Don Quixote, personality, and windmills

Lost in La Mancha

It is soon time to explore another theme than stories and beliefs, but for now, that is what still comes up…

Our personality is a collection of habitual patterns, and in particular likes and dislikes, and it is wonderful in that way. It creates a part of the richness of the human experience.

And at another level, it is what aids our survival… we tend to like what supports our life and that of our species (right temperature, sufficient and tasty food and drinks, sex, health, sleep, energy, clarity, understanding), and dislikes what (appears) not to (too hot or cold, not enough or not tasty food and drinks, too little sleep, lack of relationships and sex, low energy, lack of understanding), and this is a good thing from a survival and evolutionary point of view.

The personality is a wonderful tool for this human self, and as any tool it can function well or less well. The content and structure of it is one thing (left out here), and how we relate to it is another. If we are completely identified with it, and its habitual likes and dislikes, it tends to create a good deal of drama and even suffering. And if there is a more gentle holding of it, a gentle disidentification, there is more of a sense of ease and of it being just a tool. We take it less personal.

One thing the personality does it to split the world up in different ways, depending on which stories are triggered. These splits are literally numberless, and can be of any size and form.

Depending on which story is triggered, any particular part of the landscape (a person, object, quality, etc.) falls within or outside of the particular boundary created by the story, defining what the personality likes and dislikes. As another story is triggered, the boundary is drawn in a different place. Sometimes, my partner is on the inside, sometimes on the outside, and that goes for anything else as well.

If these stories are seen as just stories, then there is just clarity and a sense of ease. The story and its boundaries arise, and these boundaries are clearly seen as just a temporary fabrication, they are transparent to the landscape itself. Just information.

I go into an icecream shop, strawberry icecream is on the menu and falls within the story triggered, so I get strawberry icecream. Or I am on the train trying to get some sleep, and someone talks loudly nearby, so I just find another seat, with ease and no drama. Or I can’t get another seat, so don’t sleep, nothing how the personality would have preferred otherwise, but again just clarity and no drama. Or I get sick, again noticing how the personality would have preferred something else, and still clarity and no drama.

When the story is free from being attached to, believed in, taken as an absolute truth, there is effortless ease and clarity there, and no resistance to create stress and drama.

And when the story is identified with, taken as an absolute truth, and life does not conform, then there is resistance, stress and drama.

Seeing the shifting boundaries drawn by the stories is an help in recognizing their lack of substance. Another is to notice stories and just stories, independent of their content. And yet another, to inquire into the content itself.

Another thing about beliefs is that they make us into Don Quixote. We end up fighting windmills in an hopeless, and imaginary, battle.

When stories are believed in, they split the world into right and wrong, good and bad, and so also a sense of I and other. And they get a shadow which is the truth in their reversals, and of the inherent neutrality of the situation before beliefs are added to it.

The belief tells us life should be a certain way, life shows up a different way, so right away there is resistance, drama, stress, a sense of something being off, and sometimes even suffering.

In short, there is war with reality, and this war is created by taking stories as true. We take what is no more than insubstantial creations of the mind as somehow substantial and real.

And this creates a battle which is hopeless and also seems very real.

It is hopeless, because it is a battle with what is, with life as it is showing up. And it seems very real, because it is the job of the mind to make our beliefs appear real. If the belief is shared by those around us, it seems real to them as well. But sometimes it is not, and it is clearly seen by others as fictional.

At another level, it is hopeless since resistance is no other than (a) stories saying how something that is should not be, (b) a creation of a sense of I and other, (c) fueling the initial stories by supporting stories, (d) the dust kicked up by all this drama, (e) tensing of body/mind, and (f) shifting of attention around in particular ways. In short, it is just spinning the wheels. Nothing comes out of it beyond the drama….!

Of course, it can lead to taking actions which changes the situations itself (for instance so the triggers of the belief and the drama is not there anymore). But that can be done equally well with just the story absent of the belief and the drama. In fact, it can usually be done easier and more effectively without the belief and the ensuing drama.

So just as with Don Quixote fighting his noble battles, it is all imaginary, kicks up a good deal of dust, it is hopeless (because it is not real in the first place), it appears very real as it happens, and yet it is often clear to outsiders that it is only fictional.

And we all do it… I should be healthy, my life should be different, she should wash her own dishes, I need more money, people shouldn’t lie, I should be awakened by now, I need a relationship with him/her, I need to find my path…

All setting us up to fight windmills and kick up dust.

Of course, just believing that I shouldn’t believe in stories, or that I don’t, doesn’t work. That is another belief, creating another layer of stress, confusion and drama. The stories needs to be seen, clearly, as just stories, as they arise. Or we can inquire into their content, thoroughly and sincerely, so we see in a clear and genuine way that they really do lack any substance and truth.

We are just noticing what is already there, and, really, what is already more true for us. And in that is a sense of relief and release.

Tricking ourselves by affirmations, additional beliefs, or insincere inquiry does not work. Clear and sincere seeing does.

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