F.: The Advaita “path” leads to understanding, to seeing clearly what things really are and the way things really are (that is, "the way the totality functions"). Understanding and seeing clearly eliminate distortion. All memories are distortions, whether “pleasant” or painful. Even the “pleasant” ones can generate tremendous pain among persons who look back on the “good” days or the “good” times and long for them, trapping persons in the illusions of “past” and robbing them of the bliss of NOW. Persons often overly-idealize “past” events or persons from “the past.” If events or persons were not seen clearly then—and personas can never see clearly—then who would believe that an event not seen clearly originally is now seen clearly as a memory? That said, the example you requested about the link between degree of misery and multiple assumed identities will be offered. Consider the memories around two events that involved cutting a tree.
Pretend that there was a time when a child cut down a tree in the woods to build a fort. Imagine that as an adult he recalls the memories of that event fondly and no misery results during the recall. On the occasion that the tree was cut, the child was not being driven by a false identity. The child was just being, even as it appeared that the child was doing. If a happening is recalled that involved merely being and that did not involve an ego-state, one might certainly label that “pleasant” if it triggers no longing or unhappiness.
Imagine also that every year around Thanksgiving the father’s memory of those events were triggered as he watched his child crying while remembering what once was but no longer is, experiencing year after year the perceived loss of home and family and traditions. What roles are at play around the “memories” that are rooted in the father’s former ego-states? They include the assumed identities of “the parent,” “the protective parent,” “the father,” “the homeowner,” “the family man,” “the grieving dad,” “the parent frustrated with an inability to ‘protect’ his child,” “the traditionalist,” “the romantic,” “the husband,” “the lover,” “the home provider,” etc. The list can be very long, so here again is the pointer offered originally: the longer that the list is of the roles that were assumed on the occasion of the original happening, the greater the misery will seem to be when memories of the happening are recalled. While a memory of a happening that involved no ego-states might certainly be labeled a “pleasant” memory, the recall of a happening that involved several ego-states will likely be labeled a “painful” memory by persons. The more ego-states that are “at play” in the memory, the more painful the memory will seem to be to the person thinking about "the past" and about former identities that can no longer be assumed.
Memories can also be called “recollections.” Why? Because persons are re-collecting all their false roles and are sensing a loss of all those re-collected roles. Collecting false identities from the “past” and bringing them to the present—which is the only true “time” that exists—also brings with the re-collecting all of the desires/fears, all of the unmet expectations, all the sense of “loss,” and all of the illusions that originally accompanied the assumption of roles. Happiness cannot happen when illusions are taken to be the real. Creaks and cracks in the illusion always surface and result in misery. Often belief in the illusion resumes as a result of denial, but the lack of reality to any dream will surface again and again. The following happy-miserable cycle can begin and repeat itself over and over, leaving persons in an overall state of chaos and instability: an illusion is taken to be real; glimpses of the lie being lived will surface; misery will manifest; the truth will be denied; persons can then lapse back into the dream, convincing themselves that “things are okay…the crisis has passed…everything is fine now”; and then a new cycle will begin again as the person lapses back into the illusion.
Memories are always illusions. Why? “Things” were never the way that a false self thought they were, and they were never the way that any person imagined them to be. If one could not see clearly when things were happening, why believe that the recollection could be accurate now? That which was a lie and distortion “then” is a lie and distortion now. Ignorance is not bliss. Bliss happens consistently only with the sane—with those in touch with reality—and never happens consistently when out of touch reality as a result of taking illusions to be real and accepting distortions as the truth. Please enter the silence of contemplation.
TOMORROW: Why Advaita for you, specifically? Why for me?