awareness. I can listen to truth. And truth tells me this. And this is very important so pay attention.
In each of those happy moments I attempted to capture in a photo I was certainly very happy. Why I was happy is the important thing. I wasn’t happy because I was with a being I loved or that the day was sunny and warm. I was happy because I was present. I was happy because I was fully alive in that present moment. I was not in the past or future. I was fully present. This is where happiness always comes from. It is the only reason for happiness. We look at the photos and are distracted by the people or places in them. We are distracted by the forms. We cannot see presence. We cannot photograph presence. We cannot even remember presence. It is beyond our thoughts and memories. It is beyond our camera phones. But it is the true cause of all happiness. It’s very important to understand this completely.
I am very, very happy.
So as I looked at these photos that attempted to capture the happiness of that past present moment, I simply left my memory and thoughts of the past, left my ego and returned to this presence that is always right here and now, that can only ever be right here and now. And as soon as I did, what do you think I discovered? Exactly. I am happy. The body is experiencing flu symptoms. It is feverish, weak and achy. These beloved beings are not physically with me right now as they were in the past. And I am very, very happy.
This is a very great and important discovery that I hope you find yourself. It will quite literally transform your entire life. If you want to live awake, this is how you must do it. You must live in truth. And one way to do this to realize what is not true and let that go. The other way is realize what is true and stay in that truth.
Every time you have ever been truly happy in your entire life, it was only because you were fully present in that moment. You may have thought it was because you just got married, won the lottery or your first child was born. This is what the ego says because it cannot know presence. It cannot know the true cause of all happiness. The ego only knows form. When you experience presence without any form to distract you and make you think that’s the cause of your happiness, you will know this truth too. Here is happiness without any cause, without any form. Just presence alone is happiness.
It’s true that certain events can relax your resistance so you can be fully present, but it is the presence not the events that make you happy. When you imagine it is the events you keep chasing these events, not realizing it is the presence alone that is the cause of your happiness. And presence is always here for you. And so is happiness.
When you know this, you will be able to shift your consciousness instantly from unhappiness to happiness no matter what is happening at that time. So here I am, body experiencing flu symptoms, alone, rainy cold weather and yes, I am very, very happy. Always in presence there is this great happiness, peace and love. And another benefit is there is no ego. The ego needs past. It needs continuity. It needs a story. In presence there are none. The past dissolves in presence, just as the ego does.
What else dissolves is the experience of separation. The ego tells me that my cat, my children and Ahna are separate from me. This creates a feeling of missing or longing when they are not physically with me. But presence offers a much different experience. In presence, there is no experience of separation. There is just love. So all the beings I love so much are not separate from me. Even death cannot remove them from me. This is truth. And this is living in truth. This is living awake.
I retrieved some of my favourite pictures. The ‘middle way’ wins out ?
Peter Cutler says
It doesn’t mean you have to throw out photo albums. Just let whatever is come and go as it does. It photo albums keep you from enjoying this eternal present moment, then getting rid of them is a good strategy. But most importantly just stay present.
Peter Cutler says
What else is there than this eternal Present Moment? Even memories and looking at photo albums must happen in this eternal present. Where else could they ever happen? Being present for what is here is the most important thing. But a whole lot is here. Arising and passing all the time. Attachment to any of it is already missing this present moment. Let it come. Let it go. Life is lived effortlessly in just this way.
This article caught my attention, because I am moving house and have just thrown out all my old photo albums. I’m kind of waiting for any reaction. It seems an unthinkable thing to do, to the old ‘me’. ‘Me’ as a teenager, me with my first boyfriend, wedding, my sons as babies…. All gone.
I don’t seem to need the photos. Do I even need the memories? Or is here and now more than enough?