The Zen of becoming No one


In Game of Thrones there is a story thread about Arya and her journey to becoming no one under the apprenticeship of Jaqen. Arya comes from a wealthy family and has had a privileged upbringing which has engendered a sense of entitlement in her character. She has to witness most of her family being killed, being taken to unfamiliar lands, completely losing control of her life and becoming a blind beggar who is beaten up regularly until she finally gives up her identity and becomes no one. Her whole life seems like the strictest zen training  imaginable.

It is one of my favourite story lines because it describes for me the undoing of the tyranny of the ego and the false identity that it has made for itself. All that she thought she was is stripped away and literally beaten out of her, and this includes her identity and sense of a self that she has assembled which is largely based on her reaction to her experiences, her likes and dislikes, desires and fears.

Life feels like just like this. What I thought was important keeps dissolving into nothing and there is nothing to cling onto. What I thought was ‘me’ turns out to be an assemblage of qualities I have chosen to identify with or disidentify with and when I really look I can’t find a ‘me’. A no one, and yet a growing sense of the indivisibility between ‘me’ and everything around me. Becoming nothing and everything at the same time.

It is an agony for the ego which is trying so very desperately to maintain a sense of its own existence, importance and separation. The more I cooperate the less it hurts though. I find that I am given much more than I ever thought I wanted. But only when I am willing to relinquish what I thought I wanted, control. The Tao follows unexpected avenues and I can align only when I give up the desire to control.

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