Memories are very strange. You can be living your life quite happily when suddenly a memory, good or bad, pops into your mind. Maybe something triggered it but whatever the cause of the memory, it takes us out of the present moment, which is really the only sensible place to be. Jesus calls memories the past tense of perception, and since all perception comes from the ego, it would serve us well if we did our best to let go of memories.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, in his well-known book The Power of Now, says: “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.” He says that living in the past or anticipating the future is an insane way to live because it is a way of avoiding the present moment—the only moment that can give us peace of mind.
So what do we do when we remember a grievance? We can use the advice, from A Course in Miracles Workbook Lesson 181 and say to ourselves: “It is not this that I would look upon. I trust my brothers, who are one with me.” It is just a matter of remembering, each time an unhappy memory occurs, to tell ourselves that we will no longer allow the mind to wallow in victimhood and focus on a past unhappy memory. “It is not this that I would look upon.”
Gazing at my cat, Topaz, the other day as he was fast asleep, it dawned on me that animals never live in the past or in the future, as far as we know. I am pretty sure Topaz doesn’t worry about something unpleasant that happened to him a few days ago. And he certainly doesn’t worry about what he is going to be doing tomorrow. In fact, he never worries at all (unless he is being chased by a dog or fireworks are being set off) He just lives peacefully and happily in the present moment because, to him, that’s the only moment that exists. How wise!
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