Nasreddin (or Nasrudin) is a satirical Sufi figure who is believed to have lived around the 13th century. A contemporary of Rumi; Nasreddin was a populist philosopher and wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.
Today, I’d like to share with you one of Nasreddin’s stories in relation to the wisdom of achieving our true resolutions more effectively by being present. (For more on ‘true resolutions’ see New Year’s Resolutions…why we abandon them & how to succeed).
Once upon a time Nasreddin and his friends were sitting around chatting and the talks led to the question of what is each person’s favourite food.
Mullah said: “I love halva but such a pity, I have not yet been able to make halva and enjoy having it”
Friends asked: “But why?”
Mullah: “Because whenever I buy flour, I don’t have any sugar at home, then whenever I buy sugar, I have ran out of cooking oil, and whenever I buy the oil, I don’t have the rest of the ingredients at home.”
Friends asked: “So it has never occurred that all the required ingredients are available at your home?”
Mullah replied: “Yes, of course, but I myself have not been home at those times”
In his book “Is your genius at work?”, Dick Richards talks about one’s life purpose as one’s unique way of offering one’s gift of genius to the world.
Your genius is your gift to the world, and your purpose is a specific, unique and tangible way in which the gift is given. ~Dick Richards
Assuming you have a good idea about your gift (see “How to Let Your Purpose Find You” for more details); wouldn’t it also be great to know how to go about fulfilling it?
While each one of us have our unique way of achieving our life purpose, there is one universal law that applies to all of us. It is so common sense and simple yet we neglect and forget it. Nasreddin’s wisdom comes to the rescue here. You see he knew he loved halva, so he had uncovered his purpose, but he kept failing to fulfil it because he was never present when all the ingredients were present.
Being home means being fully aware of the now, of all the events occurring inside us and around us, and letting lose. It means being proactive and yet allowing the cells in our body do the work without any interference from our thoughts or emotions. You will then automatically cease any manifested opportunity and ride on the waves of the unfolding now, without insisting on knowing in your head why or how things are going the way they are. Any planning and preparation are done already in previous moments when you were present in the task of planning and preparation.
Being home can be summed up as:
1. Be present. Be fully where you are and aware of the moment.
2. Be impeccable. Do your best at any given moment.
Let’s take a brief look at the second one first. Being impeccable simply means doing your best at the time with certainty and without faltering. Yes there will be uncertainty and moments that you are not sure what things mean, but you know something and since what you know is the best you know at that given moment, you can proceed as if you are certain.
In Diamond Heart-book one, A.H. Almaas dedicates one chapter to this topic under the title of “The Impeccable Warrior”. For now let us just remember that “your best” does not mean “the best”. And that indulgence, while it will induce an obscure feeling of pleasure in us is actually the enemy of certainty. So being an impeccable warrior also means to recognise indulgence and not to let it run our lives for us.
One must take responsibility for the regulation of one’s life and do not indulge in “expect[ing] somebody else, or time, or God, or whatever, to do it for you”. ~A.H. Almaas
Being present means paying attention to what is, witnessing events occurring around you and through you without judgement. Being present is being in the now; totally disposing of your psychological time. If you are not in the now, it means you are identifying with your memories of the past and projecting unrealities into the future. So what’s wrong with that, you may ask. Well apart from unnecessary suffering, you could easily miss the presence of the ingredients of your halva as they are delivered to your doorstep.
However, being present, paying unbiased and open attention to what is unfolding without judgement, and accepting it as is could be very difficult for most of us. Difficulty usually arises due to our unconscious attachments to various objects, sticking to our histories, and hoping for idealised futures. Instead of being present and witnessing what is happening without judgement, explanation, comparison, and commenting; we keep feeding on our histories and reproduce them in our futures.
Let’s look at some examples of being present.
Sports psychologist, Karlene Sugarman writes about Peak Performance in athletes and outlines a number of characteristics for “being in the zone” which I think can be applied to life in general. She says you must be:
Completely focused: You are totally absorbed in the moment. You have no memory of the past and no qualms about the future; you are here now. The only thing you are concentrating on is the task at hand. You are oblivious to everything else going on around you, consumed by the moment. Like a child playing with his toys, you are so absorbed in the moment that nothing outside can affect you. You have no real sense of time, and before you know it, the game is over. The game seems to have flown by, and at the same time, everything you did seemed to happen in a slowed-down pace with great precision and concentration. Having the ability to stay in the moment is a gift that all of peak performers have.
It is well known that in situations of high danger or fear, such as in a battle field, in a car crash or during a wild animal attack people report that `time slows down’ and they just instinctively act upon the situation–in the moment and without considering past or the future.
A baby is joyfully curious about everything in her environment, is blissfully ignorant of time and has no inhibition to cry or smile when her physical needs call. She lives in the moment.
A writer, a painter, a sculptor, a musician who is fully absorbed in the process of creating a piece does not feel the passage of time. Similarly a passionate scientist working for hours in the lab or behind a computer monitor, a childcare worker who loves spending time with children, a devoted nurse, a passionate teacher, an extraordinary dancer, an actor or movie director do not think of the past or the future while immersed in their artwork. What all these people have in common is not simply hard work and dedication; it is being present and fully absorbed in the moment while they are at work creating their little masterpieces. While a lot of hard work an discipline are at play; yet it is not felt as ‘hard work’ for them; it is a kind of immersion in the work which is joyful.
Being present is about finding the life underneath your ‘life situation’.
“Your life situation exists in time, your life is now. Your life situation is mind stuff, your life is real”. ~Eckhart Tolle
Mind’s perception of the past and its projection into the future hide our real life and create ‘life situations. which are usually conflict ridden and problematic.
As always I appreciate your thoughts, feedbacks and comments. Be well, be present.
For some entertaining and educational Nasudin stories see: The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin. By Idries Shah