Stories can appear true or untrue in different ways.
We can believe in certain stories and not others, and the ones we believe in – of course – seem true to us. We have no end to reasons why they are true, we have a network of other stories supporting them, we filter the world to fit and so on.
At the same time, stories in general – all of them – can seem untrue, either partially or completely.
Any story is incomplete, it highlights some features and leaves other out and so on. The world is always more than and different from our maps and stories about it.
The difference between stories (abstractions, models, theories, images, thoughts) and what they refer to is at best the difference between a map and the terrain, a menu and the meal, or an image and the real object.
Partially untrue – yet good enough to clutch onto
So we may know somewhere that any story is partially untrue.
Yet, we may also experience stories as indeed partially true. Often, that is good enough for us to often act as if they are true, and create a good deal of confusion and suffering for ourselves in the process.
It happens to all of us.
Even for spiritual teachers, sometimes holding onto particular maps and beliefs for dear life.
Even for people in science, who’s whole professional life revolves around the principle of any map being incomplete and inherently different from the terrain, can get caught up into believing in a particular map – not being able to see beyond it.
What is it that I see as so clearly true that I don’t even bother question it? What is it that I feel I need to defend? What do I need to protect? That is exactly where I am holding onto an abstraction as if it is true.
Stories can also be seen as completely untrue.
And this happens in the realization of selflessness – or tastes of it – in at least two ways.
:: Past and Future ::
We see that there is only this Eternal Now. There is only this Timeless Present. It is Always Already. In its form aspect, it is always fresh, always new, always different. God never repeats itself.
The past and future are so clearly only abstractions, only stories. They do quite literally not exist.
And it becomes so clear that our stories are always about the past or the future. What is is too slippery for thoughts. It is gone before it arrives. Thoughts are too slow. They miss it. They are always about the past or future.
So in this sense, stories are always untrue. They are always about something that quite literally does not exist.
:: Free from abstractions ::
At the same time, it becomes so clear that what is is free from any abstractions. It cannot be touched by any abstraction, any image, any words, any story, any theory, any model. To take an simple example, words split while what is is free from any split or wholeness.
What is temporary appears as abstractions – as it appears as anything and everything else, and yet it is not in any way described or touched by abstractions, no matter how refined and apparently sophisticated they are.
In this way too, stories are always utterly untrue. They cannot touch what they attempt to refer to.
At the same time, abstractions and stories can be invaluable and helpful tools for navigating in this world of phenomena. And if we see that they are completely untrue, we are also free from any attachment to them.
We can deepen into both – stories for navigation and freedom from these stories.