Both the Past and the Future are contained in the Present; the past is the progenitor of the present and the future is the child thereof.
In the light of the theory of repeated births on earth and the progressive evolution of the human Ego it is easy to conceive that we ourselves must have been the makers of our present conditions by our conduct in the past; also, that what is in store for us in the future must largely depend on what we do now.
Although the present conditions in which we live are entirely the outcome of the past, the whole of that past evolution is not expressed or manifested in any one life in the physical body; the human Ego being a too many sided and conglomerate entity. The entire past of individualized existence is focussed, ready for development in the present life, but never is fully manifested nor can it be entirely objectivized for want of an appropriate vehicle which would respond simultaneously on all planes.
And, the future is always in the hands of the present so far as the use which we make of the present is concerned. There is a desire in the mind of every individual to repeat again and again pleasant experiences; consequently it is easier to drift into a groove than to pick up a new and untrodden path. If this desire is much indulged it breeds indolence and folly. It is another thing to consciously and determinately enter upon and live over again an experience; in such instance the act is not a repetition but a positive step for the purpose of gaining knowledge. Another phase is to dwell in the future; building castles in the air, tickling the emotions with prospects of sensations of future indulgences, which are again similar only to the pleasing experiences which we have already had. But the temptation is so great to paint to one's self the most improbable far-off situations relating the same to precious personality in delightfully magnified proportions, that in this fancy we easily lose sight of the actual surroundings. Likewise the tendency to permit the welling up of spite and anger, contemplating to vent them on unsuspecting individuals in revenge for certain supposed unpleasantnesses which some one has perpetrated upon us, but which that person has long since forgotten.
All these phases of day-dreaming are futile, wasteful, injurious. Meantime the present becomes the past, never to be recalled, and we have missed the chance to live it or to learn from it our lesson.
It is clear that few people possess the power of living in the present from lack of concentration and observation.
How many people know or remember the simple things of their surroundings — the pattern of the carpet in their room, the exact position of or even the objects that adorn their table or mantelpiece: whoever listens so attentively to a conversation as to hear every word that is said and gives it sufficient consideration to understand its purport? Or, who observes the cyclic functions of his own body so diligently and correctly as to draw from it the knowledge to obtain perfect health? These important functions are heedlessly passed by for indulgences in trivial sensations.
Were we to observe more closely our own natures, thoughts and actions, we would learn more from them than from all the books in creation; in fact, on own bodies, minds, souls, are the very book of nature. All that is of permanent value in knowledge comes from within Adepts become such by introspection and by the universal application of the principles which are garnered at this fountain-head of all knowledge. It is true that we can only appreciate in others what we know about ourselves; that is to say, the feelings, emotions and ideas of others are to us what they interpret to our consciousness in terms of reviving memories of past experiences which are already our own. These are the only standards by which we can measure what is going on within the souls of others.
Happiness, joy, sorrow, indifference, emotions, aspirations, are the elements of expression of soul-life; the deeper we have tested the experience of each of these, the more responsive are we towards like experiences of our fellow men.
The mind is so constituted that the consideration of either the past or the future crowds out the wholesome contemplation of the present moment; thus it is that worry over the events of the future often agitates us to no small extent. The source of this failing is the want of elasticity to accommodate ourselves to involuntary change. Our attitude towards the customary mode of living or certain surroundings, is more or less fixed and is often accompanied by fear of what others will think of a change in affairs which circumstances may compel us to face. Although the thing dreaded never comes to pass exactly in the way it is imagined; when it does occur and one is in it, it proves in reality never as bad as was feared.
Having once experienced this, it is unwise to contemplate trouble about the future at all, much less to dwell on it and paint a trouble-picture in detail.
Notwithstanding, prudence dictates vigilance over possible future events so far as the same are involved and growing out of the obligations from previous actions. Obligations and duties must not be lost sight of in the least, and active measures with full knowledge of the responsibility must be adopted to discharge the same. If that be done the dreaded future misfortune will never come.
Life is full of burdens mainly because we permit it to be weighted with thoughts of the past and with fear of the future.
If attention and diligence be applied to momentary duties with full regard to observation of details in all directions and calmness and concentration on the present be practiced, then there is no time nor leisure left to fall into grooves of repetition or to indulge thoughts of an impossible future.
Every duty presents in each instance a new and never before experienced field or observation.
The restlessness of the mind to be constantly doing, doing, is a natural force which belongs to the present period of evolution. This must express itself in some way, it remains to be well studied and trained in order to recognize its power and turn the same to good account. If unguided by knowledge or by spiritual aspirations it runs unbridled beyond the limits of balance and then becomes the inevitable producer of painful experiences.
But these are the ways of nature! By allowing us to transgress the limits she teaches by hurling back the offender.
Whatever the effects of our past lives may be which express themselves here and now, they must run their course and the lessons which they have to teach are to be found only in the full appreciation of the present moment. If that be understood aright, then we have the key to our own mystery.
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