Guilt

Somewhere around 25 years ago, in a college somewhere in the American Midwest, I sat on a hideously yellow or orange sofa in the middle of a Performing Arts building. I was approached by an American Indian/Native American/First Nation/Whatever They Call Themselves Now person asking me to donate to some cause for American Indian rights, or some such. He tried to play the guilt card, about how his people have historically been oppressed.

Let me stop right here and say: they have. That’s really not in doubt, and not going to be the point of this post. I’m going somewhere else with this.

I told him, basically, “So what am I supposed to do about it? I didn’t do anything to you!”

He was pretty clearly offended by that, but I didn’t care. Both statements were true. His people have been historically oppressed, and I didn’t do it.

Now, 25 years later, they would probably call that “white privilege” or something else nonsensical and try to make me feel guilty. I’d certainly have been called to task by a “Bias Response Team” and forced to write a “sincere” apology. Which, of course, I wouldn’t do.

But I don’t. I don’t at all feel guilty. I’m not actively oppressing anyone, I have no desire to actively oppress anyone, and I utterly refuse to allow someone to make me feel guilty for something I haven’t done. I understand that some people will say “but you’re an oppressor just for being <insert race/religion/sexual orientation/planetary citizenship here>” – I reject that, and that’s all there is to say about that.

The Japanese people have done some really horrid things in their recent past. You’ve got the conquering of Korea, the Nanjing Massacre, the War of the Pacific, Pearl Harbor, etc. The Imperial army was feared for their cruelty.

And they no longer exist. They haven’t for years. Nearly all of them are dead. Their children have no memory of those days. Anyone who does is at least seventy years old.

Should they feel guilty?

I can’t answer that. I’m not Japanese. But I don’t think I would. After all, I had nothing to do with it, and I’m not responsible for what my ancestors did. At some point you just have to kind of let it go, accept that where things are is where things are, and move forward without either guilt or recrimination. Forgiveness is one thing when it’s directed at someone who did something to you. But it costs little to nothing if it’s directed at someone who didn’t.

My Experience with Past-Life Regression

So, in the vein of what I had written earlier, I decided that I was going to try a past-life regression.

I found a practitioner here in Austin (who shall remain anonymous), and come the appointed day and time, I went to the office. I was sat down and started the process to get me in a hypnotic trance.

Honestly, It really didn’t work.

I could visualize what she was saying, but I never actually fully relaxed, my conscious mind never disengaged. Finally, though, we started on the actual regression.

In the beginning, I saw nothing. She started by asking me what the area around me looked like. I couldn’t see it, but I felt like there was an appropriate answer, and I gave it to her. It wasn’t fully formed – it built itself up into a rather interesting story. I was a native American girl in the 1850s or so that lost a child.

Even as we were going through the process – which was actually emotional at times – I wasn’t entirely sure if I was making it up or not. Some answers seemed more right than others, and we went with that, and slowly the narrative built.

After we were done, I had much to think about. My therapist assured me that it seemed to be legit, but I’m still not entirely sure about that. I’m not sure it wasn’t, but I’m not sure it was, either.

The first thing to think about is – it really is a mind-f**k to even contemplate the idea that I, as a soul, was actually at one time a bona fide woman. It’s like it’s another part of me that, while it isn’t a part of me, kind of is, and it really messes with the head. It really is interesting to ponder.

The second thing to think about is – I’m still not sure if it’s legitimate or not. I felt more like my brain was building a scenario that it needed to build – and it was actually a useful scenario to work things through emotionally, so I’m not saying it was wasted – but it didn’t feel natural. It felt like a construct.

The third thing to think about is – whether my mind constructed the scenario or it was an actual past life, it was the absolute last thing I would have come up with. If I were to actually have constructed something consciously, it probably would have been Japan or something else really cool. Just an everyday native American girl undergoing a traumatic experience would not have been my first, second, third, or fifteenth choice.

So my verdict is: the meditations are real. The process is a gateway to allowing the mind to either construct or experience scenarios that help in healing. But which was it? Right now, I have no idea. I’ll have to try again another time, and hope to get a bit more useful data.