claiming a new past

Sufferinga new past

I know of only two ways to have a new past, and one of those ways may not really provide anything new at all. Let’s start with that one.

If someone is, in a particular moment, resisting against their past, what if that resistance were to have already ended? Such a resistance is typically modeled something like this: “it is possible that some part of my past may have been how it should not have been.” I call that model suffering. As noted, I also call it “resisting the past.”

In other words, resisting the past is suffering. I am not proposing that resisting the past causes suffering or that suffering causes resisting the past. Suffering is resisting the past.

Suffering, which is resisting the past, is typically modeled something like this: “it is possible that some part of my past may have been how it should not have been.” The root of suffering is thus “it is possible that there is a way that the past should have been.”

Now, I’m not proposing that suffering is an illusion. Lots of popular modern western translations of ancient documents from all over the world use the word “illusion.” I use the word interpretation and the word imagination and the word fantasy. Those are not quite the same as illusion, but related.


ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

So, suffering is an interpretation or interpreting that can only happen in the present, which is the idea that “it is possible that the past might have been how it should not be now.” In other words, suffering is the imagining or fantasizing that the past may have been how it should not be now.

When we know suffering as just as interpretation or imagining or fantasizing or idealizing, it is not a false idea or illusion exactly. It is an entirely valid possible interpretation of the past. However, suffering cannot every be done in the past.

Suffering is an action that can only happen now. Suffering is a real activity, a real idea, a real imagining, a real interpretation, a real fantasizing, a real resisting of a possible past now, a real agonizing.

Fundamentally, suffering is entirely independent of any possible past that may have happened. Letting the past be however it may have been is something other than suffering.

Insisting that the past must have been a certain way is also an expression of suffering. Acknowledging that the past was exactly how it was is fine, but the deeper truth may be that the past is not exactly how it was, but exactly how it is now.

In other words, any particular past may not have actually existed at all. Our only access to the alleged past is in the present. Now is the only time we can interpret the past into experience.

It’s not that the past should not have been an interpretation or an imagination or a fantasizing. On the contrary, the only possible past now is whatever one is interpreting, imagining, or fantasizing as a possible past.

The past is a way of identifying one’s self into being. We may identify with a certain past as if that past is who we are. We may even argue over which past we are and whether or not we are a certain past.

That may all be part of the process of interpreting the past as something that might not have been what it allegedly should have been. We may actively and exhaustingly resist any interpretation of a possible past that does not fit with our present interpreting.

We may defend a possible interpretation. We may resist a possible interpretation.

Defending and resisting can only happen in the present moment. They are patterns of behavior entirely independent of any particular alleged past.

Remember, the past is a behavior. The past is an act of interpreting now. The past is not an illusion exactly.

Any particular past is just one possible past. Again, the only time that we can do a past into being is whenever we do a past into being either through active interpretation, imagination, or even creation- or resisting.

Note, however, that resisting the past into being is still interpreting, imagining and creating a past. Resisting the past into being is

Neuroimaging sheds light on the seat of suffering

Image via Wikipedia

suffering, which is an entirely valid but entirely optional way of interpreting, imagining, or creating the past into present experience in any particular possible moment.

So, when I noted that one of the ways of accessing a new past does not provide anything new, that may have been wrong. I apologize for creating in language that limitation, but it makes for an obvious and simple observation: language is interpreting, creating, imagining.

Recognizing any particular possible interpretation of the past as just one possible interpretation does not really remove that interpretation from the realm of possible interpretations. Further, without the arbitrary and optional interpretation model of “not what it should have been,” it is not as if the past has some independent existence isolated from now. The past is just one possible thing to do.

I think of the time-space continuum and the principle of relativity. The idea is that the way that any moving object appears depends on the position and speed and direction of the observer. In other words, what if the past is not something that has been moving away from us, but something that we have been mpving away from… as in resisting or pushing away?

When riding in a car as a passenger, I can look back and see a place getting further and further away. Is it that place that is moving away from me, or is the car in which I sit just moving away from that place? What if the place is still just where it was and it only looks like it may be moving away from me because I may be moving away from it?

Or, what if I am moving away from it AND it is moving away from me? I just can’t be sure on my own.

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: waɪ.tiː)

So, perhaps I go and ask someone to confirm my particular possible interpretation of a particular possible past. Do they agree with my interpretation? Do they argue against mine? Do they defend theirs? Which past are they doing now?

When we give space to the past, does it stop happening “to” us? When we give space to the entire realm of all possible pasts, do we recognize that we create it and that we can create it however we do- and no other way than however we actually are at any particular possible moment- at least not until an entirely new moment arrives? And what if the alleged entirely new moment does not so much arrive as we create it and go there, producing the appearance of a past?

Frankly, some of this does not make much sense to me. I just am playing with words.

However, notice that playing with words now is basically all that is ever happening. What if the past really might not exist until someone says so?

That would mean that there might be another way to access a new past. That would be to say and do new things about the alleged possible past.

For instance, now I could say “last week, I did not do what I should have done.” Or, I could say now “last week, I could have done anything, but I only did certain particular things.” Or now I could say, “I am extremely confident that I did something last week, but I’m not exactly sure what.”

So, if any of those are new things for me to say, which implies comparing them to all old things I have ever allegedly said, then saying or doing that new thing would soon- like instantly- become something that I said or did. Now may be the only time I can create a new past. Now may be the only time that I can declare a past into being.

“Something that I said or did” still only exists in language and the only time that language can actually happen is right now. So, “what I said or did” is still an interpreting.

Consider that the only way for the past to be absolutely anything is for the past not to be over yet. The idea that the past is actually not over yet is something of a contrast to the idea that the past may not have even happened yet. Consider both. Consider even that the past has already happened and that no particular thing happened, but actually a whole bunch of different things, which we can declare into being now as “everything.”

The past is simply everything that has ever happened, is currently happening, and may or may not happen at any possible new past that may be happening any time except not now, or even possibly right now. I just do not know yet for sure.

Relax. Now it is almost time for the past to keep happening exactly how it always is… which could be completely new… or not.

At least, that is possibly going to be one future interpretation of how to create the word “past”, but perhaps just not yet. By the way, what if the future and the past and the present are all only whatever we say? Language is something that could be- or even everything. 😉

January 10, 2010

English: artistic interpretation of the symbol...

Image via Wikipedia

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