On Reclaiming the Past and (Not) Burning the Future

(Epistemic Status: Endorsed – likely has some reasonable consensus correlates to various trauma therapies. Also might work less well if you already are well connected to your past)

Part of the Retrocausal Engineering Sequence

So, it turns out that thing where you have lived a life up til now is actually important rather than something you can just ignore.

A lot of people I know have spent a significant amount of effort reinventing themselves and changing their lives – leaving home, finding a new social web, figuring out how to be something completely different than what they were before. I’ve done the same thing – I certainly wasn’t good enough at social to be writing questionable advice about it back in my hometown, at the least. There are costs to this, however – costs that are almost impossible to see until they are rubbed in your face, over and over. When you’re challenged enough so that your short, invented history isn’t enough pure experience to make it through. And this is when it becomes important to reclaim and reconnect to the past, to realize you have much more life experience than you ever realized in a given time slice.

Retrocausal Engineering is the art of doing the things you’re supposed to so that the things that will happen will have already happened so that you can do the things you’re supposed to. Reclaiming the past is realizing that your past selves were by necessity already doing this, because if they weren’t, different things would have happened and you would not be you. This is sometimes hard to track, but if you spend some time considering it, it’s pretty much so true as to be tautological. Another way to model it is acausal trade. In the present, you are generating resources among the entire manifold of your “self” across time (and timelines, but that’s a bit more complex and perhaps a subject for a different post). However, the present self is getting resources from the past – the culmination of everything you’ve done so far, whether you honor it or not. More notably, the present self is getting resources from the future – prediction can be modeled as a memory of the future: the clarity with which a prediction presents is a representation of your mind’s model of what futures your current pattern will support, and the probability mass of selves that will manifest a given future given the current pattern. This is the resource that your future possible selves trade you (and occasionally some information can leak through if you pay really close attention – though of course, you can still only trust it insofar as you can trust your patterns ability to remember the future.)

An interesting thing that can happen is that ordering of choices and events can drastically change the vividness of a given future – every moment will shift the probability mass a little bit, and every moment that echoes further into the past will cause cascade shifts. Once the past is properly reclaimed, the order in which you remember it becomes part of the resource you can harvest from it. You can also harvest different associative grids with enough focused work, which can allow you to model entirely different futures. More directly, this can allow different solutions to occur to you regarding problems with more immediacy. As you might guess, since predictions are a type of memory of the future, you can do the same thing with those – reordering the futures you have been handed can sometimes affect the amount of vividness and information they carry. As a side note, this is most noticeable on the moment-to-moment level – notice what order your sensory data comes in, then rearrange it. With sufficient concentration (or certain substances), you realize that the picture of the world changes when you change the priorities and ordering of data coming in.

Now, these are positive uses of the reclaimed past and freely given future – as the title indicates, there’s less skillful use, especially of the future, that can lead to a lot of problems that take awhile to untangle (possibly 1d4 + 1 years). Burning the future is when you opt to try to harvest the benefits of a given future without having done the work. To some extent, even loans are a version of burning the future. Other examples include storytelling that overstates your skills, or rushing ahead with a half finished plan that you “know will work out”. It is not always bad to do this, but it is very easy to get into cycles where almost all desired futures become less and less vivid and a lot of less pleasant futures become more vivid. This in turn makes doing the things you’re supposed to in the present harder, because the outcomes you envision seem less and less worth it. This cycle can get very vicious and nigh unrecoverable without a lot of luck and good friends. Usually recovery entails picking up a significant amount of slack with willpower and focusing on not just doing the things right but also fixing the things that went wrong. It’s very easy to fall back to the old patterns, since after all, you spent awhile instantiating those patterns and the present self was created by those patterns. Of course, the present self is also trying to recover from burning the future, so there are still past selves that have contributed to this work in ways that are beneficial.

Even when you find yourself in a deep valley of burned future and broken dreams, it is imperative to not forget that your past selves have in fact done the things they were supposed to – trying to dissociate from your mistakes is very likely to cause you to repeat them. You are still the present instantiation of your pattern across the entire manifold of your time slices – honoring that will make the process easier in ways you won’t expect.

Overall, it’s very easy to get caught up in a linear telling of our life stories – the issue is, memories are not linear and futures happen and unhappen all the time. Additionally, abandonment of the past will frequently cost you a measure of your self and your alignment, which will make the flow of your life harder in some ways. Disrespect of the future’s impermanence is also a way to end up in a place where the flow of your life is working against you. Intelligent use of the entirety of your timelines is one of the core applications of Retrocausal Engineering. Take some time to remember who you were and how they have contributed to who you are – who you will be will thank you for it.

Discussion questions: Have you experienced the way the past, present, and future tangle with each other in the frame of a human life – if so, how? What are some examples of burning the future in your own life – or past rejections of the past? What is the story you tell yourself about how you got to here, now? How does it flow into your future?

On Paradox

Part of the Retrocausal Engineering sequence

(Epistemic status: Unsure, but it seems to fit a pattern that includes me and several of my friends – this might be a mental framework thing)

Psychosis is how your mind resolves paradox.

The time after stream entry is one of a lot more mental power than one is used to – it can be hard to reconcile this, especially when one has bad habits in their life that rely on distortion of reality and lies to oneself. When a life of delusion has much more mental strength, it’s inevitable one would be standing on the line between sanity and a psychotic break. Fortunately, that same power can be used to close Pandora’s box as it is opening.

In our dealings with others and the world, there can be a lot of pain and suffering. One way of resolving this is by lying to ourselves and changing how we see reality – in my case, I have behaved in ways that have caused pain to those closest to me, and when given feedback that this was happening, distorted my understanding of the situation such that I wasn’t actually wrong. You can also deny the world is the way that it is and insulate yourself from painful realities – this works out fine if you’re lucky and don’t have to face the consequences of avoidance. However, the fall off that particular cliff tends to be very rough if you aren’t looking out for it.

Psychosis is a very interesting phenomena – your world becomes more and more wrong. Visual hallucinations, auditory hallucinations – the world becomes more and more as if you are just by default on drugs. For the most part, I haven’t actually experienced this, but I have been at the brink. Where it wasn’t certain whether I would make it through with my sanity or if I would break. In my case, I had a decision to make at the brink – whether I would hold onto a stubborn view of reality that allowed me to be right, or admit fault in a situation and consider how to improve. The world was flickering and fluxing in ways that felt really uncomfortable before I turned around and decided to face it. Accept that I was wrong, and move on. The world instantly became a lot more normal and stable and sleeping was much easier after resolving the conflict. The cause became obvious in retrospect – my mind does not allow self dishonesty to the level that I would have needed to sustain the protection from ego injury.

I have heard others experience this in a way that felt like pressure – being forced to believe things that go against their experience due to the risk of being hurt if they didn’t believe those things, and having their world correspondingly be less stable, with spikes in instability occurring when the belief is forced on them. In a reasonable external environment, resolution of psychosis can occur through varying types of acceptance or reframing of one’s experience – in less reasonable environments, I would expect a catatonia of sorts.

One can trade their sanity for power, but this approach has quite a few costs, and without a ground to return to, one can get lost for a very long time. It might be fun to play with frames of magic, time travel, and reality warping, but in the end, most of these are an API for intuitive skills built by experience – and psychosis is how your brain keeps you honest. It is a shattering of that API until you can be trusted to use it again – a rude awakening to the ways you are pushing against your limits (either with relationships or other resources) recklessly.

Overall, paradox is in fact something that our minds track, and they do not appreciate being used as instruments to perpetuate it. The more you do weird things, the weirder your world becomes – should you ever find yourself with something that looks like powers, be very very careful with how you use them – these are extensions of your representation of reality, and a betrayal of that reality is a betrayal of the mind. Avoid paradox unless necessary, and be sure to process the paradox one way or another if you must induce any.