Life Is Story: Tales and Journeys in Practical Spirituality in the Aesthetic Plasma of Story in the Lila

  • Barbara A. Amodio


Life Is Story presents the aesthetic form of Story, in particular sacred story as opposed to secular story, as the true nonfictional prototype of all practical spirituality and inner transformation in the life journey of Persons headed toward human and meditative excellence. Story is further framed, like a story within a natural nest of many stories, in the paralleling and interpenetrating wider contexts of meditation following Patanjali and the civilization of high spirituality rooted in the Indian culture of Sanatana Dharma. The inner journey of Persons in service to the worlds unfolds alongside the constitutive elements of Story, illustrating the way ordinary lives may rise through inner reflection to the artistic richness of an integrated work of sacred living art exhibiting the canons and criteria of aesthetic oneness despite the tangle of events that distort, cover, distract, and beguile. The inner journey is aesthetically explored as the devices and magic of Story are decoded. An extraordinary and sacred adventure is revealed in a real aesthetic plasma, at once a display of a living storyfield of reciprocating karmas and a glistening but temporary maya of opportunities to find, hold, or lose the compassionate middle way between all pairs of opposites. Life Is Story explores the highest expression of sacred Story, the Parable, as a distinct nonfiction and the real calculus of life at a more exalted level than the fictional creativity of ordinary and secular stories. All Story nevertheless employs the same technical aesthetic devices to deliver up the noble poetry of humanitarian messages. ‘Story’ in the singular intends a true Platonic Essence (Form) on par with the ‘Para’ designation of Indian systems, something utterly beyond Nama-Rupa and the grasp of ordinary, even extraordinary, ‘mind’ and its discursive operations and affects. The descriptive adjective ‘sacred’ as opposed to merely secular reinforces this distinction. Ordinary ‘stories’ are existential examples (existents), and may at that be either sacred or secular. The ‘heart’ of Story is higher than the top of the appearing hierarchical umbrella (well beyond the grasp of the physical, appearing, dazzling web of existential maya available to the five gross senses and the sixth subtle sensing organ of mind/manas). Story appeals to Soul (Atman) in the total economy of persons considered as body-mind-Spirit. Story, and Parable as high sacred Story, appeals to the Soulstate of persons. Ordinary, secular storiessacred miss the mark completely, or strike at the ‘universal’ level without recognition that the fullest frame and environment of Story, and of all its arsenal of devices, launches an appeal to the listening Soul where mindstuff has dissolved, never confusing high state mind with Soulstate. The large flaw of western metaphysics, psychology and cosmology is precisely the confusion of mindstate or mindstuff (citta-as-manas) with Soulstate (true meditation beyond mindstuff). This was at the top of my list of impediments to genuine east-west dialogue when I was invited to present and convene sessions at a world congress on Mysticism at Bangalore (at what is now Christ University), when the Dalai Llama was the keynote speaker. Failure to distinguish between high state Mind and Soul, which operates totally beyond Nama-Rupa, is the greatest failure and impediment to authentic east-west dialogue and communication. Words are used but meanings are missed, very completely, in philosophy and in the true phenomenology of consciousness. ‘Story’ in the singular keeps the focus on what I will call ‘Fourth Order’ psychologies of consciousness, based on Patanjali’s Yoga Psychology, rather than the Freudianism (1st order), Behaviorism (2nd order) and even the visionary Existential psychologies of a Sartre and a Merleau-Ponty (3rd order) in the west. Parable, however, moves beyond the humanitarian into the eternal and spiritual domain. One steps unawares and comfortably into sacred parabolic meanings poised on Infinity through the lassos, knots, and more of life under the spell and surge of Story’s meticulously embedded symbols and crescendo that flow through shift after shift of karmically and electrostatically charged storyfields and moments conspiring to restore sacred connections to the high spiritual culture and civilization of Sanatana Dharma, its Indian and closely allied spiritual and meditative cultures.


  1. Amodio, Barbara A. The World Made of Sound: Whitehead and Pythagorean Harmonics in the Context of Veda and the Science of Mantra. Journal of Dharma, Vol. xvii, No. 3, [Religion and Language] Bangalore, India: Dharma Research Association Center for the Study of World Religions, Dharmaram College, 1992. [Collected and available at Center for Process Studies, Claremont, CA].Google Scholar
  2. Amodio, Barbara A. Valmiki’s Ramayana Revisited: Worship By Confrontation: Vidvesha Bhakti. Journal of Dharma, Vol. xvi, No. 4 [Comparative Ethics.] Bangalore, India: Dharma Research Association Center for the Study of World Religions, Dharmaram College, 1991.Google Scholar
  3. Amodio, Barbara A. Symbols of the Sacred at the Ether in the Heart: The Perfect Red Human Form As Living Aesthetic Experience (Rasasvada), Aesthetic Symbol (Paroksa-Priya), and Taste of God (brahmasvada-sahodarah) in the Universal Mystical Perspective of Indian Aesthetics. Forthcoming: SIPR/Cambridge. (invited presentation at SIPR international conference, Kolkata, India, December 2009).Google Scholar
  4. Amodio, Barbara A. The Abiding Density of Light: Light and Sound Chiseled Across the Luminous Black Light of the Islamic and Sufi Void. In Mystic Musings in Religions, ed. Kurian Kachappilly, pp. 53–68. New Delhi: C.M.I., Christian World Imprints, 2013.Google Scholar
  5. Boner, Sarma and Bettina Baumer. Vastusutra Upanishad: The Essence of Form in Sacred Art (Fourth Revised Edition.) Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  6. Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. The Transformation of Nature in Art. New York: Dover Publications, 1934 (unabridged and unaltered republication of the second edition as published in 1934 by Harvard University Press, first published by Dover in 1956).Google Scholar
  7. Croce, Benedetto. Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic (with a new Introduction by John McCormick.) New York: Macmillan & Co. (Transaction Press), 1995.Google Scholar
  8. Kachappilly, Kurian. Mystic Musings in Religions. New Delhi: Christian World Imprints, 2013.Google Scholar
  9. Weiss, Paul. Nine Basic Arts. Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1961a.Google Scholar
  10. Weiss, Paul. The World of Art. Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1961b.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara A. Amodio
    • 1
  1. 1.Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU)HartfordUSA

Personalised recommendations