You See Only the Past

If you consider the title of this post it could strike you as outrageous, impossible or merely ridiculous. In fact it is the simple truth. Your present perceptions are the product of your history, beliefs, language, culture, emotions, all of which come from the past. Whatever you are seeing or perceiving is inescapably limited, shaped and sculpted by your past experience. Literally, you only see the past.

When you look at a ‘cup’ you don’t see what is actually there in the present. You see it in terms of your idea of what a cup is for, what a cup is shaped like, how heavy cups are, what size, how it should feel,  and so on. Your mind instantly creates a perception of this cup…and it is 100% based on past concepts, notions and experiences with cups. If you didn’t have these filters, you wouldn’t know what it is. You can identify ‘cup’ only because you learned about cups in the past.

You ‘see’ an object and label it a ‘cup’ because the concept ‘cup’ is in your past. You weren’t born with the concept of ‘cup.’ The same is true for everything you perceive in your world: yourself, others, the past, the present and images of the future. Without a good deal of ‘un-learning’ you see only the past. Think about it.


The reality for humans is the we live only in the present, perceiving things in terms of the past, while hoping the future will be an extension of the best parts of the past. For most people, standing in the present, when they consider the past, it is often in terms of their past mistakes, ‘sins,’ and regretted behaviors. And again, standing in the present, when they consider the future, they are expecting at some point to be punished for their past mistakes, their sins, for which they feel guilty in the present. “I’m guilty of doing these things, so at some point I’ll have to pay the piper.” Sound familiar?

So here we are, guilty in the present, because of past mistakes, awaiting the consequences of our past crimes at some future time. If we look to the left, we see our past sins. If we look to the right, we see future punishment (for some, “Karma” perhaps.) And in the meantime, the present, NOW, is squandered feeling either guilt or fear. This is why we see only the past: if fills up our present perceptions of ‘what is’ and our future projections of ‘what will be’ and leaves us often with fear and loathing.

In The Unstoppable World, we take a long hard look at various limiting beliefs, stories and the fears upon which they are based. We discover that holding onto stories, beliefs and fears from the past…and believing a vicious inner critic (a collection of recordings from the past) while letting our Robot run the show, is the only thing that can stop anyone. This is what we call living in “The Sideshow.”

We are born Unstoppable. Then we are conditioned by our experiences, which become the past that shapes our future. If you want to be truly free, start spending more time in the NOW that doesn’t include pondering past ‘sins’ or future catastrophes. Now, in the present, take stock of your beliefs, stories, and fears instead.

“Taking stock’ means using the process of Inquiry to closely examine each piece of your thought system, subjecting it to doubt, challenging it, and ultimately discarding it as ‘not me.’ For every thought, belief, concept, idea, notion, fear, etc., that you entertain in your mind is NOT who you are. Well, who are you then?

YOU are the one who ‘has’ these things and holds on to memories of past sins, present guilt or future punishment…are you not? And if you own something, are you not also in a position to discard it if it no longer serves you? “Taking stock” of the rubbish stored in the mind, surveying it in broad daylight, debunking its validity and, with ecstatic laughter, tossing it out the window of a speeding train…and letting it blend with oblivion…this is an experience that can set you free. I recommend you do it every morning and evening. Find out what happens.

In my experience, ‘what happens’ is that your mind relaxes, your present moments are full of wonder, joy, curiosity and a sense of well being. You seldom think about the past, but you can still retrieve stored information when it is useful. You see yourself, others and things, with fresh eyes, because you have stopped judging them using filters from the past. You no longer fear the ‘catastrophes’ of the future because you are fully engaged in the present, the NOW and have no interest in predicting or controlling whatever comes next.

Why? Because, your focus is no longer on ‘surviving’ and ‘getting’ but on giving…to yourself, to others, to the world. And you trust yourself to be resourceful enough to deal with whatever may come, in some future moment of ‘now.’ You are Unstoppable.

If you want to learn more about who you really are, I invite you read my book, “Being Unstoppable” and take a deep dive into reality, perhaps for the first time. And when you really discover “Now” you’ll learn what a gift it is. That’s why it’s called “The Present.”