Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Steeping On Stories

Gather round ladies. It's story time... Waiter, could we get a Zen tea, an Advaita straight-up, and I think I'll have a Mystic Mocha shake... And if the guy over in the shadow box would like to join us that's fine too...

Today I spent the day with my mother... I will spare you the details of my relationship with my mother, only to say that our "story" together still hooks me. It is a challenging and often frustrating relationship. I think at least one of you out there can identify with that :) And the older my mother gets (she's 81) the more she seems to be steeped in her stories. Conversations with her now have become one story after another (and often repeated) of how she has been victimized, of how she thinks people are out to get her, how others are not doing things right - translated, not her way. The me vs them stories, and other assorted tales which always seem to be a criticism of others. My mother is not the reflective type, so there has not been much awareness around all this. And I find I am getting irritated with her stories and storytelling of victimization and martyrdom. And this takes me to where I really want to go, which is that *I* am still caught in my stories. And so I’ve been steeping on this lately.

Most of the spiritual teachers say that when we "wake up" to who we really are, the stories dissolve, and we no longer *participate* in the story. That has not been *exactly* my experience. I know who "I" am - the pure Knowing Awake Aware Spaciousness, some call Presence, Beingness, etc. There has been some dissolution of old stories, but there are still stories - which my husband does a real good job of pointing out to me, by the way. I guess that's what husbands are good at - story detectors - probably because they do such a good job of telling them too! :)

On August 1 I wrote in my journal:

"I realize that I am still creating stories! And I realize how I get caught up in other's stories too... It's still about a "me" when I *know* it is not about me... hmmm. A story is about a "me" needing, wanting, grasping after something and not getting it and telling a story about that. It's a "me" and an "other" who is preventing the "me" from getting what it *thinks* it deserves - whether it's material possessions, validation, approval, acceptance, gratification, a relationship, etc. It's still the "me" seeking for something as proof of its existence, even if the story is about me achieving enlightenment. There has to be a *belief* in a separate self, a me, in order for a story to be told, to be believed, in order to be impacted or effected *by* "others, or events or circumstances." oooo - now we're cooking.

It seems we connect through our stories. In my family it's complaining *about* others and life. We've done it as a way of connecting with each other for years.

"So what happens," I pondered in my journal, "when I don't engage in another's story - or my own? The story dissolves, loses its power, impact, becomes a non-issue. AND - there is the risk that the relationship will dissolve as well. That there won't be anything to talk about - no connection." And maybe that's why it's hard letting go of story, because we use story to connect to others, to get a sense of self in relationship. So what if, there were no stories - where would we meet? How would we relate? Can we meet without our stories...?

A new insight also emerged in this steeping... "It seems it's really all just a story, no matter which one we're *believing* or telling - mundane or 'spiritual.' Once the 'Storyteller' wakes up, you realize it's all just a story. And it appears that the dream story continues. The only difference, it seems, is that you *know* it is just a story arising *in* Awareness. From the space of Pure Seeing - one *sees* the story for what it is - Awareness experiencing Itself *as* the story..."

One of my favorite teachers, Scott Kiloby, says: "Stories are not independent of Awareness, but you no longer *identify* with the story. Awareness *appears as* story. We can entertain the story without identifying with it."

And a blog I read recently, called Just Rest, put it this way: "It is a myth to believe that stories will no longer coalesce. It is just that as it is seen that these stories have no existence independent of Awareness, there is less and less identification with any of them, and a greater experience of Spaciousness.... Practice resting in that which is aware of it all."

My experience is that when I am resting in that space of Aware Presence there are still stories, but they don't matter anymore. I'm not *invested* in them, reacting to them, believing in them. And when I find myself hooked *in* a story again, it's like being consciously unconscious. Sounds strange I know. It's like being *in* the story, but aware that I'm in a story. Very interesting experience by the way :)

And so I wonder, can I meet others in that space of Pure Awareness, the place of no-story, no me, just Awareness, just Life expressing Itself, purely and simply without the need for a story of "me"? Or does it matter? Does that also mean no reading the tea leaves, no cock-tales or messy mystic meanderings?!

Heart Smiles - MeANderi


  1. Hi Christine

    Ah the mother thing! You are well aware of all my work I have done with my mother from reading my blog. Painful and difficult are words that come to mind, so my heart goes out to you. And at some point in all the work, things diffused and I could see my mother with out all the layers of resentment that clouded my vision.

    I am trying to think of what might be helpful for you in all of that. I know finally telling my mother the truth, that I saw her as negative, that I felt that she didn't really like me, that she seemed like she was always angry at me, etc, etc. I managed to do that without anger or blame because the question I was asking myself at the time was "how can I be helpful here?" That cnoversation opened her eyes to the effect her behaviour had on me and did give her cause to reflect. She got to see my pain and truly I don't think parents want to cause pain for their children.

    I came to see how I resisted my mother, her stories, her pain. I wanted her to be different. With the encouragement of my friend, the Buddhist monk I kept working away at this. As I worked she kept reminding me never to give up on my mother. She kept me honest and my mother and I did the same dance over and over. In the end I got to see that what my mother wanted most (like so many of us) was my love. Quite simple really, though not easy. And through a strange turn of events, not when I wanted, not by my willing it, I became able to offer that.

    One question I did ask myself when my mother did things that drove me crazy was "how can I be helpful here" That question could cut through "my story" and my negative attitude toward her.

    Such hard work, but such rewarding work, to get in there and roll up our sleeves and roll around in the messiness of life. You can do it! I wish you good luck and god's speed!

  2. Thank you Carole for this!

    Yes, I relate to the issues that you mention with resisting my mother and her stories, wanting her to be different - the conditioned responses, the mental projections and all. And now coming to the realization that it's not about me! Not about me getting what I want from her... This opens me up to just being present to her more cleanly, because I don't *need* anything *from* her. From this perspective she doesn't have to meet my expectations of how I want her to be. But it seems I keep having to revisit all this. It hasn't been a one time realization, but gradual and ongoing...

    What spoke to me the most in what you said here was the phrase: "I could see my mother..." That phrase just popped out at me. Wow, that's profound! Being able to just *see* without the story, without wanting her to be different than she is, or the relationship to be different. From that kind of clear seeing it seems one could be present without getting hooked and reacting. And it seems that compassion, the love, arises from this space as well... the place of just seeing. I have experienced this kind of profound compassion and love *once* with my mother. And then it quickly receded, feeling a little too vulnerable...

    However, I'm discovering lately that it seems all life really is about just seeing, stepping out of story and seeing from the place of Aware Presence...

    with gratitude...