The magic of the present 0



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‘Present’ has three meanings in English and another two in Hungarian.

The first in English is ‘gift’. The second is ‘now’, the time between past and future. The two meanings are related. The ‘gift’ is being here in the ‘now’.

It is a great present, but how often do we receive it? How many of us are present all the time? I would say, perhaps none. If we define being present as having our minds fully focused on the here and now, who amongst us is the one who, at least occasionally, is not absent-minded? I plead guilty to such lack of presence.

Focusing the mind on the moment is not an easy task. The mind is like a monkey that keeps jumping between the past, present and future and perhaps even between alternative universes.

How often are we doing something, like trying to get ready to leave home and an interesting idea comes to mind, while we pick up the keys and put them down, say, to brush teeth? Then, still preoccupied with the idea, we check the windows that they are locked and then want to leave. The only problem is that we have not got the keys. We have no idea where we put them because when we did, we were not mentally present.

So present mindedness is a rewarding present: it saves time in getting things done, helps to avoid accidents, and most of all, it is great fun. Even the most disliked task, such as cleaning the toilet can be satisfying when I focus all my attention on the task.

The present passes as soon as it comes, that is why it is so easy to miss it, by staying mentally in the imagined past or jumping to an imagined future. But in reality, the only opportunity for a full-fledged experience is in the fleeting moment of here and now. The past has already gone and the future has not come.

That leads me to the third and less often realised meaning of ‘present’: the present is pre-sent. But is it sent from the past into the ‘now’? Like a bud emerging from a seed and from the bud the stalk and then the leaves in chronological order? Each enters the present from a past development. Or, is the present pre-sent from the future with its becoming the past via the present? As if the future was pulling the plant to unfold into its future shape? Or is it that both the past and the future enter into the present through intersecting there? Like an hourglass, whose top, downward pointing cone shaped force-field expands, spinning upward into infinity while it narrows into the point shaped present, through which its ever flowing sand grains of events move into the past, thereby expanding the lower side of the hour glass too, that points upwards as it spirals into the cone shaped past. So while the future and past expand constantly, the present, connecting them, remains eternally instant.

‘Present’ has two further meanings in Hungarian.

The word is ‘jelen’. ‘Jel’ means ‘the sign, mark, or signal.’ ‘En’ means ‘on’. So ‘jelen’ literally means ‘on the sign’.

But on what sign? We get the clue by seeing ‘el’ in the first syllable of jELen’. ‘EL’ implies’ life’ eg. ‘eleven’ means ‘lively’. Now in ancient Hungarian, ‘life’ means God.

Hence, to be present could mean: ‘to experience signaling from the living God’. This may be the gift for being present.

To summarise:

The present is a pre-sent evanescent gift of Eternal Life, that briefly reveals itself in the point between the past and the future, as if saying: ‘be in me and experience Divine Love’.

A closed mind of thinking prevents the experience of the present. Hence thinking needs to be replaced with open-minded awareness; pure consciousness, witnessing the here and now, for the divine experience of the present to take place. The present is the direct and full experience of now, none of us are having right now, while we are reading about it.

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Andris Heks

Andris is a former journalist, working on 'This Day Tonight' and 'Four Corners' -- ABC television's top rating current affairs programs. He has been a social worker, psychodramatist and yoga therapist, and enjoys singing and playing music, especially Hungarian Gypsy Music. He also enjoys swimming, cycling and writing. Andris is currently working on his memoirs. He welcomes feedback and comments on the opinion pieces published at Starts at 60.

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