At this time last year, I was preparing to leave for Scottsdale for the second week of my teacher training. It was two weeks filled with many moments, stories and characters, but the moment that I have been repeatedly thinking about lately is the morning practice on I believe our second day. I studied with the amazing Martin and Jordan Kirk. Martin was leading this particular practice. He started the class with the story of Hanuman helping to rescue Sita from a land across the great dark void called Lanka (a wonderful story for your kidlets if they enjoy adventure and super heroes). The story and the telling of it was spellbinding but what really stuck with me from it was when Martin then explained that in the stories of the Ramayana and of the Mahabharata, we are meant to be able to relate to ALL of the characters because we are ALL of the characters. The characters are different aspects of ourself.
The reason I have been coming back to this idea is that I have been really aware of the stories of others lately. Many joyful, some scary, some sad, and a great many just chugging along. I am a little awed by the idea that I may be a character in those same stories someday, or have been in the past. It also came up for me when I was trying to explain to LBL that war/conflict isn’t as simple as bad guys -vs-good guys. Everyone believes themselves to be the good guy fighting for what they believe in. Which makes it more complicated that just good and evil… I just heard an interview on MPR with Kevin Spacey, he was talking about his new show House of Cards. One of the subjects that he discussed was that he really liked roles where it isn’t clear if you liked him or not. There are many shows out there right now where the main characters are morally ambiguous. A single mama selling drugs, a cop that is also the serial killer of serial killers, the mobster that also loves and cares for his family… the list goes on. If a show, movie, or book are written well, we can emotionally connect to many different characters because we can see ourselves in those same roles. Just as we were meant to in those ancient texts in India.
At some point in all of our lives we are Hanuman leaping across the void, the soldier wounded on a field, Lancelot falling in love with his best friend’s wife, the wolf hiding inside of grandmother, the lover, the spectator and the narrator. I would like to think that believing in that idea may help to understand others and their actions a little more clearly and compassionately and to help us to remember that if we are unhappy with our current character, maybe it is time for the story to change.