The True Nature of the Past and the Future

in Future

As humans, we have a tendency to refer to our lives in terms of the past and the future. We think and talk constantly about what has already happened and what we have done, and what we expect to happen and plan on doing at a later date.

In reality, there is no past and there is no future, except as they exist as concepts that we express. It is true that we experience our lives as if in a sequence of time. There is no doubt that at one time we were younger than we are now, and that we will eventually become older than we are now. It is also true that we experienced events yesterday that we have a memory of, and that we will experience events tomorrow that we can anticipate today.

In purely experiential terms, however, we cannot experience the past or the future, except in the form of concepts that we express in This Present Moment about a remembered past or an envisioned future.

In other words, we can, and often do, think about experiences that we have already had (which we label the "past") and experiences we will potentially have at a later date (which we label the "future").

However, like all experiences, this way of experiencing the "past" or the "future" can only ever occur--as an expression of thought--in This Present Moment.

In fact, there is only One Moment of Experience: This Present Moment. There is only This One Moment of Experience, but it is a Present Moment Experience that is in a constant state of ongoing change.

If we can accept that fact that our lives only ever occur in This Present Moment, our One Moment of Experience, why is it then that we spend so much time immersed in thoughts about the "past" and the "future" if in fact they do not exist except as concepts we create in This Present Moment?

We do this because as humans, we have a natural tendency to reflect on events that have just occurred (the "past") and anticipate, plan for, and worry about events that we have some expectation of occurring (the "future").

There is nothing inherently wrong with doing this. In fact, reflecting on the past is one way that we learn and adjust our actions into more effective behaviors. Likewise, anticipating future events can help us to prepare for them.

However, when we obsess over past events and worry endlessly about imagined future outcomes, and allow such obsession and worry to negatively impact us, these are destructive ways of using our Moment of Experience that inhibit our ability to experience clarity and well-being here and now.

It is very easy to become absorbed in thoughts about the past and the future, to the extent that we often allow our attention to be drawn away from our actual, direct experience of This Present Moment as it is actually occurring, and instead enter into a purely mind-based experience in which we become absorbed in our chaotic and often warped narrations about our past experiences or wild, random, and often wholly inaccurate speculations about the future.

We can and often do become so absorbed in these purely mind-based experiences about the past and the future that our minds can (and often do!) actually trick us into believing that these thoughts about the past and the future are what is actually taking place in our lives right here and right now. So much so that we can (and often do!) have intense emotional reactions to these purely thought-based experiences independently of what is actually taking place in our Present Moment reality.

In reality, what is actually occurring in our lives in This Present Moment is invariably much more simple, direct, and manageable than the violent currents of thought that swallow our attention.

When the mind-based experiences in which we become absorbed are of the negative variety, that is, when we think about our past or future in unfavorable terms, our "past" and "future" can actually affect our Present Moment Experience in a negative manner, so that our experience of This Moment becomes unpleasant purely based on the way in which we are thinking, rather than anything that is actually occurring in our immediate environment.

For this reason, whether our thoughts be positive or negative, it is essential that we are able to differentiate between the actual experience of events that is occurring in this present moment, and the purely conceptual, mind-based experiences of the "past" and the "future," which we now know are simply the present moment experience of expressing thoughts about past events and potential future events.

Once we become aware of the fact that the "past" and the "future" only exist as thoughts that we express in This Present Moment, we need never again allow ourselves to be helplessly affected by the events of our past or concerns about our future.

Since we now know that the past and the future are simply thoughts that we express in This Present Moment, whenever we feel adversely affected by the "past" or the "future," we can simply replace our destructive thoughts with constructive ones. Even better, we can simply draw our attention out of the confusing realm of pure thought, and focus it back on the simple present moment reality that is unfolding right before our eyes.

In other words, the past and the future are only "real" insofar as we give them credit for being real. We always have the option of changing them, or simply dismissing them and bringing our attention back into This Present Moment.

This ability to recognize the true nature of the "past" and the "future" and maintain an accurate perspective of them can greatly enhance our ability to experience well-being in This Present Moment, which again we now know and embrace as our One True Moment of Experience.

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Shane A Jones has 1 articles online


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The True Nature of the Past and the Future

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This article was published on 2010/04/03