changing the past

IMG_0577[This post is written in response to a Time Machine Challenge from Linda, at Litebeing Chronicles.] October 10, 2015, Chiang Mai, Thailand: I’ve had this intense headache and neck pain since the beginning of September. Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN), nerve damage caused by herpes zoster, and trying to come terms with the fact that it could be like this for the rest of my life – what does that mean? Now the pain is cushioned, I’m on Neurontin 100mg x 3 per day and they say this drug changes my attitude to pain. But at the beginning there were intervals when homeopathic remedies had an effect and the pain was gone for a time. The relief was overwhelming; how could the pain just disappear like that? I needed to know. The inclination was to turn towards it, questioning – rather than turning away in defence… finding some relief in switching off the default sense of: this pain is happening to ‘me’… and suddenly finding there’s no ‘me’ the pain is happening to.

In that heightened state of mind I’d get on to my meditation cushion, carefully… any slight movement and the headache returns. And it’s as if I’m sitting at the edge of the sea, beach sand beneath my folded legs. An incoming wave of thought enters, swirls around for a while then spins away with the outgoing tide – nothing remains. There’s not anyone engaging with these thoughts. Shortly after that another wave comes crashing in; incidental mental conversations scatter on the beach sand… things of no consequence, attention-seeking chatter of the mind dwindles away as it recedes, and it’s gone; returning to the silence of no thinker, falling into a landscape of pain-free, ease and gentleness.

What strange karma could have led to this? Present time conditioned by past experience, yet there’s also the possibility that the past can change according to how it is perceived in present time. Returning to old memories with such vivid clarity that it all seems quite different – I recreate an object in memory according to present circumstances. Reopen a remembered event that’s troubled me for decades and, for the first time I see it in a kindly way. Either it was ‘me’ that got in the way and that’s what caused the problem, or it was somebody else’s ‘me’ that obscured the issue. Forgiveness and compassion for the way we’re all caught (everyone is), trapped in thought and driven by the suffering of ‘self’ wanting things to be different, other than what they are. I’m aware of circumstances I’d not noticed at the time and that past event becomes redefined in the process of reviewing the situation.

The past is a remembered ‘now’. There’s the scary familiarity of bad memories – but it’s not as it was before; same story but somehow seen clearly and portrayed differently… a new production of an old movie, there in the altered past, seeing the present moment as a kind of back-to-the-future thing. Kindnesses and sorrows over the denial and avoidance – how could it be like this? It’s an acceptance in a no-choice situation, a giving-way-to-it action; passive understanding that there’s got to be a willingness to relax the resistance and allow everything to pass through, unheld…

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should see sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]


Thanks Linda! Look out for the next Litebeing Chronicles entry in this series October 11 by Sue. Note: excerpts from earlier posts included here. Photo: The moving walkway to the domestic terminal Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok)

68 thoughts on “changing the past

  1. Forgiveness and compassion for the way we’re all caught (everyone is), trapped in thought and driven by the suffering of ‘self’ wanting things to be different, other than what they are. I’m aware of circumstances I’d not noticed at the time and that past event becomes redefined in the process of reviewing the situation.

    This paragraph along with the Longfellow quote resonate strongly for me. You write so seamlessly that you make it appear effortless. I often think about trains when it comes to time, so I also enjoyed this synchroncity.

    I am so sorry for your suffering but encouraged that you are finding your way through. What I tell myself and others when it comes to illness ” There was a time before this ailment or symptom was present. If you can remember that you are not the symptom and that you existed without it in your system, you can focus on a time of wholeness and health ( paraphrase).

    Thank you Tiramit for participating in this challenge. I hope you enjoyed creating this post and am glad to have been ” nudged” in your direction.

    love and light,

    • Thank you Linda, I am suffering at the moment but going to see the neurologist again today and a visit to the homeopathy clinic. Also grateful for the reminder that I am not the symptom and before this I existed without it in my system.
      ‘I often think about trains when it comes to time…’ this reminds me of an early surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico who would have a small steam train appear in the corner of a painting portaying the stillness of a moment.
      Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the challenge, it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to these past few weeks.

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  3. What strange karma could have led to this?

    It seems pretty straightforward if you can get around the Judeo-Christian notion that karma is some kind of cosmic justice system.

    At a superficial level, the ‘karma’ (cause) that led to your shingles was contracting chicken pox, plus the infinite other conditions of arising that preceded it – including those that caused you to be born and to live long enough to develop shingles.

    At another level, karma is simply the ‘pushing against events’ that occurs when you see yourself as something separate from those events. It is both ’caused’ by and the ’cause’ of the delusion of a discrete self which develops as a narrative within linear time.

    Karma is itself the illusion of causality that arises from the idea that things flow on from other things as ‘future’ transforms into ‘past’.

    • ‘Strange karma’, yes, thanks for reminding me, vestiges of the Judeo-Christian judgement remain – the pain of it could easily be hell and damnation if I didn’t know any better. In extreme pain situations one is struggling always with the sense of a separate self, in my case, it’s only when I break through that I find relief – or it’s the pain that forces me to let go of the separate self. Karma/vipaka is the totality of intentional action as you say, there’s just so much that has to be included in what has led to this and the outcome as it merges with the whole. Some of this is useful as a model in linear time.

      • It seems to me that by conceiving of myself as an individual being I’m splitting reality into self and not-self (and thereby all the other dualistic distinctions). This has a kind of symmetry in that the ‘other’ is a reflection of the ‘self’.

        So when I rail against the ‘other’ (in the form of ‘the universe’ or ‘fate’) I’m actually railing against my ‘self’. The corollary for the guilt-ridden is that by blaming yourself you’re also blaming everything else. It’s like knocking my own head together. No wonder it hurts.

      • I’ve always suspected that duality is a narcissistic aspect the ‘self’ is drawn towards, or it’s what brings the ‘self’ into apparent being. There’s a functionality about it, therefore it’s necessary at times but it’s not the whole story…

  4. I’m entranced by your description of thoughts swirling about, fading into the sea.. such a powerful tool for visualization. The story of pain, for those of us who have it, live with it, takes on such varied tones and shadows. For some of us, it seems to be never-ending and I’m both saddened and buoyed by your descriptions of suffering and dealing with your pain. I don’t know about Rescue Remedy for pain; I typically turn to it if I’ve suffered a blow or other injury because I believe it’s meant for those types of unexpected traumas that hit our body. If it works – or Jasmine oil/tea (yes?!), I’d love to know about it.
    I’m trying to launch a pain support group in Ubud, with a list of resources, remedies and practitioners… Also heading to BKK next month to see if I can find some oils and other remedies there too.
    Blessings to you, for good health and reduced pain…
    (Did you know that my first name is actually Amit? I wonder, is Tiramit yours?)

    • There’s something about the sea isn’t there, waves of energy and their receding. The neural medicine I take, Neurontin, simply masks the pain, I can still feel it and there’s a sense that something’s not right. I’d like to find a remedy for that ‘something’. I’ve heard friends mention Rescue Remedy and now I remember it’s been in the context of unexpected traumas. I shall try to get the Jasmine oil/tea as recommended by Julianne and let you know about it. Pain management is new to me, I’d be interested in any existing reources.
      The name Amit is possibly related to Mitra (Sanskrit)? I used the name Mitradhir as a pseudonym for a series of comic books on child labour issues in the late 80s. It means friend (mitra) and strength (dhir) and Tolkein used it as the Elves’ name for Gandalf: Mithrandhir. In Thailand they have a different pronunciation and switch around adjective/noun: dhir mitra and it becomes Tiramit. Thanks for you support…

      • The neural medicine I take, Neurontin, simply masks the pain, I can still feel it there’s a sense that something’s not right

        I find that cannabis works the same way.

        Opiates actually deaden the pain but cannabis alienates you from it. It’s still there, it’s still not right, but somehow you’re not there with it. I kind of induced dissociation.

      • Thanks for reminding me, there was a time I had some dental work done and the pain was tremendous after the anaesthetic wore off. A friend suggested cannabis and it worked; there was no pain but a sensation of it being there. One step removed from it. Your post on dissociation describes it well…

    • Thanks Pieter, it’s encouraging to know this subject interests so many people; causes and conditions of suffering, and you could say returning to the past and correcting the mistakes that have resulted in the suffering we experience in present time.

      • From my own personal experience I’ve learned that accepting the past is the first step towards changing the present and with that the past. A lot of my wishes have been proven to be illusions. Dealing with that has shown me a great deal of old patterns which ask for attention and clarification.

        And as I type these words I realize it’s not necessarily what I want to say, but at least they point towards it. To me it’s important to realize that in life and living lies the key, not in all the thinking. And in the past I’ve ‘dealt’ with suffering by thinking about solving it. So this part really brought back the focus on letting go of thinking and instead being 🙂

      • You describe it very well. There are these habitualities which ask for attention and clarification, as you say but for a long time it’s been difficult for me to accept events in the past. As it happened, the pain has broken down all barriers, removed the ‘me’ and by doing so, an opportunity arises to see that most of the problem was nothing important. A lot of it was illusion I’d been holding onto, simply by thinking about it. Not possible to identify it exactly, words cannot stretch that far. I can only go along with the direction of the movement of the journey…

  5. Love this post Tiramit, well written and I also like the ocean wave analogy to thoughts coming and going. I’ve always wondered at the statement of Buddhists and other Non Dual proponents of, “the end of suffering”. Is it really? If such is actually achievable, what better way of drawing a lost suffering world together. Surely there would be a stampede for such truth.

    • Thanks for the comment, the ocean wave analogy seems to fit so well, doesn’t it, with the way life forms and transforms itself, disappears and reappears – the paradox that seems built-in to existence.
      The Buddhist teaching on suffering is that its cause is desire; ‘I want things to be better than this’. So the stampede for wanting it doesn’t sound right to me – it could begin like that of course but Right View needs to be there, maybe just a little of it to start with. Why did the Buddha say: “the end of suffering”, when it’s just is another way of saying “happiness all the time”? Maybe because people would be confused with things like eating food, watching exciting movies, sex, drugs and rock & roll. And this is where the problem lies, the way to the end of suffering (happiness) is achievable by way of the Noble Eightfold Path

  6. Thanks for sharing. I like the description of thoughts rolling in like waves.

    About the space where the pain is happening, but not happening to a ‘me’, I wonder what it means in terms of action about the pain? Does this complete acceptance and detachment of the pain lead to a state of mind where nothing needs to be done about the pain? Or is wanting the pain to end happening, but the wanting is not happening to a ‘me’?

    The story of revisiting the past and seeing it differently is very inspring. Thanks a lot for sharing it here.

    Best wishes for your health.

    • Thanks Karin. Yes, that space where we see the pain but don’t feel it. I can talk about it in these terms now because of the Neurontin medication, I have that support. The pain comes and goes like the ocean waves but it’s not happening to ‘me’. It’s like being indoors and there’s a huge downpour of rain outside, as we have in tropical countries. And, yes, we want the rain to end, but there’s the realisation that rain is so vast, the wanting doesn’t contribute anything to it actually coming to an end – it comes to an end by itself. So you could say in fact nothing needs to be done about the rain. I listen to it going on and on. Sometimes I have to rush out to buy some food from the shop across the way and rush back dry my clothes, take a rest and in a short while everything is okay again because I’m in the space of it not happening to a ‘me’, This is how it seems at the present time. Thanks for visiting again.

  7. Firstly, really sorry to hear about the pain. If I may commiserate, and say, “That sucks!” However, I want to ask you what you think of a thought I was recently addressed with; I have a couple of friends who are both Chinese Buddhist and they are friends, they were telling me of an insight they had on suffering, and that they felt enlightenment can come from suffering, and true surrender. What do you think? And then just yesterday I was researching Buddhism and killing bugs (for a story) and I came upon that concept again.

    Let me know if you are interested and I will link that for you.
    Sending you thoughts of healing. Don’t know how you feel about working with angels, but AA Raphael and his emerald green energy love to give healing love, just ask. (If you so choose.) ❤


    • Thanks Sindy, for your commiserations. It’s a new lifestyle I have to learn about… your Chinese Buddhist friends have the right idea. It is, though, something I would describe as pretty advanced, I understand the theory of it. The First Noble Truth is that there is suffering in the world. The Second Noble Truth is that it is caused by wanting things to be different than what they are. So there’s a lot in this but you can see that if it’s possible to not want things to be different than what they are (true surrender), there is no suffering. And when the Buddha spoke of the End of Suffering he meant the state of happiness (enlightenment). He didn’t use the word ‘happiness’ because people would understand it to mean the happiness of having ordinary desirable things like food, drink, etc., and that’s not happiness, it’s just a temporary relief from the state of suffering…
      So, to actually achieve that is a challenge for ordinary people, but there are some monastics who have done it, and that’s an inspiration. Thanks for your kind thoughts and please send the link. I don’t know much about AA Raphael but I like the idea of openness to healing energy…

  8. Hello Tiramit,

    I enjoyed your reflection about compassion and forgiveness arising from the recognition that we’re all caught up in wanting things to be different– bumping into this one’s ‘me’ or that one’s ‘me’ or our own ‘me’…

    It is easy to view pain as having a blameworthy cause. Like we’ve screwed up or something. As Cabrogal said, this is a pitfall. I know myself how difficult it can be at times to shake this while the pain is active. But I think this thinking can create a cycle– much like the waves of your meditation– where pain is associated by the mind with mistakes we’ve made, that lead us to the thought we’ve messed up somewhere along the way and deserve, or karmically have earned, the pain. I think that forgiveness and compassion break this cycle, and with the type of help you are receiving, lead to healing and peace. But as you say, ironically healing seems to involve accepting things as they are, not fighting them, not wrestling with the tar baby and getting all tangled up…

    Hope you find relief, my friend. Another lovely piece…


    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for this reminder that I’m also bumping into ME on the way through the dreamscape labrynth of other people’s MEs. I forget the compassion and forgiveness for myself, all too often. I’m thinking now that the wave pattern of peace and emptiness, space and ease is the same as it is when things are going ‘wrong’… building a platform of reasons, supported by something else, and all of it arising from yet another cause, and another supporting that, and turtles all the way down. While the pain is active, I have to manage this and the truth is when I write the posts, somehow it’s a relief for me that they take the form of a successful outcome; the winner in the race – although in reality I may be the runner up, or further behind.
      I’m really grateful for the support I’ve received from everyone here and the reminder again that forgiveness and compassion and accepting things as they are… can break the cycle.

  9. Hello Tiramit pleased to meet you.. Firstly so sorry to hear you are in such pain.. And I understand how awful constant pain can be..

    I was so interested in reading your story, and I am inclined to believe that often our present can be held in the past.. Illness/Pain for one..
    I remember reading a book I forget which of his books its in as I have several by the author by Dr Brian Weiss..
    In which our soul memory may trigger pain from a certain era of our past lives when trauma may have caused problems within that particular life..
    He brought to the fore a man who had severe back pain, which only came on in his late 30’s with no reasoning’s behind it..
    As Dr Weiss is expert in Hypnosis he took the man back to his previous life in which he had had a accident and broken his back a the same age the pain started in his present life..

    I do hope your meditations help bring relief and please take care of the pain killers.. I know from experience, they caused me a stomach ulcer and so I opted for alternative therapy.. Using Qi Gong 🙂 and Acupuncture which I still have at regular intervals..

    Sending Love and Blessings.. and thank you so much for sharing
    Sue 🙂

    • Hello Sue and thanks for being in touch. I agree absolutely that our present can be held by some action/trauma that took place in the past. I read a couple of books by Dr Brian Weiss a long time ago – now you’ve reminded me I think I’ll have another look at them again. Whatever people might say about the subject of past life regression, there’s definitely something about holding the pain – or holding the emotional injury; the habitual lock-down in certain areas of the mind. The therapeutic value in releasing the intensity of that energy is irrefutable.
      Thanks too for the reminder about pain killers, I’ve already noticed the digestive tract has been affected and it’s obvious they are very powerful drugs. I’ll be looking into wholistic medicine and I’m open to any advice from others’ experience on the subject
      Many thanks

      • I have had a past life regression and should you be interested in reading it, I will forward the link.. Sending you Healing thoughts and yes, please do try to watch the pain killers.. My hubby was not as lucky, he took Ibuprofen for almost a year for pain in his foot, His Ulcer burst and we nearly lost him.
        I practice Spring Forest Qi Gong, and it helped me enormously ..
        Blessings your way

      • I’d be interested, please send the link. I went through my collection of books and found one by Dr Brian Weiss: ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’. So I put that aside for reading – there is plenty of time now that I don’t do very much in the day other than read and have doctors’ appointments.
        Sorry to hear about your husband, I went through a period of ibuprofen but stopped when I switched to Neurontin which just masks the pain and doesn’t do anything by way of a cure. So I’m looking at alternatives right now.
        Thanks for your kind words

      • Thanks Sue, early morning here and I’ve just been over to your site and read the two past life posts. It brings back everything that fascinated me about the Weiss books. I was struck by the statement at the end of the second post: “Life is truly remarkable in its intricacies, synchronicities, and remember nothing is ever by chance…” I’ll be back over there in the course of today and leave some thoughts in your comments box.

      • Hi Sue, I’ve just been over to your pages and spent some time considering everything there. The conclusion has a certain surprise to it; “nothing is ever by chance… in this well orchestrated world we live” I like this interesting idea that the world is ‘orchestrated’

  10. I’m glad I met you through Linda’s time machine blogging challenge. I especially like your description that the ‘past is a remembered now’, great point 🙂

    • Hi Manish, going back to Delhi today. The pain is better because of the medicine but the condition is still there and I can feel a tingling on the right side of the head and neck. Sometimes a strong headache flares up but I have medicine for that too. I’ll be in Switzerland at the end of the month and hoping the doctors there will have something to offer…

    • It’s impossible without the meds. That way you can accept it being there, although it breaks through sometimes and there’s depression at the thought I may have this for years.

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