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Rumiplease tell me about time and presence

I know I have a past and will hopefully have a future, but what does this living in the now mean, this being
present that all the wisdom masters advise? What is eternity? Is there a beginning, is there an end?
By: Hamid Homayouni (including translations of the poems from Persian/Farsi)

The following are a selection of Rumi poems about presence and the notion of time. The full article
containing more poetry and prose can be found here:
Our personality is developed through our life experiences and shaped around our history. As
necessary and inevitable as that is, yet developing such sense of self also causes humans lose their
natural sense of presence as they grow up. This is both necessary and problematic; in the sense that
most of our anxieties and uneasiness in life arise out of not being present. Hence we need to deal
with our traditional notion of time by practicing to be present as often as possible while managing
our day to day time-based activities to the best of our abilities without forgetting our true timeless
nature. Rumi beautifully paints the sublime experience of presence in this poem:
Spear through time
Like the tip of a spear passing through a shield,
I pierced through night and day.
Looking from the other side, its clear:
all religions are one;
a hundred thousand years and a single hour are one.
The beginning of eternity,
and the end of eternity,
arch into Union.
Reason is at a loss
figuring out how to venture over,
to the other side.

[Rumi, Mathnawi. Book 1: 3503-3505]

The I and the reed-flute

The reed flute is a significant metaphor used by Rumi to describe the human condition. In the
sublime opening of Mathnawi, he tells the sorrowful story of the reed having been cut from the reed
bed and turned into the reed flutea musical instrument with nine holes. The reed flutes sorrowful
sound is the sigh of separation from the Source. The hollower the reed the more divine the sound
produced when played. In the following poem Rumi deploys the reed metaphor again to tell us how
being present helps us become more like a hollow reed flutefree of ego structures that block or
distort the Divine song that can be played through us.

Flute of Presence
Recollection of the past is what makes us self-conscious,
Past and future veil God from our soul.
Burn them up both with fire.
How long do you wish to be tied up in knots?
Past and future keep you occupied like a bad reed flute not quite hollowed.
Whilst the reed is not prepared and hollow, itd be deprived of the inner secrets;
No Divine songs; such reed wont be played by the Divine lips.

[Rumi, Mathnawi. Book 1: 2201-03]

Being is only in the now

Rumi guides us that despite the appearance of continuity, the whole existence is recreated every
moment. Everything is fresh in every moment which means if we disidentify from our time-bound
mind we would be able to get out of our own way, live in the now and be the agent for whatever the
present moment happens to manifest.

Source of the new!

There sure exists a deeper world,
whats the telling sign you ask?
The renewal of the moments, the passing of the old.
A new day, a new night; new gardens, new life,
every breath brings about fresh insights;
newness is richness, joyfulness.
Where does the new come from?
Where does the old end up?
See past the walls of perception
experience the boundlessness,
the universe has no beginning, no end!
Like a stream, appears bounded the universe,
yet all flows bythe new arriving fresh.moment by moment,
I wonderwhere from?

[Rumi, Divan-e Shams Part of ghazal No.462]

Illusion of continuity
Question arises that if everything is being created every moment, then how come we sense reality as
continuous. Rumi states that our illusion of continuity has to do with the speed of flickering of reality
into existence and non-existence as well as the relative similarities of each moment.
Today, however, there are better examples of this phenomenon. The moving pictures on your TV or
computer screen comprise of only colour dots (pixels) which go on and off in a certain sequence with
certain frequency; yet we perceive a continuous reality, be it a drama, sports match, the news or
seeing this text on your device.

Illusion of continuity
With every breath a new world is born;
Yet, we are unaware of this ever occurring renewal.
Moments of our lifetime arrive fresh like water flowing in a stream;
Yet, in this human body, that freshness is lost the illusion of continuity.
This illusion why? Swiftness is the answer, yes swiftness.
Like twirling a lit torchfire art is created
illusion of continuity arising out of rapid movement of a single flame.

[Rumi, Mathnawi. Book 1: 1144-47]