One of the key steps in getting out from under the story of the ego is seeing it. If we cannot see that we are living in a story, it will continue to hold us. And it’s never a good story, however good a spin you give it.
To escape our cage, first and foremost, touch the silence. Connect with our true Self within. If we do not know who we are, we will not see the choice. Second is inquiry, the inner question of who is having this feeling or experience. This helps us culture the habit of stepping back into the neutral observer, the awake silence we are within. With more experience of the silent observer, we begin to allow that to be.
(For myself, I naturally inquire but meditation did the larger share. I had the fortune of spending 6 months on a retreat in the 70’s. Without that luxury, a little more conscious inquiry may be in order. That said, with the present liveliness, more is accomplished on a weekend retreat now than 6 months took back then. )
From that vantage, we can begin to see the story, see the drama in play and begin to choose what we favour with our attention. It can be quite a revelation. Ego will not likely be comfortable with this seeing and will thus play further convoluted games. But when we begin to see it’s all head games, the jig is up. Ego begins to lose it’s grip. The story we live our lives by and consider our “reality” often makes little sense, built on some long forgotten stories like the above. Some made when we were children and did not understand adult behaviour.
We will be unable to step out of the grip of the story until we step out of the ego once and for all. There’s good reason they call this awakening. As many teachers observe, we can do this any time. It only takes one brief moment of surrender to what is. Then we switch from the person in a story having experiences of silence to silent peace observing a person having a story. We have stepped off the stage and can now disengage with the role.
In the meantime, stopping to look is useful. One of the most potent territories for observation is in relationship. Here in the world of the heart, we hold some of our most deeply held stories. The greatest dramas often play out on the stage of “love”.
A friend of mine reminded me of this recently. He ran into a women he admired in a coffee shop. He asked if he could join her and she said no. That is all that happened. But if the mind still has a story there, it will do 3 things:
1) It will take it personally. “I am hurt/angry, etc”
2) It will seek to answer why. “Why was/ would…”
3) It will judge it wrong and blame. “They/that did it”
These are the dead giveaways you have a story at work.
1 – Our happiness is determined largely by how we respond to what arises. Do we simply experience it or do we take it personally? If we’re caught up in the story, we will only take it personally. It is only about me and how I feel. If we’re not quite so caught up, we can take a step back and choose. You’ll probably find some areas of your life where the junk just washes by. And other areas where the drama actively engages or where you avoid the experience to avoid the story – you never would have even asked her.
Note that it’s not hurt you are avoiding, it is the story you avoid as that will cause you to feel hurt. It is not the circumstance that causes emotional pain, it is our response to it, the story we regurgitate. We thus miss out on all kinds of richness of experience, simply to avoid being reminded of our pain. (healing)
Stepping out of attachment comes in stages. At first, we’ll see the dynamic after it has played out. “Rats, I shouldn’t have said that.” Then, we’ll begin to see it while its happening. And finally, we will see it as it arises. Then we have the choice to nip it in the bud.
2 – In this and many situations there is no why. She simply said no. We could conjecture any number of reasons why she said no. But we don’t know. And even if we were to ask her why, she may not have considered it or may offer her own story. Or we may not accept it. In the absence of an explanation, the mind will dwell on it, go deeper into the story, and come up with a ‘likely’ reason. Usually related to some past story, sometimes in the most bizarre way. This is why it’s called the story – it has nothing to do with reality. And yet our heads are full of this stuff. You want some more? Read the paper or watch the news. You don’t even need to go to the gossip column. It’s on the front page. It’s the top story.
If you study science, a good part of scientific method is developed to avoid just this. Doesn’t always work though as scientists often fail to recognize the depth of their own subjectivity.
3 – And finally, we will play the ego game. Ego makes things wrong to make itself right. Another name for this is blame. Often, opinion. Do you have an opinion about most things? Ever asked why? Ego will even make self wrong if it supports the story. We intone the mantra “I’m such a screw-up” or “They always…”, each time we make it wrong. ‘Never’ and ‘Always’ are ego words, overstating the case. We do this hundreds or thousands of times a day out of pure habit. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. And see if you blame the blame. “Oops – I blamed. I shouldn’t have done that. Oh – I shouldn’t have shouldn’ted. Hmm – I shouldn’t have shouldn’ted the shouldn’t. I’m no good at this!” And on it goes.
For deeply held beliefs, ego will even sacrifice the life of the body. This is how they train soldiers. And this is how powerful the story is. It runs your life and virtually every decision you make, large or small. And this is very simply because it determines how you perceive and feel about your circumstances. You don’t see what is, you see what you tell yourself is there and what it “means” to you.
If you are still not convinced, here is a simple gauge. If you are not now feeling an unchanging backdrop of peace, bubbling with happiness, then you are in the story to some degree. You are in peace or you are in ego. In fullness, or in resistance. Ego has to mask it’s fragile grip on emptiness. That mask is the story, an effort to explain away its roots. For an ego is founded in fear and insecurity in the sub-conscious core identity. Founded in a false belief in being separate, then clinging to it’s facade with illusion.
The really annoying part – the story is rarely a good story. Because it’s based on making wrong, it is a story of lack, of better than, of judgment. Thus, it is a story of suffering and pain.
It is the strangest of effects. We live in a world that arises out of pure joy and is immersed in an ocean of love. For the trivial honor of being a separate person, we create a personal hell.
Gratefully, we are now in a time where that’s no longer necessary. We can see through the game and step into the light. A light that is brighter than any flight of the imagination can conceive. A world that is greater than we can dream. A world made solely out of yourSelf.