Past, Present, and Future October 3, 2010
Today I was thinking about one of the sixteen teachings here at the Temple. Our second teaching states, “Jedi live and focus on the present; we must neither dwell on the past nor be overly concerned about the future. As the mind wanders, focusing on the present is a task not easily attained, for the mind is not content with the eternal present moment. As Jedi, we must release our stress and ease our minds.” I have long held this practice in my daily life and adhere to this same thought in a different way saying, “There are two days you can do nothing about yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday has passed and can not be changed and, tomorrow is not here yet.”
When reading this there are many various interpretations of what this means to “Live in the present.” Some take it to mean do not set any goals for the future and do what ever you choose to each day. While I agree with a part of this statement the other leaves much to be desired. Goals are what moves us and drives us to a destination. With out a goal in mind we are but chefs in a kitchen wearing a blind fold and throwing random items into a pot. (I will use cooking several times through this as it serves a great example for what I am talking about). When we set a goal we still have the chance to be creative and to adapt and change as we go. Now we are the same chef in the kitchen with random ingredients however our blind fold is removed and we have an idea of what we want to do. Our meal is now a theory but not so set that it can not be changed.
Now that we know that the future is not set so there is no need to worry. We now say what about the past? Some argue that the past is set because it can not be changed well; I contend that that is exactly why you should not worry. Once something has happened there is nothing you can do, just as once the ingredient has been stirred in you can not pull it out. So, why do we stress about things that can not change? What do we do about the past? Adapt! So we were making bread and used way too much sugar. You can not remove the sugar and, for sake of this talk, we can not start over. Ok living in the present our bread now became a beautiful cake instead with just minor adjustments.
Everyone has ups and downs in their lives and it is easy to get disheartened and dwell on the mistakes of the past. Then while dwelling on that another mistake is made and they are put in a never-ending spiral deeper into sorry and darkness. The other side is when people are so focused on the future and what they want that they are unable to see what is around them. We see these people all the time lonely or short relationships because their career is more important than anything else. We need to be flexible Ducks with a goal. Huh, as a duck you let the water roll of your back (problems of yesterday are gone). Have a plan for what you need. But, be flexible enough to know when to adapt. Every problem has a solution if we are willing to look for it. The Marines have a saying “Adapt and over come.”
“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.” “The future is now.” What do these quotes have to teach us about living in the present? It is simple, make today the best day you can and once it is over let it go and don’t think about it any longer. You cannot change the past any more than you can change the rotation of the Earth around the Sun. Live every new experience that you come across and marvel in the massive diversity of the world. You will never know your true path if you have only one goal and dwell in the disappointment of any set back. Know that the perfect plan does not exist and that in anything we do mistakes happen, things change and we need to be able to change with it. The only thing that never changes is that things change. I believe that anything worth doing is worth the struggles from time to time. Even as a river rafter will “Go with the flow” it still requires a little paddling from time to time.
What I am asking of you then, is to open your eyes and your mind. Take the time this week or even this month to try something new. Find something that you have pushed to the side because it may not have fit into your path to greatness. Remember that nothing is better or worse just different (From my last sermon). Set a goal for yourself and then think what I can do today to begin towards that goal. Stop procrastinating and do things today (See RyuJin’s sermon 9-4-2010) in the words of the “Red Shirt Cologne” Because, tomorrow may never come”
Live today, respect the future, and forget the past.