17 September 2008

Lost in the Story of "Me"

One moment I am deeply absorbed in the story of "me" and "mine," so
deep into it that it doesn't feel like a story, it feels like truth.
The next moment I have fallen right out of the story. The story is
still there, but like seeing words on a page, the story of "me" is
seen as a story. I am no longer absorbed by the story, no longer
identified with it, no longer feel like a character in it. Belief in
it has disappeared. It has lost its spell.

Everything that I have always taken to be "me" is seen as a fiction
invented in the brain. And who then am I if not this story that used
to be my entire sense of "me?" With what am I now identified? Where
is the boundary of me? It is gone. The story of me is still here. The
body still appears to be here. The apparent trajectory of the body
through life is still here. But none of that is "me" anymore. I just
can't find any "me" to identify with all of that. It just is, without
a "me" at the center. Who am I? I simply can not truthfully answer
that question. There does not seem to be any "I" anymore, even though
everything remains essentially the same as before. I am whatever it
is that formerly was spinning the story of "me" and was totally
captivated by the story, and now is no longer. This "I am" still
finds the story interesting, but is not absorbed wholly into it.

In recent weeks something has been looking at the story of "me" and
"the world" and trying to find some place in the narrative that will
captivate it again, captivate it in that old way so that it becomes
completely absorbed in the story, completely lost in the images and
meanings that are part of the story. I don't understand what it is
that is doing this. Some nostalgic part of the brain I guess. It
seems to think that getting lost in the story again will be some kind
of homecoming.

It's not going to happen, not for long anyway. Once the story is seen
through, there is no going back to the suspension of disbelief that
the story requires. The story of "me" is so very compelling, until it
is seen through, until the words are seen on the page and the images
and meanings collapse. You fall right out of the page, and there is
no hope then of ever knowing who you are, no hope of identifying with
anything.

Not that anyone really falls out of anything. It's just that the
story of "me" no longer works as a means of identification, as an
adequate description of what I know I am. The stories we tell
ourselves about ourselves just aren't true. The image we have of
ourselves and the world, everything we know, is completely fictional.
And nothing more so than the sense of being a separate "me." Who we
are, there's no other way to say it, is everything. We are the dance
of everything. There are no separate selves. I was raised a Christian
so I know what heresy this is within that context, although I think
you can find hints that this is exactly what Jesus was talking about.
There is no "self" that is separate from God and needs to return to
God and be accepted or saved by God. There is only God. God is
everything. That separate self thing is a story invented and
constantly revised and maintained in the brain. A fictional character.

But let it be known, that to see the nature of the story of "me" as a
story, to really see it and not just have an idea about it, is to
fall away from everything that drives humans to do the things we
normally do. All our striving is born out of uncompromising belief in
the story of the separate self. When that story no longer captivates,
when it is seen clearly for the fiction that it is, well, there's no
telling what might happen.

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