Friday, January 2, 2009

What is the Past?

“What is in the past is left in the past. The future is not yet reached. Who knows what tomorrow brings, it could bring death”.

These words the Buddha spoke over 2500 years ago have never been more applicable. For some strange reason, the human mind has a difficult time with the present moment. We prefer to live in the past as a distraction from the here and now.

Many of us have experienced painful traumas in our lives. Nothing I say is meant to diminish or belittle your suffering. Our stories are what brought us to this point. It is in the grasping to this story that keeps us from moving forward. We often spend a tremendous amount of time re-living things we define as the pivotal events that prevented us from reaching our full potential.

When we blame the past for why we do not move forward, we have guaranteed that we will stay exactly where we are. The past has to be acknowledged for what it is before we can begin the journey to now.

One of my teachers once asked a group of students what defines the past? Is an hour ago any more in the past than the reign of the dinosaurs? They are both in the past. The past is a place that we can never return to and in many cases, a place we would never want to return to given a logical choice.

I encourage you to ponder this question for a while. What is the past and why am I so afraid to move out of it? There is no bargaining with the past to make it better and we may not see tomorrow.

For the new year may we accept the past and set it behind us to live each day for what it is, right now.

9 comments:

Hazelmarie 'Mattie' Elliott said...

We are all guilty of looking back...instead of looking at today. We must learn to worry about the things we can change, and not worry about the things we cannot change. The past cannot be changed, but today is still within our grasp. That makes all the difference.

I really gained something from this post. You offer important and valid views...it was a pleasure stopping by.(smile)....Mattie

Amanda said...

Even though thinking about the past can lock us into certain thoughts and behaviors, it's simply too tempting to think about. The past is what we've known, and ultimately that makes us feel comfortable, even if we are sacrificing present joy.

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Thanks for the supportive comments.

The past is like a comfortable old blanket. We feel “known” by our past which combined with our fear of the future leaves little space for the present moment.

Learning to stay in the present moment while difficult opens up a whole new world for discovery.

suzi said...

The past hinders the present from being. And I believe that if one can hold the past as a photograph and remember to put it away so that they can live, the present will create more memoris that are easier to put in the drawer with the past for later.... Worry I believe is created by past fears as will as the conflicts that continue to repeat themselves as obstacles. They are all reared by past conceptions..... The present the very moment that you read this that's where the thought should lay. In this very moment there is only this, no worry, just love, joy and abouding life....

Ted Bagley said...

How about- The "I" is the interior and the exterior door to the present moment of speech. There is no "I" in the present moment as the "I" is continually following it so there is noting to say in the present moment.

Ted Bagley said...

That was "nothing" as apposed to "noting".

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Thank you Suzi for your comments. Reliving the past over and over again does prevent us from enjoying the wonders offered in the present moment.

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Thanks Ted

I had to ponder your concept for a while but I can see your point. We define ourselves by our past and set our goals on the future. Simultaneously living in the past and chasing the future leaving nothing for the present moment.

Vivi-Mari Carpelan said...

One of the great mysteries of life is precisely why we are so mesmerized by the past. I'd say we either fear losing something precious we once had, or we fear not ever having something similarly good ever again. Of course, there are varieties on the theme depending on our unique life experience. I used to be in a hurry to move forwards until I reached an age when suddenly it seemed I don't have time left to have the good things in life. It is extremely hard to have trust. We are always told to, yet our experience proves that we don't always get what we hope for. Who can blame us in a world as gruesome as this one? But - as i think you said yourself on my blog - the first step is to make a resolution to accept, and then enter the process of acceptance. That defining moment is as hard to act on as it is for many to quit smoking and drugs. I suppose?
:-) Vivi-Mari