In the early 1990s, I discovered the internet. At the time, a website hosted some questions and answers from a Christian/Buddhist teacher named Scott Morrison. He died. His writings have nearly vanished from the internet.
When you really think about it, the past doesn't exist. We've had experiences, but we are in the present when we remember them. And the things we recall were in that present then.
Where's the past?
Further, when we think back, we filter memories through our life experiences and understanding. And this filter is continually changing. All of the past is a mental picture, continuously edited in the viewer of our new experiences.
Can such a 'subjective' past be 'real'?
Advances in 'brain activity imaging' suggest the first time we pull up a memory, our brain retrieves this information deep where it's stored. But on each subsequent occasion, mental activity stops and summons the recollection from the last time we remembered this same event.
How sure is that past now?
There is only hope and anxiety in the present about events that have not yet occurred. We bring all our present baggage and project those constantly changing thoughts of the past onto future events. And our mental picture of the future continuously changes; through our new experiences and our last interpretation of past experiences.
Where is the future if we have no stable, non-changing past to project forward?
Open mind. Open heart.
Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki wrote in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" (pdf here):
"In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities.
In the expert's mind, there are few."
When we bring our limited understanding to any situation, we force the new experience to fit our view. We close off any actual ability to freshly evaluate things. We've made our judgment before we even begin.
Having an open mind simply means allowing, without preconceived judgments, things to unfold. With an open mind, our hearts can be accessible. We have a calm presence in every situation, no judgment, and no preconceived ideas. We neither prefer nor reject any outcome.
Complete attention. No reservations.
When we have put away the past and quit projecting our experiences onto the future, we allow ourselves space to take in the present as it unfolds. We can become completely attentive, not jumping ahead of events or judging things through experience filters. If we can learn this, we can give ourselves to the moment entirely and without reservation.
Nothing to add, nothing to take away.
All that Is simply Is.
Everything else is commentary and judgment.
Minus our opinions, all is well.
The Only Now There Is