About this: This was written as part of my studying for a ‘certificate in nonviolence’ from the Metta Center. My intention was to explore the role that our cultural narratives, our shared stories, our explanations of life and creation, might have in contributing to our behaviour and actions – and possibly even to the outcomes of those actions.
Friends, I would like to tell you a story.
This is a story about stories.
This is a story, that contains within it, all the stories of the past, and all the stories of the future.
This story changes constantly and adapts to meet emerging needs.
This story stretches its arms of love, compassion and light around, through and within all dimensions and imaginings.
This story lives in no-particular-time and dwells in no-place-in-particular.
In being all these things, this story requires no time to tell and cannot be said to begin or end.
Neither new, nor old, this story has roots and paths that stretch in every direction. At various moments in historical time, this story moved in and out of focus – in and out of awareness.
There has always been a custodian who held the knowing of this story somewhere on the Earth.
These custodians have often been misunderstood – sometimes even by themselves and their own intuitions. This has had all manner of consequences for the custodians.
And yet, this story is light and brings with it grace and confidence.
This story is owned by no-one and can be accessed by any-one any-time any-where.
This story is about how we story.
You might be more familiar with stories that can be repeated, that always contain the same events, that follow the same trajectory or, that are fixed in time – forever. Today I tell you, that these notions of sameness and repetition are simply our surface impressions.
Flowing beside and through the appearances of time, sameness and repetition are liquid processes of creativity, interrelation and constant change.
For this reason, when we tell stories, we are now aware that we must be careful about what kind of story we are telling.
We must be careful to consider if the story that we are telling lives in the dimension of the historical – bound by time and the distinctions between things – or if the story is like the one that I tell you now: a metta-story.
When we are unaware of the distinction between these types of story, we experience a great frustration. The realms of daily life begin to feel abstract.
When we forget that a metta-story exists, there is an imbalance. Beings begin to grieve and the creative meaningfulness of life becomes difficult to touch.
When we carefully engage with each kind of story, there is renewal and life is sustained.
The historical story is like a single drop of liquid.
The metta-story is like an ocean.
Each relies on the other and is produced by the other.
If the drops of liquid are water, then a nourishing and life supporting ocean results.
If the drops of liquid are blood, then the ocean is one of despair and destruction.
Waves will continue to move across this ocean. Ripples of intention shaping the nature of each wave. In the metta-story strength is strength. We all have the ability to direct the energy of this strength according to our awareness and judgement.
It is important that our story-awareness is constantly active.
When we are aware of all stories, we become story-makers. We become the custodians. We become active contributors to the shape of each story. The outcomes of our actions depend on this awareness.
Our story-awareness makes possible the participation and flourishing of other beings.
This is why we have the gifts of creativity and attention.
Our awareness and attention helps us to navigate the historical and the metta.
Our creativity helps us to innovate and to facilitate the emergence of new forms and processes.
In this story, we recognise that the nature of what we put in is amplified and becomes the substance of all that follows.
This metta-story teaches us that for life to thrive there must be love.
The principles of this story have been observed and articulated by many beings.
You may say that I have not told you a story here at all. There were no characters, there was no plot, there was no conflict, no emotion and no resolution. That is because today I have told you a metta-story.
We are the characters in this story. Our actions are the plot. Our shared awareness and engagement with the story is both the story and where we will go from here.
Please promise me this:
You will strive to pay attention to the stories that we tell. Pay attention to the kinds of results that each story has. If you notice that a story is having difficult consequences – then it means that a story is in need of renewal.
Find ways to make your stories inclusive, sustainable and peacebuilding.
Find ways to notice those tricky stories that are deeply embedded in our assumptions about life. It can be hard to see the wave that you are riding. When the wave crashes into the shore – have the courage to say what you saw. Use this insight as a community and as the basis for future action.
When you inherit a story, recognise that as it passes through the light of your gaze, that story will be changed and developed unavoidably.
If you prepare yourself for this constant moment you will become an instrument of peace. You will be a story-maker.