The French philosopher Blaise Pascal said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
He said that in the 17th century, and if you think about it, by the 21st century things just got enormously worst.
At that time it may have been difficult to be in silence for a few minutes, but look at us now, we cannot be in silence even for 10 seconds! We cannot be still even for a moment before we have to look at our phones, make a call, check our social media, talk to another person, reach for some food, have a drink, smoke a cigarette.
It is so difficult for us to just stop for a moment and be.
And when we find even a little bit of silence, we usually run away from it as soon as we can; we feel impatient, agitated, jumpy and run to the next thing, the next activity, the next thought.
It has always been like this, from the beginning of time, but I think now it has become worse; we now have to confront more than ever this powerful sensation that unless we are clearly moving forward, accomplishing something, we are wasting our time.
I mean, why do we do things? Because we feel empty in our hearts and believe that we will find fulfillment in our accomplishments, in our achievements. Of course we need to accomplish things, to do things, to act, improve and evolve. But we need to realize that the fulfillment we so much desire is not in the future, is not in what is coming, is not in our accomplishments, but it is in what is here now, in our being.
This being is fulfilled, is satisfied, is whole, is always at peace.
The problem is that this being is (apparently) hidden.
But we can find it.
What is this being? It is our presence, our naked sense of I Am, our feeling of existence, the silent-aware presence that is looking through our eyes right now as we read these words.
It is really nothing strange or esoteric, nothing extraordinary that only a few people can reach or sense.
It is the most obvious and ordinary thing!
Right now, we feel that we are, that we exist. That’s it!
Don’t add anything to it.
Don’t think about it, don’t reason about it.
Just stay with it, in silence; breathe, and stop.
And there it is.
It is like the story of the fish looking for water.
Because he heard it somewhere, he knows that water exists, but he cannot find it. He is looking everywhere for it, but does not see it.
And an older and wiser fish tells him: look, it is here, it is everywhere!
And the little fish keeps asking: where? Where? I cannot see it, where?
If we don’t rediscover this being, even if we have a lot of accomplishments and get material stuff, we will never be satisfied. I mean, why is it that we are, for example, literally killing the planet? Is it because we don’t have enough? Definitely not! I mean, there are plenty of people that don’t have even close to enough, but those are not the ones that are killing the planet. Who are the ones doing it? The people that have a lot! And why? Because they need more, they want more.
And it is the same with us. Yes, we may not be killing the planet (not so obviously at least), but we are also never satisfied, we also always want more. I am not saying we should not do any more; not at all. We can and should keep going and get what we want, but this anxiety, this stress, this lack of fulfillment we always feel, it is not because we don’t get things, but because the only thing that can give us this kind of fulfillment is being, which is right here, in this precise moment, right now.
This being is not over there, is not after this or that, it is not later, at the end of reading this note. No! It was here even before you started reading the note, and it is here now as you read it; it is always here! But to recognize it, we need to slow down a bit, slow down this movement towards the next moment, towards always achieving, towards always being in the next moment.
One little tool we can always use to come closer to the moment is the breath, paying attention to breath.
Breath is not being, but it is like a wonderful doorway into it.
We breathe, we notice that we are breathing, and in this noticing we move closer to the experience of now. And because being is always now, then it becomes easier to find it, to recognize it.
When we think, as wonderful, amazing and enormously necessary as thinking is, we move away from the experience of the moment. I am not saying with this that we need to stop thinking, but that we should not spend so much time in our head and, instead, when possible, and it is possible more often than we think, return to the experience of our breath.
And it is precisely because it is so difficult for us to stop thinking even for a second that all these ‘ideas’ about being, all that I am trying to communicate to you remains something that may sound good (although it sounds good for a very few people and it sounds like nothing for most!) but seems something theoretical, away from us.
But being is not far away. It is so intimate, so close, closer than close.
It is what we truly are. Discovering being is the discovery of our true identity.
That is why I always say in my yoga classes that the most important yoga exercise I teach is learning how to stop, how to slow down the momentum of thinking and working and going and doing and, instead, to return to the simple but wonderful experience of this moment now.
In this moment, we find ourselves.
Stop for a moment, take a breath, and Be.