Some stories are clearly speculation. For instance, any kind of cosmology, ideas about an afterlife or spiritual entities, and so on.
And yet, there is a way we can ground it in what’s here and now.
We can use these stories as a mirror. We can find what they point to here and now in ourselves.
FINDING IT HERE AND NOW IN OUR MENTAL FIELD
How can we find the stories here and now?
The most immediate way is to find them in our mental field.
What are the mental representations I have that make up the story? What are the mental images? The words? How is it to rest in noticing the mental images? How is it to rest in looking at (or hearing) the words?
We can also take this a step further.
What are the physical sensations associated with these images and words? Where do I feel it in my body? How is it to rest in noticing those sensations? How is it to notice them as physical sensations?
What other images and words come up? What are the associations? How is it to rest in noticing these?
THE EFFECT OF RECOGNIZING OUR MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS
This can seem obvious. Of course, any story happens as mental representations and in our mental field. And yet, a part of us don’t always know it. A part of us confuses the mental representations for what they point to. And that’s why it can be very helpful to consciously notice these mental representations, recognize them for what they are, and rest in that noticing so our system can take it in.
Any time a story has a charge for us, it’s because our mind associates sensations with the story. These sensations lend a sense of charge to the story, a sense of solidity and substance. And the stories give these sensations a sense of meaning. When we rest in noticing the mental representations as mental representations, and the sensations as sensations, we see through the illusion. We recognize the stories more easily as stories and the sensations as sensations. And we confuse the stories less with reality.
USING STORIES AS A MIRROR
We can also use the stories as mirrors.
What’s the story? What do I find if I turn it to myself? Can I find specific and genuine examples of how and when it’s true? (The Work of Byron Katie.)
Through this process, we also ground speculations. We find what they point to here and now and in ourselves.
THE EFFECT OF USING STORIES AS A MIRROR
To the extent I see and feel in myself something I see in others and the world, there is less sense of I and Other on this topic. There is more of a sense of being in the same boat. There is more of a sense of our shared humanity.
This also means I am less reactive about it. If I only recognize a characteristic in others and not myself, or the other way around, I tend to be caught up in issues and reactivity around it. And when I recognize it both there and here, I have more space for relating to it more consciously. I am able to act more from clarity and kindness and less from reactivity.
WHAT IT HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS
There is another useful step here.
And that is to notice my nature and that these stories and any content of my experience happen within and as my nature.
In a conventional sense, I am a human self in the world. Is this what I most fundamentally am in my own first-person experience? What do I find when I explore my own immediate experience?
I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the world. My nature allows any and all experiences.
I find I am what the world to me happens within and as.
These stories, what I imagine they point to, and what this brings up in me, happen within and as what I am. To me, my nature is their nature.
THE EFFECT OF RECOGNIZING THE SHARED NATURE
What’s the effect of recognizing the shared nature of myself and these stories and what they point to and anything that brings up in me?
To the extent I notice and allow this noticing to work on me, there is even less of a sense of I and Other, and it’s easier to recognize my mental representations as mental representations. And this gives even more space for relating to it all more consciously, from less reactivity, and with more clarity and kindness.
Here are some general examples from cosmology and ideas about spiritual entities. (I took parts of this section from a previous article, which was also the seed for this one.)
If I imagine the universe and all of existence as a seamless whole, as one system, can I find that here now? I can find the mental representations of this here and now, in my mental field. I can also find the seamless whole here. As a human self, I am a seamless whole and I keep discovering more about this seamless whole. As what I am, I am also a seamless whole and the world to me happens within and as this seamless whole.
I imagine all of existence as consciousness (AKA Spirit, God, Brahman, Big Mind). I can find that too here. To me, I am fundamentally consciousness. And the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousness. To me, the world is like a dream in that it happens within and as consciousness.
I imagine all of existence as consciousness somehow aware of everything that’s happening. I can find that too. There is a background awareness of anything that happens within and as consciousness. When something happens within the content of my experience, there is a kind of awareness of it before there is a conscious (and perhaps self-conscious) awareness of it.
I imagine spiritual beings with certain qualities and characteristics. I can find these here in myself. It’s not all I am, they may not be what I live from in every moment, but the characteristics are here. For instance, if I imagine certain entities (angels, avatars, etc.), can find what I imagine in them also here – love, wisdom, devotion to the divine, support, and so on. And if I imagine other entities (devil, demons), I can find that too here. I can find it when I react to my own pain in a way that inflicts more pain on myself and others.
I imagine life between lives as disembodied, oneness, and love. When I explore what I am in my own first-person experience, I find I am what the world to me happens within and as. I find I am disembodied (I am not most fundamentally a body), oneness, and when oneness notices itself it’s expressed as love.
I imagine the universe as without any edge or boundary. When I notice what I am, I can also not find an edge or boundary. Any edge or boundary comes from a mental representation, and they happen within and as what I am.
I imagine the universe starting as uniform and then forming itself into atoms, molecules, solar systems, and all we know. When I look for it here, I find that consciousness – the consciousness I am and which is all I know – is uniform, and it forms itself into a wild diversity of content of experience.
These are just a few very general examples. A real exploration would be more thorough, with specific and genuine examples, and with time to take it in and let it work on me.
This, of course, is more universal. It doesn’t just apply to obvious speculations. It applies to any story we have about anyone or anything.
Any story is a question about the word. Any story is a mental representation.
We can find the mental representation here and now, and any physical sensations our mind associates it with. We can use any story as a mirror and find what it points to here and now.
No matter how valid a story is in a conventional sense, or how speculative, we can ground it in this way. We can use it as a pointer for what’s already here.
We can use it as a pointer to learn to recognize mental representations as mental representations. (And not what they supposedly point to.) We can get to know more of the immense richness of who we are. (As who we are, we are as rich as humanity and the world.) We can use it to notice what we are and also recognize that our nature is the same as the nature of our experience, including these mental representations and what they point to and any reactions that come up in us. Read More