“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Ode on a Grecian Urn, J. Keats
Like many other people, I love to talk about the most recent developments on Game of Thrones. I have a little “fan club” among my circle of friends. We text about what happened. We discuss it over tea. We predict what might be happening and what patterns are being woven. We search the net for more ideas to share with each other. And we do it all over again each week.
It is fun. It is exciting to let the mind play. It provides energetic experiences as we replay what we saw, what it meant, what it could mean. But, of course, we know it is a story. We are discussing a story and enjoying the energetic experience that goes along with this. Drama is fun. It is beautiful.
I heard Adyashanti tell a story of a monk who agreed to raise a child born out of wedlock that was not his. The mother told the community it was his, to diffuse the social consequences. In time, she claimed the child and told the community she had lied. The community started to gossip and rile up. The monk told them that at this moment, she was doing the right thing. The time to be mad was over – in the now, she was being noble. But, the community wanted the ego drama. They wanted to focus on beliefs like “She lied” and “She whored” and “She defamed a noble man and let us do it too”. They didn’t think about things like the needs of the child, or the growth of the woman, or the gift the monk had made in his kindness. That would not fuel the ego drama – it would be more Truth, and that does not make for good ego drama.
To me, there are two types of stories: ego drama, and stories that point us to underlying truth by connecting us to beauty. When we are enamored with the pull on our soul from a piece of art, or a beautiful play or movie, what we experience is moving past the Egoic Self, in to the Truth. We are connected to Divinity, and may even be experiencing Unity. I have read books that took me out of this world, and made me cry, or laugh. I could not stop reading them, and dreaded seeing the ending approaching – because my experience would be over.
Why do we love great stories? It is not a coincidence that spiritual teachers have used stories to teach. Whether it is the Bible, or koans, they exist to take us out of egoic mind and move us past self.
In life, when we connect with another person’s story from the heart, I believe we are moving past ego drama to allow the beauty of the story to lead us to truth. Even stories that are about struggle can have beauty to them. And in that beauty, we begin to glimpse the essential truth of being.