At this time in our present history, we have the ability to be conscious of the stories we have been taught and how they define us, as well as the stories we unquestionably have believed about who another is. We can be willing to be unguarded with ourselves, and we can take responsibility for the result. We can marvel when we discover that the stories of previously demonized others (enemies) are as beautiful and multi-layered as our own. We mature when we realize that some of the stories cherished as the foundation of our culture are flimsy and insubstantial in truth and are sometimes outrightly false. One generation’s true and defining story can be proved to be a lie in the next generation. Stories that celebrate freedom and revolution against tyranny can turn on themselves and become stories of reigns of terror.
We recognize the location of the story in our flesh and emotions. From this recognition choice is born. We have most often either chosen to continue the given story or to rebel against that story. There is yet another choice. We have the capacity to take a moment and release all stories. We can experience what it means to be nobody, uncovered even by our primary identity.
Underneath all the stories, we can experience that deep core of ourselves that is history-less, genderless and parent-less. Naked. That presence is unencumbered by relationships and has no past and no future. In the core of our being-ness we are free of definitions. Unencumbered by our definitions we experience ourselves as conscious intelligence aware of itself as open, endless space. This instant of being story-less is an instant of freedom. For even if our story is filled with light and beauty, to the degree that we define ourselves through that story, we are less free.
After such a moment, stories are never the same. They can be present, as they most likely will be, but they no longer have the inherent power to define our reality. The inner-wealth that is available to us is no longer limited or augmented by particular inner or outer events. While the personality or the “creature-ness” of each individual continues just as stories continue, the underlying awareness, the true “I” has come home to itself.
After such a moment, choice is present where before we were blindly choice-less. When we are not blinded by the stories that have been created for us, or the stories we create, we can appreciate the mysterious vastness that is holographically present in each moment of any story. We can discover what is and has always been here, throughout whatever rendition of story was being lived or believed. Each of us can take any story from our past, and we can discover the treasure that was hidden only through unquestioning belief in narrowly focused assumptions of the time. Stories can then be profoundly appreciated as displays of multidimensional life expressing itself in all forms.
What is the frame or context of your life? You don’t know how your story will end, but at this point you can discover what your story is about. You can ask yourself how your inner sense of self is expressed, or has gone unexpressed, in the structure and message of your life story.
This blog is adapted from Gangaji’s new book, Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story, which was published by Penguin Tarcher in 2011. In this life-changing book, Gangaji uses the telling of her own life story to help readers uncover the truth in their own. Publisher’s Weekly said, “This gently flowing but often disarming volume invites readers to examine the narratives that shape them, and is a call to pass beyond personal stories to find a deeper, more universal self.” Visit www.gangaji.org for more information about Gangaji and her upcoming events, including the monthly Webcast / Conference Series, With Gangaji, which is currently undergoing an in-depth study of Hidden Treasure.
Gangaji shares a simple message – “This is an invitation to shift your allegiance from the activities of your mind to the eternal presence of your being.” Born in Texas in 1942, Gangaji grew up in Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1964, she married and had a daughter. In 1972, she moved to San Francisco where she began exploring deeper levels of her being. She took Bodhisattva vows, practiced Zen and Vipassana meditation, helped run a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, and had a career as an acupuncturist in the San Francisco Bay area. Despite her successes, Gangaji continued to experience a deep and persistent longing for fulfillment. She pursued many paths to change her life including relationship, motherhood, political activism, career, and spiritual practice, but even the greatest of her successes ultimately came up short. In the wake of her disillusionment, she made a final prayer for true help. In 1990, the answer to her prayer came unexpectedly, taking her to India and to the meeting that would change everything. There on the banks of the river Ganga, she met Sri H.W.L. Poonja, also known as Papaji, who opened the floodgates of self-recognition. In this meeting, Gangaji’s personal story of suffering ended and the promise of a true life began to flower and unfold. Today, Gangaji travels the world speaking to seekers from all walks of life. A teacher and author, she shares her direct experience of the essential message she received from Papaji and offers it to all who want to discover a true and lasting fulfillment. Through her life and words, she powerfully articulates how it is really possible to discover the truth of who you are and to be true to that discovery. Gangaji’s website www.gangaji.org
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In our long human history of storytelling, there have been great beings with awe-inspiring stories that reveal the victory of self-discovery. What inspires us about these great ones is that somehow their lives turned toward and then reflected the sublime discovery of everlasting truth. In Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story (Tarcher Penguin, 2011) I invite you to let your story be a contribution to the universal revelation of self-discovery, expressed uniquely as you.
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