I hope you are enjoying the cooler weather and the sky that gets larger as the leaves on trees disappear. I wanted to pass this along as an invitation to take some time for personal investigation. I almost called this one “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It” but opted for something a bit simpler.
Byron Katie likes to ask, “Who would you be without your story?” In fact, that’s the name of her newest book. Eckhart Tolle tells us that “You are not your story.” I recommend spending some time looking at what who you are without your story. Seeing yourself without your story involves dropping your past. If you set aside all of the ideas of who you are, who are you? Where are you? What are you doing here? What is all this?
It’s a return to innocence we are talking about here. If you have kids, or watched children, then you have vicariously witnessed what the world looks like to someone who has no preconceived notion of what it is they are looking at. The fascination with the world around them is present without the mental constructs and labels grown ups have. It’s joyful to watch an infant looking out at the world with a sense of awe. That’s our true nature, but we lose site of it along the way as we carve out identities for ourselves and for others.
You are not your name. When that idea first came to me it was a bit shocking. It was as if the question, “Who would you be without your story?” had taken on a new depth to it. Before, I was Trey looking at who Trey would be without his story. Then, all of the sudden, I had to take Trey out of it. If I’m not my name, who am I? We’re so attached to our names, because we have been called by them all our lives, that we don’t even realize that who we are is far more than just a name.
What was it before you knew what it was? Look at anything around you and ask yourself, “What was that before I knew what it was?” There was a time when you didn’t know what it was. What was it then? It must have been a complete mystery. Just as the infant looks on the world with the same curiosity and wonder, you can look at that with the same nameless sense of wonder that permeates everything we have come to know.
Throughout each day, we are adding to and narrating our story. Our minds are like story tellers weaving a tale about everything that pops up in our life. I’m constantly telling stories in my head. In fact, for each one of the blogs I actually write up and send out, I mentally write half a dozen. My mind is busy writing instead of Being a great deal of the time. Or it’s caught in a vicious, repetitive, ego dominated conversation with someone who’s not there. When I realize it’s happening I have a choice to either stop the story, or just notice that it’s going on. But I still get sucked into my story over an over again.
Recently I started compiling my past blog posts into one big journal. I’ve been writing these for the past few years and decided I would put them all together into a book. It was beneficial for me to go back and read what I had once written, but in the process of compiling them I realized that I was contributing to the story of the guy who shares these ideas, insights and teachings with others, still seeing myself as my own mind made identity (or the “little me” as some have called it).
Why not just stop telling my story? In my case I think it’s my mind’s self-defense mechanism. When I am setting aside my story, dropping my thoughts, becoming present, connecting with the witnessing presence underneath, becoming still, allowing everything to be as it is (however you want to state it), the mind tends to come in with an attempt to describe it, or grasp it, thereby ensuring its survival. It is attached to the story and doesn’t want to let go. Who would I be without everything I hold as true? It’s a bit scary so the mind starts seeking and the story is then reborn. In fact, the story of the little me who can not see my true nature due to my attachment to my story, is yet just another layer to the story. Raman Maharshi said, “The only blockage to self realization is the idea that there is a blockage. You already are what you are seeking.”
I believe this is a quote by Papaji but I did not cite it when I wrote it down. “So put your story away. It is not who you are. People usually live carrying a burden of past and future, a burden of their personal history, which they hope will fulfill itself in the future. It won’t, so roll up that old scroll. Be done with it.” Gangaji invites us not to deny the story, but not to indulge the story either, and take an opportunity to see what is untouched by the story.
Byron Katie tells us, “We do only three things in life: We sit, we stand, and we lie horizontal. That’s about it. Everything else is a story.” The story is sticky because we’ve been telling it for so long, but what we truly are is far more substantial than just a name or a history or a set of beliefs. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself who you would be without a story. See what the things around you would be without a story.
The story formerly known as Trey ;)