An accurate story about something is not the same as knowing or fully understanding

An accurate story about something is not the same as fully understanding it.

That may seem obvious. Yet we sometimes perceive and live as if it is – in our daily life and our assumptions about ourselves, others, and life – so it’s good to examine it a little more closely.

WHAT IS A STORY?

A story is any mental representation we have. It’s typically made up of mental images and words, sometimes associated with certain bodily sensations (unique to the story) which makes it seem substantial, solid, and true.

These mental representations is an overlay of the world that’s otherwise here through our senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, physical sensations), and it creates for us the world that’s not here in our senses.

It creates, to a large part, the world as it appears to us.

WHAT IS AN ACCURATE STORY?

An accurate story about something is a story that serves as a good and practical guide for us.

It seems to fit the data. Others may agree that it’s a functional story. We may not find anything that doesn’t fit our story, at least not for now.

Stories are not equal in this sense. Some stories fit the data, and function as a practical guide, better than other stories. They are more true in a limited and pragmatic sense. They are also always up for revision based on new data, experiences, and insights.

THE LIMITS OF STORIES

Stories have their limits.

A story is different in nature from what it points to. (Unless it happens to point to stories.) A menu is not made up of food. A map is not made up of soil, hills, streets, and so on. A story is made up of mental images and words, and what it points to is typically made up of something else.

A story is different in content from what it points to.

A story is incomplete, it highlights some things and leaves a lot out. The world is always more than and different from any story we have about it.

It reflects one perspective and leaves out a lot of other possible perspectives, many of which may come with valuable insights.

It’s understood within one of many possible contexts and worldviews, some of which may make as much or more sense as the one(s) we are familiar with.

A story is a question about the world. Even if it looks like a statement, it’s still a question.

A story is a guide with limited and practical use only.

Its function is not to reflect truth, other than in a very limited and pragmatic sense. It cannot capture any absolute, full, or final truth.

MYSTERY

What’s here is ultimately mystery.

We may tell ourselves we know or understand something based on having stories that seem accurate, which may be true in a very limited sense.

Ultimately, the world is a mystery to us. We are a mystery to ourselves.

And that’s beautiful and amazing.

Illustration by me and Midjourney

Grant Barrett: If you find yourself angry or irritated by something… it’s probably because you don’t have enough data

If you find yourself angry or irritated by something about language, it’s probably because you don’t have enough data. 

– Grant Barrett, A Way With Words, episode 1594 Familiar Strangers, about 12 minutes in

Yes, the more we understand the background for variations and changes in language, the more we’ll tend to find appreciation for it rather than being annoyed.

For instance, I remember my uncle being upset about changes in the Norwegian language over his lifetime. If we know that language always changes from generation to generation, and that’s why we have different languages and don’t speak the same as our ancestors, we’ll tend to be more at peace with it. It’s just how it is. Language changes with how we collectively change and it’s how we adapt to new places and conditions. We may find that annoyance gives a place for fascination.

That’s how it is in life in general as well.

If I find myself angry or irritated by something, it’s probably because I don’t have enough data. 

I may not know enough about the other person and her or his background and history and current situation, and what they struggle with and how they deal with it. 

I may not know enough about my own patterns and dynamics, and how I deal with the parts of me struggling and in pain. I may not have thoroughly enough found love for what’s been unloved in me, or seen what’s been hidden. 

I may not know enough about the bigger picture. I may not recognize thoroughly enough how everything is happening within and as what I am. I may not know enough about the bigger picture of life and the play of life. 

When it comes to language, we find there is an innocent and often fascinating and perhaps even beautiful reason why language is as it is and changes as it does. 

And in life, the more I understand and examine it, I find the same. There is often an innocent, ultimately impersonal, and fascinating reason why things are as they are. I may even find it beautiful, and sometimes also heartbreaking. 

Read More

Finding safety in understanding

Finding safety in understanding is a big one for me.

That’s partly why I write here. It makes me feel I understand something, and it makes me feel safe and OK.

It’s true that some understanding can be helpful, in a practical sense. And yet, it can also be used to avoid feeling something, and look at apparently painful thoughts.

Right now, what would I have to feel if I didn’t write here? If I didn’t go to my understanding? Feel that.

What am I afraid would happen if I didn’t understand X?

I would be lost. Scared. Confused. Aimless. I wouldn’t know how to live my life. I wouldn’t know how to feel better. I would be miserable. Alone. In a dark hole.

Can you find X? Understanding? The one who understands? If you sift through images, words, sensations, can you find X?

Save all sentient beings

Hearing Buddhists talk about the intention of saving all sentient beings, I hear it in a way that makes sense to me right now.

I hear it as referring primarily to the beings arising in me – wounds, emotions, thoughts, physical pain, identifications.

If I was this wound, this emotion, this thought, this physical pain, how would I like to be met?

As a wound, I wish to be heard, felt, allowed. I wish you to be with me, to stay with me. I wish for you to let me have my life, and for whatever else comes up in you in response to me to have its life. I wish to be met, seen, felt, and even loved, as I am. I wish to be respected as I am, and also for healing and alignment with love and the reality of all as Spirit. I wish to be recognized as innocent, as love – even if I was created from confused love.

As confusion, I wish to be met with kindness. I wish to have my life. I wish for you to allow me my life, and for whatever else comes up in you in response to me to have it’s life as well. I wish to be recognized as innocent, and as love.

As a thought, I wish to be seen, felt, loved, as I am. I wish for you to identify the thought, and find what’s more true. I wish for you to do this for its own sake. If you notice any motives, any desires for me to go away or transform, I wish that you allow these their life as well, and that you make a note of them and find more clarity around these thoughts. I wish to be recognized as innocent, and as love, even if it’s confused love. I wish to be met with kindness and respect. I wish to align with love and all as Spirit. I wish for your help in being liberated from being taken as true.

As physical pain, I wish to be met with kindness by you. I wish to be met with love, to be held within love. I wish for you to identify and look into the resistant and stressful thoughts you have about me. I wish for you to identify and look into your images of me, and see what appears to be here, and what’s here when you look more closely.

As identification, I wish to be met with kindness, understanding, and love. I wish for you to see me as innocence and love, even if it’s confused love. I wish for you to befriend me, to relate to me as a friend. I wish for you to identify and look into the thoughts you have about me. What thoughts are there saying I will help you, protect you? What thoughts are there saying I am bad, wrong, something that needs to go away or change? What’s more true for you, when you look into these thoughts?

And as I find more kind ways of meeting and being with all of these beings, it may naturally, inevitably, without any effort or intention from my side, spill over in how I meet and am with beings in general – whether they are emotions, wounds, thoughts, or pain, or beings in the wider world – humans, animals, plants, ecosystems, society, Earth, future generations, past generations, present generations. It may or may not, and whatever thoughts I have about it is something I can meet with kindness, understanding, love.

Read More