Are thoughts in the past or future?

Thoughts are always here and now, like anything else. Nothing of who and what I am can not be here and now.

The content of thoughts can certainly be about the past or future and inevitably is. (Really, all thoughts seem to be about the past. Thoughts about the present are about what just passed. Thoughts about the future are usually thoughts about the past projected into an imagined future.)

When attention is caught up in thoughts, it can seem as if I am in the past or future. I may be lost in ideas about the past or future. I may find myself caught up in and apparently inside of that fantasy.

And when I notice that these are thoughts, attention is not lost in them anymore. They are recognized as thoughts that are here and now, just likely everything of who and what I am is here and now.

Image by me and Midjourney. A woman has several mental images, and notices they are mental images.

Read More

Hope for the past

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept

– from Thanks, Robert Frost by David Ray, 2006

How we see the past always changes.

The way we understand our collective history changes. We see it in the context of how we understand the present. We see it in the context of what happened since. We have different values. We include new perspectives. We may have new information.

And so also with our personal history. We forget and remember different things. We see it in the context of how we understand our present, and we see it in the context of what happened since. We may have a different understanding of why we did what we did. We may understand our parents and childhood differently. And so on.

The way we relate to what’s here now is how we relate to our past. After all, the only place we can find our past is in our current mental representations of our past.

Without any intentional healing practice, how we relate to live and our past may go three ways. We may fuel painful stories and go into issues and hangups. We may find more peace with our life and our past. Or it stays more or less the same.

And with an intentional healing practice, we are much more likely to find peace with our life and our past. As we find healing for our relationship with ourselves, others, and life in general, we find healing for our relationship with our past. We see it with more understanding. We tell ourselves more kind and honest stories about our past.

What about hope? Do we need to rely on hope? Not if we have an intentional healing practice. Then we can find what we hope for here and now.

And how does finding our nature change this? It helps us recognize that the past, to us, only happens here and now in our mental representations of it. We can notice that they are part of the creativity of the mind, and our nature is their nature. They are a flavor of the divine, and we can rest in this noticing. We can – as before – heal our relationship with these mental representations. And we can examine them and find what’s more honestly true for us, which tends to be far more kind than our initial painful stories.

Read More

Adyashanti: The present moment is actually creating the experience of the past

The present moment is actually creating the experience of the past.

– Adyashanti

The present moment is creating the experience of the past, and the future, and even the present. It’s all created here now. It’s a huge relief to notice this and invite it to transform me.

Byron Katie: Since the past is unreal and the future is unreal, all your thoughts are about nothing

Since the past is unreal and the future is unreal, all your thoughts are about nothing.

– Byron Katie

For us, the past is imagined. The future is imagined. And what we call the present is our ideas about something already gone.

Since all our thoughts are about the past and future, they are about nothing.

Moon

I saw this when it first came out and thought it was very good.

What sticks with me now – and perhaps the main reminder from this movie – is that we have memories and tend to take them as true, or at least mostly or close to true. While in reality, they are just memories. They are images appearing here now, triggering emotions, and with stories about them saying they reflect the past, and that’s it. I cannot know for certain they actually reflect the past. And the past itself, the idea of a past is an image, as is any ideas of what happened in that past.

There is a big difference in knowing this abstractly, as an interesting thought, and knowing it through and through – with body and mind – about specific instances and memories. I can inquiry into one memory at a time, and gradually there is a shift in how I relate to stories about the past. I see – through specific, concrete and genuine examples – how my images of the past are just that, images, alive here now.

It’s from the past

I did an inquiry on the thought it’s from the past yesterday.

This refers to the (apparent) childhood wounds that have bubbled up recently,
along with feelings and thoughts such as I am alone, nobody likes me, I am unlovable.

– 0 –

It’s from the past.

Is it true?

Yes.

Can you know for certain it’s true?

Yes.

What happens, how do you react, when you believe that thought?

I see it (the childhood wound) as in the past.

I cannot do anything about it – that it happened.

I blame my parents, life.

Read More

Alan Watts: Boat and wake

Adyashanti talks about this analogy in Ideal Spiritual Orientation.

Is the present created by the past, or is the past created in the present? Or are both true, each in their own way?

The boat and wake analogy invites us to explore this. A boat creates it’s wake, so is it similarly true that the present creates the past?

If so, in what way is it true? What do I find when I explore this through simple, real and specific examples?

And is it true in just a moderate way, or in a more profound sense?

Read More

Gathering up past, future, and present

Before falling asleep in the evening, and after waking up in the morning, I like to take some time to explore the sense fields. And as I often write about here, one of the things I explore is the three times. How does the past, future, and present appear in the sense fields?

I may begin with bringing attention to each sense field – sensations, sight, sound, smell, taste, and thoughts/images – one at a time, and notice what is there.

Then, I close my eyes if they are not already closed, and notice how I have an image of my body laying there in the bed, in a room, in a building, at the outskirts of a small town, next to a forest, in a country, on the Earth. All of that happens in my own world of images. It is the movie I play for myself about the world. I recognize it all as images.

Read More

Although eating honey is a very good thing to do

poohs-party

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
~A.A. Milne

Even a simple Pooh quote is a question and invitation for investigation.

When anticipating eating honey, it is easy to see that the joy of sweet anticipation is all in the mind. If we like honey, that is.

Read More

Liberation is retroactive

Joel sometimes says that enlightenment is retroactive.

One of the many ways of noticing that is through inquiry. Especially when it is done in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

I take a story as true, and it colors my past. It may even bring up sadness, grief, anger, regret and so on.

I inquire into the story, finding what is more true for me, and the story is liberated from being taken as true.

And here, I find that my images of the past has changed as well. Instead of – for instance – regret over a particular situation, there is now a gentle and heartfelt appreciation.

Often, it is bitter-sweet. I can see how I acted in beliefs back then, creating suffering for myself and others. It is bitter. And yet, in realizing that I was confused and acted on a belief, and now have a little more clarity around it, there is a sweetness, a sincere appreciation of the whole process.

Read More