The Truly Radical Meaning of “Be Here Now”

Patrick Paul Garlinger
9 min readJun 11, 2020
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Be Here Now” is something of a spiritual mantra. Made famous by Ram Dass with his well-known work of spiritual wisdom, “BHN” has been a part of contemporary spirituality ever since then, and arguably reached its zenith with Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

Whether you’re rooted in mindfulness, New Age spirituality, a well-known religious tradition, or pragmatism, the phrase BHN or its variants are repeated often as an essential principle of peace and happiness.

But what does it really mean to BHN? Radical ideas often get diluted the wider they are transmitted. The same is true of BHN, which has been made more accessible over time.

The true power of BHN lies in a more radical understanding of its three parts.

Meaning #1: Be In the Present Moment

The phrase is most commonly understood to mean that you should be focused on the present. This means you are not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

It’s quite common for meditation teachers (myself included) to tell you how your mind is rarely in the present moment. Your mind is almost always thinking about the past or the future. As you reflect on the past, you retrace your steps or reexamine some event that transpired, wrestling with the unresolved feelings it produces in you. As you look to the future, your thoughts are tinged with worry or excitement because your mind says that the future will be worse or better than this moment.

“Be Here Now” typically means that if you place your attention on the present moment, you will experience a greater sense of peace.

Unfortunately, this version can easily be reduced to a kind of “go with the flow” platitude; it carries with it a dreamy sense of floating from one moment to the next. This version comes up when people embrace being “chill” or “zen” (without really having a connection with Zen Buddhism), without a care in the world.

Patrick Paul Garlinger

Author of Endless Awakening: Time, Paradox, and the Path to Enlightenment and other books. Former prof & lawyer, now mystic, writer, psychic.