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One of the strongest desires of the ego is
to know the future. The ego wants to know the
future very badly, so badly that it often resorts
to making it up, if not in a full-blown fantasy
at least in thoughts and beliefs about it that constantly change.
Sometimes the fantasies are negative fantasies and depict the
ego’s fears about the future. The likelihood of these
events actually taking place in the (usually) dramatic way
that the egoic mind tends to think is miniscule, and yet they
grab our attention, stir up our emotions, and even cause us
to take particular actions. The egoic mind creates a problematic
future and then takes steps in the present to avoid it. To
the mind, this seems reasonable, prudent, wise, and practical.
But nothing could be more impractical than being detached from
the present moment and lost in imaginary fears and plans to
avoid those fears.
It is natural, however, that the egoic mind
operates like this because it does not trust
life. It doesn’t recognize the Intelligence
behind life, which is wise, loving, and evolving
us toward greater wisdom and love. In part it
doesn’t see this because it is busy telling
negative stories about life—about how unfair
and unsafe it is. Of course the egoic mind is
frightened—it frightens itself every day
with negative stories. It doesn’t see the
love, goodness, or support that is present, and
it doesn’t understand that challenges and
difficulties evolve us in ways like nothing else
can. The only thing that sees this is essence—our
true nature. Essence sees the truth about life,
but when we are identified with the egoic mind
and its beliefs and the stories it spins based
on those, we don’t see things as essence
We want to know the future because we want confirmation
of the ego’s belief that the present is
flawed but it will be redeemed by something better
in the future. We want someone to tell us “Yes,
your prince (princess) will come and you will
live happily ever after.” This is the ego’s
basic stance: What is happening now isn’t
good enough but someday it will be good enough,
and that will last forever. It is a fairytale
that is so deeply embedded in our makeup that
we don’t even realize we are telling ourselves
This stance toward life interferes with actually
experiencing what is going on in this precious
moment—a moment that will never come again.
Moreover, it interferes with seeing the truth
about life—that it is constantly changing,
that we have little control over it, and that
it is full of all sorts of things, both likeable
and not likeable, and that will always be the
The egoic mind is not seeing truly when it rejects
the moment. It rejects it because it is seeing
what it doesn’t like about it, according
to its values—pleasure, power, safety,
specialness, and security. If the moment is not
providing those to its self-image, then it rejects
the moment in entirety. But the moment doesn’t
exist for the ego’s pleasure and to bolster
its sense of self; it exists for all of life
and contains everything we need to be happy if
we are willing to just be there in the present
without our opinions, beliefs, and judgments.
Stripped of thought, the moment is alive and
always changing into something new and unexpected.
It moves, and it is full of all sorts of things
that dazzle the senses, inspire love, and surprise
us. This moment is all we need and it
is all we really have. That it can be any other
way or that it will ever be anything other than
the way it happens to be showing up is an illusion.
The ego has little power to change what is happening
because it is already too late—life has
already moved on to the next moment. All the
ego can do is interfere through its discontent
with having a full and rich experience of this
moment. This saps the juice and joy out of the
moment, so no wonder we long for a better moment.
The egoic mind spoils this moment and promises
a better one, but that better moment will never
come unless the egoic mind becomes quiet. And
then every moment is good.
When you find yourself wanting a better moment—wanting
something else in the future—it can be
helpful to ask: What will that give me? We think
we will finally and once and for all be happy
when that moment arrives. What we discover when
we do get what we want is that even that wonderful
moment disappears and is replaced by the next
one and the next one. Life keeps moving on, bringing
us a mixture of what we like and don’t
like. Why not like—love—it all because
it won’t be here for long, and it will
never be this way again.
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