Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blue Moon Past: To Reincarnate, To Forgive?

The Omnipresence or Transcendent Reincarnation (2014) by George Grie. Image Source: neosurrealismart.

You cannot move into the future without first dealing with the past. And sometimes, you can only do that once in a blue moon. The glittering technology of the twenty-first century makes the past a persona non grata. It is a full time job to keep track of data in the present while dreaming of the future. There is no time to digest or assimilate past information and sort out how it relates to real life. Keep moving forward! Move into the eternal Now and discard the past as useless commodity, a broken toy. Even if that past was last week's past, get rid of it, dump it in the unsorted junkyard.

A blue moon refers to an extra full moon in the year. Twelve months normally have twelve full moons, but a blue moon (like tonight's) is a thirteenth moon in the calendar. In folklore, these moons are considered rare events which invite reflection, release and wishes. The 'blue' designation comes not from the colour, but from the Old English term 'belewe,' which meant 'blue' or 'to betray,' promising an intercalary or additional month, where there is none. Nevertheless, the appeal of the blue moon's pocket of hidden, extra time persists. Image Source: wallpapersinhq.

In the name of progress, the past is demonized and feared as a repository of unsolved or buried problems, atavism, regressive beliefs and reactionary politics which damage the Self and others. In the 1990s, it was popular for psychiatric patients to undergo therapies in which they suddenly remembered suppressed memories, manifested in the form of taboos such as incest. That anti-historical fashion 'proved' that the past is full of demons which bar our way forward; it is best to deny, erase and purge them so that we may constantly reinvent our identities en route to becoming shinier versions of ourselves.

No matter what future sirens call, you cannot reach them without facing the past. If you don't do the stock-taking and change course where necessary, human psychology has its little ways of transporting you back to the junkyard. The past will come alive again and pull you back on an eternal loop until you learn its lessons. The Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists call that loop Saṃsāra. The Christians call it Hell. The journey on the wheel rises or falls but always returns to square one: time becomes nihlistic, a flat circle. In the eastern tradition, iniquities repeat across many lifetimes. In the Christian view, iniquities repeat through the course of one life. In these belief systems, there are only two ways out of the loop: to reincarnate, or to forgive, in enlightened ways.

Image Source: The Reluctant Messenger.

The common psyche rearranges its phobias and morbid curiosities to respond to the times. The collective unconscious fixates on one monster, then grapples with another. A fashionable Bigfoot gave way to the Bermuda Triangle in the 1970s. Rather in the way the eighties did not quite arrive until 1985, the 2010s have arrived in 2015 by ditching all that 90s' stuff about vampires, and the 00s' stuff about werewolves and zombies. Now, reincarnation and forgiveness have been popularized beyond their source religions to cope with an unruly past. The new 'in' thing is past lives. Where in the 1990s, an army of hypnotists uncovered transgressions which would overturn patriarchy, now they unveil temporal anomalies to overturn the ego, in children's creepy past life memories. Or: regression hypnosis. Karmic destinyPast lives workshopsPast life transits ("98 per cent of people we interact with, even the people on the street, we knew before")! We need to reincarnate to catch up!

Popular reincarnation assumes we are not just confronting the personal burdens of one lifetime, but are haunted by thousands of earlier lives. What must be discarded are the unsolved problems from the soul's millennia of existence, not just from the present ego's few years of current existence. Eastern reincarnation describes the repeated destruction of ego, while the spirit continues on its karmic journey. As one neon-eyed guru puts it, the ego is afraid of death because it is mortal, along with the physical body; but the soul persists and is immortal. To acknowledge past lives is to recognize the unimportance of ego in present existence. It doesn't solve your problems with the immediate past, but it lets you make peace with those problems by seeing their insignificance in the big, eternal picture. This is one way of describing social and political evolution in our times and related cultural stresses. What better comforting metaphor for global change and collapsing values than the death of collective ego and the continuity of an underlying, unified consciousness?

The Judeo-Christian tradition concentrates on negatives from the past and offers moral formulas for resolving them. The idea of forgiveness comes from the Jewish tradition of divine justice. Forgiveness is the only way to resolve sin as violation of another individual, and by extension, of the community of which god is also a member. Sinners approach those whom they have hurt, and ask for forgiveness. God cannot forgive the transgressions of the injured, unless they forgive those who offended them. These quid pro quo arrangements produce regular ritual stock-takings, punctuated by mutual reparations and annual atonements. Later versions modified that covenant so that the Jewish God of Judgment was mollified by the Christian Messiah. Christ's sacrificial injury pays god once and for all for individuals' misdeeds, enabling a blanket forgiveness of all Christians, and restores the covenant between god and humanity in a new way. Even among atheists who dismiss Christianity as a sun cult celebrating a barbaric human sacrifice, forgiveness and tolerance of abuse remain central tools to undermine hatred, vengefulness, and corruption. These ideas form the bases of western justice and legal order.

Image Source: One Peter 5.

This formula is incomplete. Among Christians, the sinner does not have to apologize for the injured party to forgive the sin. The best illustration of this would be Pope John Paul II's meeting with his would-be assassin, Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Ağca, on 27 December 1983. The two discussed Ağca's assassination attempt on 13 May 1981. What is less reported was that during the conversation Ağca was pretty oblivious to the Pope's intention to forgive him. Ağca mainly wanted to know why the assassination failed, and whether the Mariological charm of the Mystery of Fatima - a Catholic premonition of World Wars I and II - protected John Paul II from harm. Later freed, Ağca attempted to meet Pope Francis in 2014; his audience was denied and the police expelled him from Italy. What is also unresolved is who, exactly, hired Ağca, since he did not attempt the assassination of his own accord. For Christians, forgiveness is supposed to be universal, but it does not exactly constitute sanctioned or settled accounts of past wrongs.

In the secular new Millennium, Freudian and Jungian theories mingle with Hindu beliefs and a Christian Free Will. New Age mash-ups do not accept reincarnation and karma passively in the eastern way, but rather take reincarnation and the destroyed ego as a starting point for personal empowerment, consciousness and psychological agency through holistic forgiveness. Thus, eastern beliefs are mapped onto western neuroses. Although New Age methods combine different religious philosophies, the main aim is still to let go of the past, but in ways that overcome the shortcomings of source faiths.

However you try to let go, peacefully releasing the negative legacy of the past remains one of the mind's greatest challenges. Perhaps Aramaic, the language of the historic Christ, provides a more precise understanding of Christian forgiveness. Dale Allen Hoffman:
The true meaning of the word forgive in Aramaic, Shbag, means "to cancel, loosen or untie or return to an original state".
In Aramaic, the word forgiveness becomes "a tool for changing the reality in your mind" about the unresolved past, a means for reinterpretation, so that you can understand past events and injuries again in a different light, thus undoing your ties to the past, while still acknowledging the power of the past.

Other cultures have had very different approaches to this problem. Rather than regarding personal or general history as a threatening body of information to be manipulated, discarded or ignored, the past, however problematic, was regarded elsewhere with a respectful and reverential eye. Over three thousand years ago in ancient China, the Shang dynasty entrusted old knowledge to an order of priests, the Wu, who safeguarded history, holding the past in a sacred trust to form the foundations of ancestor worship and veneration of the dead, in the belief that the past has a continuous existence beyond our sight.

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