Thursday, July 14, 2011

Moving beyond the past

When we are willing to search deep within ourselves we nearly always discover that much of our suffering in this life has little to do with the present moment. Events from our past far too often define how we feel in the here and now. In this, we discover one of the core teachings of the Buddhist practice which is moving out of our past suffering.

The Buddha said, “What is in the past is left in the past”. The present moment is where we are right now yet much of the time we allow events of our past control our feelings in the moment. Only by surrendering to the fact that we cannot change our past can we move beyond whatever suffering we have endured and begin to see life for its full potential.

One of my favorite quotes states that “forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past”. Recognizing the significance of this statement can be the key to ending a life of suffering. Regardless of how bad things may have been in our past, there is absolutely nothing we can do now to change it. Continuing to carry the burden of what we have endured only prevents us from reaching our potential for living a happier life today.

The mind has a way of replaying past events over and over again causing us to define our present life based on past experience. The expression “a cast of thousands” describes the voices from our past that we have allowed to define who we are as if the conditions that created our suffering never change. Only by admitting to ourselves that we will never change our past can we begin to move through this suffering, releasing the burdens we have been needlessly carrying.

Ask yourself how much of how you feel right now has anything to do with where you are right now. You may find that most of your reactions to people and events are based on historical events that have no place in the present moment but rather are the defenses you developed to deal with pain that is long past. Healing requires us to acknowledge this pain but we will never move forward without also acknowledging that we are helpless to do anything to change it.

Let the present moment define who you are and may you find peace in the here and now.