“Whatever you can possibly notice – in your body, in your mind, in the world – has only one place to appear: in your conscious experience.
Now I’m not saying this is all just a dream, but as a neurological matter it is very much like a dream. It is a dream that is constrained by inputs from the external world. And the dreams we call dreams at night are dreams that are not constrained by the external world — and that’s why you seem to be able to get away with everything.
But your mind is all you have. It’s all you’ve ever had. It’s all you have to offer other people. And this might sound calloused to say when there are maybe many other aspects of your life that seem in need of being addressed… But it’s still true. If you are perpetually angry and depressed and confused and unloving, it doesn’t matter how much success you have or who’s in your life, you’re not going to enjoy any of it.
I suspect you could all make a list of things you want to accomplish – of things that really need to be changed about your life. What is the significance of everything on that list? Each thing on that list seems to promise that if you could only do it, you would have reason to just be happy in the present moment. We are all trying to find a path back to the present moment, and good enough reason to just be happy here…
And again, I’m not saying that everything on your list is absurd, or not worth accomplishing. But how dissatisfied with the present do you have to be in order to prepare a satisfying future? If you’re constantly ruminating on what you just did, or what you should have done, or what you would have done if you only had the chance, you will miss your life. You’ll fail to connect with it. You’ll fail to connect with other people.”
Sam Harris, speaking in a section from his heavy and highly persuasive speech Death and the Present Moment.
I apologize for the record-breaking hiatus: I have been under-the-weather, and traveling, and just plain busy.
- Harris reflects on why exactly it’s so tragic that we waste our time
- From his TED Talk: Sam argues about what societies get wrong about female sexuality
- As a non-theist, Harris wonders about whether there is a deeper, more spiritual way to find fulfillment