My mind often wanders and wonders about ‘tomorrow’, whether that is five minutes, five weeks, or five millennia from now. I reckon a hunter-gatherer instinct drives this because I see it occurring in everyone I know. We are always jumping out ahead of the moment. Why? Because we can. The mind’s space is larger than most mundane moments can stimulate and fill. It seeks greener pastures, i.e., the hunter-gatherer drive to look for that tasty tidbit that must lie just ahead, either in reality or in the fertile fields of human imagination.
Keeping mindful of this tendency is invaluable. Conscientiously done, life turns out much better. Chapter 14 speaks to this:
What about the future? Shouldn’t we look ahead for potential opportunities or dangers that await us there? Actually, the real opportunities and dangers are in the present. Being here in the moment is the best way to take advantage of opportunity and avoid danger. The future actually does take care of itself when I am fully engaging in the present (1). Chapter 64 speaks to this perfectly:
It is easy to maintain a situation while it is still secure;
It is easy to deal with a situation before symptoms develop;
It is easy to break a thing when it is yet brittle;
It is easy to dissolve a thing while it is yet minute.
Deal with a thing while it is still nothing;
Keep a thing in order before disorder sets in.
Looking out to the future actually robs from the present, and besides, as chapter 38 cautions us,
Speaking of foreknowledge, I tried my hand at it for a while. In the 70’s, I learned to read palms, cast horoscopes, do the I-ching, and Tarot cards. A fascinating aspect of this was how people reacted to me revealing their past, present and future. Those who had faith from the start in what I was doing not only bought every word, but also often amplified it. That shows the power of belief!
Those who didn’t have faith from the start were less than convinced and neutral at best. It only went to show how our expectations play a huge role in how and what we see. Anything that seems to support our expectations reinforces them, and anything that does not, we usually discount heavily or ignore.
(1) Conversely, looking ahead is how I remember what I truly want in life. For example, when I’m drinking alcohol or eating cake, it is easier to sense when to stop… as chapter 32 says, Knowing when to stop one can be free from danger. A stitch in time… I must maintain an awareness of consequences.