Does the Past Really Exist?

August 19th, 2010

Past present future ImageMy response to an article by Robert Lanza, M.D. posted on Huffington Post: August 18, 2010:

It seems most logical that one’s past can and will change as one’s present experiences change moment by moment, bringing new perception along with new information that was not known or experienced in the past. Therefore, the past can never be fully viewed or relied upon as absolute, unchanging truth. It will change based on changes in consciousness.

So does the past really exist? Is it possible for human consciousness to exist without the past?  I went through this in my own death process during a post surgical crisis.

After my body shut down I continued to experience and perceive, only without the familiar bodily senses, along with a diminishing memory of a body. Then I completely lost any sense of memory. The past ceased to exist. There only remained the present, moment by moment. Only after I had suddenly returned to my body did I have the ability to remember everything that had just happened–except now I had no idea of who, where, or even what I was. Of course, other memories did gradually return.

This ultimately led me to understand that the human body must hold the capacity of memory—of storing and recalling the past. But I also realized that the past is not something that is entirely reliable, because it is obvious that everyone has different experiences and perception of the present and therefore, different memories of what they think actually happened in the past. So perhaps because it is always changing, one might pose the question: “Does the past really exist?” Perhaps not…


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