History has no libretto Barry Magid January 27th 2018

"History has no libretto," wrote Isaiah Berlin in his final volume of letters with a correspondent after a lifetime studying history. He alluded to the fact that any effort to understand history from a scientific point of view is likely to fail, as there is no essential nature to history. However, some historical narratives are more valuable than others, such as the narrative of liberation and human rights. In our Zen practice, we can allow ourselves to be in touch with our curative fantasies or organizing principle that shapes our own narratives. “What is in my life that makes me a special person or what is missing and needs to be fixed?” we might ask ourselves, often times creating absolute, timeless and ahistorical narratives. Part of the Zen training is to observe and deconstruct this tendency to create fixed narratives and be able to on one hand to be in the moment, while at the same time stepping back and observing our narratives and meanings we attach to it. What is the story that you are telling yourself right now?

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