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do you have regrets? Was Christian belief a part of your regrets?


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Some people look only to today and tomorrow, with little care about the past.

I don't think that's true for most though.

 

For those who have lived a while now, are you the sort to hold regrets about life here on earth? If so, do any of your regrets derive in any way from your previous Christian beliefs?

 

If you could go back and try parts of your life again, how might you do it all differently without religious belief?

 

 

 

 

 

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Not easy. There's no use regretting the past, in my opinion. For me, it's about looking for the positive.

I was a Christian for 60 years, most of those in Christian ministry. To illustrate ....

at the end of my basic training as a soldier the corporal came into the room, sat us all down - this was going to be the time that we learned where we were to be posted - and said 'Before I read out the postings I need a volunteer to go to Aden. Ouch! I was a fundamentalist christian who strongly believed in putting others first (after god, of course!). I volunteered. I still believe that was the right thing to do, Christian or not. And it actually led to only a few weeks in Aden, followed by time in Bahrain, Kenya and Malta. Whilst in Kenya I applied to an evangelical Bible College. After that I travelled to the uttermost part of the earth for a number of years as a minister and then back to an inner-city area of UK.

None of that would have happened if I had not been a Christian, I think, although I cannot be sure. I am grateful for so many happy and fullfilling experiences.

Do I regret it? No. Would I do anything differently? I have no idea.

And now? I have similar commitments to humanity, just without any need for a god.

 

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54 minutes ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

Do I regret it? No. Would I do anything differently? I have no idea.

And now? I have similar commitments to humanity, just without any need for a god.

 

I share your opinion. I admit to being a bit embarrassed about some of my behavior as an Evangelical believer, but regrets? For being sincerely wrong in my thinking? Not really.  Been wrong too many times about all kinds of things to carry around that burden. Life is an ongoing education. Always learning, 

 

Anyway, there is nothing to be gained from regret. The past is unchangeable. Best to just learn what we can from past mistakes and move forward. 

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7 minutes ago, webmdave said:

 

... The past is unchangeable. Best to just learn what we can from past mistakes and move forward. 

 

Sensible advice of course..

Assuming you have a "forward" to which you are able to move.

 

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9 minutes ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

If you think living without regret is hard, try living with it.

 

Myself, I find both to be tough.

Possibly more than I am personally capable to do.

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3 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

Assuming you have a "forward" to which you are able to move.

 

Tell us more. Seems to me there is always a forward. Time marches on, and all that. 

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9 minutes ago, webmdave said:

 

Tell us more. Seems to me there is always a forward. Time marches on, and all that. 

 

There is always a "forward"..  as long as you possess and retain the human will to move at all.

 

Amazing how the loss of belief in your former "secret friend Jesus" while facing all the truths you see, those of the world around you and those truths of yourself, can corrode your ability and will to make forward progress living each day.

 

Personally, I don't lack for a 'path forward'.

It may be though that I lack at this stage of my life any remaining ability to walk that path.

 

The past can't be changed, none of us gets a 'do-over'.

But 'putting the past behind you' is not always possible without losing something of yourself, who you are, who you believe yourself to be.

 

Mornings are the worst..

 

 

 

 

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The moment we start to regret something in the past we are fundamentally acting against something which is out of our control. So, all that can be gained from regret is frustration and anger.

 

Physical exercise can be painful to our muscles, but with endurance and regularity exercise develops our bodies. Struggles of all kinds are painful, but with some courage and endurance, struggles test, mold and develop our character. We don't leave anything behind by growing. I once loved playing with blocks. I remember those days fondly. However, I don't play with blocks anymore. I outgrew that.  

 

These days I strive to learn from the past and my failures. Surrendering to regret and then looking at the present with disdain? I think that would be a crime to my character. 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, webmdave said:

....These days I strive to learn from the past and my failures. Surrendering to regret and then looking at the present with disdain? I think that would be a crime to my character. 

 

 

 

I could not agree more.

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What is the past? 

 

The sum total of your life is this moment in time.  Nothing more.  You can be present, here, now, in this moment; or you can miss your life entirely trying to live in moments that are no longer yours to live.  The same is true for the future. 

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"In a little while, you will have forgotten everything; in a little while, everything will have forgotten you." ~Marcus Aurelius 

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Thanks, Professor, I had a feeling M. Aurelius  might creep in here somewhere.

Live long enough and you see how totally and evidently true is that quote.

 

 

I'm not laboring under the delusion that the reality is different in my case.

 

 

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1 hour ago, webmdave said:

...These days I strive to learn from the past and my failures. Surrendering to regret and then looking at the present with disdain? I think that would be a crime to my character. 

 

 

I was too quick to reply..

"strive to learn from the past"..  I could be seen as putting too much energy/time/focus on exactly that.

 

And to the point of that M. Aurelius quote, if so then I'm acting at that point to the detriment of my own self-interests.

But to learn from the past, your own or not, you must first gain understanding.

 

In discussion of this sort though, is the component that holding tightly to what you believe to be the best within you means that a portion, sometimes the greater and major portion, is entangled with the past in ways that just... are.

 

And with that what sometimes seems an interminable pondering over it in the quest to understand how to learn from it what you know (now) you do not yet know or understand, so that you no longer lose your human time/effort/energy to that which devoured it with minimal or no return, as does happen in the lives of some humans.

 

Taken though into the perspective that other humans spend their short lives as slaves and victims of unspeakable human evil, that others are struck by lightning and killed instantly in the prime of life......   well from that perspective I dunno..

 

Thing is, as I've understood there are several here with extensive education (formal and/or otherwise) in all the traditional philosophy. None of which, have I.

 

My personal philosophy has to start really with M. Aurelius.

And from that, objectivism. And that not only Ms. Rand, but... well, also me myself and one (or two) other humans I've known.


Look to the present with disdain?

Not.

At this place in my life personally, there is potential for really interesting, exciting, motivating, and profitable outcome beyond anything I could have imagined through most of my days. As result of an intense focused effort over some years.

 

A girlfriend of 8 years ago, one of the most intelligent and perceptive human beings I've known in this life told me "you live in the future.. for you, everything is in the future".

 

I've been intensely and near totally future-oriented since kindergarten.

And I know as do you that the present is the only 'future' any of us ever get.

 

Unless I'm grossly misunderstanding, that is exactly the point The Professor made with his excellent quote from M. Aurelius.

 

It's exactly my high, lifelong near-obsessive valuation on "the present and the future" that is many forms and layers of torture.

 

Yet.. for what it may be worth, in my own personal and private efforts to make the present and the future be life lived well, I continue. Daily.

Toward productivity of the highest order possible to me with my particular strengths and my many weaknesses and flaws.

 

Maybe it was the early AM hour, you all should probably ignore me.

Now, this moment in time is the future then (</Spaceballs>), and I'm going out for my walk.

 

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A friend directed me to Marcus Aurelius' writings a few years back.

I sent him an email a few months ago, thus-

 

Marcus Aurelius:   "areadyGone, you're doing it wrong!"

alreadyGone: "which part?"

Marcus Aurelius: "All of it!"

 

alreadyGone: "what should I do?"

Marcus Aurelius: "Change it!"

alreadyGone: "which part?"

Marcus Aurelius: "All of it!"

________________________________________

His response:

"Yeah, but he had slave girls. Full-time, in all of his 12 houses."

 

 

 

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58 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

I had a feeling M. Aurelius  might creep in here somewhere.


I’d suggest there is more wisdom in the surviving writings of Marcus Aurelius than in the Bible and Quran combined.  

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1 hour ago, alreadyGone said:

"strive to learn from the past"..  I could be seen as putting too much energy/time/focus on exactly that.

 

I didn't say dwell on the past. Or, fret about the past. If tacos gave me indigestion, then I would be wise to avoid tacos. That is learning from experiences in the past.

 

Look, if you prefer allowing unchangeable past decisions to afflict you, that is your free choice. I was just suggesting that there are other choices. I apparently erroneously assumed you were interested in resolving some issue or another. My apologies for the assumption. 

 

Respectfully....

 

 

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I don’t think it’s a waste of time to have regrets.  As long as we don’t DWELL on the past, using regret to change direction makes sense.  I suspect a narcissist like a major politician I know has few if any regrets about anything.  

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There is a difference between living in the present and being present in the moment.  The present will never come; but the moment is already here, now, and you are either present with it, or you are off somewhere else making plans and preparations for a present... that will never come.  

 

Here is an exercise that may help: go find a tree and be present with it.  What do you normally do when you look at a tree?  You think things about the tree, right?  "I wonder how old this tree is."  "Those leaves are a pretty color."  "I could use some firewood around the house."  As soon as you see the tree, your mind wanders off to some place other than the tree; and you are no longer present with the tree.  Spend a few minutes under its branches, without casting any judgment or entertaining any further thought.  Instead, simply observe the tree for what it is.  This is the beginning of living in the moment.

 

Go back to the tree in a few months and do the same.  You will notice that the circumstances around the tree have changed.  You will also notice that the tree has changed as well.  

 

Life is fluidity.  There are comings and goings, risings and fallings, ebbings and flowings.  We delude ourselves to think of ourselves as constants.  We are not.  We like to imagine ourselves as the stones unchanged by the rushing river waters; when the truth is, the stones are as much the river as is the water. 

 

This is why the Buddha said there is no "self" and as soon as we try to define our "self" we meet with frustration.  Look at a picture from when you were in grammar school.  Is that "you"?  But you're not a kid anymore.  Was that "you"?  Then where did "you" go and who are "you" now?  Even the stones change over time; because the river is fluidity, with comings and goings...

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Jeez, Redneck, I haven’t really seen this side of you before.  You’re mellowing in your old age.  Letting your inner Buddhist come out. 

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20 minutes ago, TABA said:

Jeez, Redneck, I haven’t really seen this side of you before.  You’re mellowing in your old age.  Letting your inner Buddhist come out. 

I'll probably regret it in the future.  🙃

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I do have a few regrets, mostly decisions rooted in being brainwashed with Christianity. I was bitter about it for a while, but I was able to move past that and just try to live the best life I can now. Sure, I still occasionally wonder how life would've gone if I'd done some things differently, and I can't help but think that in some ways I'd be better off, but don't dwell on it, and I also realize that I have it better than most people throughout history. I try to keep that in perspective. 

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11 hours ago, alreadyGone said:

 

Some people look only to today and tomorrow, with little care about the past.

I don't think that's true for most though.

 

For those who have lived a while now, are you the sort to hold regrets about life here on earth? If so, do any of your regrets derive in any way from your previous Christian beliefs?

 

If you could go back and try parts of your life again, how might you do it all differently without religious belief?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't know if I'd like to go back in time and change things to being a non-believer from birth. I probably wouldn't, actually.

 

Growing up in belief and then questioning and moving to non-belief gives me insight into the world that I would not have likely attained otherwise. So I'm good with accepting everything the way in which it unfolded. I'd rather have the more well rounded experience than otherwise...

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9 hours ago, webmdave said:

there is nothing to be gained from regret. The past is unchangeable

Another way to consider this point is that regret about the past involves sorrow about our mistakes, understanding what we did wrong, why and how things we and others did were wrong, and how wrong action and belief causes bad effects.  It is true that we can't change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it.  Understanding the past better is essential to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.    The past continues to live in the present.

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2 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Another way to consider this point is that regret about the past involves sorrow about our mistakes, understanding what we did wrong, why and how things we and others did were wrong, and how wrong action and belief causes bad effects.  It is true that we can't change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it.  Understanding the past better is essential to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.    The past continues to live in the present.

 

I'm beginning to regret chiming in on this. 

 

In context of the original question, which I took to be regarding regreting previous Christian belief, I believe the emotion of regret is pointless.

 

However, if someone staunchly insists on emotionally punishing him or herself with regret for having been previously imprisoned by false beliefs, so be it. 

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