I haven't been writing nearly as much in recent months as I used to. I have been caught up in trying to make a living, which isn't a bad thing, and in fact is going quite well, but still... It takes up a lot of time.
Last week, however, I took some time off. My wife and son are out of town visiting her family in Montreal, and I'm here on the West Coast, enjoying the sunshine, ocean and mountains. Last week, though, I was in Tofino.
It was pretty awesome, watching the tall waves coming in, and just enjoying the beauty of nature, meditating as the frigid water washed over my toes. At one point I was walking along the sand, during a low tide, and came across a cliff face that was covered with starfish over the bottom half meter, or so. There were thousands of shellfish clinging on, waiting for the tide to return. And there, just beyond, was the woods. As I looked up the rocks, I noticed a tiny seedling that had begun to grow, and that got me thinking.
About what, you may ask. (Go ahead. Ask. I dare ya.) (Thanks.)
It got me thinking about God and meditation, and the general purpose of meditation for most people, namely that of being present.
Which got me thinking about time, and creation, and God, again.
You can begin to see my train of thought.
There I was, on the beach, enjoying the incredible beauty of the moment, realizing that many folk dream of going there some day, and that many who are there are thinking about how they have to leave soon. They are dwelling on either the past or the future, never quite living in the moment.
Then there is meditation, which for many people is all about experiencing the moment. Not the past, nor the future, but the present. And isn't one of God's titles the Omnipresent? (It is, but more on that later.)
And this was one of the things that passed through my consciousness.
God is a presence. He is here. He is now. He is the Most Present. And I realized that perhaps this is yet another reason that He is unknowable. Our mind tends to move from the past to the future, rarely dwelling in the now. We either celebrate or lament that which is gone. We anticipate or worry about that which is to come. And yet we often miss that which is here, and end up dwelling on that which we missed.
Even science, that great child of our collective intellect, cannot focus on the now. The Uncertainty Principle is the ultimate expression of the limitations of that branch of the Tree of Knowledge. This principle, by the way, can be generally thought of as the more we can determine the position of a particle, the less we can determine its momentum, and vice versa.
But living in the present, being in the now, is something we can cultivate. We can plant the seed of meditation deep within the dark soil of the heart. We can nurture it with patience, water it with silence. And when we do, we should remember not to fret. Don't dig it up to see if it's germinating.
Let it be.
One day, without any warning, it will break through the ground, and you will suddenly discover a simple shoot, a tiny sprout.
But still continue to nurture it. Continue to water it. Let it grow.
Watch as the leaves begin to develop. Marvel as its branches begin to spread, overshadowing more and more of your heart, more and more of your life. Feel as those leaves begin to draw upon the light and energy of the world.
And continue to nurture it with patience, water it with silence, for it is fragile.
Then, one day, without any warning, you will notice a tiny little bud on one of those branches. A flower will form, a flower that will attract so much around it. Its scent will be beautiful, its colour majestic.
"Let those who meet you know," said 'Abdu'l-Baha," without your proclaiming the fact, that you are indeed a Bahá'í." He said that we should "shine out like a lighted taper", giving off our light for the world to see, just as a flower gives off its aroma to the winds.
But still, during this time, we must be careful to continue to nurture it, continue to water it, for without this, the fruit will never develop.
During this time of attraction we can easily become distracted by the ego. We can think that this attraction, the way that people react to us, respond to us, is somehow of our own doing. We can easily confuse ourselves for the flower, instead of the soil. We can begin to fall into the trap of pride, easily becoming impatient with those who don't recognize what we have to offer. We can forget to be silent in our own hearts, thrilling instead at the sound of our own internal voice. But if we avoid these pitfalls, then the fruit of the flower can most easily develop.
Through this cultivated stillness, this carefully tended silence, we can better hear the divine. We can better experience the rich Voice in the sacred Writings of our Faith, in the world. We can more readily see how this all applies in our actions. We can become closer not only to our own heart, but to those around us, to God around us, to God within us.
It is probably no coincidence that the only prayer in the Baha'i Writings I have found that uses the Name of God, the Omnipresent, is a marriage prayer, a prayer for greater unity between two people. (See? I said I would get to that later. And later is now.) What better way to develop and strengthen a marriage than to be truly present with each other. What a perfect attribute of God to try and cultivate within our heart to help answer the call of that prayer.
And what is the fruit of this tree, born of the seed of meditation? A greater discovering of the present, of life, of God.
The present is the unity of the past and the future. To stay in the present, as one author has said, requires dedicated one-pointed focus.
It is one.
God is one.
But whereas the present, for us, is a constantly moving point along the axis of time, God is the axis.
He is the Ever-Present.
Mead Simon is a member of the Baha'i world community. He lives with his family in Victoria and can be regularly found writing his blog at www.onebahai.blogspot.ca.
You can read more from our Interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking HERE