Was (Is?) The Past Completely Good?

The responses to the article, "The Complete Goodness of Reality" in the July, 1994 Present Time have been many and varied.

First contact with the proposed ideas seldom brought enthusiastic agreement. In some of the workshops to which I presented the ideas in the article I asked for the workshop attendees to address the questions in lengthy mini-sessions immediately afterwards. After the mini-sessions, when people were asked to raise their hands if they easily agreed with the ideas in the article, only one or two hands would be raised. The rest would indicate they did not yet agree, or that they weren't sure whether they agreed or not. All participants in the mini-sessions, however, seemed to discharge profusely during their turns in the mini-sessions.

Many people later wrote to me. Some said they were now understanding the issues better. A few indicated they now agreed. Many had more questions to be resolved.

The most common disagreement was with the statement that "The past was just fine in every way." Some wrote, "How could you say that the Holocaust was fine?," or "Don't try to tell me that my childhood was fine!" One said, "You've urged us to be realistic; it feels like realism to me that the death of my children was bad."

What seems to me useful (in a counseling sense) about the proposal that past reality is completely good is that it can guide us and encourage us to discharge completely the distress left by the past events and come to the relaxed, rational view of the events which had previously felt distressing. In that sense I think almost everyone will come to agreement with the proposal eventually. I think that they will be helped to discharge the distress left by past events by the theoretical agreement that relaxed acceptance of all the past will inevitably occur with enough discharge. I, myself, intend to pursue this activity persistently. I think that I and other such "pursuers" can demonstrate and share our experiences with others successfully.

Some people took issue with my statement, "Everything in the past was and is fine. It happened the way it happened. Therefore, it follows inevitably IN LOGIC that it happened in the way it had to happen." These were people who had some knowledge of formal logic, having studied it academically. They felt that I was mis-stating the logic they knew, and therefore coming to an unjustified conclusion.

I think my statement is correct, but I should have said that when in the sentence quoted above I say, "in logic," I am talking about a corrected formal logic, corrected from the things we were taught in school. I refer to this correction earlier in the article when I say that earlier thinking in Re-evaluation Counseling had "resolved the 'ancient philosophical dilemma' of Determinism vs. Free Will." Traditional logicians had always assumed that one could treat the past and the future the same way (a confusion that undoubtedly arose out of the persistence of the distress recordings attached to the logicians) and had left the question of determinism vs. free will an unresolvable dilemma.

Once traditional logic is amended to include our discovery that the past and the future cannot rationally, on this question, be treated as one category, then my use of the phrase "in logic" does make sense. Of course I am sure that traditional logic will eventually have to be amended to include this correction, no matter how much discharging traditional logicians will have to do to get up to date.

Harvey Jackins


Last modified: 2016-12-20 06:43:20-08