Of the seemingly infinite number of paradoxes that go with being human, there is the one where we find ourselves experiencing experience as an individual, a separate being, often alone while seeking to use those tools which make us a separate being to leverage ourselves back into an experience of self that does not feel separate.
It is like using an ice cream scoop to go on a diet or reducing greenhouse gases by flying jets.
Language and storytelling are central to who and what we are as split-consciousness human beings. We are compulsive mythmakers lining up words in fashions that evoke emotions, images and songs.
We have this ability to be two places at once by using this weird thing called imagination that makes it possible to estimate what it would be like to be in a separate time, separate place or in another person’s body or experience.
Language and imagination are so closely linked as to be almost inseparable. Still, a person can have experiences of imagination without language. Note that these experiences are often characterized by a nonseparate experience of self.
We intuit that language is somehow closely connected to how we keep our self identified with that which is separate. So, to encourage an experience of nonseparate self, we seek to discover what life is like without language, story or myth.
Paradoxically, we almost always begin this process by using language, story or myth to guide us to where they don’t exist. This is not unlike getting surfing lessons from a mountain sherpa followed by a dive into the deep.
We humans revere a vast literature that describes experience without words. We’re famous for engaging in violent struggles over which literature lineage best describes experience without words. The paradox of using words as guides to nonword experiences is perhaps no less paradoxical as our evident belief that the guides themselves are more important than that which the guides seek to represent.
I suspect a way to begin the process of using language, story and myth to find a doorway and pass through the doorway to an experience characterized by little or no language, story or myth is to offer attention to the stories we are engaged in. That part of us which seems established in both realms is our attention, our perception, our ability to be conscious. We can be conscious without being lost in story. We do it all the time while we’re asleep. It’s just not easy to remember.
So, in addition to using language to tell ourselves stories about how we can transcend the limitations of myth, we can just pay attention.
With time, we can learn to not read while between the lines.