Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of May 28, 2007

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Beyond Our Story

The core of our personality is our story, the personal story of our life, full of facts and events, plots and subplots galore. How we see ourselves, how we see the world, and what we do all emanate from our story. Our childhood of parents, siblings, relatives, friends, home, school, home town, and all the associated events create the base story. And it goes on into adolescence and adult years: schooling, friends, jobs, relationships, religion, successes and failures, passions and dreams, difficulties and surprises.

We always carry this personal biography within us. More accurately, it is an autobiography which we selectively remember, interpret, and unconsciously rewrite to suit our current situation. It is the vast epic of who we are, or rather who we take ourselves to be. The story shapes us, perpetuating the patterns of our life. It comes complete with its own narrative voice, our ego and personality that form the central character of our story. We need only listen to our thoughts to hear our inner narrator commenting on everything and taking it all so personally. In a certain sense, we are our story, the continually unfolding tale of one, unique human life.

Our story may be rich, giving us the strength, skills, and wisdom to meet life and contribute to it. But inevitably, parts of our story become burdens and limitations that color our perceptions, our actions, and our future possibilities. This raises the question of whether we can go beyond our personal history, whether we can write our future without being limited by psychological constraints from our past.

Furthermore, because we are so utterly enmeshed in it, our story also blocks our access to the deeper realms of the spirit. The flow of events in time forms the fabric of all stories. Although the Higher also expresses Its will through time, It cannot be found there. Only in the present moment, outside of time, can we touch or be touched by the Sacred. But our interpreted story of the past and our imagined story of the future impinge so heavily on the present that we miss its depths. We stay caught in time, the surface of the present, not seeing the timeless that surrounds us.

Without past or future, though, our whole presence need not be enmeshed in the story. We can rise temporarily beyond our story by entering the eternal stillness of now. In practicing meditation and prayer we grow accustomed to the stillness, we learn to live in it, in presence, which is always and only now. And we thereby loosen the grip of our story, our personal, reactive identity, and rise toward our true individuality.

For this week, notice your story. Notice how the story you tell yourself and others about yourself shapes and creates your personality, your conditioned way of being and acting. See if there are moments when you rise beyond your story, when you cease believing and being it. Can you honor your story without being so invested in, defined by, and chained to it?


     

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