|Introduction to the Veil Metaphor |
developed by Stephanie Noble
A veil is a pattern of thinking about a particular subject, relationship, or aspect of identity. It’s woven from the repetitious threads of thought our attention follows, often set off by sensory stimuli. These threads can weave themselves into a complex web of beliefs, facts, opinions, and stories that may inform, comfort, or distress us. Thickly woven veils blind us to what is occurring right now, and even a lightly woven veil can alter our perception of experience.
We all have a variety of veils, and it’s useful to notice them in our own thinking and to understand that everyone else is looking through veils as well.
These veils are not who we are. They don’t define us. They confine us! So we consciously let them go. We don’t make an enemy of them, but we want to be aware when our attention is caught up in a veil. Sometimes this is purposeful as we study a subject or focus on a project. But many times, it just dulls down our experience of being fully present in life.
No one can see our veils but us! They have their own veils about us and the world and themselves. However, if they use the metaphor of veils, they might be able to see when we are caught up in a veil, stumbling around blindly in a tightly knotted veil, acting out unskillfully. And hopefully, that will activate compassion. Aren’t we all stumbling around most of the time?
Because developing this metaphor is an ongoing project, it is shared in a series of weekly dharma posts below.
If you, like many of my students and readers, find it helpful, please let me know. And if you have additional thoughts and insights that might deepen understanding or expand the usefulness of this metaphor as it takes on new forms, I would be most happy to hear them.
Here’s an introductory talk I gave about the veils:
Unveiling the dharma :: a recorded talk at Marin Sangha
Here are links to the blog posts in the order they were presented:
|Veils of perception :: Initial unveiling|
|Where the mind goes|
|Falling and other trauma veils|
|Untangling a knot|
|Letting go of limiting labels|
|Shining the light of compassion|
|Why such unfriendly skies?|
|How to get out of rabbit holes|
|Imagination and creativity|
|Sensing the Earth Element|
|Sensing the Water Element|
|Sensing the Fire Element|
|Sensing the Air Element|
|Sensing the Space Element|
|Sensing the Sixth Element|
|Don’t turn away|
|Cultivating embodied awareness|
|When you feel you have leaky margins|
|Thoughts of aging have you tied up in knots?|
|The Discussion (follow-up on aging)|
|Self-indulgence isn’t compassion|
|Feeling trapped? (Five Hindrances)|
|Is the veil metaphor really Buddhist?|
|Coping with difficult people|
|Unveiling: A Guided Meditation|
|You don’t need fixing|
|Cultivating a limitless heart|
|The gift of simplicity|
|A gift where we least expect it|
|An audio-guided experiential exercise|
|How to share a veil skillfully for better relationships|
|Exercise in exploring one of your veils|
|Face the ocean!|
|A woman’s awakening is never done|
|Forget minutes! Choose the moment|
|The trick to untangling a mental knot|