Living Without Definitions

At this time in our present history, we have the ability to be conscious of the stories we have been taught and how they define us, as well as the stories we unquestionably have believed about who another is. We can be willing to be unguarded with ourselves, and we can take responsibility for the result. We can marvel when we discover that the stories of previously demonized others (enemies) are as beautiful and multi-layered as our own.

We mature when we realize that some of the stories cherished as the foundation of our culture are flimsy and insubstantial in truth and are sometimes outrightly false. One generation’s true and defining story can be proved to be a lie in the next generation. Stories that celebrate freedom and revolution against tyranny can turn on themselves and become stories of reigns of terror.

We recognize the location of the story in our flesh and emotions. From this recognition choice is born. We have most often either chosen to continue the given story or to rebel against that story. There is yet another choice. We have the capacity to take a moment and release all stories. We can experience what it means to be nobody, uncovered even by our primary identity.

Underneath all the stories, we can experience that deep core of ourselves that is history-less, genderless and parent-less. Naked. That presence is unencumbered by relationships and has no past and no future. In the core of our being-ness we are free of definitions. Unencumbered by our definitions we experience ourselves as conscious intelligence aware of itself as open, endless space. This instant of being story-less is an instant of freedom. For even if our story is filled with light and beauty, to the degree that we define ourselves through that story, we are less free.

After such a moment, stories are never the same. They can be present, as they most likely will be, but they no longer have the inherent power to define our reality. The inner-wealth that is available to us is no longer limited or augmented by particular inner or outer events. While the personality or the “creature-ness” of each individual continues just as stories continue, the underlying awareness, the true “I” has come home to itself.

After such a moment, choice is present where before we were blindly choice-less. When we are not blinded by the stories that have been created for us, or the stories we create, we can appreciate the mysterious vastness that is holographically present in each moment of any story. We can discover what is and has always been here, throughout whatever rendition of story was being lived or believed. Each of us can take any story from our past, and we can discover the treasure that was hidden only through unquestioning belief in narrowly focused assumptions of the time. Stories can then be profoundly appreciated as displays of multidimensional life expressing itself in all forms.

What is the frame or context of your life? You don’t know how your story will end, but at this point you can discover what your story is about. You can ask yourself how your inner sense of self is expressed, or has gone unexpressed, in the structure and message of your life story.

This blog is adapted from Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story, which was published by Penguin Tarcher in 2011. In this life-changing book, Gangaji uses the telling of her own life story to help readers uncover the truth in their own. Publisher’s Weekly said, “This gently flowing but often disarming volume invites readers to examine the narratives that shape them, and is a call to pass beyond personal stories to find a deeper, more universal self.” In February and March Gangaji will be teaching in Maui, HI, offering a Silent Retreat with Eli, and Small Group Weekend. Visit for more information about Gangaji and her upcoming events, including the monthly Webcast / Conference Series, With Gangaji, which is currently undergoing an in-depth study of Hidden Treasure.


Francesca A-S
Past Member 2 years ago


Tammy Baxter
Tammy B.2 years ago


Bridget Robertson

Thank you for the article. Just not in agreement.

Tim Cheung
Tim C.4 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago


Rudolf Affolter
Past Member 4 years ago

With you all the way Jane. Religion has probably done more harm to human beings and their relationships, be it person-to-person or across the world, than anything else.

Margarita P.
Margarita P.4 years ago

The article sounds good to me but I think it is one of those things that I understand intellectually without being able to make them work at the emotional level.

Kari Knabe
Kari Knabe4 years ago

I totally missed any real content in this post!

Chad A.
Chad Anderson4 years ago

Thank you for some moving inspiration to help me get through the things I need to do...

Shell S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Love the post. Thank you : )