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.


  1. Thank you for this! It was really the contemporary "non-dualists" who put the onus on "story" - even though non-duality is just another "story" - another concept :) I became so self-conscious of telling "my story" that I was afraid to share anything! - LOL

    I like your approach of just "allowing the narrative to unfold." If the "me" can never be separate from the True Self (our Illumined Being), then it's really an unfolding of our True Beingness in the story of "me."... In my humble opinion. :) Thank you - CK

  2. WOW, does this help balance things out. Thank you for this Matt!

  3. I love this because it is one more thing "the story" that we can drop from our guilt trip. There are so many things like this that can become so burdensome. Like, "forgive my story", yikes! It's like saying forgive my "aliveness"! Our stories can be our greatest teachers! :) Thank you!!