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An Impoverised Present

I was listening to a CD of a presentation by noted British philosopher Alan Watts, who passed away in 1973. He lived and traveled extensively in Asia, and was probably best know for interpreting Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

Watts spoke of how we often look to the future as offering something better than we have right now. He said we do this because we live in an “impoverished present.” That phrase has stuck with me since hearing it. Although it is helpful to plan for the future and look forward to it at times, we generally do that way too much. Somehow, in our brains we create this fiction that the future is better than what we have right now. When we do this, we diminish what we have. And the trouble with this fiction is that…there is no future. We only have the present moment. Right now is yesterday’s future. It is just now…as it always is.

Thus, we can gain much more satisfaction with the present moment by honoring it fully. We can do this by ceasing to incessantly look toward the future as better than now. This is an important step toward ensuring that we don’t live in an “impoverished present.”

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