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5 years ago  ::  Aug 16, 2013 - 12:22PM #1
Posts: 5
How can you stay in the present but plan for the future?  I'm struggling with this a bit.  I mean, I can see the wisdom of staying in the present and letting your thoughts come and go as they please...not make any judgments on some have to have a plan for the future which mandates a stroll into the illusionary world.  Am I making sense or am I completely out in left field?

Thanks for the help! 
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2013 - 5:04AM #2
Posts: 973

Theravada Buddhism

The ability to 'live in the present moment' is actually quite an advanced skill in Buddhism, nay a state of mind.

Some Buddhist Schools see 'Time as Thought', a 'Concept' and not a 'Reality'. This may be well true, but, to me, it is not very helpful or practical to know that 'Time is Thought'; or that I should waste my time worrying about whether I am living in the present moment, or not.

Dhammapada Verse 183

Verse 183:

Not to do evil, to cultivate merit,

to purify one's mind

- this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.

And this is the key, to purifying one's mind:


Dhammapada Verse 1
Cakkhupalatthera Vatthu

Verse 1: All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with an evil mind, 'dukkhafollows him just as the wheel follows the hoofprint of the ox that draws the cart.

Dhammapada Verse 2
Matthakundali Vatthu

Verse 2: All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness (sukha) follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.

As one makes progress in Theravada Buddhist Mental Training, the skill of 'seeing the reality of living in the present moment' will arise, quite naturally, and completely unbidden by the Ego, as a fruition of practise. But, we should lose the attachment of trying to attain it.

The State of Mind which knows The Present Moment is called Samadhi: At-one-ment. 

As a lay Buddhist Practioner, I prefer concrete reality to abstractions such as those to be found from parsing the mental construct of time.

I began to practise Theravada Buddhism back in 1991. I was fortunate enough to find a qualified Teacher living in my locale. I have clinically diagnosed mental illness and disability. Today, I am still disabled, but I cannot even begin to explain the improvement in the quality of my life. Now, that is something that I found in the Theravdin Buddhist Training that means far more to me that abstractions about Nibbana or Time.

I practised Theravada Buddhism, and my life has both changed and improved beyond all recognition from what it was.

Have a nice day and I hope that you too will find something or real personal benefit from Buddhism, beyond doctrinaire abstractions meant for monks.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2013 - 5:52PM #3
Posts: 973

Aug 16, 2013 -- 12:22PM, David wrote:

How can you stay in the present but plan for the future?

Theravada Buddhism


Road Map of the Dhamma

Time as understood in Theravada Buddhism:


(The Manual of Cosmic Order)

Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw, Agga Maha Pandita, D. Litt.

(Translated into English by Sayadaw U Nyana, Patamagyaw of Masoeyein Monastery Mandalay. Edited by The English Editorial Board)

(First published in 'The Light of the Dhamma' and later in 'The Manual of Buddhism', 1965)








Expositions III: Of Great Periods of Time

We shall now expound our system of the five time-periods called kappa. They are distinguished as

  1. a great kappa, a cycle or aeon;
  2. an incalculable kappa, four going to each great kappa;
  3. an included kappa, falling within one of the preceding;
  4. a life-kappa, or one life-span of any given being; and
  5. a cataclysm-kappa or age of doom.

1. A great kappa

This is a notion of a given time historically cut off, so to speak, and divided into some periods in which many events happen (in a certain order, and which repeat themselves). It would follow from this that a 'great kappa ' is but a notion of time itself. To a ‘kappa’ as such is given the name 'great' on the ground of its having been conceived as the greatest in duration. How long, then, is the duration of a great kappa?

In order to form an idea of its duration, let us imagine a mountain, which is a single cube of rock, one league* in length, in breadth, and in height. If a person were to flick it with a piece of cloth once at the lapse of every hundred years, the time that such a mountain would require to be completely worn away would not be so long in duration as is a great kappa.**

But, as with all complexities, there is a simple way of arriving at the necessary understanding of Buddhism: Metta Meditation, which may be used as a complete Buddhist practice in and of itself.

There are Three Categories of Time: Past, Present, and Future. 

We can only experience the Present. Thus, the Present is the window through which we may see the Past and the Future.

They are all infinite. The Past has no beginning and the Future has no end. And in the context of Samsaric Eternity, It is always now. The Mind which tries to see this is in a constant state of dynamic flux, always moving. In Buddhist Tranquillity Meditation, we develop the ability to 'still the movements of consciousness'.

This does not mean that the Mind is destroyed, or that we become amorphous blobs who have 'gone beyond the senses'. Rather, what it means is that we have developed the Awareness of the Mindfulness of Tranquillity, Samadhi. Whilst in this Advanced Mental State, all dualities are attenuated, and it becomes possible to fix the Mind on a single object, with Perfect Concentration: Samadhi, aka Right Concentration.


According to Theravada Buddhism, Samadhi is only temporary, impermanent. In this State of concentration, one may undertake the Buddhist Training of the Four Supramundane Paths, aka Vipassana Mediation which leads to Arahantship and the realisation of Nibbana.

Nibbana is also tranquil. However, it is Permanent and not Impermanent, beyond al suffering. When Nibbana has been realised, the Arahant will die a final death form which no more rebirth in Samsara may be experienced. Time will have been transcended.

You may find these audio files on Buddhism to be helpful. Many years ago, I found the two audio talks that are Entitled 'A Foundation Course in Buddhism' to be very helpful. They helped me to redirect my attention away from rather large concepts like time and Space to more Buddhist concerns like Compassion. Metta Mediation is the Buddhist Foundation Practice for the Development of Compassion for the Suffering of Others.

Metta redirects our attention away from subjective mental turmoil to the task of developing empathy for the suffering of others.


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