I am back from the retreat, and what I am left with is seeing even clearer – in real time – how any story that is attached to creates a sense of a separate self.
The function of stories is to navigate the world, and they are great for that. But when attached to, it is as if the function of stories becomes to create and flesh out a sense of separate self. It goes for any story, even the most apparently innocent ones.
The Work is great for noticing this in a general way. But seeing it clearly, in real time, is different, and quite sobering…
It’s tofu for lunch, I like tempeh better… I want to stay longer but the retreat ends now… That woman sitting across from me in the meditation hall reminds me of a good friend of mine from Norway… and that great period of my life (much more interesting than now, by the way, I miss that)… I wonder if other folks will notice that slug on the path and not step on it…Â
All of it, when attached to, when believed in, creates a sense of a separate self… of me as distinct from the wider world. I am someone who like tempeh and not so much tofu. I want to stay longer but they scheduled it to end now. She looks like somebody I like a lot. That period of my life was more interesting than what my life is like now. Others may not be as attentive as I am.Â
What it comes down to is not only the difference… in itself, that is neutral. It is the value added onto it that creates the sense of separation… it is the additional story of better and worse, right and wrong.
Tempeh is better than tofu, for these reasons. I am someone who wants it to stay longer, so I am a better student. She is someone who is a more interesting person than many others. That period was better than this. It is better to be more attentive.
And of course, when these stories are attached to and taken as real, there is no problem coming up with additional stories supporting them… all the many reasons why it is better to be more attentive, why that time was better than this, why she is a person who I like better, why it is better to want to go deeper and the retreat to go longer, why tempeh is better than tofu.
As Byron Katie says, it is the function of the mind to make our beliefs appear true.