The difference between images projected onto a wall and those projected onto an open window is the difference between psychological and factual memory. The key to switching between the two lies in our willingness to experience memory in the physical body and hence to allow its liberation.
Factual memory means what actually happened, as might be recorded on a videotape or remembered by a disinterested observer. Nothing can be done about it now, because it no longer exists except in collective thought.
If your mother left when you were four, or your father died when you were three, or you were sexually or physically abused, nothing can be done to change the factuality of the sequence of events as they occurred. Trying to rewrite the contents of a history book becomes the obsession of a megalomaniac dictator trying to rewrite the history of his country. Such things have occurred.
Psychological memory is stored in the body; it is the way in which we perceive the events of the past as though they are still happening now. This psychological memory can be erased, which means that although the content of the memory may remain perfectly intact, it can become as relevant or irrelevant as we choose to see it.
Through the acceptance and absorption of psychological memory into emptiness, spaciousness and love, old memories can become as irrelevant to this moment as a B-movie you once saw. Once we see its inherent emptiness, the past loses its sting. I have seen this occur with hundreds of people over the years. As the kinesthetic charge is removed from memory, it is revealed to be simply a movie, a story we tell ourselves now, which has no substantial reality in this moment, and therefore no relevance for our lives today.
As we let go of psychological memory, we begin to see the transparency of personal identity. After all, when you meet a friend and look into her eyes, what difference exists between the two of you except a different set of circumstances and conditioning in a psychological past? When this psychological past is diffused, discharged, or made irrelevant, what separate identity remains?
The Self is the same: it is infinite, eternal, unborn, undying, empty of all content, and yet full of all possibility. As personal history becomes transparent, personal identity dissolves. Hence it is only by realizing the eternally unchanging Self that we can let go of the past. Otherwise the dissolution of the past is experienced as a kind of death, an abandonment of a part of who we are.
This may explain why people are often unwilling to let go of old painful emotions and habits. As long as they are still identified with them, this letting go is considered to be tantamount to suicide. However, it has been said many times that as the Self is realized, karma is burnt up and destroyed.
Of course, this does not mean that the body is not still subject to cause and effect, or that it no longer has to experience the consequences of its previous actions. Rather, it means that there is no longer any sense of an individual entity to whom this past karma belongs.
This is an excerpt from Arjuna’s book Relaxing Into Clear Seeing: Interactive tools In The Service of Self-Awakening. Click here to purchase your copy today!
photo credit: http://elizabethtowndemolay.wordpress.com/chapter-history/, http://filmint.nu/?p=1948, http://touchpractice.com/the-energy-body/