Monday, November 24, 2008

And the Story Goes On

Hey guys,
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.
In peace,
The story formerly known as Trey ;)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Political Correctness

This post was written prior to the election, As a post election note - I was over joyed to see Obama win the election in a landslide. These are some truly historic times we are all living in. I feel so lucky to be here to witness it.

Dear friends,

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful time of year. The Fall colors are in full force. The air is crisp. The insects that have been providing songs all Summer long are growing quiet. The nights are getting longer. But there is something else in the air. The impending election and financial crisis has a lot of people on edge. Politics seems to be on everyone’s mind and is the subject of many conversations. All while activists on both sides are doing their best to help ensure their candidate wins.

I have tried not to get sucked in by all of the drama, but I’ve watched a debate or two and listened to a few news stories. What I see is different people who have different ideas about what is best for our country. What I also see is negative light being cast on those who have a different idea about what’s best for our country. “I’m right,” “No, I’m right,” seems to be the easiest way to sum it all up.

Regardless of what our political views are, we think they are right, otherwise we would not cling to those views. When these beliefs are held too tightly, it results in negatively judging those who do not agree. Often times people will go to great extremes to prove they are right and the other person is wrong. This is what wars are fought over. In fact, the ego can’t even entertain the possibility that our beliefs might be wrong.

The interesting thing about it is that no one can really be impartial or unbiased if they are clinging to beliefs. Everything they hear is colored by their beliefs. We only hear what we want to hear, which reinforces the belief that we are right. The spin doctor in the head (the ego) is being fed by the spin doctors of the candidates and the media (their egos).

I have not been very politically active since I became diagnosed with epilepsy, and found a new path to follow. If you haven’t heard the story before, I had my first grand mal seizure, which led to my diagnosis, on November 7, 2004 (my anniversary is coming up). I had just learned that John Kerry had conceded the Presidential election before all of the votes in Florida had been counted. I was quite shocked, and as I went into the kitchen to tell my wife, I seized. A while later in the ER, I was told I had had a seizure. Prior to that event, I was an avid Bush hater (though I’m not now), and had been very politically active since the 2000 election. So, this was a bit of a climactic experience that made me realize there is more to life than politics.

Needless to say, I am familiar with all of the frustration people have about politics. But I was lucky enough to have my priorities set straight after the last Presidential election. I now see how harmful this animosity for opposing views can be to everyone involved. I may have my own ideas about who might be best suited to run the country for the next four years, but I see both candidates as people who want to win for what they perceive to be the greater good. I no longer have any animosity for anyone, and know that it’s arrogant of me to think that I know what’s best.

I thought I would leave you with some lyrics from a Michael Franti (of Spearhead) song entitled “Is Love Enough” that seems well suited for this occasion. May we all remain open to the possibility that our ideas about what’s best may not be what is best after all.
In peace,

We want freedom of speech
but we all talkin' at the same time
We say we want peace
but nobody wants to change their own mind

And So it goes on and on and on and on and on
for a thousand years
A thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on and on
What language are your tears
are your Tears

Everybody wants to live the life of kings and queens
but nobody wants to stay and plow the fields
Everybody wants to tell their neighbors how to live
but nobody wants to listen to how they feel

And So it goes on and on and on and on and on
for a thousand years
A thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on and on
What language are your tears
are your Tears

What I got to say right now
is love enough, yeah
love enough, yeah
love enough
or can you love some more...