Personal and impersonal

 

There are many ways to explore the personal and impersonal, and one is in terms of how we experience what we take to be ourselves… in short, it seems that when there is a belief, the belief itself and what it relates to tends to be taken as personal, and when the belief is seen through, they are both revealed as impersonal… as universally human, as the inevitable appearance when there is a belief in the particular story, as nothing other than void itself taking a temporary appearance.

If there is the belief in the story people shouldn’t lie, and an identity as someone who doesn’t lie, then any lies here (which there are bound to be) will be experienced as intensely personal and private… the fact that I lie, and what I lie about, will both seem very personal and something to hide from others and maybe even myself. I would be mortified if they were revealed.

But if the belief in that story is investigated, revealing the limited and relative truth to that statement, the truths in each of its turnarounds, and even the gifts of lying (sometimes), the attachment to the story may fall away. And now, the story, the identity it creates (as someone not lying), and what it refers to (what is lied about), is not taken as so personal anymore. It is easier to see how it is universally human to (sometimes) lie, how a belief in the story creates the dynamics I just experienced, how the story itself is impersonal in the sense that it is shared in our culture (and many others), how it is just a thought which has no substance, and even how the story, the belief, the consequences of that belief, and what it refers to, all are temporary appearances of the void itself.

This all sounds quite complicated and convoluted, but the experience itself is simple. First, when there is a belief in a story, an identification with it, it seems personal and private, something to hide and protect. And when that identification falls away, for whatever reason, it is all revealed as impersonal… as universal, universally human, an appearance created from a belief, as anything else arising without identification with it (clouds, mountains), as a temporary face of void itself.

In practical (and relative) terms, as long as there is an identification with the story, and so also what it points to, it is difficult to own it and take responsibility for it. We try to push it away and deny it, and it shows up in our life in ways that only amplifies the sense of drama and struggle. But when there is an disidentification with it, it is actually easier to own it, take responsibility for it, be honest about it, which also changes how it shows up in our life. There is more integrity and a more conscious relationship with it, which makes it easier for ourselves and others.

This disidentification helps who we take ourselves to be (this human self), and it also helps in creating some space for recognizing what we are… an opening in the cloud cover created by beliefs.

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