It’s no secret that we live in an unprecedentedly fast-paced time in which the wars and rat races of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations have given way to an explosion of same and even more treadmills of our own making; a ceaseless blur of information, activity and technology that tugs at us and tempts us away from the only thing that matters, the only reality that makes sense: this present moment.
For sure it’s a learned skill to be able to flip the switch and quiet the monkey mind chatter so as to tune into the present, but nowadays it’s an essential one for all modern humans to develop and have at their disposal. While there may be many ways to do so, of late my shorthand mantra has been a simple whisper of “be here now,” which reliably rescues me from the madness of the maw and whatever Brian Wilson-like voices in my head may be clamoring for my attention, and jolts me into the moment, calming my mind and — not making this up — allowing the love to flow straight into my heart in a circular way towards real peace.
I’m not the only one. “Be Here Now,” of course, is the name of the 1971 Ram Dass book that started out as a pamphlet passed around San Francisco and has since become a meditative journal of the highest order. Next month, “Be Here Now” will be 45 years old. The so-called “hippie bible” is the third best-selling book in the English language, after Dr. Spock’s “Baby and Child Care” and the Bible.
My buddy Pete gifted me with it a few years ago, and I turn to it now, especially in the springtime and summer, but the phrase itself is with me always. I fully admit to often being overwhelmed by the modern age and all its options for ways of being, and I routinely cave in and shudder at humanity’s penchant for disconnection via distraction. As the great poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti once told his friend and fellow poet and musician David Meltzer, “In the ’60s, one of the slogans was ‘Be Here Now.’ Now with email and iPhone and ePhone, whatever phone, it should be ‘Be Somewhere Else Now.’ ”
Luckily, the phrase itself has stuck around and entered the collective consciousness and provided inner guidance and soul solace to millions the world over. It has also served as creative inspiration to any and all who feel the call to spread its simple meditative message. Most notably, in addition to the myriad yoga studios and blogs (and more than a few tattoos) that have adopted as their own “be here now,” several poems and songs were inspired by the phrase.
A few months after the Beatles broke up and not long after the publication of the Ram Dass book, George Harrison wrote his “Be Here Now” while working on the Ravi Shankar documentary “Raga” and shortly before organizing one of the greatest acts of humanity in the history of the world, the Concert for Bangladesh. It appears on Harrison’s sublime “Living In The Material World” and has been covered by mindful Brit rocker Robyn Hitchcock and others.
Remember, now, be here now
As it’s not like it was before
The past, was, be here now
As it’s not like it was before – it was
Why try to live a life
That isn’t real
A mind that wants to wander
‘round a corner
Is an unwise mind
Three decades later, Mason Jennings’ “Be Here Now” was the first single from his 2006 album “Boneclouds,” and finds the Minneapolis-based folk-rocker singing the mantra, as we so often do with newfound inner wisdom, to his lover.
Be here now, no other place to be
Or just sit there dreaming of how life would be
If we were somewhere better
Somewhere far away from all the worries
Well here we are
British rockers Oasis named their killer 1997 album “Be Here Now” and on his 2006 single “Be Here Now,” singer/songwriter Ray LaMontagne addressed his and his budding audience’s inner child.
Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try
Don’t let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there’s a strength that lies
Of course, the lasting influence of “Be Here Now” can be affixed to all sorts of consciousness and awareness movements and moments, including Eckhart Tolle’s “Power Of Now” series. Me, I like how the phrase is demanding of me and my higher self, and so, too, I would strongly suggest that you turn off the computer, TV, smart phone and all the other noise in your life and go forward with the wisdom put forth by Ram Dass, Beatle George, Mason, LaMontagne and someone named Everyday Jason, one of the many poets who have penned their own “Be Here Now” as a way to live and stay in the moment.
I found him on the noisy information highway, and I’m glad I did. Take us out, Everyday Jason, whoever and wherever you are.
Let pure awareness
Consume me now
Fill the space
Between my thoughts
In this moment
I want to be caught
And I will be here now
I will be here now
This is the moment of power
I will be here now
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org