The Story, Part 2
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
There is a very real sense in which we are our past. But then, there is nothing really 'real' about either, is there? Neither our past nor our selves can be said to be a something. There are elaborate arguments which demonstrate that this is the case, but I won't pretend that I can follow them. Nor truly, do I find it necessary to do so. If our experiential understanding requires the underpinnings of careful demonstration, we are on very shaky ground indeed.
So, cutting to the chase, I know that my imagined self sees itself as its past. The "who I am" of who I am is defined in terms of my past. And this is why those who testify to having reached the other shore, speak of having become other than their past. And this is because the 'true self' is 'no-self', and with the transcendence of the egoic-self comes the loss of that which defines it, its past.
I have made previous mention of two such testimonies and offer them again here. The first is by someone who realized no-self through a kind of dark-night-of-the-soul experience. He tells us that his past now seems like someone else’s home movies. The other is the experience of Jill Taylor, who had a neurologically induced ‘enlightenment’ in which she felt the loss of thirty-something years of emotional baggage. In both cases, loss of self also expressed itself as a loss of identification with their stories.
Thus, an investigation of how 'my story' determines my behavior is a powerful means to understanding what makes me tick. Psychology is such a study and one which would attempt to utilize what is learned to assist in improving my life experience. And though this can be very helpful, in both instances (learning and applying), it is not what we are ultimately about. We are more concerned with transcending the root-cause of this story-is-me phenomenon to which psychology restricts itself. We would be free of self altogether and, consequentially, free of the compulsive behaviors which arise from its adherence to its "story". And for this, something beyond psychology is required. Sometimes we call it "Zen". Sometimes we call it “Taoism”.
This leaves us with the ‘how’ of the matter and, fortunately, not enough space to pretend to answer it.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.