Saturday, 19 November 2011

There’s a reason we tell stories....


I have been reliably informed that one of the delights on the spiritual path is to discover that ‘we have made ourselves up’!  After some careful contemplation I feel I have been able to understand this concept and how it relates to other dynamics that unfold within spiritual teachings. After a good rummage about within my psyche I must say I am hard pressed to find anything intrinsic to me on a cognitive level.  My name, history and personal traits are all sculpted from the imagination of others. I was born in the West Yorkshire town of Bradford and was raised in a neighbouring area called Guiseley.  These pivotal geographical landmarks to my history sound so real and solid, and yet they are simply labels provided from histories rich tapestry, projected upon a mass of populated land. On some level it feels quite straight forward to validate the transparency of these titles, but alas this only scratches the surface. The thoughts that do the labelling have an even more mysterious component. The elusive but potent stream of cognitions that label and define us arise and abide from a source that is without location (best proved under meditative scrutiny), and then immediately dissipate into nothing. Its one thing to be part of the story, but quite another to realise that we don’t truly know or understand ‘what’ is writing it....
It truly is ‘mind’s world’ as Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche has stated in many of his Western dialogues. ‘Mind’ for whatever it is, is perpetually creating a narrative that recreates itself through relationships and personal experiences.  The use of language that underpins this hypnotises us, binding us into its ongoing creative lustre. Within this we forget that it is simply a story, and that we are making each other up as we hurtle along the journey. What really is a ‘Simon Dennis’ I could ask myself, other than a convenient label of the imagination! My psychological traits are an even more intimate extension of this.  How I see the world on a conventional foundation was shaped by how my family imagined the world to be in my formative years. I am simply a continuum of the story, which is being retold and impacted upon by my ongoing relationships and experiences within the world.
People often question whether the Buddha or Christ literally existed. Although this is a natural enquiry, I wonder how many of these individuals questioned whether they exist themselves?  However the stories of these spiritual ‘supermen’ came into existence, it is clear that their inspiring messages offer a story that can expand and recreate our own earthly tales in a positive way. Spiritual teachings often use images or mythical figures to extend on man’s ability to understand the psyche. As discussed in my previous article, Satan can be looked at as a mythical beast, or as a pragmatic way of viewing the unconscious. Our historical family of two thousand years ago did not have the benefit of psychoanalysis, and so expansive stories were required to translate the teachings into a digestible and on mass way.  In a similar way, visual images or mandala’s can expand the mind to look at the nature of our experience in a more cohesive manner.  A story or image can increase our capacity to try and understand what our true nature is, but it is the source of the story rather than the story itself that we are trying to eventually access.

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