I am in the process of reading ‘Ishmael’, by Daniel Quinn. So far, the book is an engaging, thought-provoking read. Like Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’, it invites one to break down the fundamental pieces of the world vision we have bought into, and question the veracity of these parts. These examined parts can then be reassembled to outline a new, wholly different paradigm. What struck me, as I read this book, was the way we could use this to find freedom from a fixed idea of our self.
Remember, the brain highlights our awareness of evidence that proves our beliefs true.
Further, the brain cannot distinguish between the real and the imagined. We can be victims of these biases, or we can choose to use this to our advantage.
Like the protagonist in my short story, ‘The River Sings. Listen.’, we tend to identify with the character/role we are playing out in this drama of life. Self-inquiry reveals that who we are is not limited to the self-definition we usually buy into.
With ‘Unpeeling Our Labels‘, I offered an exercise to free yourself from your favourite fixed ideas about yourself. There, we focused on examining and disentangling from the character/role we are defining ourselves by.
Here, what I now propose is that we examine and rewrite the entire myth that we have built around this character. (Our core beliefs about our individual identity frames our world-view and filters the consequent experience. Hence, I refer to this personalised narration as a movie or myth.)
Consider this Wikipedia extract from ‘Ishmael’ (that prompted this post):
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people.
Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world.
Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will act as the lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.”
This extract triggered the thought that often, in the attempt to shake off one role-play or dominant quality, we swing to its opposite polarity. What we end up doing is substituting one fixed idea of a self, with another; we peel off one label, only to stick on another.
Consequently, we remain deeply entangled with the protagonist of our personal ‘movie’, albeit now a radically different one. The environment we are drawn into remains one which perpetuates this identity: Remember, for every victim, there has to be a perpetrator, for every winner a loser, and so forth. So every personal ‘movie’- requires a whole paradigm – of relevant characters, recurring patterns, circumstances, locations, and more! In all this, any awakening from the dream is again ignored, if not completely forgotten.
Now, what if we deliberately changed the very myth that we are enacting?
What would change if we moved our focus from the ‘person experiencing life’, to the experience of life itself?
Instead of simply rewriting the character we have identified with, what if for a moment, you thought of this life more in terms of visiting a multiplex? A free, unlimited being walking into an interactive theatre of choice? Deciding that having seen enough of the drama/tragedy/horror/etc. genre, One would like the experience to be of say, lightheartedness or adventure instead?
What experiences would such a setting invoke?
As a corollary, what kind of waveform of consciousness would one be and express as?
If the implication of inverting things like this interests you, here is a way to experiment:
- Mindfully pause and step back – from the identification and entanglement with the current character/role, it’s existing beliefs and it’s consequent perceptions of life.
- Anchor in the remembrance of your true, infinite nature. (As Rumi poetically surmises: “You are as you are, an indescribable message on the air.) From this viewpoint, it is clear that like the actors in the movie, who we truly are – remains untouched through all these transient, worldly experiences. Further, we are capable of all kinds of ways of being – we are not limited to the qualities we have imagined to describe us.
Remembering this, our engagement with the movie is transformed:. The relationship changes to one of playfulness, exploration and ease. Like visitors to an Amusement Park, we are free to explore a different ride. But this time, without becoming lost in identification with the protagonist.
If separation was imagined in order to know our self, express our creativity and have different experiences – then let us remember that – even as we participate in this personal drama.
- From this space of lightness, give yourself a different story to enact. Previously, there were fixed ideas about the governing parameters, motivations and rules of engagement of the personal world we occupied.
Shaped by this, certain traits strengthened within us and one became identified with an archetypal role or temporary states (such as believing our self to being an ‘angry’/’unsupported’/’unloved’/ ‘not good enough’/etc… person. As we did not think in terms of say, ‘I am experiencing anger’, a frequent, but transient state became who we saw ourselves as.) Now, instead of fighting, defending, fixing, or improving this habitual self-definition, envision a new possibility by answering:
What kind of a paradigm would you like to be living in?
Sample questions that can help you articulate the details:
- What is the dominant theme of this new paradigm/personal movie?
Would there be more drama? more comedy? more adventure? more romance? more music?
- What kind of experiences would the protagonist(your role) have?
(Eg. An Indiana Jones protagonist would routinely experience adventure, whereas the star of a musical would likely grow in musical appreciation and expertise!)
- What qualities would this protagonist display?
(Curiosity, bravery, willingness to learn, discipline, persistence and so forth.)
- What kind of a world, community and culture would he/she live in?
- How would this protagonist contribute to this collective story?
- What values would this protagonist embody?
- What kind of people, places and situations is such a character likely to come across?
- What would close relationships be like? How would they behave with each other?
- What is the dominant theme of this new paradigm/personal movie?
These questions are not manifestation exercises but pointers to discovering the way this character would look, perceive, listen, respond and behave in his/her world. It will help you to generate the body language, tone, perceptions and attitude that one would enact in such a story.
Choose a clear summary title, and perhaps a theme song/wallpaper to represent this story. Like a method actor, routinely spend a quiet few moments immersing yourself into this character and its world. Periodically, align yourself to this story using EFT/Now Healing and the title/song/image you have chosen for yourself.
Begin to track and appreciate what changes when you view the world operating from this frame of reference.
It takes a little practice, and of course, old habits have their pull. But our stepping out with a new, conscious approach invariably invokes a different response from everyone and everything around us. Also, let us not forget the beneficial rewiring of our brain over time, thanks to neuroplasticity. So slowly, but surely, one does start noticing shifts within and without.
One way in which we can use such an exercise is to relax our ‘anxious’ viewpoint. To change the story from being victims battling a threatening world to easeful, able beings adeptly exploring a varied world.
ACIM says that defence is the first form of attack. And far too many of us currently see everything as threatening. While it is situationally true for some, for a large number it is an exaggerated, stuck flight-fight response. This exercise can help change our point of view to a more neutral, present and balanced one.
What I found fun and useful with this experiment was:
a) the lightheartedness and flexibility of it – a useful reminder not to take our temporary circumstances so very seriously, and b) how it serves as a persistent reminder to stay awake in the dream; to remember that we are not limited to this personality we repeatedly get caught up with.
If you choose to give it a try, let me know how it played out for you 🙂
And if you liked the idea, you are most welcome to pass it on.
A new year is around the corner. Perhaps, we can all rewrite our individual and collective stories in a way that we more deeply enjoy and appreciate this gift of life.
Good cheer and happy adventures to all!
Image Source: Kodi Forum