I took the time to read some integral blogs today, and found some of the usual comments about “radical relativism” which I am sure many would apply to The Work. It helped me differentiate something that is pretty obvious, and we all know, but it may be good to clarify it for ourselves as well.
There are two ways of relating to and working with stories.
One is inquiry, such as The Work. I find a belief, or actually any story would do, and investigate it using the four questions and the turnarounds. And in the turnarounds, I find the genuine truth for me in each of them, with at least three examples of how it is already true in my own life. These stories then are equal to me, in that I can find the truth in each of them, I see they are all stories, and I also notice the inherent neutrality of the situation behind the stories.
And all of this has one purpose: to invite in a release of identification with any of these stories. To see that each of them are tools of practical value only. To not get blindly caught up in them and the drama of right and wrong and identification with them.
The other way of relating to stories is as tools. Tools of practical value for this human self, living its life in the world. Here, of course, the stories are not equal. Although there is some truth in each one, and each one can be useful in a particular situation, some have more explanation power than others, some are more compassionate than others, some are more elegant and gets the work done more effectively than others. Which one is a better tool depends on the situation, and also on where I am and what is available to me in terms of insights, experience, skills and so on.
Together, there is a freedom from identification with stories, which helps us live our lives with more clarity, kindness and insight. And there is a freedom in which stories we use, for practical purposes.
In the first case, there is an equality of the stories. It has to be, if we are honest with ourselves, and if we are to invite identification to release out of the stories.
In the second case, there is clearly not an equality among the stories. Some are more appropriate than others in any given situation, and we choose the best we can based on what tools are available to us currently.
As I said initially, this is pretty obvious. Anyone who has done The Work or similar inquiries knows this at some level, even if they have not clarified it for themselves in this way. Using stories as tools of practical value, whether we identify with them or not, is what we naturally do. We cannot help it.
As a footnote: There is of course also a difference in the types of stories we work with in those two ways. The first type are the ones that create stress for us, mainly different versions of things should be different and I am right. The second type are the ones with basic information and maps.