What do we call a future that is anticipated or imagined to be worse than our current situation?
Fear or anxiety.
And how about a past filled with negative experiences?
Regret. Guilt. Shame. Or anger.
In fact, all negative emotions are the result of placing awareness and attention in the past or future.
But the past is gone - it is over. And the future does not yet exist. Thus the past and future are not real. They are illusory.
And if all our negative emotions are dependent upon the past or future, then they too are just as unreal.
Which raises a perplexing conundrum.
How is it that our negative emotions feel so real, so significant, and so present if they have no basis in reality?
And the answer is: the ego.
The only place that emotions have any seeming reality is the ego mind. And that’s because the ego pulls up situations from the past so that we experience them as if they were occurring this moment. Likewise, the ego imagines something that might happen in the future, presented in such a way that we experience the emotion as if it were happening now.
The reason emotions feel so real is because we willingly suspend belief when we place our attention in the ego thought system. Just like a superbly written, directed, and acted movie script - we get caught up in the drama as if the film were real.
And like the movie, the ego is nothing but celluloid sensations, devoid of any semblance of reality.
So we make fear and anger and guilt and sadness and every other emotion “real” when we align with the ego and ignore the present moment. Because then we’re living in the past or the future, enthralled by the ego’s offerings.
Thus the way to escape all negative emotion is simply by stepping out of the ego mind, withdrawing attention from its alluring facade. We do that by re-minding ourselves that our true nature is a decision-making mind and gently observing our habitually conditioned choice for the ego.
As we read in Lesson 214 from A Course in Miracles:
The past is gone; the future is not yet. Now am I freed from both.
In each moment we choose whether to dwell in the nonexistent worlds of past and future (the ego mind) or the eternal reality of light and joy (the mind of spirit). The latter leading to a blissful experience of peace.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the illusory nature of time: past and future, and how we can use that awareness to dissolve negative emotion. I look forward to seeing you then.