Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Past, present and future. Linear? Circular? Spiral? All-in-one? 

I posted this earlier today as a comment at Burningbird, sparked by a question about keeping blog archives. It kind of ties in with the loose theme of olderandgrowing so I've copied it here:

A while back I had a bit of a life shake-up - a reawakening - and the past lost a lot of its importance to me. I threw out a whole load of stuff which I'd previously kept because it represented different periods in my life. I thought that past was irrelevant, because it can't be changed and shouldn't be allowed too strong an influence on the present or the future. I embraced the present and forgot the past.

Also about that time I started keeping a journal (on paper). I was doing a course in counselling and the journal formed part of the coursework. I learned a lot about myself through that course and especially through keeping the journal. Much of what I learned has now slipped back below the level of consciousness because I don't call on it very often. If I look back through those journals (several hardbound A4 volumes - I was a prolific journal-keeper!) I see someone who appears quite different to the self I see today - someone in fact I'd rather be now.

So I think I was mistaken to imagine that the past could so easily be discarded. I've just been reading Siddhartha (thanks to whiskeyriver for the introduction to a wonderful book) and become very aware that what I was and did a year ago, five years ago, twenty five years ago - and what I will do in twenty five years time - are as much (or as little) a part of me as the person that sits here now bashing keys.

Thats my take on it anyway.

"Did you," so he asked him at one time, "did you too learn that secret from the river: that there is no time?"

Vasudeva's face was filled with a bright smile.

"Yes, Siddhartha," he spoke. "It is this what you mean, isn't it: that the river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future?"

"This it is," said Siddhartha. "And when I had learned it, I looked at my life, and it was also a river, and the boy Siddhartha was only separated from the man Siddhartha and from the old man Siddhartha by a shadow, not by something real. Also, Siddhartha's previous births were no past, and his death and his return to Brahma was no future. Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has existence and is present."

from Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse

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