I am grateful when friends tell me their stories. As I listen, I notice two things: a feeling of compassion for the person as they work out their relationship to the story, and an awareness that it is all story, signifying nothing. This is true of my own stories. And I am so grateful for that.
“When you read a novel, and you read about various characters, you may like some and not like others. Or when you watch a movie, think about your relationship with the characters. You might like them; you might not like them—but you’re not finding your sense of self in them. You’re not referencing your self-worth by the characters in a novel or when you turn on the TV. You just have your thoughts about them.
But imagine if you turned on your TV or you read a novel and you actually completely derived your sense of being and your sense of self from one of the characters. Immediately your perspective is very different, isn’t it? Now your perspective has gone from something that’s very vast to something that’s very limited, seen only through the eyes of the character. Sadly, that’s how most human beings spend their lives. They have this little character in their mind called “me,” and they’re actually viewing that “me” as personal when it’s not.”-Adyashanti
One realization that has been significant for me is that nothing is personal. It all just is. The sunny day is not personal. The drive to work is not personal. My job is not personal. The bills aren’t personal.
Where I still struggle is in how I relate to people and those I have deeper relationship with like my daughter. My love for her seems very personal. Yet I understand in some way that I am experiencing a state of love in relation to her. Or drop the pronouns: there is just love.
Or, how do I relate to people when it is very personal for them? Their broken heart, their work, their stress and anxiety? So far, all I have is compassion. I get irritated sometimes, either because I wish more peace for them, or because they are speaking to a place that still upsets me too. It’s hard to remember sometimes that the story signifies nothing.
To some, the phrase “signifies nothing” is depressing. It might bear the bleakness of the full Shakespearean quotation. For me, when things are not personal, when we don’t project meaning over them, the whole world changes.
“You don’t lose the character; you just gain the whole novel of life. It’s not like you lose anything. You just gain the whole book. You gain the whole universe.”- Adyashanti