To truly reflect on the past, one does so in the present.
To truly plan for the future, one does so in the present.
To be lost in the past or future, one has lost the present.
One day a Tibetan came to see an old wise man whom I happened to be visiting with at the time… He began telling him all about his past misfortunes, then went on to list everything he feared for the future. All this time the wise man calmly roasted potatoes in a little brazier on the floor before him. After a while he told his plaintive visitor: “What’s the point of worrying about things that no longer exist and things that do not yet exist?” Nonplussed, the visitor stopped talking and remained silent for quite some time alongside the sage, who occasionally handed him a hot, crusty potato.
Inner freedom allows us to savor the lucid simplicity of the present moment, free from the past and emancipated from the future. Freeing ourselves from the intrusion of memories of the past does not mean that we are unable to draw useful lessons from our experience. Freeing ourselves from fear of the future does not make us incapable of approaching it clearly, but saves us from getting bogged down by pointless fretting.
Such freedom has aspects of clearheadedness, and joy that allow us to accept things peacefully without sinking into passivity or weakness. It also allows us to use all life’s circumstances, favourable and adverse, as catalysts for personal change, and to avoid becoming arrogant when they are favourable and depressed when they are not.
Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
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