If you want to create your future, then work in the present
How often have your colleagues, your family, or your friends, amazed you with their near-perfect photographic recall of the times when you got things wrong or made a mistake. Not only do they recall all the details but, if you can remember the incident at all, what you remember is totally different. I am sure it has happened to you, it happens to us all. Now have you ever done this to someone else, of course, you have!
The problem when we do this, or when others do it, is that we are not living in the present – we are living in the past. As LP Hartley, author of “The Go-Between”, said ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ Living in the past we cannot change what has happened, and living in the past stops us from living in the present where we can make choices in creating our future and taking control of our own life. The past holds you back; the present allows you to create your future and your opportunities. A Buddhist parable illustrates the challenge – and value – of letting go of the past.
Two monks were strolling by a stream on their way home to the monastery. They were startled by the sound of a young woman in a bridal gown, sitting by the stream, crying softly. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she gazed across the water. She needed to cross to get to her wedding, but she was fearful that doing so might ruin her beautiful handmade gown.
In this particular sect, monks were prohibited from touching women. But one monk was filled with compassion for the bride. Ignoring the sanction, he hoisted the woman on his shoulders and carried her across the stream–assisting her journey and saving her gown. She smiled and bowed with gratitude as he noisily splashed his way back across the stream to rejoin his companion.
The second monk was livid. “How could you do that?” he scolded. “You know we are forbidden even to touch a woman, much less pick one up and carry her around!”
The offending monk listened in silence to a stern lecture that lasted all the way back to the monastery. His mind wandered as he felt the warm sunshine and listened to the singing birds. After returning to the monastery, he fell asleep for a few hours. He was jostled and awakened in the middle of the night by his fellow monk. “How could you carry that woman?” his agitated friend cried out. “Someone else could have helped her across the stream. You were a bad monk!”
“What woman?” the tired monk inquired groggily.
“Don’t you even remember? That woman you carried across the stream,” his colleague snapped.
“Oh, her,” laughed the sleepy monk. “I only carried her across the stream. You carried her all the way back to the monastery.”
The learning point is simple: Leave it at the stream.
If you want to drive then look ahead, don’t look in the rear-view mirror. All the rear-view mirror can show you is where you have been, it can’t show you where you need to go. And if you try to drive by just looking in the rear-view mirror you will soon find yourself coming off the road! A small change, but one that will free you and help you!
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