We might rightfully ask – What is the value of telling an awakening story? It is after all just a story. As I was reminded recently, “Those who know do not say, those who say do not know.” (Lao Tzu) Or there’s the similar Yogananda quote that anyone who says “I am enlightened” isn’t. I’ve gotten that one too.
The above quotes become easy ways to dismiss anything you disagree with or want to put down. And indeed, if the story is being used to prove a personal awakening, it should be considered highly suspect. It’s not the me that awakens – we awaken FROM the me.
Further, each of us have a life that is unfolding in a unique way. While the underlying process is the same, how we experience the unfolding will be distinctive. What then is the value of telling such a story?
In the answer lies the key, the secret to what some call transmission or darshan. Namely, the value of such a story is not in the story itself but in the telling. Not in the content but in the process of speaking, writing, hearing, and reading.
When someone awake shares such a story, they enliven the process in themselves. They’ve been through it. If someone is able to listen without giving too much heed to the mind grasping at the content, and they resonate with the speakers laws of nature, that can be enlivened in themselves as well.
Similarly, this is the value of satsang, of listening to a spiritual discourse, or of the many stories told in spiritual and religious circles for millennia. It’s not in the story itself, it’s in what the process of telling and hearing enlivens in us.
For example, Lorne Hoff describes his conference calls as a conversation of Self with Itself. I’ve found some don’t “get it” because the mind is in there, trying to grasp something in the content. This is what is usually expected of us in our culture. If instead you let the mind settle and simply listen then there is the opportunity for the silence to hear and a shift to be catalyzed.
On the other hand, if a person comes to it as the same old, the mind will collect stories about it and think it knows what awakening is. But the mind will never be able to grasp what is beyond itself. All it will have is stories, not reality. It will have filler, not being.
Of course, live has the strongest such effect. But some stories and songs have been told for so many years that they are lively in group consciousness and have power, even if coming through a less clear form. Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah would be a good example there. The words cover an ancient tune, drawn out by Leonard and immediately popular. They stopped allowing licensed versions as there was so many requests.
To understand this a little more deeply, just consider the dynamics of consciousness itself, what is actually awakening. Self-aware consciousness has the value of observer, process of observing, and object of observation. The mind focuses on sensory information, keeping us identified with the objects. Spiritual practices draw us back into the observer or seer and we become aware of being aware.
But for awakening to take place, that awareness has to go a step deeper into itself. By shifting into the process of observation, we detach from the content and awareness is given the opportunity to notice itself observing, here, in this point. When it recognizes itself, pop!
That is the value of telling the story. How it is told and how it is heard. It’s all in the means.
Once again, “By virtue of unitedness and by means of that which remains to be united, I perform action to generate wholeness of life.”
Here, things have organized themselves to indicate it’s time to share the story.