Since yesterday was about being too much into tomorrow, I suppose today should be about yesterday, right?
Or something like that.
About two years back, I bought an e-book version of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Your True Home and loaded it onto my phone. In it, he gives short, daily reflections–most short enough to fit on a single page on my phone. I don’t use the book as a tool for reflection every day, but when I do turn to it, I almost always land on something worth my attention. Today, I’m thinking about this passage, on page 202:
Haunted by the Past
When we’re holding the mental formations of despair and suffering, we can look and see that this has been born from that; suffering is born because we are in touch with an image from the past. The reality is that we are safe, and we have the capacity to enjoy the wonders of life in the present moment. When we recognize that our suffering is based on images instead of current reality, then living happily in the present moment becomes possible right now.
I’ve already written about the importance of letting go–and the struggle it seems to be sometimes simply to release something that I have been holding onto, even if it is clear to me that all I really need to do to “get over” something is to let it go. It’s odd that this would be the case–and doubly so when I come to realize that what I’m holding onto is, almost by definition, something that is not really present except in my mind.
For me, clutter around the house is often the result of that entirely unfounded notion that some day down the line, this thing I’m holding onto will have some use or value to me or someone else. And what of emotional clutter? What misplaced sense of value would lead me to hold onto any one of 108 daily variations of suffering?
Clearly, it’s easier to toss some old plastic storage containers than it is to let go of “an image from the past.”
I’d love to say that today, miraculously, I became enlightened and freed myself from this grasping. No such luck. Today, though, I at least had a reminder with me, in the form of this short passage, that I need not clutch so tightly to what are ultimately phantoms.