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.

Belief Is a Sword

Belief is a sword that we draw to defend ourselves from the truth.
The truth is simply this that is right now. Alive. Untamable.
Unbelievable. Any belief about it diminishes its grandeur. Any
opinion about it divides its wholeness.

When belief and opinion appear, as they will, know that you are
wielding a weapon that cuts and diminishes reality. Set them aside as
quickly as you can without doing further violence. Know that the
weapon drawn to cut another down to size also cuts you. Divides you
from your true self.

There is nothing wrong with disagreement. Disagreement can be
creative . Disagreement helps one to see beyond the horizon of the
known and familiar.

But when I am committed to being right, and I am committed to making
you wrong, when I have to cut you down to build myself up, that is
when the truth, the living truth, is shredded.

It is perfectly possible to disagree, and challenge each other,
without needing to win the argument, without needing desperately to
be right. But that requires a sense of self that is not in any way
dependent on particular beliefs and opinions. It requires a deep love
for reality, for this that is as it is right now. That love does not
come from the mind, which is divisive by nature, but from reality
itself.

And so we know that the truth is love. Reality is love. Reality is
welcoming of everyone and everything. Reality does not take sides,
except to take both sides!

When the individual prefers reality to anything the mind can create,
then that love can permeate even the individual mind or “self.” But
the starting place is not to try to wrestle the mind into compliance,
but to take the perspective of reality, which is perfectly happy with
things exactly as they are (which is not to say that anything will
stay as it is!).

Can we live in the dynamic fullness of this that is as it is? Can we
live in the paradox that reality is perfectly comfortable with
conflict, and that being fully embraced by reality, and fully
accepting that embrace, has a tendency to reduce conflict? Conflict
comes from the belief in separation. Holding such a belief is part of
the real, but the underlying truth is that reality is an unbroken
whole, and to accept the embrace of reality is to return to
wholeness. Embraced by the whole truth, how can any partial truth
survive for more than a little while?

Beliefs and opinions are having a field day, but no one ever believes
anything without someone else believing the opposite, so a kind of
temporary balance is struck that hints at the underlying wholeness
that is never truly broken and can be recalled at any moment.

The Mind Chases Its Tail

I set out to write what I see and know as simply and clearly as
possible. Instead out poured all these words, wrapped in
contradiction. And more words to try to sort out the contradiction,
creating more contradiction. Here it is anyway. I think I may soon
have to stop trying to talk about this.

I have used the word “enlightenment” below but I am not easy about
that, or any other word. At home we call it “scrumny” — the
realization beyond time and words and experiences of that which
always is and always has been. Any familiar word I might use to
describe this will inevitably run up against the rocks of someone
else’s understanding or interpretation of the word, and probably
cause confusion. I am not pretending to know what “enlightenment” is,
in any sense that anyone else might use that word. I only know what I
know, and that is common to us all, to everything. Call it “scrumny”
if that clears up any confusion.

Or call it being alive. Try substituting “being alive” for
“enlightenment” and see how absurd it is to think you can “get” it,
or don’t already “have” it. Because what this all amounts to is this:
being alive (with all that that actually means) is all there is. The
trouble starts when the mind thinks it is anything less than that, or
that it can get something more…

Enlightenment, as I understand it, isn’t something you get. It isn’t
even something that happens to you. It is the realization of what you
already are. Or, even worse, the realization of what you are not. It
is seeing things as they are, or as they are not. The mind, however,
thinks enlightenment is something it can get. And if you tell the
mind it is not something it can get, then it goes about trying to get
it by trying not to get it. This is the way the mind works. It will
go on trying to get it, or trying to get trying not to get it, until
it finally, actually realizes it can’t get it. Until it finally gives
up entirely. Not trying to give up. Not adopting an attitude of
giving up. Actually giving up. Exhausting all avenues of seeking.
Then it realizes it had it all along.

When the mind finally, actually gives up trying to get somewhere
other than 100% here (which is where it is anyway), when it finally
stops thrashing around trying with total futility to avoid the
obvious and inevitable (which is what it has been doing pretty much
all the time), then the truth dawns. The living truth that has
obviously always been the only truth, encompassing even the mind’s
futile, gymnastic attempts to escape it. You (the mind) can think
about this. You (the mind) can try to see it. You (the mind) can try
and try and try to get it. And you (the mind) can even become
resigned to not getting it (with which the mind will soon become
bored, and it will pick it up and try and try again).

And you (the mind) will fail utterly. And that utter failure is the
realization of what has been hanging around all this time waiting for
you (the mind) to really, truly, utterly fail to get it. That is the
simple realization that while the mind was busy living in its own
made-up world of getting that and getting rid of this, life has been
ticking along quite nicely, quite happy even to be a mind that thinks
it can somehow get what it already is.

It’s a joke. The mind gets the idea that it is separate from
everything else, that it is what it calls a “self.” And then
(predictably) it feels rather separated from everything, so it goes
looking for the unity it thinks it lost. Or else it goes about trying
to augment the feeling of separation in a way that makes it feel
temporarily better. We call that “achievement.”

It forgets that it is the one that created the thought of separation
in the first place, so it doesn’t quite know where to look for this
no-separation thing which it sort of remembers as if it were a long
ago dream. And it creates dramatic stories about being kicked out of
paradise, or living in samsara, so it can commiserate with all the
other minds that think they are separate, and that makes it feel
better for a while. And then it takes up the search again. And it
searches and searches, until the search finally ends in total
failure. And then the unity that never left gets to reappear. And you
(the mind) realize that there never was any separation. Only an idea
of separation. And that little idea caused all this trouble. And the
failure of the search, the total failure, is the “return” to what was
never left. This total failure is sometimes called “surrender.”

There’s no faking it. The mind is constantly attempting to escape
from “this that is.” It will continue to attempt to escape until it
finally realizes absolutely that it can not. Until that realization
comes, “this that is” will primarily consist of attempting to escape
from “this that is,” with all its apparent misery. At some point, the
realization comes that escape from “this that is” is absurdly
impossible. What happens then is anybody’s guess, but the mind’s
primary activity just lost its fuel, so it is likely to turn things
to jelly for a while.

In any event, there is nothing “you” can do about this, because
“you,” that feeling of being a separate self, is only this
impossible, absurdly heroic attempt to escape from “this that is.” An
attempt that is absolutely bound to begin, continue, and end in
failure. Which is homecoming. The attempt to escape. The failure of
the attempt. It’s all homecoming. There never, ever, ever, is
anything other than being home. There never, ever, ever was anything
but being home. Only the thought that there could be something
“else,” made it appear, all too vividly, that there was.

“This that is” is so utterly extraordinary, if you stop and look at
it, that it is crushingly sad that we waste so much effort trying to
escape from it, or trying to “better” it (which is another form of
escape). But we do. And we will. Until we realize we can’t. Until we
realize that we (along with everything) are the very thing we are
seeking, and the very thing we are trying to escape.