“There is no vitality to the past except the life our minds give to it. The only thing the past is good for is to keep us stuck in the old patterns from which we’re trying to liberate ourselves. Our personal histories are the parts of our lives which hold us where we are,” says Swami Chetanananda in “Choose To Be Happy.”
If we cannot expand our awareness beyond our past -- beyond our limitations -- how can we possibly hope to grow? And do not compare the present to a past that is over and done, or you are courting real unhappiness.
People will tell you to learn from the past. Good advice. But learning what you “don’t want” will not support you for long. “Don’t want” doesn’t work. What do you want?
“Mind lives in the past because it lives in knowledge,” says Osho in “Guida Spirituale.” “Knowledge means that which you have known, understood, learned. And existence is now and mind is then; existence is here and mind is always there. Mind looks backwards; it is like a rear-view mirror. If you are backing your car the rear-view mirror is okay, but if you are going forward then it is dangerous to go on looking in the rear-view mirror. And if you become fixated on the rear-view mirror you are bound for an accident. You are in great danger, you are being suicidal. Life always moves forwards; it has no possibility of going backwards.”
Some counselors would have you searching your past for understanding to help you heal your stresses and dramas. But according to Swami Chetanananda. “All you’ll find in tension is more tension. Believe me, if you insist on standing in and sifting through garbage, the only thing you’re going to become is dirty at best and ill at worst. Reliving stress does not relieve stress; obsession with trauma can only traumatize.”
As a final thought, consider that your “ego” is a result of the past. So to give up ego means to give up your history. Your whole history. All that you have been up until this moment in time. But if you would drop your ego, you would be free of the past. This is not something you do one time and have it handled. Releasing the past has to be done regularly, otherwise it will accumulate. Every moment, the present turns into the past, so if you continue to collect, a new ego will arise.
Do not live in the past. Do not live for the future. Live in the timeless NOW. Easier said than done, but certainly a worthy goal.