There is no “past” or “future” in reality. Past and Future are concepts. They lead us to assume uncertainties: that the present has existed
before, and will continue to do so. What I have found odd is that some have turned this base fact into a principle through which people should live
by. Out of it has grown a philosophy that might, in the end, prove quite dangerous.
The fact that there is no “past” and “future” is perhaps carried a little too far, stipulating that since there is no Past or Future in
reality, that we shouldn’t consider them in thought, that we must not remember what the present was once like, nor infer about what it might become.
I find this outlook a little deceptive, and almost self-limiting, because thinking about the Past or Future is instead remembering
about the Present – what it is, what it was, and what it might become.
The principle that there is only the current moment, although intuitive, is highly unnecessary. We all exist in the current moment; we already “live
in the moment” and cannot do otherwise no matter how hard we try. Saying that “we should live in the moment” is about as fundamental as saying
“we should exist”. It’s a case of pointing out the obvious and not in the least bit a life-altering profundity.
Nonetheless, despite its arbitrariness, this “live in the moment” doctrine persists, and I find that in the end such a dogmatic outlook may be
taken to the extreme. I could imagine people forcing themselves to stop remembering the past, or in other words, stop referring to the memories of the
present as it once was, and instead concern themselves primarily with “what is going on”, “what is happening” around them. Despite the act of
remembering being a practice best done in the present, this remembering is maligned for being somehow out of place. Likewise with thinking about the
future, or wondering about how the present might become – although this wondering happens in the present, this wonderment is maligned as something
that will lead a man to stress or worry. So I think it contradictory to assert that the moment is all there is, yet proclaim that we shouldn’t
concern ourselves with past or future, even though being concerned about them happens in the present. It is the present moment where stress and worry
come from. In fact, all pain, displeasure and all the worlds ills also happen in the present moment.
To not think about the past is to not reflect. To not think about the future is to not imagine. Not doing these things, of course, is inhuman. A lion
will attack his own offspring without hesitation. A human, who reflects and imagines, would hopefully reason to not do such a thing. We have
foresight. We reflect. Yet we shouldn’t? And this is where I find the danger lies: that one who lives strictly in the moment will fail to realize
the implications of his actions, or will fail to learn from past mistakes, simply because he finds those types of thoughts are illusions and
misdirection, and because he desires satiety more than responsibility.
But luckily, we find their teachings impractical. We don’t walk to keep from falling, or to stay upright; we walk because we have a destination in
mind. We can remember something, “the past”, and utilize these memories in our day to day. We can think about what the present might become,
reason on its possibilities, and direct our actions accordingly. By avoiding the use of these tools – which I would argue is an impossibility –
how is that “living in the moment”? More like “denying the moment”.