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A Critique of "Living in the Moment"

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posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 01:44 PM
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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 or inferring 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”.




posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 02:17 PM
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To live in the moment means to not live in an imaginary past or future... but be truly present and aware of now. Even being present and aware that now you are contemplating the past/future.

It does not inherently mean not reflecting or projecting, though some can take it to that extreme.

Just like someone can go to the extreme of living forever in a past that is no longer here or a future that has yet to and may never arrive.
edit on 24-8-2013 by BardingTheBard because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 03:15 PM
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reply to post by NiNjABackflip
 


this is an aspect of the "be here now" philosophy that i've considered as well, but if you look into well... just about any lecture by Alan Watts, you may come to realize that there really is no choice but to live in the now at any given time. When we envision the past, we bring it into being a part of the NOW and hence bring along any influence it might have had when it was the present..
when we envision a possible future, this can be useful in steering the course of events (and what can be thought of as "focusing the Will") but when one is consumed and obsessed with controlling the future, we either neglect to take chances in the present, or become so effective at creating our future that there is no longer any surprise in life and becomes hardly worth living. (i believe that many people actually learn to focus their Will subconsciously through negative expectation and hence creates a perpetually negative and downward spiralling type of life..)

but once we realize that all we've EVER HAD was Now, and the entire universe is contained in every moment in time/space (rendering itself in every possible configuration) we are left with no alternative but to accept that we are capable of anything..



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 03:23 PM
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reply to post by NiNjABackflip
 

The member known as itsnowagain would strongly disagree with you. Send him (or her) a u2u.



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 04:06 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


LOL! That's what prompted the OP to start this thread! An endless "Who's on First" routine with itsnowagain as it relates to "nothingness". It was pretty comical....again!


P.S. I already sent itsnowagain a U2U as soon as this thread popped up. My bad.
edit on 24-8-2013 by Deetermined because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 05:56 PM
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I would say that the past indeed doesn't exist; a memory of the past events maybe. The future also doesn't exist only in our imagination. Nothing ever happens other than now, is logically. The future of yesterday is now, but yesterday it doesn't existed. All we have is an eternal now.

Living in the moment won't mean that we'll have all memories and plans for the future erased. They will arise at proper moment, in situations similar with those which created those memory. When we watch a really captivating movie we leave all this baggage of memories and plans and wishes aside so we can enjoy the movie, don't we? And nobody take them away from us, and we don't feel empty without them. This is to live in the moment, like watching an excellent movie, aware of every action, excited and alive.

What is there to lose?What is there to fear of now?



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 06:15 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 


What exactly has influenced your thinking? Because, personally, I don't see this as a natural, instinctual or logical way of thinking.



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 06:29 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 


Saying the past does not exist is like saying knowledge does not exist, surely we all carry our past with us in the form of memories.
A better pronouncement would be, the past exists but it has no place in the present unless it is practical

After all, you were using knowledge to read and write which you have learned in the past.



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 06:39 PM
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reply to post by earthling42
 


No, you don't carry your past, it's absurd, with all due respect. You carry your memories. You imagine they form your past. And even memories, we keep only those few who affect us in some way. Where is the rest of the past?
Do you remember what you did at the age of 5 on your birthday morning? If not, than that "past" doesn't exists? There is a gap in your past, so you didn't existed? Or maybe that memory is gone?

Edit: let's clarify this, maybe I get it wrong. I understand by past the time that has past. Not the abstract concept of our emotional past experiences. Even they don't exists anymore. All that exists is the present moment. Our memories are unfolding in the present moment. Our plans are happening in our mind only in the present moment.
edit on 24-8-2013 by WhiteHat because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 06:46 PM
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reply to post by Deetermined
 


Why not? What exactly doesn't seem natural to you?
Every time we are totally absorbed in something, even for a few seconds, we live in the moment, never noticed? That moment when there is nothing else than the present action, no memories, no plans, no doubts, no fear. Never concentrated so totally like that? maybe the orgasm moment? or when you see something totally unexpected in a very familiar place? when you read a really captivating book? a moment of total shock?



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 06:50 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 


What's with the "if you don't remember it, it never happened in reality" mentality? Is this how you think? Or am I just misunderstanding and we're having a communication break down?



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:02 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 


Well as i said, in the form of memories


That boy died a long time ago, but yes the memories are still there.
We always are now, in the present it all comes together, past present and future, all action is now.
How can we not be living here and now in this present moment?



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:07 PM
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Originally posted by Deetermined
reply to post by WhiteHat
 


What's with the "if you don't remember it, it never happened in reality" mentality? Is this how you think? Or am I just misunderstanding and we're having a communication break down?


it's not if you don't remember, is 'if you're not aware of something, does it really happened?" something else, not relevant to our discussion.

What i'm trying to say is that there is nothing wrong with living in the present moment, as opposed to always nurture some past experience or planning for an uncertain future. The practical things are taking care of themselves; I don't have to always keep the knowledge of reading in my mind in order to be able to read. I can be totally absorbed in a movie, forgetting about everything else, then the phone calls. I didn't forget how to answer it, or how to read the caller ID or how to talk with people, only because I was living in the present moment only, watching the movie. Nothing mystical here. Once the knowledge is in my mind i don't have to permanently holding on to it and bring it forward. I can live each moment as it comes, when when the time will come to read, I will just read.

We are somehow afraid that if we let go of past we'll somehow disappear. We'll be an empty box. We define ourselves by a past which is long gone, so we don't leave place to see what is happening right now.



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:09 PM
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Originally posted by earthling42
reply to post by WhiteHat
 


Well as i said, in the form of memories


That boy died a long time ago, but yes the memories are still there.
We always are now, in the present it all comes together, past present and future, all action is now.
How can we not be living here and now in this present moment?


Our mind likes to wander everywhere but in the now. Ever noticed how hard is to stay present without immediately escaping in some thoughts, or memories, or imagination? i don't know why



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:13 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 



We are somehow afraid that if we let go of past we'll somehow disappear. We'll be an empty box. We define ourselves by a past which is long gone, so we don't leave place to see what is happening right now.


Personally, I don't believe that. Disappear? Empty Box? What kind of analogies are these?

We don't define ourselves by our past. Our past helps to define who we become (even in the present).

ETA: I'm not sure I'm saying this right, now that I'm reading it over again. I may have to think about what I'm trying to say here.
edit on 24-8-2013 by Deetermined because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:19 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 



it's not if you don't remember, is 'if you're not aware of something, does it really happened?" something else, not relevant to our discussion.


"If you're not aware of something, does it really happen?" Absolutely it does.

This is what's great about being a twin. My sister reminds me all the time of incidents that happened in our childhood in which I influenced her, that I don't remember at all, but obviously had a huge impact on her.

Everything we do and say influences someone, even if WE never remember it. That's the reality of it.



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:24 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 


Yes, thought is time, past is projected into the future, i want to become, tomorrow it will be better, i fear that it will happen again, and so on, agreed



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:27 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 



Ever noticed how hard is to stay present without immediately escaping in some thoughts, or memories, or imagination? i don't know why


Probably because we're supposed to learn something from it and apply it to the present.



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:37 PM
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Originally posted by Deetermined
reply to post by WhiteHat
 



it's not if you don't remember, is 'if you're not aware of something, does it really happened?" something else, not relevant to our discussion.


"If you're not aware of something, does it really happen?" Absolutely it does.

This is what's great about being a twin. My sister reminds me all the time of incidents that happened in our childhood in which I influenced her, that I don't remember at all, but obviously had a huge impact on her.

Everything we do and say influences someone, even if WE never remember it. That's the reality of it.


Agree with that.
Agree also with the fact that forgetting things from our past is not the end of the world. We keep existing.
Than what is wrong with letting it go voluntarily if it keep us from living the present moment?
You know, since last time when I went to beach I took about 5 kilograms in weight. So this summer I went to beach and instead of enjoying the sea and the beautiful day, I felt heavy, fat, worried about my belly and wished to keep a more strict diet. Then i realized I'm wasting my time, so I just let it go and did my best to be in the moment. Only then I really had fun.

We carry way too much baggage in the form of past feeling and memories, or future wishes, and miss the obvious. Living in the now I think means to really leave that aside and enjoy the moment as it is.

edit on 24-8-2013 by WhiteHat because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 24 2013 @ 07:42 PM
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reply to post by WhiteHat
 



Than what is wrong with letting it go voluntarily if it keep us from living the present moment?


That's the key. IF it keeps us from living in the present, it's extreme. I agree with BardingtheBard also that forgetting the past altogether is the other extreme, which isn't realistic either and can be dangerous, as the OP stated.





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