From Jack Ricchiuto’s blog:
I’ve been thinking about this in a variety of contexts, but the one that comes to mind is the kind of listening we do when we are receiving a teaching. Traditionally, in First Nations communities and in other traditional settings, when Elders are teaching, listeners engage in a kind of deliberate discernment. The point is to hear the underlying truth of the story being told, to believe not the truth of the story’s “facts” but the truth of the myth itself.
This came up elsewhere this week with a post at Anecdote as well, about the truth contained in narratives. I think this arises largely because in the west we have forgotten these practices of listening to stories and observing the world as interpretational acts, in which we see everything around us as a teaching. The history of the past 500 years has been the history of trying to figure out how to reach an objective consensus about things. This weighty cultural thread has created a situation where conversations about stories, if they are conversations at all, seem to be about clarifying the facts.
The deeper truths, the embedded teachings, are lost if we put too much weight on this. That’s important because if you are setting out into the world to learn something, whether it is a personal quest, or with a group, on behalf of an organization or as a member of an inquiry team, simply getting at the facts does nothing to propel your trajectory to a new level. Instead, you are left solely with the facts and very little else to suggest how one might transcend the situation that gave rise to those facts. Developing the capacity to hear all stories as teachings is an incredibly valuable practice.