Question: I’m going to college but everything I’ve read about Buddhism makes it seem like I shouldn’t think about the future because I’m supposed to be present but college is a must? So do I just keep meditating through college and live presently when I can or what do you think?”
I think maybe you’ve misunderstood what being “present” actually means. But that’s okay, it confuses a lot of people. Being present doesn’t mean to live life like a rock or a tree, to just stay and do nothing. We are present all the time, but we’re always multi-tasking, so our full concentration isn’t always there.
There’s no way we can’t think about the future. It’s impossible and necessary. However, thinking about the future can also sometimes be dangerous and “bad,” because we’re not thinking of the future in a correct way. When/if we think of the future, it should be to think of plans or ambitions, not to worry about things that may or may not happen, which is what most people do. We aren’t psychic, so we obviously can’t predict the future, yet we often think we can if we think about it hard enough, but what ends up happening is us just wasting our time, effort, and worrying about something instead of living in the present and enjoying it.
When we are present we are focused and concentrated on whatever it is we’re doing. So while you’re in college and studying, being present means you are paying attention to your studies and your studies only, not “studying” and being on Facebook at the same time.
Smile and be well!