Thanks, Everyone/ Memory Fragment

Thanks so much for reading this blog!  I’m no lama and no historian, so take my musings on Buddhism, reincarnation, and the First World War with a grain of salt; at times these posts are sort of my way of thinking out loud.

Also, a brief memory brought on by this song a little bit ago: I remember a woman in a dress that was very plain, with small children at or near a dock.  I’m not sure where or when this was but I’ve got a strong feeling it has to do with the day we left England for France.  By the style of her clothes it could be a much older memory though.  I can’t remember if they were actually there as we boarded or if they were in the town watching us march to the docks.  Could have been someone’s wife and child there to say goodbye but I don’t think they were mine.

A Quote I Found Today

“If you want to know your past life, look at your present condition; if you want to know your future life, look at your present actions.”

-Padma Sambhava, 8th century teacher who introduced Buddhism to Tibet.

This quote is often circulated, but seldom given the correct attribution; most sources list it as a Chinese proverb (which it may also have become in more recent times).

It means a great deal to me as I start to open the book of my past lives.  Instead of finding past lives from my present condition, I’m learning about my present condition from past lives.  I am still impatient, impulsive, too willing to create my own (bad) explanations for things and prone to get so lost in those explanations that I lose sight of just how much truth I can really digest in one go.

I went from a soldier in 1915 to a life in the 20th century seeking truth, but chasing after shadows; that arc has continued in this life.  I spent most of the 20th century as a truth seeker.  But I’ve been blinded by desire to know the truth when I lacked wisdom to do anything with it.  I was like a gorilla with a bookshelf full of Proust.

If you desire truth, you’ll find it, but you won’t know what to do with it.  I desired truth and I got plenty of it; several lifetimes worth of shards that I’ve been trying to put together in all the wrong ways, in fact.

Now what shall I do, except to either teach a gorilla to read Proust, or to discard the truth and begin anew with no presumptions?  The joke was on me and only now, so many decades later, I get it.

In my next life, I’ll either be a very wise person, or a very well-read gorilla.

Listen to this

It’s an excerpt from an e-book that details the more obscure battles of the First World War.

In this one, they’re talking about the Second Battle of Ypres.

It confirms my memories:

1. of the relative condition of the town (I described it as looking something like Port Au Prince when we arrived).

2. Of having been actually within the walls of the town during the battle (something I had begun to doubt).

3. Of a few of the men trying to make jokes, but for the most part we were in no mood for it.

Also, interesting, the fellow they interview is from Somerset!

98 Years Ago Today…

The 80th Brigade (27th div.) was among the brigades involved in the horrendous Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge.  This was one of the battles that shrunk the salient to its smallest size of the war; it was not a good moment for the allies.

I have no new memories of this battle; only memories I have already mentioned here.  The more detailed memories remain elusive, even now, and I wonder if I ever can… or should… bring them back.  So far my most lengthy and detailed memory was of my rifle developing a sticky bolt while I was laying in a shallow muddy hole, perhaps a forward sap point.  I had to use a small hammer to knock it loose so I think it had been doing this for a while, but in our haste that was all they could give me to fix the problem.  That memory, I’m fairly sure, dates from the day of the battle itself whereas I’m unsure about all the others.

I’m relieved I haven’t remembered anything more today.  I’ve actually had a fairly pleasant day and I’m glad to not be in angsty tears over an anniversary for once.  It’s not to say I don’t still feel sadness, but I feel like I’ve started to put distance between myself and what happened all those years ago.

98 Years Ago Today…

…or thereabouts (I don’t know when they deployed us), I marched down the roads of France and Belgium toward Ypres… probably through horse shit.

It seems counter-intuitive that there’d be artillery in front of us, but I’ll have to see if I can research how a column of troops in WWI moved.  I distinctly remembered there being beaucoup de maird de cheval. 

I should talk military stuff with my roommate more.  He was in the army (for a short while at least) and he’s into the metaphysical in a big way.  I always seem to have my most vivid memories when talking to him.  In fact that’s how today’s memory came through.

I’m thankful that I have the support of my roommate and of my father (a 22 year Air Force veteran, now retired) who have both listened and lent words of support when the emotions from my memories got too intense.  I would be in a bad place without them and I feel like we’ve connected on a level I never imagined.  I still hate war and I hate killing, but so do they.  I really feel like they’ve got my back when it gets rough and they always know just what to say.

Anniversaries looming

Friday and Saturday will be the 98th anniversary of the only major action I would have taken part in during my life as John, the Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge.

I feel fine right now, and I’m trying to keep my mood up, but don’t be surprised if my moods take a nose dive by the end of the week.

I’m home sick with a possible kidney stone to pass today; that may be helping me take my mind off things at least.

Another Thing

I think there may be some connection between this whole past life experience and my gender dysphoria; just what, I don’t know.

Here are the facts:

First, I find that my past life memories are almost invariably of the lives of men who were fairly unhappy. 

Second, I find that I usually have waves of dysphoria at roughly the same times of year, namely late May, early July, and September.  I think the first wave was in late may or possibly July 2010 and it was mild, but came back with a vengeance in september that same year.  These months correspond well to the Second Battle of Ypres, the death of John Harris, and the approximate date of his enlistment.  This pattern developed before I had any memory of a past life or had any knowledge of the life and death of John Harris.

I could exhaustively try to interpret these facts here, but I’m too tired.  I just wanted to get them down for personal reference.  

For my part, to me it feels like the seismic shifts in mood and self-image that come with gender dysphoria may very well have turned up these memories without any sort of neurosis involved.  I see it as being like a plow on the fields outside of Ypres, gouging through the soil and pulling up guns, bayonets, bits of uniforms, and now and then the skeleton of yet another unknown soldier.

This is really getting deep at the heart of everything I am.