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On Approaches to the Past

It can be a long and painful process to detach from our past. The past, both good and bad, is nothing but an illusion, and being bound to it and losing our identity to it can be self-destructive. You are not your mistakes, you are not even your accomplishments, these are all just layers of our egoic identities which do not account for our transcendent self, the Spirit.

Enlightened perspectives aside, there's much practicality to indulging into the temporal self and cultivating a healthy pride in our personalities and accomplishments. There are even benefits to the experience of shame. Although the "progressive" see shame as some socially constructed enslavement we experience as we fail to conform to the standards of the day, there is a much more independent source of shame that we can become aware of as we grow in our spirituality. This shame experience overlaps with our indulgence into adharma. As we do wrong in an objective sense, we feel shame. This sense of shame can benefit us, allowing us to self correct and keep ourselves out of the negative temptations of life, but if we learn, especially at a young age, to be shameless, we'll not have the benefit of this source of conscience within us.

Not all negative affect is beneficial, of course. Guilt for one does nothing to help us grow. It, like other elements of our superego and conditionings, attaches us to our past and holds us down. Guilt ruins the joy of Spirit and keeps us from the truth and progress. The institution of Christianity contributed to this indulgence into guilt with original sin. The human being becomes, not a beautiful potential for evolution, not part and parcel of God Almighty, but some deeply flawed and corrupted, or at least corruptible, entity, banished from the Garden of Eden for crossing a line that, in reality, quite the opposite of burdening humanity with self awareness, set the human race free! Free to make choice in full understanding of good and evil, and by that freedom, we're blessed and cursed to responsibility and consequence of these karmas.

The burden of our memories can often be too much to bear. Past traumas, childhood experiences with our parents or from our early school days with our peers, adharmic sexual transgressions from before we chose better for ourselves, all the mistakes we've made and all the ways we've been victimized in our lives - the imprints of these disturbances can leave ugly boot prints next to our flower beds, leading to sleepless nights and internal discontent, anger and fear.

One exercise that I've personally found very helpful (but need to continue to use to fully understand the benefits) was recommended by H.H. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. The process is essentially a method of redecorating our minds and erasing our negative memories by reapplying memories of joyous experience over these troubling times. Essentially, you want to assiduously remember memories from your collection of joyous experiences - experiences of powerful pure love, your Self-Realization experience if you've received it already, perhaps even experiences with innocence, anything powerful and positive, especially joyous (joy is a non-dual and Divine emotion that resides in Truth), and use these beautiful memories to encode over your past experiences when you think of them. Just divert your attention and these traumas will lose their power over you. Like erasing tracks in the desert by adding fresh sand to where steps have previously walked, in this way, your mind will no longer attend the old memories and you'll gradually be freed from the influence of your past.

A Tale of Two Sorts of Busy


The smoke seemed to have a mind of its own. Filtering from the owner's cigarette one table over, it conjures images of a snake-charmer playing a flute. It seems to defy physics in how it dances through the air.

The bar was ever-so-slightly slightly too dark for what we were trying to do, the main source of light filtering through Chinese-style red paper lanterns as we were poured through the financial ledgers.

A long pause sets in, we're almost done and getting through the last 10% is taking an effort.

The waiter tells me that the coffee machine is broken and that they're out of chicken pies. Okay, water is fine then, thanks.

We finish going through the ledgers. I'm tired, but not like my two long term friends here. They're both entirely worn out.

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