Liberation is retroactive

Joel sometimes says that enlightenment is retroactive.

One of the many ways of noticing that is through inquiry. Especially when it is done in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

I take a story as true, and it colors my past. It may even bring up sadness, grief, anger, regret and so on.

I inquire into the story, finding what is more true for me, and the story is liberated from being taken as true.

And here, I find that my images of the past has changed as well. Instead of – for instance – regret over a particular situation, there is now a gentle and heartfelt appreciation.

Often, it is bitter-sweet. I can see how I acted in beliefs back then, creating suffering for myself and others. It is bitter. And yet, in realizing that I was confused and acted on a belief, and now have a little more clarity around it, there is a sweetness, a sincere appreciation of the whole process.

As Byron Katie says, I am enlightened to a thought, and that liberates the past along with the present and future.  

This also helps me see, in a vivid and immediate way, that my past doesn’t exist apart from in my images of it.



  • liberation is retroactive
    • from Joel, enlightenmnet is retroactivve, many aspects of it
    • one, notice when inquire into a belief
      • when clarity, regrets fall away, the past is liberated along with the story (b/c the past – this image of the past and particular interpretation of the past – was created by the story)

 – seeing, feeling and appreciation the dynamics around the stories and the truths in its reversals,


Joel says that enlightenment is retroactive, and that is something we can notice in daily life through inquiry.

I find that when a story is liberated form being taken as true, the past is liberated as well.

As long as I take a story as true, this story colors the past for me. My images and interpretations of the past is (at least partly) created by this story. And since I take the story as true, it comes with certain reactive emotions, so these reactive emotions goes with my past as well. It could be sadness, grief, anger, regret or anything else. Whenever I think about my past, I take this story as true and it triggers certain emotions.

Through inquiry, I may find what is more true for me than my initial belief. I may find that the story is not as true as I thought it was, and that other stories – including all of its reversals – are equally or more true. Through a sincere and wholehearted investigation, the story may find liberation from being taken as true.

And this is a liberation of my past as well. My images of the past are liberated from this particular story being taken as true, and from the particular reactive emotions it triggered.

As soon as I find more clarity around a particular situation from my past, I often find that regrets etc. vanish and are replaced by a gentle and heartfelt appreciation.

It is often more messy than this, especially since beliefs – and especially our core ones – are supported by other beliefs, but it does reflect a general pattern.


There is more clarity around these particular stories now. They are liberated from being taken as true. My past is liberated as well.

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