The Role Of The Past Is Not Just To Learn From It, But To Be Liberated From It
Our history is the most important part of who we are.
As humans, we are nothing but just a biological collection of our experiences, memories and associated emotions.
Whether we choose to interpret what happens to us as either positive or negative is really up to us. Unlike many other animals, we are blessed (or cursed) with the cognitive power to reimagine and decide our relationship with the past.
Now, I am not trying to minimize the impact of traumatic experiences but for 90% of the things that happen to us, we have an active decision on how we let the past impact us.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who witnessed the death of his wife and child, states in his book Man’s Search For Meaning:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
So while we can’t always control what happens to us, we have the power to control our actions, interpretation and thoughts.
Learning and Liberation
Learning and liberation are tautological.
You can’t have one without the other.
Learning is liberation in theory.
Liberation is learning in action.
Learning is easy but liberation is hard. While you can know in theory that you’ve got things to improve on, doing something about it is something entirely different. It’s like I theoretically know that I could be a great soccer player, but putting in the practice and time to become one is something entirely different.
While liberation can give you freedom, by its nature it will destroy parts of you. The process of liberation is the breaking of inertia that has ruled your life up until that point. You’re drawing a stopping point to your past patterns and cycles of behavior and in doing so becoming more purposeful with your actions.
Being liberated from your past will cause you to leave relationships that no longer serve you, quit jobs that don’t align with your values and set hard and fast boundaries with people in your life, including family members.
It's like flipping a switch. Once you become liberated there really isn’t any turning back. You can’t really switch it off again.
You become so self-aware of everything and you no longer have the excuse of ignorance for not taking action. You have gobbled that red pill without water and have been spit out from the matrix.
But like I said, liberation is not always easy. The number one reason that most people don’t want to be liberated is because of the suffering that will inevitably come.
People will delay, hoping that they can find a path that has no suffering. But some form of suffering is always necessary. The process of liberation is really just choosing which form of pain you want to take on. That’s why it is important to choose wisely.
Russell Brand summarises this beautifully in his appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast:
“You don’t get to choose between having a program or not having a program.
You choose between having an unconscious program or a conscious program.
And if you’re not working on a conscious program, you are being worked by your unconscious program.”
So while the path to liberation can be fraught with difficulties, living an unexamined life is the real tragedy.
Ignorance isn’t really bliss.
Ignorance is a trap and an addictive one at that.
Ignorance is safety from suffering but also a psychological restraint from freedom.