We are tormented by past and future by Raj Ayya
With all our contemporary anxieties and fears globally, locally and in our personal lives, refreshing wisdom from the great ancient Stoic philosopher Seneca
Fear is mostly due to projecting our thoughts way ahead of us, instead of
adapting to the present moment.
Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they escape
them, they worry no more!
We however, are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come.
Memory brings back the agony of fear, while foresight brings it on
No one confines unhappiness to the present moment.
–Seneca: Letters from a Stoic
Seneca is arguably one of the great Stoic voices, largely because he
acknowledges his own and the other’s vulnerability and humanness, instead
of retreating to the cold, stiff upper lip attitude of most Stoic
philosophers. This text is priceless–who ever said Zen, Taoism and Ram
Dass invented ‘Be here now’? Seneca recommends being in the present moment,
even with one’s fears.
I love the lines: ‘Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and
once they escape them, they worry no more!
We however, are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come.’
Humans (for the most part) are tormented by past recollections of a fearful
situation (yes, that one–with your ex, your former or current boss, your
spouse, mother), or with your fave phobia. Or, they run from an anticipated
fear of what MIGHT happen in the future. Animals in the wild, recoil ONLY
from dangers here and now and are scared here and now. They don’t sit
around ‘pasting’, or ‘future-izing’ about what could happen next.