The Past Is In the Present 

(On New Year Resolution)

Talk transcribed from Sunday Service at Zen Center, 12/31/2006 (Part Two)

What about the past? This is also a good time to look back at the past year. But Buddha says do not cling to the past. How do we think about the past, without clinging to it?

[Answer from audience: We can look at the past and think about how to do things differently in the future.]

Yes! So again, it is about cause and effect, right? Some things this past year turned out well, some did not. We should reflect on the past and try to see the causal connections. Do we know what kind of bad karma we have created, and are we continuing to indulge in bad habits? Did we put in a lot of effort into something, without achieving any useful result? Have I been angry often? Have I been resentful? Been greedy? What result did being greedy achieve? When I was angry, what result did I get? Was that the result I wanted?

Buddha also looks into his past. He often tells stories about his past and his past lives. But he does not cling to the past. What is clinging to the past? For example, in the past you were angry about someone, and every time you think about it you get angry. That is to clinging to the past. That is not thinking about the cause and effect ant try to change for the better. Every time you think about it you feel bad about yourself, you have low self-esteem, you get depressed about it, you regret it. That is called dwelling in the past. That is not constructive, right?

On the other hand, you see where the mistake is. If the same thing happens next time, how will you react? How will you do it differently so you get a different result? That is to apply Buddhism. Then it becomes constructive to think about the past. You are not clinging to the past if you are not dwelling in the emotions. Use your rational mind, reflect and examine the cause and effect, see the past as a mirror for our future.

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