On metaphorization and the validity of every experience

11-02 Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450_cropncleaned.jpg

In the nondual scheme of things, our true Self is pure being, awareness, and bliss. What we seem to be -- our individual selves -- are a sort of image, a kind of dream. How can the suffering in the dream be given validity, be made meaningful, be not simply an illusion? Well, one way is through what I call metaphorization.

Metaphorization is a catch-all term for the expression of what it is like to be you experiencing something. Any such expression which attempts to express that by comparing it to something that it is like or unlike (that's the idea of a metaphor), in any mode -- in words, in drawing, in film, or otherwise -- however technically unskilled -- is metaphorization.

Metaphorization is a powerful way of learning about our own desires. Our inner selves communicate with us through the structure of our experience, and that structure is filled with resemblances and differences. Those are exposed when we metaphorize.

But metaphorization is not just a way of understanding ourselves. It is also a way of appreciating ourselves, of exposing our own uniqueness and complexity. When we take an experience of great pain, confusion, and turmoil, and attempt to communicate in some form what it was like for us to experience it -- as accurately and originally as possible -- we start to appreciate the beauty in that experience. We start to look at an experience of suffering as a scientist might look at a disease: with fascination!

This is not in any way to dismiss that suffering. On the contrary, it shows that suffering to itself be full of deep and subtle colors, to be intertwined with the most intricate geometries. The very structure of our pain is stupendous beauty, one that shows our specific individuality with meticulous precision. This truth has been proved through the ages and in every culture. The greatest art is all full of passionate suffering, suffering transformed.

This does not mean that we should seek to suffer or to make others suffer. That would be to destroy the meaning of suffering: it is that which we as humans necessarily fight against. That's what gives it its character. Yet it can be transfigured and revealed for something more.

This transformation is just a representation of the greater truth that our real Self comprehends both pleasure and pain, both good and evil. We must take life completely seriously and completely playfully at the same time. The Self is beyond them even as it honors their division.