The dramatic flow of our lives

 

Dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage.

Wikipedia

I have been listening to the Norwegian (VG) broadcast of the world chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergej Karjakin. The commentators will sometimes talk about the dramaturgy of the match. The dramatic flow of the twelve games making up the championship. (They both make mistakes, sometimes missed by the other, the underdog finally won a game, then the current champion, and they are now even before the final game tomorrow.)

Our life has a dramatic flow and composition as well. And sometimes, it can be helpful to step back and see it that way. Whether things go “our way” or not, we can at least appreciate the dramatic flow. I find that quite helpful.

This is a more western way of talking about lila, life as the play of the divine. It’s a more limited view but perhaps more accessible to many.

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Until it’s not attractive any more

 

When I do something, or react a certain way, it’s not only because of habits, but also – or more so – because I see a value in it. I think I am getting something valuable out of it.

The solution is to thoroughly see through my stories, and find what’s more real.

For instance, when I go into drama, what do I perceive I get out of it? Which deficient self is triggered, and what do I find when I look for it? Which stories trigger the drama? What are my stories about the drama itself? (Juicy? Alive? Exciting?)

As I explore what’s really going on and see it more clearly, the attraction softens and may fall away.

 

Drama and passion

 

I held satsang with the drama part of me earlier tonight. Here are some of the things that presented themselves:

What the drama part desires is really passion and engagement, and also to be met with respect, understanding and love.

I was also reminded that I have trouble with some people, such as PL (the SE guy), because I see them as drama queens. And that’s a good indication that I have disowned the drama part, it’s pushed aside and not included in my ordinary human identity.

In my twenties, there was plenty of passion and engagement in my life, and less drama. Recently, there has been less passion and more drama. It’s as if what’s behind passion and drama is the same, and one is owned (passion) and the other is disowned and seen as “other” (drama).

Taking care of things w/out the drama

 

One of the things our culture can teach us is that taking care of things and drama goes together. If it is a difficult situation, drama will help me get things done.

If I don’t recognize that expectation, I may take it for granted and live it out without noticing.

But if I take a closer look at it, I see that there is no inherent connection between taking care of things and drama. On the contrary, drama often comes with confusion and distractions. When it is not there, I can take care of things from more clarity and with more ease.

And as I live this more often and in more areas of life, the initial expectation erodes.

It can become very clear. Taking care of things can happen without drama.

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Leave no trace

 

In Zen and other traditions, they talk about leaving no trace, or the man that casts no shadow or leaves no footprints in the snow.

This can be understood in several ways, and I am probably aware of only a few.

In a worldly sense, it means leaving no trace ecologically and socially. To leave our ecosystems and society to our children and decedents in no worse condition than it was for us. This is the ecological and generational sense of leaving no trace.

It can also mean leaving no trace as a guest, or in one’s own home, in terms of cleaning up after oneself, and here also leave the house in no worse condition than when we entered. This is the politeness sense of leaving no trace.

In a different sense, it can mean leaving no trace in terms of the dynamics and processes of this human self, or those this human self participate in. Instead of resisting these processes, we can allow them fully and even amplify them, seeing where they lead and what they ask of us and have to show us. We could say that this is the Process Work meaning of leaving no trace.

And finally, it can mean leaving no trace in terms of not being caught up in identification with content of awareness, or as Byron Katie says, to not be at war with what is. Identification is released from stories, so also with resistance, which allows the struggle and drama to go out of it. This human self is allowed to live its own life, as it does anyway. This is the nondual sense of leaving no trace.

What is the truth in the reversal of this statement? In what way is leave traces true?

In our human life, we do leave traces. Whatever we do has social and ecological ripple effects, and we are aware of only a very few of them. So by bringing more awareness, information and experience to this, we can aim at producing ripple effects that are more likely – in our best guess – to support life rather than harm it. We leave traces anyway, so why not bring as much attention to it as possible. Why not be a little more consciously engaged.

There is another way of playing with the initial sentence: don’t leave traces of no traces. When I make a big deal out of leaving no trace, then that in itself is leaving a trace. Again, just something to notice.

Basic plots

 

When we look at stories, we find some recurrent basic plots. And this is true whether the stories take the form of film, novels, short stories, oral stories, history, our life stories, self-talk, dreams, and so on. And different people propose a different number and different types of such basic plots.

The essence of any plot is the drama of I and Other, revolving around the question what will happen to to this separate self? As soon as there is a sense of a separate self, there is drama and that question.

From there, we have innumerable plot types. And these are defined by a few different things…

Who is the Other? Is it one or more other people, nature, God, oneself?

What type of situation or challenge is there? What is the flavor of the drama? Is it discovery? Love? Revenge? Adventure? Pursuit? Maturation? Transformation? Escape? Sacrifice? Mistaken identity?

What role does the protagonist play? Hero? Villain? Fool? Perpetrator? Victim?

What is the trajectory or outcome of the drama? How does it unfold? Where does it go? Is there a climax? A silence before the storm? A segment of life? Happy ending? Sad ending? Unclear or unfinished ending? Is it really an ending? What happens afterwards?

When I look at my own stories, I can find each of these. When there is a sense of a separate self here, it plays all of the different roles, opposed to any of the various Others, in each of the different flavor of dramas, and with a wide range of trajectories and ways it unfolds.

The outer stories, the ones about others, the ones in movies, novels, fairy tales, the ones others tell about themselves, they all reflect stories right here, about this separate self.

What to let go of: the idea that drama protects life

 

Whenever I go to the dentist, or as today for a mini-surgery, I notice how drama is all in the mind. The body is fine, as far as I can tell, and there are hardly any sensations at all. But the mind cooks up a range of stories, take them as (more or less) real, and create a drama. (In this situation, a minor one, which makes it more easy to explore.)

When I ask myself, what do I have to let go of for finding peace with the situation, what comes up is the drama itself. I have to let go of the belief that drama is needed for change, that drama is needed for taking care of life, and in this case, this human self.

It is a deeply ingrained pattern: drama=protection. And it goes all the way to that core identity of a separate self.

A belief in a separate self creates a sense of drama, and somehow, somewhere along the way, there is that other belief that drama equals taking care of life. That drama is needed to take care of life. That drama is how we take care of life.

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The function of thoughts

 

Some of the functions of thoughts…

  • They help our human self explore, and orient and navigate in the world (they split up the seamless whole so we can explore segments of any shape and size, how they relate to each other, and the larger whole they are aspects of)
  • They help our human self communicate, with itself and others, here and now (although there is always some lag time) and between past, present and future
  • When believed in, they create a sense of a separate self, and I with and other, which is essential for lila (God playing hide-and-seek with itself)

Whether believed in or not, they help our human self explore, orient and navigate within the world of form. And when believed in, when a story is added to the stories saying they are true, they create a sense of a separate self, and the richness of the human drama.

The simplicity of being with and being

 

There is a simplicity in being with, and then just being, whatever arises.

Being with experiences, then just being

Something comes up, I notice a resistance to it, and can then just be with it all – the experience and the resistance to it. It is simple, quiet, without drama or stories. And there is a sense of an energetic shift from confusion to something that is more organized and has an almost crystalline structure, which I also notice when I do sitting meditation.

In just being with experiences, as they are, there is also the being with any resistance coming up. The resistance becomes part of the field. And eventually, the resistance to the field itself is included, allowing the field to arise to itself as it is, as a field with no center, inherently absent of I and Other. There is just being, the same field but now revealed as already absent of I and Other, of someone being with something else.

From second to 1st or zero person

It is a process from a 2nd person relationship, of a sense of I being with experiences, of the seeing being with the seen, to a 1st or zero person relationship, to just the field absent of I and Other, which is no relationship at all of course. It is just the field being with itself, as seeing and seen as one.

It is first person, in that the field as a whole is an I to itself, and it is zero person in that there is an inherent absence of I as any part of the field.

Habit of identifying with resistance

It is so simple. So available. Yet also so difficult sometimes. The habit of identifying with resistance is so ingrained. Resistance arises, there is an identification with it, a sense of I is placed on it, a sensation is associated with this resistance and serves as an anchor in space for this sense of I, what is resisted is made into Other and at another location in space, and from here it is fleshed out with all sorts of additional stories. The stage is set for drama, and it plays itself out very well.

Soft docking, and everything the same yet different

At the same time, just being with it all, simply, quietly, meeting it as and where it is, as a soft docking, changes it all. Everything is the same, as it is, yet also completely different. From a sense of drama and confusion, and the sense of reality of I and Other, the field arises to meet itself as a field, already and inherently absent of I and Other, with its crystalline structure and clarity.

Even the discouragement of seeing habitual patterns coming up, over and over, can be included. That too is OK when it is revealed as just a part of the field, already and always absent of I, just the field of awake emptiness and forms unfolding.

Contraction

 

Some aspects of contraction…

Contraction through identity

The field of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere, takes itself to be a segment of itself. It filters itself through a sense of I and Other, creates a more elaborate identity for this I, and allows anything else to appear as Other.

From the wide open spaciousness of the field, there is a contraction into “I” as a small segment of the field and Other as everything else.

Contraction as tension

And when there is a sense of I and Other, there is also the sense of needing to protect this I from Other, defending one segment of the field against other segments of the field. And this creates physical and mental tension.

We do this physically, protecting this human self against hunger, cold, heat, danger, illness.

And we defend our constructed identity. We maintain it so it is not forgotten. We defend against whatever arises in the field that does not fit the identity. We may even experience discomfort when something arises that is outside of the identity, and want to eliminate it, either by ignoring it, going away from it, or trying to remove it from the world (good luck.)

It is actually quite interesting how this happen, and to notice it as it happens.

Example of tension through defending identity

There is just this field of seeing and seen, inherently free from any center or I anywhere.

Then, a belief in the idea of I, placed on this human self, and a sense of I and Other.

Then, the construction of a more elaborate and complex identity, such as man, old, healthy, republican, good citizen, father, son, husband, jovial, hard worker, good neighbor, likes fish but can’t stand rutabaga.

And then something arises in the field, maybe something that is labeled “not good citizenship”, and there is immediately an impulse to make it go away – by ignoring it, placing it firmly “over there” at somebody else, changing the other person, supporting politics aimed at removing or changing the other person, and so on. Immediately, the peace is disturbed.

One segment of the field is put up against another segment of the field. The field is in struggle with itself. The knot of identification is tightened. The sense of I and Other intensifies.

The center of gravity is even more firmly in the form aspect of the field, forgetting itself as the whole field, and as awake emptiness as well as form.

No drama, even within the appearance of drama

 

A snippet from the previous post…

The seen, the seeing, the identification with the seen or the seeing, it is all Ground, inherently absent of any I. Even the identification itself is absent of any I. There is no drama there, even in the midst of the appearance of much drama.

When Ground awakens to its own nature, as seeing and seen inherently absent of any I, there is a realization of the seeing and the seen also being inherently absent of perfection or imperfection. Or put another way, it is the Perfection beyond and including conventional perfection and imperfection.

And this is one flavor of this Perfection: There is no I even in the identification with seen or the seeing. There is no drama even in the midst of the appearance of drama.

So there is no I and no drama inherent in the appearance of an I and drama. Yet there is still very much the appearance and experience of it. Both are there, both are included.

Living Without the Drama

 

I see over and over that inquiry is to live without the drama, and for those tired of the drama.

There is nothing wrong with drama, but at some point there is enough familiarity with it for us to want to move beyond. Drama is interesting for a while, then the interest moves to that which is beyond drama. To the ease and clarity on the other side of drama. To living an ordinary human life with less and eventually absence of attachment to stories, which are really all just the stories of I.

Cravings, addictions and attachments

 

Our humans lives seem full of cravings, addictions and attachments. We want this and not that. We feel we have to have that and avoid something else. There seems to be innumerable cravings, addictions and attachments. It seems to just be part of the human condition, and even if there was a way to deal with them – there seems to just be too many to take care of.

And yet, there is really only one form of attachment and that is the attachment to thoughts (to abstractions, ideas, images and so on).

And there is really only one source attachment to a single thought, and that is the thought of I. The thought of I as opposed to Other, of I as finite, as placed on something within the field of what is, added to a section of what arises right now. The belief in that one thought, that one simple – and seemingly so plausible – idea, is what creates the whole human drama.