Out Of The Past

When we look at the world, we see our thoughts.  There is nothing we see that does not have a story attached to it.  The story may be a memory (a cup bought on vacation; a gift from a treasured friend), or it may be an opinion (I like this; I don’t like that).  But whether we are aware of it or not, we attach stories to everything we see, and those stories all arise from the past, because the past is all we know.

Our stories are not necessarily bad things.  But they are only stories.  To see something fresh, something new, as if for the first time, as if you had no idea what it was and no opinion about it–that is to see something truly.  When you stop seeing only the past, you are open to possibility, to the future.

This is why all the sages counsel us to be here now–to stop dwelling on our thoughts of the future and the past and to be in the present.  Because to be in the present, without limiting it to what you think it is or should be, is what allows you to make the best decisions, to express yourself fully, to enjoy the flow of life around you.

Enjoy your stories, but do not forget that is all they are.  Let them go if they aren’t serving you; create new ones.  Start with where you are, and with what is possible.

Everything begins here.

Beauty & The Beast

Once upon a time, a woman so kind, so pure, so lovely that her very name was Beauty was taken prisoner by a hideous Beast.  Through time, Beauty grew to love the Beast, and her love transformed him into a prince.

Like all true stories, the tale of Beauty and the Beast may be understood various ways.  The first, the most common reading, is that the love of a good woman can turn even a beast into a prince.  This is the secret gift of love–that its presence awakens all of us, brings us from darkness into light.  When we know we are loved, we know we are free to be our true selves, our most authentic, most wise, most lovable selves.  When we feel the touch of love, we are transformed.

Another reading of the story is that the Beast represents a part of Beauty herself, the unknown and denied animal nature within, the subconscious, the primal.  To be fully whole and free, Beauty must learn to accept this part of herself, her darkness as well as her light, as we all must.  Only by accepting and loving the darker parts of herself can Beauty come into her true power and grace.

But I see an ever greater lesson hidden within this story.  As I see it, the Beast represents the whole world, the whole universe.

At the beginning of the tale, Beauty finds herself in a strange world governed, she thinks, by a monster.  Everyone else–her family, the townspeople–tells her that the Beast is a monster and that she is not safe with him.  When she looks at him, she sees what she expects to see, what everyone has told her to see–a Beast.  And yet, the Beast is kind to her.  Gentle.  He gives her everything she could ever wish for, every comfort, every pleasure.  Even, when she asks for it, her freedom.  The reality of the Beast is far from Beauty’s expectation, far from the claims of the outside world.

When Beauty finally sees with her own eyes and heart the reality of the Beast’s love, she sees the truth that was there all along–that the Beast is a handsome prince, and that she is his beloved.

Life is much like this.  We come into the world terrified, and we learn from our family and friends that the world is a cruel place full of suffering.  We are afraid, we think ourselves alone.  And yet, if we only open our eyes and our hearts, what do we see?  We see trees, oceans, flowers–beauty spread across the earth.  We feel the warmth of the sun and feel the arms of our loved ones.  We hear the birds sing and children laughing.  If we look deeper, trust in love rather than in fear, we see there is no end to the beauty and the love that surround us.  We see that even freedom is ours, if we choose it, for the ultimate freedom, the freedom to be our true and authentic selves, has never been denied us.  We see the beauty of the world, and we know ourselves beloved, just as Beauty did.

This is the secret:  We are Beauty.  We are Beloved.  But we can only see what we are.  We must find the beauty within before we can find it without.

Quiet

Wisdom creeps near when it finds one who is sitting, listening, opening.  It is like a small creature of the forest, frightened away by loud noises, by loud thoughts; drawn only to the beauty that dares to visit alone.  It trusts only those who are still, patient and open, those who will greet vulnerability with love.

Our thoughts are a field of butterflies:  numerous, fragile, impossible to contain.  But some are worth catching.  The ones nearest our own souls will slow down their flight, wait for us to catch up and wrap a net of pen and paper around them.  They will not fly away, not if we sing them our stories.  Not if we promise to listen well.

What song do they sing?

Live now.  Be here now.  Be radiant now.

Can you see that this is Heaven?

All our transformations begin within.  The external world follows the soul, not the other way around.  Some say our world is an illusion; I believe it is a mirror, a reflection offering us the chance to learn, to grow, to explore.  As our souls grow and expand, our worlds grow with them, for we are one.

Be open to change.  Say yes, and give thanks.  Then keep listening to the quiet voice of wisdom that lives within your heart.

Mirrors

Stories are our mirrors, truer mirrors than those made of glass.  They show us who we are, and who we hope to be.  They help us to see, to understand, to make sense of our lives and our journeys.  They create connections between us and our worlds.

True stories are the oldest form of alchemy.  When a story weaves and wraps itself around your soul you are forever altered.  The world will never look the same again, will never be the same again.  The stories that haunt you are reflections of yourself.

So how do you sing the song of your life?  Do you choose to tell your story as the ancient bards did, weaving stories that heal, refresh, teach and counsel?  Are you the hero or the victim, the child or the king?

We all create mirrors.  Choose yours wisely, and then do not be afraid to look deeply into the glass.

Story Teller

We are all stories.  We move through our lives like storybook heroes and heroines, facing villains, seeking the aid of wise counselors, searching for treasure.  And we pin together the moments of our lives by telling ourselves stories, by imagining that the thread of the tale is consistent and meaningful.  It is a safety device, a way to feel some measure of control, of protection even.  We create imaginary worlds, where we cast others as allies or enemies, but they are all stories.  They are not truth, although we often think they are.

What is true is what lies beyond the stories, beyond the dramas, behind even our very thoughts.  The mystery.  The eternal.  The real.  Some call it mindlessness, but only because we lack the words to describe the indescribable.  And so we continue to tell our stories, to live our lives as stories.  Until the day when we see past it all.  Until we are able to connect with our true and eternal selves, and know ourselves home at last.

We are the mystery we seek.

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