Thursday, December 24, 2015

Illuminating the narrative



It is all too common in contemporary spirituality to be anti-story, to devalue any sort of narrative about one's experience. Often when I speak with people, the first thing they will say is - "Well, I mean, not to get into my story or anything, but...". As if it were something to be shamed about, to 'have' a story, to have some way of organizing or making meaning of their precious, lived experience.

We're all telling a story. We're all storytellers. This seems to be a unique expression of being human. It is nothing to be shamed about or seen as 'lesser' or 'unawakened' or of a ‘lesser vibration.’ Perhaps one day we will end the aggression of spirituality. Even the great 'powerfully' 'awakened' teachers have a narrative (even if it’s a narrative about how they no longer have a narrative). Just get to know them a bit or ask their spouses or their kids. Things are not always as they appear.

As long as there is any sort of identification left with the story of 'me,' it is an act of kindness to become quite familiar with what your narrative is, with the story you are telling about yourself, others, and the world. Rather than pretend you do not have one or that it is meaningless or a mistake – or evidence of how ‘unspiritual’ you are – perhaps you could infuse it with presence, with compassion, and with care, honoring the relative brilliance of what it means to be sensitive and alive.

And from the clarifying ground of acceptance, holding, and non-shame, you can then decide if you'd like to update your story, weave a more integrated or cohesive narrative, or tell one that is more accurate and more representative of the truth of what you are. Not because you are flawed or something is wrong with you - or your identity is on the line - but because you care so much, because your heart is so raw and shaky, and because you are so committed to being a vulnerable, tender, human being.

Yes, from the perspective of the ultimate, the story of you is empty and will never touch the majesty of what you are. While honoring this, you can also honor the relative truth of the dream, of the unfolding of your holy brain and nervous system – not discarding it with spiritual theories and narcissistic aggression – and with kindness allow your narrative to unfold, illuminate, and transform in an environment of love.