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Now is the reality in which time is contained. It is more and greater than time; it is an ever present reality. It knows neither past nor future, and is eternally potent and substantial. Every minute, every day, every year is a dream as soon as it has passed, and exists only as an imperfect and unsubstantial picture in the memory, if it be not entirely obliterated.
Past and future are dreams; now is a reality. All things are now; all power, all possibility, all action is now. Not to act and accomplish now is not to act and accomplish at all. To live in thoughts of what you might have done, or in dreams of what you mean to do, this is folly; but to put away regret, to anchor anticipation, and to do and to work now, this is wisdom.
Whilst a man is dwelling upon the past or future, he is missing the present; he is forgetting to live now. All things are possible now and only now. Without wisdom to guide him, and mistaking the unreal for the real, a man says “If I had done so and so last week, last month, or last year, it would have been better with me today”; or, “I know what is best to be done, and I will do it tomorrow. ” The selfish cannot comprehend the vast importance and value of the present, and fail to see it as the substantial reality of which past and future are the empty reflections. It may truly be said that past and future do not exist except as negative shadows, and to live in them – that is, in the regretful and selfish contemplation of them – is to miss the reality in life.
“The present, the Present is all thou hast
For thy sure possessing;
Like the patriarch’s angel, hold it fast,
Till it gives its blessing.
“All which is real now remaineth,
And fadeth never;
The hand which upholds it now sustaineth
The soul for ever.
“Then of what is to be, and of what is done,
Why queriest thou?
The past and the time to be are one,
And both are NOW!”
Man has all power now; but not knowing this, he says, “I will be perfect next year, or in so many years, or in so many lives.” The dwellers in the Kingdom of God, who live only in the now, say, “I am perfect now,” and refraining from all sin now, and ceaselessly guarding the portals of the mind, not looking to the past nor to the future, nor turning to the left or right, they remain eternally holy and blessed. “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.”
Say to yourself, “I will live in my ideal now; I will manifest my ideal now; I will be my Ideal now; and all that tempts me away from my Ideal I will not listen to; I will listen only to the voice of my Ideal.” Thus resolving, and thus doing, you shall not depart from the Highest, and shall eternally manifest the True.
“Afoot and lighthearted, I take to the open road.
Henceforth I asked not good fortune: I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing;
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms.
Strong and content, I take to the open road.”
Cease to tread every byway of dependence, every winding side-way that tempts your soul into the shadow-land of the past and future, and manifest your native and divine strength now. Come out into “the open road.”
That which you would be, and hope to be, you may be now. Non-accomplishment resides in your perpetual postponement, and, having the power to postpone, you also have the power to accomplish – to perpetually accomplish: realize this truth, and you shall be today, and every day, the ideal man of whom you dreamed.
Virtue consists in fighting sin day after day, but holiness consists in leaving sin, unnoticed and ignored, to die by the wayside; and this is done, can only be done, in the living now. Say not unto your soul, “You shall be pure tomorrow”; but rather say, “You shall be pure now.” Tomorrow is too late for anything, and he who sees his help and salvation in tomorrow shall continually fail and fall today.
Did you fall yesterday? Did you sin grievously? Having realized this, leave it instantly and forever, and watch that thou sinnest not now. The while you are bewailing the past every gate of your soul remains unguarded against the entrance of sin now. Thou shalt not rise by grieving over the irremediable past, but by remedying the present.
The foolish man, loving the boggy sidepath of procrastination rather than the firm High-way of Present Effort, says, “I will rise early tomorrow; I will get out of debt tomorrow; I will carry out my intentions tomorrow.” But the wise man, realizing the momentous import of the Eternal Now, rises early today; keeps out of debt today; carries out his intentions today; and so never departs from strength and peace and ripe accomplishment.
That which is done now remains; that which is to be done tomorrow does not appear. It is wisdom to leave that which has not arrived, and to attend to that which is; and to attend to it with such a consecration of soul and consecration of effort as shall leave no possible loophole for regret to creep in.
A man’s spiritual comprehension being clouded by the illusions of self, he says, “I was born on such a day, so many years ago, and shall die at my allotted time.” But he was not born, neither will he die, for how can that which is immortal, which eternally is, be subject to birth and death? Let a man throw off his illusions, and then he will see that the birth and death of the body are the mere incidents of a journey, and not its beginning and end.
Looking back to happy beginnings, and forward to mournful endings, a man’s eyes are blinded, so that he beholds not his own immortality; his ears are closed, so that he hears not the ever present harmonies of Joy; and his heart is hardened, so that it pulsates not to the rhythmic sounds of peace.
The universe, with all that it contains, is now. Put out thy hand, O man, and receive the fruits of Wisdom! Cease from thy greedy striving, thy selfish sorrowing, thy foolish regretting, and be content to live. Act now, and lo! all things are done; live now, and, behold! You art in the midst of Plenty; be now, and know that thou art perfect.
end of chapter two