In the course of the past several weeks, our focus has been how to live a joyful and peaceful life in the present – actually, NOW. It is a falsity, the notion that joy and peace are futuristic achievements we work for – very hard – plan for, and prepare for, now, only to be realized in the future. It is equally false that past situations and circumstances could have led to joy and peace now. Although some decisions and choices may have contributed to some dissatisfactions and even pain in the present, there is no guarantee that had those decisions been different, the outcome would necessarily and automatically have been joy and peace today. Furthermore, we stress that, if we were honest, the decisions made were guided by what was known then, and human knowledge is never complete. That is why living in regret or shame because of the past is not healthy.
What is true is that joy and peace are a present reality NOW – they come from within and the reservoir is within everyone of us and is accessible NOW.
I sounds easy but the reality of it can – and is, often not easily achieved. For one, no one is an island by themselves. Number two, and consequently, a lot of time is devoted to personality development and social acceptance – viewed as success – rather than inner development. Appearance, sadly external, receives more attention that spiritual development.
Similarly, closure with the past is a spiritual endeavor between an individual and the spiritual Supreme primarily and then with society. Christians, for example, talk of forgiveness – forgiving others and accepting forgiveness, including self-forgiveness. As Dostoevsky writes, “Anything that makes me feel discomfort with God’s forgiving love is also a cruel deception”. Christians of course affirm that in Paul’s words to the Romans, “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Paradoxically, Christians – or “church people” – are the most condemning, revisiting the past, again and again, and making closure almost impossible.
For more on this, read my excerpt from my forthcoming book.