Tradition and Betrayal of the Present

One of the definitions of the word “tradition” as given in Merriam-Webster is: “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior”. Tradition is always of the past. And, the danger of following a tradition is that, people live in the past. A particular pattern of thought, action, or behavior arises within the given context of that time, period, and place. Used repeatedly over a period of time, the pattern of thought, action, or behavior becomes a tradition. Tradition can be both from the point of view of a single human being, and also of collective nature, for example, which is followed by successive generations of a family, a society or a nation.

However, the context changes over a period of time. People need to change their pattern of thought, action, or behavior to suit the change in the context. If not, the past owns you. You become a prisoner of the past.

Tradition, in a way, is betrayal of the present. For, when you are bound by tradition, you are living in the past, totally disconnected from the present moment. Inwardly, you experience tension, a strong resistance to the unfolding of the present, and, withdraw yourself into the cocoon of your tradition. You seek solace within your tradition as it is familiar territory. The more you retract into the cocoon of your tradition, the more alienated you are with the present, and, at some point, you find the present unbearable.

To escape the unbearable present you either dig deeper into the cocoon of your tradition, or, get caught in waves of meaningless distractions and entertainments.

Present is all there is, and we need to learn to live in the NOW.