The Danger of Stories



Every interpretation is a story
Every experience is truth

This simple guidance will set you up for life, it will bring you peace, settle your mind, and guide your every action. What you can experience is infinite, the understanding that comes from this comes from a deep truth in your being, it has nothing to do with story.


Story is dangerous. It limits you; it causes you to do things blindly, it makes you blind to truth. Stories are uninvestigated belief structures and are believed when you are disempowered towards your own inner truth. When you are deeply connected with yourself you know there is only truth, and no story stands the test of pure experience. And I do mean that.


At a gross level this will be easy to see. If I went out in the sun on a very hot day when I was a child and got terrible sunburn and came home and my mother said, “the sun is dangerous, don’t go outside anymore!” I may well believe her. I have had the experience of sunburn, and my mother’s story is “the sun is dangerous”. I may well spend the rest of my life indoors, afraid. And we may laugh at this example, but we do this all the time, we are doing this with COVID 19 right now. When I say every experience is truth, I really mean every experience. Which means going out and testing it again and again, I go out and test if I stay out for 5 minutes, is it dangerous? I see other people are walking and playing outdoors and I am curious about that. I begin to research and educate myself on what is known about the sun, and then I test, and test, and test. And for something like sunburn, it’s easy to see that depending on my skin, what is true for me, is not true for someone else. If my skin is dark I can go out for hours, if my skin is fair I cannot. My truth is my truth, yours is yours. But in all cases, it is testable.


Stories are untested, uninvestigated beliefs. To carry on the analogy to ridiculous lengths (but happening all the time) Let us say I realise my mother’s story is not my story, I venture out and begin to explore what is my truth. As my skin burns easily, I know to stay out for only an hour then I must protect myself, or I will burn. But then I meet a group who tell me this is nonsense – everyone can stay out as long as they like. Obviously, my Sun chakra is blocked. To unblock it I must meditate under the burning sun until I can withstand the entire day, I need to chant a special Sun mantra and do specific Sun breath exercises, become one with the sun, it is simply my resistance. So, day after day I sit, and I burn.


Uninvestigated beliefs mixed with disempowerment. Painful for me both physically and mentally – as I now begin to think there is something terribly wrong with me, on top of the excruciating sunburn.


Familiar?


After some time, I think to myself, no this really isn’t right for me. I risk the group rejecting me and getting upset when I don’t believe the same thing. I have a choice to stay and try to continue with the torture, or I can go and find others like me who burn after an hour.


I take a huge risk, leave the group and search for one more like me. I find one because in reality there are infinite groups representing all our beautiful diversity. This new group tell me the other group was terrible to enforce their beliefs on me, every one knows you can only sit in the sun for an hour. The other group are either cheating, or delusional. I am so happy! I have found my true place. Then some people join the group who can only go out in the sun for 15 minutes. Obviously, these people need to cleanse their auras. I tell them to go vegan, and take a special herb, then they will not burn. As they continue to struggle and burn I can only assume there is a big blockage somewhere, and they are not taking their diet seriously. Clearly, they are doing something wrong.


And so it goes on.


Stories are dangerous because they begin with the premise “I know the answer”. Experience is your truth because it allows you to come to “I know the answer, for me, today” Experience is not static, it is continuous. This is what life is about. An ongoing and continuous investigation of knowledge, experience, and stimulus.


There is no such thing as “I know the answer”. As Usui said “just for today” I will strive to be kind and grateful. I will strive not to worry or anger. I will test, test, test. Be alert, be awake, be present. Today, what works and what doesn’t. What feels right, and what doesn’t. Clean slate, every single day.


This is not easy to do, at all. But this is what I refer to when I say every experience is truth.


Interpretation and story are easier, we can take an experience, make a story out of it, and file it away in the “done” pile. The danger is this then translates into actions, and then after some time we stop collecting experience. Often the experiences can begin to tell us something quite different, but we still follow the original program we filed away. This is what happens to us when we have uninvestigated childhood stories. My father shouted at me for talking back, so now as a 45 year old, I don’t speak up in meetings. Or my mother told me “nice girls don’t make a fuss” so here I am at 37 accepting substandard behaviour from my boyfriend. Whatever it is, we have hundreds of these beliefs playing out and limiting our behaviour and actions. We have stopped looking at our “just for today” experiences.


This is why all spiritual teachers tell us to come into the present moment. This is where experience lives. Interpretations happen in the mind, the ego. That part of us that wants to make the unknown known. We want to look at the sun and make it known – is this good or bad, what do I do with this? How do I work with it? What are the rules? We do this because the mind is easily overwhelmed by all the data and experiences hitting it every day. And this overwhelm is self-created too because the mind is trying to categorise, and re-categorise, analyse and re-analyse every single thing. Of course we start to file things, its self-preservation.


But in the present moment there is no need to file. We have collected wisdom through our experiences – the sun can burn. In our experience we have seen this to be true. But we have not interpreted it to mean anything. It is not good or bad, there are no rules, it is left open. The sun can burn, and with this wisdom we go out and we pay attention. This is the present moment as an adult which is different from a child. We know many many things, we have knowledge, experience, intelligence.


Beware all stories, even the ones that make you feel good. When you were little, you probably had a few feel-good stories up your sleeve for when you felt scared. I used to imagine angels sitting on the base of my bed protecting me from the evil monsters who lived under my bed. It was very helpful for me when I was younger. But if I still had that story it would mean I still believe in evil under-bed dwelling monsters. Luckily I have always trusted my experience and day after day I never met a real monster, so I could safely let go of the belief that they exist. If I ever do meet one in the future, then I may well invite the angels back in again, or I may ask what is so interesting under my bed? Maybe there’s a fabulous party I am missing out on, will there be snacks?


Stay present.


Notice when you are present you are open, curious and the things you investigate become fascinating and rich. When you are in story it makes things flat – you think you know the answer so new information cannot arise. You shut the door on new experiences. Over time this dulls your life, new experiences cannot arise.

When you are present, even the most mundane chore becomes a fascinating endeavour. I heard someone say recently the creative endeavour is born through boredom. Oh dear. In my experience the creative endeavour is born from the pure delight of expressing life. Creativity is the experience of life in flow.


But whatever I say is also just a story to you. It is my truth born from my day to day experience, and it is evolving and changing daily. No point believing me, I will have a different story tomorrow. One day my creative endeavour is beautiful and kind and inspiring, the next day my creative endeavour is to scream and shout and throw a tantrum. All in the weeks work.


I bring this up as our world is amping up the stories, it’s confusing and disorientating, especially when mixed with fear, anger and anxiety. It is very important to get the distinction straight in your own mind at least. I am bringing this up as more than ever the planet needs people to be clear, to be present, and to be connected with their own inner truth. Now is not the time for more stories.


Take your power back. What are the facts? What are the interpretations? An interpretation is only that, it is not a truth. It is probably not even very helpful. Stick to the facts, stick to the present moment, don’t waste your time and energy on interpretations and stories. Enjoy yourself minute by minute. The present moment will bring you so much joy and awe. The present moment is infinite, absorbing, creative, rich, and expansive.


And it will unfold into the next moment, and the next, and the next.