Spirit Story as Experienced
Spirituality involves not just talking about something, not just reading about or considering something, not even just doing something: it involves actually experiencing life in a new way.
Spirituality makes possible—makes one capable of—specific kinds of experience.
The primacy of experience may be the profound spiritual truth¼In the process of telling our own story and listening to stories and beginning to live out our discoveries, we find that certain experiences flow from them—
Release, Gratitude, Humility, Tolerance, Forgiveness, and Being-at-home.
These experiences share this in common—they cannot be commanded.
We do not call them forth when we want them; they become available to us when
we need them, if we are available to them.
They happen and we experience them, if we are open to them, but we cannot control when or how they happen, no can we control when or how we experience them. Once again, we find ourselves locked in paradox: We cannot command precisely those realities that we most crave.
The language that is storytelling involves not dogma or commandment, not things to be done or truths to be believed, not theory, conjecture, argument, analysis, or explanation, but a way of conversation shared by those who accept and identify with their own imperfection.
A tradition of spirituality conveys experience rather than “teaches” concepts. Always truthful to experience, the language makes it possible to see—and thus to understand—reality differently. And it is in this different vision that spirituality begins.
The “language” works not because those telling their stories describe experiences of Freedom, Gratitude, and so on, but because, in the very telling of their stories they actually experience those realities.
Those who undergo profound change, those who explore and make discoveries,
enter what has been termed a new “universe of discourse.” It is less that that they speak differently, in new terms, than that they see differently, in new categories, coming to understand reality in new ways.
How we speak shapes how we think, and therefore what we see, and then
in turn what and how we experience.
Language thus fashions experience:
It is how we make it “our own”, our “world view.”
Because there is a constant back-and-forth flow between language and vision, between how we speak and what we see, spirituality influences how we live by shaping what we experience.