Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:
When you make a decision, are you generally more concerned about its immediate consequences or its long-range impact?
I am generally more concerned about its immediate consequences.
How much have you changed in this regard over the past decade?
Our lives, as long as they may seem, are but an instant.
And no matter how far ahead we plan, our planning is in vain.
There is a saying:
Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.
And there is a joke:
If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans!
If anyone knew his or her future, he or she could make decisions based more on their long-range impacts than on their immediate consequences.
But no one knows his or her future.
And the only certain thing in life is death.
Eastern philosophy and religion place great importance on living in the moment.
And this is quite wise–because we can only live in the moment.
I have much difficulty focusing on the moment–the present. When I was young, my focus was mostly on my future. Now that I’m getting old, my focus is mostly on my past.
And I think most people worldwide–even the Eastern sages–have the same difficulty.
There is a passage from a book by Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.
In this book, Chopra refers to what is called the wisdom of uncertainty. The wisdom of uncertainty, as I understand him to define it, is simply the acceptance of the fact that life is always uncertain.
And it is. Nothing is certain in life–for anyone–but death.
Even taxes are not always certain for everyone!
But death is always certain for everyone.
So Chopra gives this advice:
Make whatever decision you will, then . . .
Relinquish your attachment to the outcome; everything is as it is meant to be, in this moment.
I actually wrote this down, many years ago, and posted it next to my front door.
It’s still there.
But because I have recently come to believe that nothing is ever meant to be; that everything occurs simply by chance, I have drawn a line through three words on the page, so that it now reads:
Relinquish your attachment to the outcome; everything is as it is, in this moment.
Yet the point remains the same.
We can only live in the moment.
Thus we cannot know the immediate consequences of our decisions, not to mention their long-range impacts.
We should think before we decide. But once we’ve acted on our decisions, we have no control over the immediate consequences of our actions, and no control over the long-range impacts of our actions.