Through the research I’m doing for my biggest book project, I’m sort of traveling into the past to try and see where our spirituality comes from. The past is a fascinating treasure trove of evidence and speculation, of the roots of the human existence and projected imaginings from our own biased minds. The past is one of those mysteries almost none of us can resist poking at, largely because so much of it won’t ever be fully known or understood. The past holds some of our darkest secrets and our most valuable missing treasures.
The future, on the other hand, is a constantly moving target. We know more about the foundations being put down on which the future will be built than we know about the foundations underpinning our own existence. Still, we know all manner of developments can change the course of the future. And we’re far more likely to fear the future. We don’t fear the past because we already survived it. Judging just from our fiction, we expect a look into the future to give us either a grandly glorious picture of advancement and success or a dark dystopian cautionary tale, and rarely do we envision the simple, steady forward momentum of human progress.
I wrote a few days ago on how my spiritual path focuses primarily on the present rather than the past or future. But it’s still a fascinating exercise to consider whether accurate knowledge of the past or a clear look into the future would be more valuable to us in the here and now. As far as usefulness, the future offers us either a chance for redemption or a source of inspiration. The past, even if seen with great clarity, is unlikely to provide the kind of irrefutable cause and effect explanation for human progress that would be required to change minds in the here and now.
Especially considering the state of thinking in the here and now.
So I think perhaps, for me, I’d rather see the potential future than the real past. As much as I want to know about the past, isn’t it more important to be able to navigate ahead than it is to know precisely where you’ve been so far?
Would you rather know the past or see the future?