SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Friday, March 8, 2019

Indra's Net - what makes a Healing Story?

The Story of Indra’s Net

Let us travel into a far, far land, even upto the heavens. There you see Indra's palace. It will take you a while to drink in the splendor of the palace from outside. Be ready and sure that you want to step inside; and when you are sure nd ready to enter that palace, remove your slippers outside, fold your hands in gratitude and enter. 

There within you will be astonished for the roof of the palace is adorned by a net, a net that stretches beyond your vision, perhaps even beyond infinity. Each of it's fine threads meet at a node and every node carries a jewel, a gem. So what you see is a net studded with a million jewels, each the size of a walnut. They glitter and shine and reflect their perfection and their completeness.
If you step closer you will see that each of these jewels are connected to the one next to and beside them by a thin gossamer silken thread. Do not be deceived, they may look fragile, but these threads are strong and have held these jewels together for ages. Even if one breaks, another thread is formed to connect and hold the jewel in place.
Now step even closer and you will see yourself reflected on the surface of one shiny jewel and that image will be caught by another and another and then you will see your reflection in every jewel, reflecting and being reflected, till you can see no more, but the reflection exists till it reaches an infinity that you cannot see but it exists even then!
Then you need to step back and think about these reflections, are they not but illusions? Every reflection appears to have a reality but in essence they are but illusory.
Then when you reach out and touch the web, you will see how one act of yours can disturb the entire web. One act of yours sends ripples through the Universe, the Web!
This is the Net of Indra. The web that connects you, me, us and the entire universe.
( A beautiful imagery that has been reimagined by me. This story is told in the Avatamsaka Sutra and is found in both Buddhist and Hindu mythology)

Why do I feel so passionately about people having access to stories and storytelling which is the shared act of telling and listening? 

       I believe every human has to be nurtured within a Storytelling Culture. It creates Empathy and Compassion between the Teller and Listener. The listener then becomes a teller and the chain continues. Stories are tools in the hand of the Storyteller to create a bridge of sharing and understanding. We are all Storytellers and we are all Listeners. 
·         Storytelling creates a most wonderful, non-threatening, compassionate space to be in…why should we all not have access to such a warm, genuine and inclusive space?
·         Even when we share stories of conflict, trauma and despair, the shear act of Telling helps us let go of our constrictive space and enter a space for healing…
...That is the power of Storytelling

Every story has the power to heal.

Healing is a process of repair and mending that happens within us, as we integrate various aspects of the outside and inside world to make ourselves feel balanced once again.

That implies there was or is something that is potentially imbalanced in us. If this imbalance is physiological, then we have to resort to medicines and massages, but when this imbalance is socio - emotional then story medicine could work. (There are also story workers who have delved deep into how story can even heal physiological issues...Nancy Mellon in her book Body Eloquence)

A Story provides us provides a possible way to look at life and our own stories. Yet many times the seeker looks at the pointing hand and fails to see where it is pointing and then the point is lost!

 A story may provide us POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS to our problems. It may provide us the tool to make the CHANGE. Yet above all a story helps us navigate the emotional pathway to wellness.
~~A story which helps us travel on an emotional journey or that which helps us view ourselves through it's lens can be termed as a healing story. Many Sufi tales are considered healing stories, yet it's mystery I am told may be revealed only to a spiritual mind and many others who hear or tell it, barely discern word from meaning.

A healing story is also one that stays with us as images to be recalled at times of need. I always feel Imagination can be a curse or a boon. When imagination drags us into the depths of despair then we are cursed and when it helps us fly high on wings of joy then it can be a boon. Stories need to help us navigate these pathways and channelise our mind to retain images that will help us fly on wings of clarity.

When is a story not yet useful?
This is a question that must be addressed. It is the white elephant in the room. Can a story always help I am asked many times. Not really.
A story doesn't help when I feel unheard myself
A story doesn't help when I feel I am filled with untold stories
A story doesn't help when I want to speak and tell my own stories.
A story doesn't help when the listener is not yet ready.

That is why many storytellers prepare the space for listening with small or sometimes elaborate rituals. In the healing space some preparation may happen with words chosen specifically to bring the listener into the story or through a single tone sound of the bell or the meditation bowl.

Yet only when the Listener is ready to receive the Gift of Story will they truly embark on a journey of healing.

Ready, Get, Set, Go.....

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