3. Telling the Story, Part I

Perfect Brilliant StillnessDavid Carse
“I have lived on the lip of insanity,
wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door.
It opens.
I’ve been knocking from the inside!”
– Rumi

RECENTLY, I WAS ONCE AGAIN ASKED to share my story… and once again declined. Good reasons: you see, it is precisely this constant creating and maintaining, telling and retelling, polishing and honing of the personal story which maintains the sense of individual self. The ego is only the story it constantly tells of itself, the experiences and difficulties it has had, the path it has followed, the wounds it carries.

The invitation here is precisely to stop telling the story. When the sense of individual self disappears, this intensely important and deeply cherished story that makes us who we think we are is seen as the really rather shallow and poorly told pulp fiction it is, and it is left without polishing, without retelling, to crumble into the thin air whence it came. This is the invitation to spiritual awakening: to let drop this constant propping up of the belief in yourself as a separate individual self, and in so doing to emerge from endarkenment.

And so, of course, divine justice, or at least divine irony; circumstances dictate that the story is to be told after all. So be it. Let it be done this once, and it will be enough.

There are other reasons for the reluctance, perhaps not so noble: deep resistance in the mind/body, laid down in the fabric of its conditioning. There was a running away from ‘the holy man gig’ once before, leaving behind the Roman Catholic priesthood; a deep distrust of anything that would call attention here, that might reinforce a deadly sense of specialness. Down that path lay certain destruction, and I ran like hell and kept running, constantly shirking the leadership roles that were continuously offered, until I learned to avoid the situations that offered them. Working as a carpenter, hammering nails and sawing two-by-fours, was safe… while the mind, propped up by therapies and medications, teetered on the edge of chaos. Twenty-five years pass, and two failed marriages. Consciousness thinks nothing of time.

Then, goaded by some force unknown at the time (shit, I thought it was ‘my’ idea) the rediscovery and exploration of Native American roots (back when there was thinking that a personal history mattered) gives rise to pottering around with native elders, medicine men and shamans.

One thing leads to another and the david thing, despite finding travel uncomfortable and unpleasant, harboring in particular a secret fear of the (myopically perceived) dark continent of South America, and possessed of a severe allergy to anything involving being part of a group, finds itself nevertheless with four other delightful characters undertaking several days of travel by bus, small plane, canoe and foot, south and eastward from Quito: first down off the Andean plateau, through the cloud forest and then down various tributaries into the upper Amazon basin.

The time spent with the medicine men and shamans of the Shuar people deep in the rainforest is the stuff of great stories filled with wonderful drama. And all of it irrelevant, and signifying nothing, except as an elaborate setup in Consciousness for the rather heavy-handed measures that would have to be taken if the david thing was to be cracked open. Why Consciousness would bother, when there are thousands of deserving and ripe devotees out there just waiting to be popped, is beyond comprehension.

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