January 30, 2024

Integrating the Past to Rewrite the Future

Thomas explores what motivates people to walk the spiritual path, and how it can be difficult to discern our true calling when our personal and societal environments are fragmented. He explains how being present with and processing our experiences allows us to fulfill our spiritual karma, heal inherited wounds, and close narrative circles that originated in the past.

Thomas defines karma as an unconscious energy that presents us with a choice: allow this energy to be passed on un-processed, or consciously process this energy so that we can light the way towards a more creative, authentic, and evolved future.

This episode was recorded during the 2018 Celebrate Life Festival.

Share this:

Listen Now

“When energy is complete, there is peace, there is stillness, there is presence, there is space.”

- Thomas Hübl

Guest Information

Thomas Hübl

Thomas Hübl is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator whose work integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science. Since the early 2000s, he has been facilitating large-scale events and courses that focus on meditation and mindfulness-based awareness practices, as well as the healing and integration of trauma.

His non-profit organization, The Pocket Project, works to support the healing of collective trauma throughout the world. He is the author of the book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds.

His new book Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World is available now wherever books are sold. Visit attunedbook.com for links to order it online.

For more information, visit thomashuebl.com

Notes & Resources

  • Understanding that the spiritual path involves walking toward the unknown
  • How our ancestral wounds, life experiences, and future selves are all present within us at all times
  • That both connection and disconnection inform us, and how this can make it difficult to find your calling
  • How making choices that affect the future shapes the narrative of the past

Episode Transcript

Thomas Hübl: Every one of us, I believe, sits here in the room because we heard a certain calling. So we are sitting here because there’s one part of us that is usually not so easily identified, or it’s not so easy for us to know what that part exactly is, but there’s a part of us that is asking deeper questions, that feels that longing for something more than we know. And they believe that part is a strong resource. So I want us to pay a moment’s attention to what called you or calls you regularly to walk your path, however your path looks like.

But something calls you, and it started at a certain time in your life, either through a crisis or through kind of a deep inner longing or need to start a spiritual practice, to go to workshops, to read books, to meditate, to do something that helps you to deepen your presence and your awareness.

When you have it, look for a moment, and you see, okay, how can I feel that part? Or what is the part in me that calls me onto a path? And it is strong enough to get you here with other events like this or is strong enough to let you do crazy things like getting up at 6:00 to meditate, or to go to Carrie’s class, or yoga, or come here to the meditation. Why don’t you sleep more?

There is a part in us that motivates us to practice. I want to shine a bit more light on that motivation. What’s the motivation that some of us, there may be people in here to have a spiritual practice for 40 years or more, and maybe there are centuries of therapy sitting here. Why did we do all of it?

You know you could enjoy your life instead of finding out what’s the deepest pain of your life. Why would you do that? Why would you deal with collective trauma? What is this for an idea? But something obviously calls us. I believe this also in one way or the other. There is no choice. And that’s an interesting quality in us that which we already know.

Even if you say, “Oh, I want to find out what God is.”

What does that mean, really?

“I want to wake up. I want to get enlightened.”

What does that mean, really?

You know what that means? Usually, we have some ideas, some cognitive ideas, and some mental ideas. We read books, but we don’t know what it is really. So, the spiritual path has one quality that I think is very important, we are walking towards something that we don’t know.

As long as somebody didn’t have an awakening experience, we don’t know what that is. We have an idea. We have a mental concept. We have mental images, whatever this means. But it’s not that. So, something lets you walk without knowing where you’re going. And I think that’s a pretty interesting quality that there is something usually we want to know what we are getting into when we are doing things.

But in the spiritual path, it’s not like that. We don’t know what we are getting into. But we walk. And as I said, there are two qualities why we do that. Some people have a strong inner longing, and or some people have a crisis in their life that sets them on a path –like a health crisis, a relationship crisis, or a work crisis. Whatever it is, something happened in our life, and we needed to ask deeper questions. So, there is that. That something that knows already.

I believe the part that calls us is the echo of the memory of the future. Does this make sense? The part that calls us is the reverberation of remembering the future.
Because in our life we usually talk often about the memory of the past, but we don’t talk so much about the memory of the future.

It seems to be a strange concept: How can I remember the future? But I believe we also have a memory of the future, and the part in us that motivates us to walk is part of that memory (and then maybe we’ll come back to it later.) So that’s one part. And the second part is to understand the nature of what we are doing in a more mystical sense.

Let’s start with karma. Some of you have heard this in my classes, and some of you maybe are new to it, so that’s why I will explain this a bit.

The concept of karma: yesterday, we said that the positive form of karma is wisdom. So, through our life experience, we upload parts of life where we expand our love onto the hard disk. So we grow more light, we grow more awareness. At the same time, the other version of karma is that we postpone experience.

Let’s say you and I get into an argument, we have a fight, and then you walk out of the room and you’re pissed. You are angry about Thomas. What is he saying? What did he tell me? You are angry afterward. I know this hardly ever happens, and then and then I walk out of the room, and I’m also angry, and so it takes us maybe ten minutes, maybe 20 minutes, maybe a year to get over this conversation.

But what’s happening in the next ten minutes, the next half an hour, or the next 30 minutes? I am not fully present with you because I’m still thinking about you. So there’s energy that is left over, there’s a residue, and that gets postponed. So I couldn’t process how I experience it fully. That’s why I need to process our experience afterward. But then, if I talk to you while I’m still thinking about you, I will miss a lot in our relation because I’m still with you basically, if you know this, I know it’s very rare, but it’s okay. That’s the nature of karma in a simple way. But the bigger way is that, for example, in Native American genocides, slavery, the Holocaust, apartheid, dictatorships all around the world with a lot of torture and killing creates a much longer aftermath in life. So it doesn’t take us half an hour to process putting millions of people in gas chambers – it takes us generations to process that event.

And so the other part of karma is that all of us have been born into an already fragmented world that tries to process and detox the experiences it couldn’t process. Does this make sense? We are all sitting more or less already in that fragmented field – this means that we have been born into a window, like a glass that is broken.

So that’s why I asked you yesterday: When you sit here, you have roots. Every one of us has roots here. Our parents or grandparents, our great grandparents. There’s a whole tree. And it’s very interesting how the tree looks because the reflection of the tree sits here in the room. What is down is up.

So the hurt in our roots sits somehow here in the room with us, because there’s a reflection of it in the way we grew up, how the attachment process worked. The traumatic situations that we lived through, the relationships that we formed in our life, the decisions that we took in our life are informed partly by the memory of the future, which is our authentic self, and they’re informed partly by the past. And I believe one reason why we are sitting here is to find out what is what.

What is the part that is informed out of our inner connection and our connection or connectedness with life, and what is informed by the disconnect from life? These are two different things, and that’s why, at the beginning of the path, it’s very hard for us to discern what is my authentic voice, what is my mission in life, what is my path, and what is actually, what I call, destiny?

Unconscious energy runs our life. The choice to kill many people happened already, now we are sitting in the after-effects, which has no free choice. It has a destiny. Karma, unconscious energy runs our life. Conscious energy becomes a possibility. When the energy is conscious, we have a choice. We can say yes or no. If it’s unconscious, it runs us. That’s a very important distinction.

So karma is postponing energy. And the time that it needs to integrate it is what we call “after-time,” the time that it needs to integrate that past, and that’s not the future. So tomorrow is often not the future but the past.

We will pause here for a moment because that’s maybe a bit counter-intuitive and contradicting what we learned so far about the future, because what we learned in life about the future is that tomorrow is the future. But in the mystical understanding, tomorrow is not necessarily the future. The repetition of a pattern is the past, the repetition of the past it’s not the future. And that’s an important distinction to make.

So all the parts of me that are being run by the past, for them tomorrow is the future. All the authentic parts of me that are connected to my light, that’s going to become the real future, that’s going to become evolution, development, that’s going to become innovation, creativity, new qualities of life that humanity can manifest.

That’s an important part to know, I believe, because there are parts of us here in the room that are connected to our light, that’s the resource that helps us to transcend the past. And in my understanding, transcending the past is not only a personal healing process, but it’s literally a possibility to rewrite life. It’s not just healing in me. When it heals in me, there’s a domino effect going back into the past that affects my parents, that affects my family system, that affects my ancestors, that affects the culture that I live in.

The energy of the future has the capacity to rewrite history. And why? Because the past is only the past because it holds energy. There are so many conversations that you are not thinking of anymore. Once they are complete, they are complete. Like in zen, once the cycle is complete, there is only presence. So our lifetime is one of those cycles. Every moment is one of those cycles or circles.

Once the circle is complete, energy is being integrated in the moment of presence. There is only this. But because there’s so many pockets of energy left all over. They come up as thoughts. When we meditate in the morning and your mind is racing – your mind is expressing an energy that is not complete.

If the mind’s still, not disconnected still, like dissociated still, but still – presence is when I sit and process a lot of emotions or I think a lot about my life or I have many thoughts come up, it’s energy that is trying to complete itself. When energy is complete, there is peace, there is stillness, there is presence, there is space.

So that’s the opening of the zen circle, where the openness is the enlightenment. If the circle was closed, that’s a closed system, that’s separation. The circle is enlightened because it’s open to space inside and to space outside of one space, there is presence.

The reason why I say this is because there are multiple implications. Now, what I said, I know it’s a bit maybe at the beginning sounds a bit complex, but that also means that by sitting in this room or any room with a similar intention, by sitting in presence, we have the capacity to integrate the past so that we have a different future. To integrate the past so that we rest together in presence. And that’s very powerful.

That’s the principle of grace, the divine inserted the principle of grace. Grace means that the future has the capacity to rewrite the past. That’s grace – it’s kind of like a blessing. And so that principle is very powerful. That’s what we are working with that we have the chance to do in a way, realign, reconnect, and open up to a future that’s constantly available to us.

And the future is not a future because we’re “un-present.” There’s one future. We are constantly dreaming about another moment because we don’t want to be here. So we think the next moment is going to be better than this moment. That’s a future that is a kind of an avoidance of presence. The other future is part of presence, the other future is because we are present. We have the capacity to innovate. We have the capacity to be creative. We have the capacity to invent, to find new solutions. That’s an act of presence.

I want to do with you a few exercises here and use a few of the principles that I mentioned now naturally so that listening, for example, when I listen to you and you listen to me, we create a magnetism of presence. Witnessing is what many of us didn’t have in our earlier time.

In its appropriate form, witnessing means that there is a conscious awareness of the energy that is happening right now. And energy means experience, movement, intelligence in movement or information in movement. So when a child grows up, the parents are part of the connected witnessing. If parents get the quality of their child and they have a healthy relation to it, life grows and blossoms. If parents don’t get their child or project a lot onto their children, then all kinds of other things happen. And those are the things where we often meet. So when we sit together as sanga is a community to substitute witnessing. When you tell me about an issue that you have in your life, and there is a heart open, a compassionate listening – that in itself is already very powerful. Because I listen to you with my heart open. I really receive you. So, my nervous system and your nervous system start to create a field of coherence. Does this make sense? When we listen to each other, (all the therapists in the room do this every day) and notice that when we listen to each other, we create a coherent feel like our two nervous systems start to join forces in a way. So there are two processors processing in a way, one difficulty. So we create a coherent field.

I think it’s very interesting when science will far enough developed technologically that we can measure what happens in a group, and everybody will sit with a small fMRI. And we can check what happens in our brain. We did this in a meditation study once in Germany. Twenty of our Timeless Wisdom training students and myself, we went into a big fMRI. But it’s not very practical, especially when you do intimate processes.

But once it’s going to be more available to us, we can measure this to see what actually happens in compassionate listening exercises, really. I mean, we know this, but it would be very interesting to have the science part online as well. We see how our nervous systems create coherent fields. And so when we sit together, and we do exercises, I really listen to you without immediately thinking about what I have to say. So it’s not about what kind of advice I can give you, it’s more about listening to you with my whole body creating an interpersonal presence. Then I can notice more and more what’s actually happening in me while I listen to you. And then maybe one more theoretical thing, so to speak. And then we do some practice together.

When you look at me right now, you see most probably in you. I am already ripped into your perception. So what you see inside is not me, but is me in you. But that’s an important distinction. When I see you, I see you in me. The possibility that some of my especially unconscious past has a small thing to say to Ed is very high. So that we are aware when we do exercises with each other, I don’t know anything about you. That’s very important.

What I see and what I feel is what my perception is able to perceive – that’s not you. That’s only how you appear in me. I am energy in you. What you see now is in you. It’s not out there. What we see when we see each other, you are already wrapped in my energy. when I see you. But that’s very important because we easily might think what we feel or see is the truth. And we all know that it’s usually not. Because my past and my trauma past and all my associative thinking and feeling are attached to how I would see you. And it’s very important to say before we do exercises that what we see and experience, that we keep it in that spirit, that’s you in me.

But the interesting thing is, there are now maybe almost 300 Thomas’s, isn’t that interesting? That’s not my megalomania, but there are 300 Thomas’s as energy.
Let’s presence this for a moment: in everybody, there is a Thomas. At least everybody who looks at me. But what does this mean for the energy field in the room?

So every one of us is a particle because something is here. Whatever it is. Something is here or something is there. Every one of us is a wave because when I rise in you, I’m a brain wave pattern in you. Doesn’t sound so romantic – but that’s what I am.

In you, I am energy. Out here, I am a manifestation. So there is energy in you. Your perception is energy in you. There’s energy in you. There’s a whole field of Thomas in the room. And the more a group is present, the more that coherence has an effect.

The more disconnected, desynchronized, or fragmented is the field, the lower is the effect. The one reason why I’m saying this is because there are over 300 people in the room. If somebody asks a question or makes a statement or shares something in the group, the person becomes a field and the presenceing capacity of a group is an enormous healing power. We’re an enormous power of consciousness. So if somebody speaks up in the room later, or if you build something, they go into a kind of exchange and we are all present with it.

It’s an enormous possibility for conscious awareness, healing, and awakening because if you join our processes and we focus it on one person or onto a few people – that’s a very powerful thing. And why? Because the person who speaks up becomes a field in the room. And I think that’s an enormous healing potential. If we use this more, how group power can be a very strong resource to transcend fragmentation?

In mystical practice, we say you, or I, or you, everyone is a code. Everyone has a unique cosmic address like an IP address. When you want to look up a website, you type it into your browser and click enter. And then hopefully when the internet connection works, you have a website.

That’s the same in relation. So when you represent for all of us a special composition, so that when you have a healing, it ripples out to everybody who has a similar composition. In mystical practice, we see the unique and the universal – that’s infinity.

So every one of us is an expression of the universal or the divine intelligence. And the divine intelligence expresses itself through everyone. That’s infinity. And so I let this rest a bit.

There are a few very important principles that we can unpack over time. But I also think when we look at how this work affects our marketplace, how does this work? Because most probably many of us are also interested in how consciousness work will really affect the marketplace and the world that we live in and help us to find new solutions for very serious issues that are happening right now. And that’s a very important principle, the most unique and the most universal are always one, not two. That’s a very important thing to contemplate.