How to go beyond the extremes of denial and despair?
We live constantly in that fleeting moment where the present gives way to the future. How we look at the present and at the future shapes our emotional state as well as the state of our future.
If we get too caught up with the present, all the limitations and frustrations of the present can overwhelm us (Bhagavad-gita 18.35). If we have nothing to look forward to in life, what will keep us moving? If we don’t have the conviction that our future can be better than our present, and that we can play a part in creating that better future, then we can get buried in the gloominess of the present.
If, on the other hand, we focus too much on the future, then we become unrealistic, even utopian. While dreaming about a glorious future, we may live in denial of the present. And any way to the future has to go through, indeed begin with, the present.
The balanced way ahead is to recognize the limitations of our present while cherishing the aspirations for our future. And that balanced way is best tread through devotional diligence. The diligent aspect helps us to accept our present, while also accepting responsibility for doing what we can in the present for creating a better future. The devotional aspect helps us recognize that there is a higher reality shaping the nature of things. It reminds us that we all have a well-wishing Lord, who will help us if we keep striving to do our best.
Through devotional diligence, we can avoid the extremes of both denial and despair and march even through the darkest of valleys to the brightest of futures.
If we don’t acknowledge how things are, we sentence ourselves to denial; if we don’t aspire for how things can be, we sentence ourselves to despair.
Think it over:
- What happens if we get too caught in the present?
- What happens if we get too caught in the future?
- How can we balance concern for both the present and the future?
18.35: And that determination which cannot go beyond dreaming, fearfulness, lamentation, moroseness and illusion – such unintelligent determination, O son of Prutha, is in the mode of darkness.
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