Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Past, Present, and Future

Buddha said "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

I agree that no one should mull over the past too much, especially concerning their past mistakes. I also agree that no one should over think the future too much either, especially if it prevents actions and decisions from being made. And I agree that the present is the most important time for an individual.

However, I think much more clarification is necessary. First, I think that the past and the future are extremely important. For instance, studying the past is the only way to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. Some mistakes are not obvious without a lot of research and self-reflection.

Furthermore, planning for the future is crucial for a content life. I believe Buddha correctly equated "dreaming of the future" with desires. And since Buddhist philosophy believes that desire is a form of suffering, then dreaming is suffering too. On the other hand, dreaming can also be interpreted as hoping for a better life and more opportunities. In my opinion, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting to improve one's life in the future. While it may be suffering, it is also motivation to improve oneself.

Finally, concentrating solely on the present can have serious consequences. For instance, the story of the ant working all summer storing food for the winter, while the grasshopper only plays during the summer then starves in the winter, is a perfect example of the need to work hard in the present to prepare for the future. On the other hand, the present is all the time anyone ever has to experience and enjoy life. Therefore, there is a difficult balance between enjoying the present and working hard for the future that is different for each person.

So, I would like to propose this new saying: Study the past, plan for the future, and work hard and enjoy life in the present.

by Phil for Humanity
on 09/13/2008

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