In our small local weekly evolutionary salon last night, the topic centered on stories. Our individual and collective stories of the world, the universe. Our stories of ourselves. How they all are just stories. How they all have real life consequences. How they all change.
What came up for me is that the more there is a freedom from belief in stories, the more I am free to play and engage with various stories. I am less blindly caught up in them. I can switch among a wide range of stories. I can explore the possible implications and consequences of each of them. There is a far greater freedom here, more fluidity and richness.
Even when there is a clear realization that stories (abstractions, ideas, thoughts) are just stories, an overlay on top of what is, it does not mean that stories are abandoned. They are as important as ever, although now just as temporary tools to explore and navigate the world and to communicate with ourselves and others.
This is another example of going into the extreme in one end of a polarity and coming out at the other end. The further I release beliefs in stories (through for instance the Byron Katie inquiries), the more free I am to engage with, play with and explore a range of stories.
What implications does a particular story have? What are the implications on our collective and indivudal levels? What are the differences between believing in it and using it as a temporary guideline? Which stories seem to have desireable outcomes when we use them? Which stories are more aligned with the world as it appears to us? And so on.
Own relationship with stories
In looking at my own relationship with stories, I found three turning points that stood out.
As a child, I had a strong desire to know something for certain, and I would pester my father about the probability of such and such, whether something was true beyond doubt, and so on. Eventually, typically after a series of questions and responses, he would say “I don’t know anything for certain.” It was frustrating at the time, but in repeating this process many times it also sank in.
Then, in my teens I started exploring stories in a different way. I realized that for each statement, there is an opposite statement which also has some truth in it. The world is beyond and includes all polarities, so any statement (and any story) has only a limited take on it. They are all simplified maps of a highly complex and infinitely rich terrain. The world is always more than and different from our experience of it, and even more so when it comes to our representations of our experiences of it (words, stories, theories, maps).
And about a year ago, I came across the Byron Katie inquiries which helps me unravel beliefs through exploring what is true for me around them. Is it true? Can I absolutely know it is true? What happens when I believe in it? What would I be if I didn’t believe in it? Turn the statement around, in as many ways you can, and explore how each of these new statements are as true as the original.
Believing in stories is suffering. Freedom from belief in stories is freedom from suffering. And it is also freedom to play with and explore the implications of various stories, without taking any one of them too seriously. They are, after all, only stories. They are maps we make up to help us orient in the world. They are of immense value, and also not more than temporary tools.