When I argue with reality, I loose – 100% of the time. That is one of the classic quotes from Byron Katie, and I can see how it is true in two ways (or maybe one, appearing as two).
The obvious one is in terms of outer reality. If I want what is (as I see it) to be different now or in the past, I am in battle with what is – and create stress for myself.
The maybe less obvious one is in terms of what is really true for myself. If I believe something that is not aligned with what is really true for me, in my immediate experience, I again am in battle with what is – and create stress for myself.
Battle among stories
The first is more accurately a battle between two stories – first my story of what is, then my story of what should be (in the past or present).
Battle between stories and what is
The second is a battle between a deep knowing and my stories of what is.
This deep knowing is crystal clear, yet wordless. It is a deep knowing of what is, beyond and including all polarities, and any story is in the realm of polarities. Whenever I believe in any story, I try to tell myself that the map is the terrain, and the menu is the meal. And I also know that is not true. So there is stress. I see this discrepancy, even without formal inquiry, even in the midst of defending and building up my story for myself and others, and create stress for myself.
The only relief is in coming to what is true for myself.
Even if it at a conventional level is quite different from our typical stories about ourselves, as a map may be obviously inaccurate from the terrain. (It may add a bay which is not there and so on.)
Even if it at a more absolute level is different from any story of the world, in the same way any map is different from the real terrain. (It is of paper or points on a screen, while the terrain is of soil and plants and water and rocks. It highlights some features and leaves other out, while the terrain effortlessly embrace it all.)
What is (or rather the map of it)
And what seems to be – from reports by those exploring it, and my own experience – is an absence of I anywhere.
It all is – this eternal Present forming itself into always fresh phenomena – beyond and including any and all polarities. There is differentiation, but no absolute boundaries. It is one ocean, forming itself into a myriad of waves.
What is vs. maps
This is quite different from our conventional maps of it, at least in our western cultures. And it is really quite different from any map, even the most sophisticated and apparently accurate ones from Tibetan Buddhism, Daoism, Adveita, Christian mystics, Sufis, integral models and anything else.
Even those are still maps – and very useful as that. The suffering only comes when I try to convince myself that they are the terrain itself.
Simple yet not easy
It is so simple, yet – when our habit is to believe in our maps as if they were the terrain – so apparently difficult to find. To align ourselves with our deep knowing of what is, we need to let go of attachment to any map, even the ones of “I am a human being”, “I am”, “I”.
Any identity is a map, and out of alignment with what is – as it appear in (our own) immediate experience. Any identity leaves out something, while the terrain effortlessly embrace it all.
The path into stress
And it is simple to see how stress comes about, in different ways, when we attach to maps as the terrain.
Say there is an attachment to the map of “I” (our final story).
This creates the appearance of I and Other, which in turn creates a sense of separation (stress in itself), of wanting something and avoiding something else (more stress), of struggle in innumerable forms. Attaching to the story creates stress from the battle created from within the story. Or more precisely, from the battle among the innumerable secondary stories spawned from the initial story of I, each of which attached to as if they were the terrain itself.
At the same time, there is the deep knowing – even the immediate experience – of what is absent of any I. So there is also stress from the discrepancy of this deep knowing and our attachment to the story of a separate I.
Absent of stories
Absent of this story of I, there is peace. There is no battle among the secondary stories. And there is no battle between the stories and what is – in the immediate experience of it.
There is still differentiation. There are still stories. But also the clear seeing of the terrain as one seamless whole – beyond and including any polarities. And there is clear seeing of the stories as merely maps of practical and temporary value, and limited accuracy.
There are stories, but only as tools of temporary and limited value. There is an absence of attachment to them. An absence of taking them as the terrain.