1. Our Stories Are Failing Us

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The old is dying and the new is yet be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear
— Anthony Gramsci

Everything in Nature is unique. Every human being, every animal, every leaf, every rock and even every grain of sand is unique. In turn, the universe experienced by every being is unique as well. Rumi’s words[1],

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion,”

are literally true.

The universe you experience is yours and yours alone. It is this sheer complexity of Nature that inspires us to tell stories to make sense of reality. Stories help us discern patterns in Nature. The language and images we use to tell stories help simplify reality into bite-sized chunks that we can then use to recognize the commonality of our experiences.

Every story is unique. What anyone absorbs from any story is unique as well. The American writer of comic fantasy, Christopher Moore, wrote in his book, Practical Demonkeeping[2]:

"Everything is a story. What is there but stories? Stories are the only truth."

It's all just stories. While truth itself can only be experienced and cannot be expressed in words, communicating the truth requires us to tell stories. All religions expose deep truths in stories. The historian, Yuval Noah Harari, attributes the biological success of our species to our ability to construct common stories that we all believe in, that allow us to organize ourselves in far greater numbers than any other species and thereby dominate them[3]. We mentally construct these common stories by synthesizing individual stories into a social consensus. For the past 500 years or so, we have also been using the scientific method to establish some order in how we construct the common stories of our lived reality[4]. But of late, the common stories of our lived reality have been failing us.

 


[1] Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is one of my favorite Sufi mystics. A compilation of his quotes can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/875661.Jalaluddin_Rumi

[2] Christopher Moore, Practical DemonKeeping, William Morrow, May 2004, ISBN-13: 978-0060735425, http://amzn.to/1WHMAHO

[3] Please see Harari, Yuval Noah, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harper, Feb 2015, ISBN-13: 978-0062316097, http://amzn.to/1WHMfF4

[4] The scientific method as we know it today is attributed to Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, published in 1620, though variants had appeared much earlier.