Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get your Mind in the Present.....

And the future will take care of itself. This is something my teacher says a lot and I think it comes from Paramahansa Yogananda originally. It is a phrase I come back to a lot and can apply almost daily to my life. We live in a society that spends most of life planning for some kind of glorious future and ruminating over a less than stellar past. Most of us forget to live during this journey. It is fine to save money for your future and to think about what you might like to do or where you might like to go at some later point in your life. It is natural and beneficial to plan ahead sometimes. But when does all this planning get in the way of our actual living today? When we are constantly thinking, believing, that we haven't yet lived, that the good stuff is coming later, that we have not yet arrived. We all do this to some extent and some of us more than others. The bottom line is that we are all headed to the same place - a coffin - so we might as well pay attention to the journey and stop worrying so much about where the journey is taking us!
Last night I watched an interesting documentary about a French con-artist who came to America in the mid-1990's, called himself a Rockefeller, and swindled many people out of millions of dollars! His victims were Hollywood celebrities and socialites from the Hamptons! Go figure! Aren't these the people with access to the savviest financial investors??
There were several things that struck me while viewing this documentary: 1) This Rockefeller spoke poor English with a strong French accent and claimed to be one of the French Rockefellers (has anyone ever heard of the French Rockefellers??); 2) No one ever googled him!; 3)He promised massive returns on investments in very short periods of time (Ponzi, anyone?), and only took investments in cash which was to be turned over in a paper-bag to a shady-looking character, dressed shabbily with no briefcase or other trappings of the "business-man". These cash hand-overs ranged from $25,000 to $500,000 at a pop!; 4) This French Rockefeller paid for everything in cash, rang up restaurant and bar tabs in the tens of thousands in one night, and partied like a rock star. Even the Kennedy's are not that ostentatious! Old-Money does not party like a rock star. That is for the Newbies.
What really struck me about all these victims was how desperately they wanted to ally themselves with a famous name and get rich quick. All of these people were already fairly well-off, upper middle class people. They were living in places like Hollywood and the Hamptons, yet somehow their current lives didn't measure up; they were hanging on to some future notion of living like a millionnaire and partying with the Rockefellers! That future was never really there because it was never anything more than a delusion. The best part of this story is that the con-man himself believes these people got what they deserved by being greedy and status-oriented! He has no regrets! (He did violate a whole lot of Yamas, though!)
I'd like to think that most of us are not this silly or desperate. However, we all give in to social pressures to plan, plan, plan and climb, climb, climb. A little planning is good, too much is not. If you inadvertantly climb, so be it, but be prepared to fall - it does happen. Get your mind in the present and the future will take care of itself is a powerful reminder that if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, and want to be doing today, then tomorrow will unfold just as it is meant to do. It sounds simple enough intellectually, but put into practice it gets a little tough. Why is this? Because we all suffer from fear of the unknown. We don't trust that tomorrow will unfold as it is supposed to if we don't feel completely in control of it. Giving up the delusional control over a future we really have very little control over is the hardest part. Save your money. Get an education. Invest in a house. Have children. But take part in these moments without worrying too much how things will turn out later. Go with the flow and stop worrying. That is the key. Worrying is a waste of energy: you cannot control the future; you cannot control what your kids will be when they grow up; you cannot control the security of your life-savings or the value of your home down the road; you cannot control the security of your job. Just roll with the punches in the present and the future will take care of itself! Like all things yogic, it is easier said than done. But do the practice now so you can handle the upsets later! Life does take care of itself and things really do have a way of working out in the long run. The more we practice facing fear and abolishing worry, the better we will be able to handle ourselves when Life throws us a doozy. Start practicing now.