For the longest time, I discovered that I was plugging into my story. And sometimes into the others’ stories. Until one day I discovered the joy of unplugging from stories and learning to listen to the story of life itself.
A story that is in fact not a story. Call it what you will- Reality, Life, Love – which is always wise, completely kind. A ‘story’ which honours everyone, all the time. A story that seems difficult to comprehend.
A dear friend of mine shared how we are so plugged into our own stories, can we pause and listen to others stories? Another sincere friend wondered- How might I learn to do this? It is beyond just Listening. It seems so huge.
I share my story 😉 – of how I have learnt and continue to discover what it means to listen to the wisest story ever- the story of life. Many friends, many fellow-travellers, teachers, masters, experiences have taught me to listen to the delicious story of life.
This story seems more like a song. Pieces of this unfolding song…
One thing that prevented me from listening to this song of life was the story that there was indeed someone to blame for what was ‘happening’ to me! Until I discovered that I was completely responsible and so was the other. And what was even more amusing was to see that the other was really an aspect of me! And I was an aspect of the other. For example, I would often keep telling my wife- ‘Why do you blame? If only you could stop finding fault with others…’ One day I stopped short in my tracks and noticed that what I was doing was precisely that. Blaming her for blaming. What remained was laughter at this crazy human-ness! Further, I discovered, how, the meaning of my communication was the response that I got. Not what I said but what was received. And what that created.
Then again, there was a time when I would focus on someone’s “negative” behaviour. And judge that. Sometimes so subtly that even I would not notice it. I would be ‘teaching’ that ‘All behaviour has a positive intention’ and I would struggle to see that. Even when I could see it, I would not be able to ‘feel’ it. I would blame myself. Until I made peace with myself recognising that we do end up teaching what we most need to learn!
A friend once criticised me on facebook. And how I churned. Believing his story 😉 Fortunately, I have had friends who have held the space for me to see how the outer is mirroring the inner. Friends with whom I have been able to share the rawness of my human feelings. Anger, sadness, hurt, fear, guilt. Friends who have loved me nevertheless- thus enabling me to love myself. Enabling me to feel my feelings instead of avoid them, suppress them, deny them. And to then discover the after-glow of wisdom that emerges in the aftermath. I could connect with the pain of the friend who was criticising me and also the positive intention of wanting to get a result that was precious to him.
I found it easier to take responsibility but how do I inspire others to own, to claim, to not feel like victims. I realised that only to the extent that I can tune into the victim in me and empathise with the other, can I begin to inspire. And gradually I began to learn how to inspire. It required me to be authentic, even vulnerable. To speak from the heart. To listen to the other’s heart. And listen not only to the view of the other, but the feeling. Not only the feeling but the deepest desire and commitment. One of the gifts that life provided me was the willingness to innocently wonder. I love what Rumi says, ‘Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment’. The invitation to shift from frustration to fascination.
And then along with speaking and listening from the heart and wondering inside and aloud together, I received the gift of spacious silence. To listen to not just the other or myself. But to this moment. To notice that in each moment there is such abundance. I love the beautiful lyrics of a song in ‘Munnabhai lage raho’.. ‘Yeh mat soch ki is zindagi mein kitne pal hain, yeh soch ki pal mein kitni zindagian hain’ (Don’t worry about how many moments this life contains, instead marvel at how many lifetimes does this moment contain)
One of the most magical parts of this journey of listening to the various stories and then taking a leap into the song of life beyond all the stories was what two of my dearest teachers, Byron Katie and Dr. Demartini taught me. And thanks to GD who brought Katie to me and Nithya who brought Demartini to me. So Katie taught me to play with my thoughts, especially my judgements. To play by tossing and turning them- how children play with each other. Learning to see things upside down, backside front and inside out. And seeing that all those views are precious. All those stories have some truth in them. And hence to hold my original story (or judgement or view) which I held very tighly, a little lightly. I discovered that does make life shine more brightly.
I was working and playing with a friend who started with the judgement and an emotional charge – ‘They should understand me’ – as we went thru Katie’s 4 questions- 1. Is it true? 2. Can you be absolutely sure it is true? 3. How do you feel when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without that thought? – she was able to see that the only thing that was stinking was the thinking 😉 – and when we fought with reality, we always lost. And indeed how what was occurring was indeed kind. There were hidden blessings in them not understanding her. And then turning it inside out, she saw the deeper wisdom of why and how a) ‘They should not understand me’ 😉 b) ‘I should understand them’ .
c) ‘I should not understand them’ d) ‘I should understand me’ and finally, e) I look forward to them not understanding me – Ah! The deliciousness of reality, the kindness of life. The wisdom of the moment. Tears flowed. And what remained was laughter. Wiping out years of pain and illusion and stories- and together we rediscovered the song of life. At least for now and maybe something has shifted in my life and hers 😉