Quotations reflecting on the past, sometimes in relationship to the present and future.

Goto page: 1 2

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.

— Abraham Lincoln

We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.

— Alan Watts

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.

— Albert Einstein

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live. The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

— Albert Einstein

Every generation looks upon its own creeds as true and permanent and has a mingled smile of pity and contempt for the prejudices of the past. For two hundred or more generations of our historical past this attitude has been repeated two hundred or more times, and unless we are very careful our children will have the same attitude toward us.

— Alfred Korzybski

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

— Anaïs Nin

To the highest leadership among women it is given to hold steadily in one hand the sacred vessels that hold the ancient sanctities of life, and in the other a flaming torch to light the way for oncoming generations.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

In the old days, when things got rough, what you did was without.

— Bill Copeland

I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.

— Bob Dylan

You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.

— Brandon Sanderson, Skyward

We have all got our “good old days” tucked away inside our hearts, and we return to them in dreams like cats to favorite armchairs.

— Brian Carter

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

— Buddha

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

— Buddha

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

— Charles M. Schulz

I love my past. I love my present. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve had, and I’m not sad because I have it no longer.

— Colette

Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward—your destiny—are here and now.

— Dag Hammarskjöld

For all that has been,
Thank you.
For all that is to come,

— Dag Hammarskjöld

The voice emerges literally from the body
As a representation of our inner world.
It carries our experience from the past,
Our hopes and fears for the future,
And the emotional resonance of the moment.
If it carries none of these, it must be
A masked voice, and having muted the voice,
Anyone listening knows intuitively
We are not all there.

— David Whyte, The Heart Aroused

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.

— Doug Larson

Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and future evils, but present evils triumph over it.

— Francois de La Rochefoucauld

The future influences the present just as much as the past.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.

— George Bernard Shaw

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.

— George Harrison

I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I am satisfied with it.

— Grandma Moses

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.

— Groucho Marx

The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.

— Helen Keller

Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.

— Henry David Thoreau

Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past.

— Henry David Thoreau

The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.

— Ivern Ball

Whereas underprivileged strata of society religiously hope for a better future, the overprivileged, disavowing any idea of transcendence, “live for the present by exploiting their great past.”

— James MacGregor Burns, The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.

— Jane Glidewell

Recollection is the only paradise from which we cannot be turned out.

— Jean Paul Richter

Fancy rules over two thirds of the universe, the past, and future, while reality is confined to the present.

— Jean Paul Richter

Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

— John F. Kennedy

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

— John F. Kennedy

Whoever doesn’t know the past must have little understanding of the present and no vision of the future.

— Joseph S. Raymond

Forgiveness empties the past of its power to empty the present of its peace.

— L.R. Knost

Of all the justices, restitution is the hardest one for it requires fairness to the past and to the present; two things that are not meant to meet, but which in human claims often do.

— Lamine Pearlheart

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

— Lesley P. Hartley

There has never been an age that did not applaud the past and lament the present.

— Lillian Eichler Watson

Human beings are too important to be treated as mere symptoms of the past. They have a value which is independent of any temporal process ─ which is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake.

— Lytton Strachey

Everyone’s life lies within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain.

— Marcus Aurelius

The beauty of the past belongs to the past.

— Margaret Bourke-White

I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.

— Marie Curie

They invent the future while dealing with the past.

— Meg Wheatley

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

— Melody Beattie

The essence of nostalgia is an awareness that what has been will never be again.

— Milton S. Eisenhower

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

Every Saint has a past.
Every Sinner, has a future.

— Oscar Wilde
Goto page: 1 2
, , , , ,
Latest Posts from Wisdom Quotes