Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More




The Past Is Not The Future

Mandalay Beach, Oxnard Shores, Ventura County, California, USA

August 23, 2020

"The quality of your life is less a function of what happened to you in the past, than it is a function of the invented future you're living into." ...   re-created by Laurence Platt 
This essay, The Past Is Not The Future, is the companion piece to Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open.

It was written at the same time as Be A Hero (For Someone).




I'm a psychology major. I have a bachelor's degree in psychology. Based on those studies, I considered the past to be the major determinant of the quality of life I experience in the present, and will experience in the future. By that I mean I considered that what happened to me in the past, is what determines who and how I am and the quality of my life now in the present, and from now on, what determines who and how I will be and the quality of my life in the future.

The key then to our being free of the past in the present, and free of the past in the future (it would seem) would then logically be to analyze and understand what happened in the past, what effect it had on us, and what conclusions we drew from what happened about how life works, and thereby decisions we made about how to live life today. That way, we would understand our behavior in the present, and from now on in the future. And if we were to intend to alter (improve) the quality of our lives in the present and in the future, we'd focus on what happened in the past, resolve it, complete it, and reconcile it so it doesn't pay forward into the future.

Some time around now (it may have been closer to the last weekend of August in 1978, but some time around now)  a new way of seeing what instead may really  determine the quality of my life, began to emerge. It was this: rather than having the past being the determinant of the quality of my life in the present and in the future, I began to entertain the possibility of the future  (not the past) being the determinant of the quality of the life I have in the present and in the future.

Say whut!?  What does that even mean, Laurence? How can the the future  determine the quality of life you have in the present?  Look: it hasn't even happened  yet!

Well, what if (just what if  ...) the quality of the life we have in the present is not  a function of what happened in the past? What if the quality of the life we have in the present, is a function of what's in the future?  What if the times of being stuck and seemingly powerless to meet the challenge of the circumstances, have nothing to do with anything learned (or not  learned) in the past? What if the times of being stuck and seemingly powerless to meet the challenge of the circumstances, have to do rather with not having a worthwhile possibility / future to live into  - or of once having had a worthwhile future to live into which then completed / expired? 

If that's so, it would suggest it's the future (and the invented future in particular) not the past, that determines the quality of our lives in the present. So, the question then becomes: why then does it seem  as if it's what happened in the past that determines who and how we are, and the quality of life we experience in the present?

To answer that question, consider we mistakenly believe  the way life went in the past is the way it will go in the future. So unknowingly and unwittingly, we put the past into the future. And if it's the future that impacts the quality of our lives in the present, when we put the past into the future, it impacts the quality of our lives in the present because it's the future, not because it's the past (Gee, I hope you get that!). If we left the past in the past  where it belongs, the future would be empty, an open canvas, the space of all possibilities, from which we could invent a future worth living into, which would determine the quality of life we have in the present.

I learned a lot from studying psychology, especially and including how to conduct research thoroughly in stackrooms for papers I was writing in 1970. But I didn't entertain that idea until the last weekend of August in 1978. And at the time I realized it, I was no longer in a psychology lecture theatre: I was in a training room.


Postscript:
The presentation, delivery, and style of The Past Is Not The Future are all my own work.
The ideas recreated in The Past Is Not The Future were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by  .


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