Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > A Timeless Self

 
 

Coming Here & Coming to Yourself

Liberation in the Moment

Oct 3, 2021

Saying For Today: You can let go of the past, thinking you are letting go of the past. Then, you discover there was no past to let go of.


Field Marigold Wearing Raindrops

Field Marigold Wearing Raindrops

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Today's Saying: You can let go of the past, thinking you are letting go of the past. Then, you discover there was no past to let go of.


A man visited the Sage, saying, "I live with a lot of regret about the past. I did some dreadful things. Can you give me any advice, so maybe I could get over the guilt and move on with my life." Said the Sage, "Yes, become uninterested in who you were. Once you're no longer interested in him, you'll be free of him."

*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."

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Thich Nhat Hanh, in At Home in the World, writes of a question about a book he wrote during the Vietnam War, years after the war was over -


One day in the late 1980ís, I was on a panel in Amsterdam. A theologian stood up and asked me about a sentence in Lotus in a Sea of Fire, a book I'd written in 1967. I looked at him and said, "I didn't write that book." He was very shocked. But the truth was, I was a living being in front of him, and he was interested in a phantom from twenty years earlier.

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Who you were is not who you are; what you did not or did is no more. Who did or did not is an idea. When free of that person, with its past, you are free of a fantasy. You are real only in this moment.

This is a reason self-forgiveness - self-release - is so important - we are not who we were, but we need help to let go that person. When we stop clinging to that we were then, we are present with who we are now.

And we cannot choose to let go of this or that and be free in the present; letting go of the past is letting go of it all. If I cling to what I see as the good of the past, I hold to what I see to be the opposite of it.

So, the saying "Be here, now" entails being out of there and then. The consequence - we are accessible to ourselves. Too often we split off into the past or future, and we are not and cannot be in either direction. Being here, now, we are with ourselves, in intimacy this moment. How can we enjoy intimacy with others, when not with ourselves?

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See, the past cannot keep itself alive. The past is not something. If you look into the the present, can you find a past? But we can treat the past as though it is alive. We can sit the corpse up in our life room. We can feel haunted by this phantasm. How odd, what is not can seem so real. This is the power of the mind.

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All is impermanent - that includes you and me, and all we do and do not do. As a person, we think we are who we were, are, and will be. We are not. We are only that we are now. That is all we can be, ever will be. Self-forgiveness includes this recognition. We do not excuse anything done in the past; we simply recognize it no longer is.

Then, yes, we need relationships wherein we can open up about our past. In these safe spaces, nonjudgmental in nature, we find healing. Hence, often to get where we are, we need help to get from where we were. Not only do we need self-compassion, we need compassion from others. We need relationships to share in, knowing who we were no longer matters, only that we are. We need friends who are not taken in by the apparent good or bad we have done.

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Yes, we are becoming, for we are. So, Thich Nhat Hanh was on the mark, so was the Sage, and so the writer of II Corinthians 5.17 (NLT) - "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" And as spoken by a Jewish prophet, in Isaiah 1.18 (ESV)-

Come now, let us reason [or, legally dispute] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

The above scriptures are theistic ways of saying the past does not define us. They offer us an invitation to accept the grace of innocence. They point to a power outside our usual sense of self, a non-something outside time that frees us within time from time.

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The good news is we can always begin again, for we are beginning again anyway. Without impermanence, we would be stuck, and we could not have a new start. So, the impermanence of the self is good news. We are arising anew, always. We are ever-fresh, like a springtime unending. Others may see us as we were or what we did, but we do not have to follow suit. We can embrace our oneness with Life, now.

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Spiritual paths offer us pragmatic ways to come into the joy of living this moment. They offer different routes, but the way is always to here. It is to here, for we are here. We cannot find any separation between a self and this moment, for there is none. Coming here, I come to myself; coming to myself, I know I am here.

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*© Brian K. Wilcox, 2021

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.

 

Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > A Timeless Self

©Brian Wilcox 2021