|What Am I? Galen Sharp
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#2715 - Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Noumenon Journal: Nondual Perspectives on Transformation, edited by Kriben Pillay, is coming out soon. The Tenth Anniversary issue will be available by the end of February on lulu.com. I'll give ordering information when the time comes. For now, here is an excerpt. Here is a very well written book review by Shirley Bell.
A New Earth: Awakening to your lifes purpose by Eckhart Tolle (Softcover, 336 pp., Vancouver: Namaste Publishing, 2005, $14.00)
First of all, this book is about transformation of consciousness. Secondly, so are many books, so that statement tells us just about nothing.Thirdly, this book is decidedly different in its approach and in the direction it gives. Although it refers illustratively to many sources, I suspect that its unique.
The author has no intention of collecting converts. He says quite unequivocally that if what he is saying resonates for you, even peripherally, then you are his audience. If it doesnt, then its unlikely that it will persuade you to change just yet, even though all of us are (rather than have within us) the essential consciousness that will bring about the transformation.
We do not become good by endeavouring to be so, he tells us, but by discovering the goodness that is already in each one of us and allowing this to emerge. And it can emerge only if something fundamental changes in our state of consciousness.
Whenever we read about the ego, we need to establish how the author perceives this. Tolle regards our normal state of mind as marred by a fundamental defect: a strong element of what we might call dysfunction and madness.
He sees this condition as intensifying and accelerating after the unspeakable horrors of the 20th century: the Holocaust and the many mass exterminations and genocides that followed in many parts of the world.This dysfunctional behaviour is further reflected in the "unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life-forms and the planet itself". (p. 11)
In a single human being, behaviour like this, he says, would be regarded as criminally insane.
He sees the crowning human achievement as being our recognition of this egoistic dysfunction and being able to listen to our thoughts, view our mind-pictures and be aware of our emotions in the arising of a new consciousness (new to us, but recognised as Being over the millennia by many great minds). This consciousness enables us to recognise that we are neither our thoughts nor our feelings, but that we are the observing I that is part of the Universal Source that some call God.
More and more people are becoming aware of the difference between religion and spirituality. Having a belief system does not make one spiritual. The very thoughts that bind one to fixed religious concepts cut one off from ones spiritual centre, because thoughts are always concerned with form; and form and Being are irreconcilable.
The new spirituality that is becoming increasingly evident throughout the world is not being generated through formal religion, but rather by those who realise that the spirituality they seek has nothing to do with creeds, dogmas or religious beliefs but with their own state of consciousness.
A Broad Canvas
I like the way Tolle takes his examples from sources that range from the ancient philosophers to Buddha and Jesus and also more modern philosophers like Emerson, Jung, Einstein, and even Sartre and Nietzsche. I like the way he (sparingly) recounts incidents he has shared with ordinary people he has met and counselled.
I also like the way he slips ways of being into the text those that bring us profound new insights, as well as those that separate us from them.
The great merit of The New Earth is that Tolle deals with the most profound revelations about the nature of consciousness in clear, simple, engaging prose which leaves the reader no place to hide. We either grasp the challenge of discovering a new consciousness within ourselves or we fall back into the old egoic mind patterns that continue to drive our societies, as well as the lives of most of us. The challenge is enormous.
Ego, as Tolle perceives it, is no more than identification with form, which primarily means thought forms: thought forms, physical forms, emotional forms. In this state, we lose all apprehension of our connectedness with the Whole, our intrinsic oneness, not only with every other living soul, but with the Source. Underneath the forms that we perceive via our senses, everything is connected with everything else and also with the Source of all life from which nothing can ever be separated.
If there is Original Sin, it is our unnecessary suffering, our delusion of our separateness, our feeling of aloneness. Because we continually perceive the same world, the world of the ego, we always end up creating the same dysfunctions that prevent us from knowing who we are.
The egoic mind consists of content and structure and is completely conditioned by the past. Instead of living in the Now, it lives enmeshed in the past and in contemplation of the future. It finds its identity in things to which it can relate and which give it its sense of relevance and importance. Possessions and achievements are identity enhancers that have psychological value. The focus is on endless acquisition, in itself a dysfunction.
There is an obsessive preoccupation with things. This attachment falls away only when we no longer try to find our identity in them. Egos live on identification with objects and with the notion of separation.
One of the manifestations of the unconscious egoic pattern is the habit of faultfinding and being judgemental about others. Tolle reminds us that Jesus asks why we see the mote in our brothers eye, but not the beam in our own. Those who judge others or constantly criticise harshly do so because it makes them feel superior, little realising that it makes them smaller as human beings. Very unconscious people, says Tolle, experience their own egos through its reflection in others. When you realise that what you react to in others is also in you (and sometimes only in you), you begin to become aware of your own ego. (p. 189)
Gossiping all too often includes an element of malice and judgement and also boosts the ego by implication because, whether realising it or not, the gossiper is asserting an inauthentic moral superiority. Yet the sober underlying truth is that what we do to others, we do to ourselves as well.
War is a mindset
It is a salutary thought that most of the violence that human beings have inflicted on one another is not the work of criminals or the mentally deranged, but of normal, respectable citizens in the service of the collective ego. (p. 73)
We hear much about forgiveness these days. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work, says Tolle. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place A grievance that one holds on to is no more than the "baggage of old thought and emotion".
Complaining, says Tolle, is one of the egos favourite strategies for strengthening itself. Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up Sometimes the faults we see in others arent even there, but are a total misinterpretation, a projection by a mind conditioned to see enemies and to make itself right or superior. (p. 62) Even if the fault is truly there, we amplify it by focusing on it, he says, not realising that what we react to in another we strengthen in ourselves. Being conscious of our thoughts is our greatest protection. Awareness and ego simply cannot co-exist.
He points out that it might be necessary sometimes to protect oneself or someone else from being harmed by another but that we must be careful not to take up a mission to fight and to eradicate evil, because we would be in danger of turning into the very thing we are fighting against. We are seeing this danger now in, for instance, the violent aftermath of the Iraqi war.
Awareness is only in the Now
Be aware, Tolle says, that what you think, to a large extent, creates the emotions that you feel. (p. 96)
Awareness teaches us that we do not need to give value to every thought we think. Its merely a thought. No more; no less. We need to be aware of our thoughts and emotions as they occur, bearing in mind that an emotion is the bodys reaction to the mind: The voice in the head tells a story that the body believes in and reacts to The emotions, in turn, feed energy back to the thoughts that created the situation in the first place. When we do not examine our thoughts and feelings, we indulge in emotional thinking and emotional story-making. (p. 135) We keep our negative thoughts alive by continual story-making. We have to let go of our stories and begin to live in the present moment. The ego feeds on drama.
Yet it is not emotion itself that brings unhappiness; what brings unhappiness is emotion plus an unhappy or inauthentic story. Our feelings are not who we are.
No great Damascus experience is needed to become free of the ego. All that is required of us is to be aware of it: Awareness is the power that is concealed in the present moment, and the present moment is the only moment in which we can exert this awareness. The present moment and nowhere else - is where life happens
This is why to become free of the ego cannot be made into a goal: You can only be present Now, not yesterday or tomorrow. (p. 78)
Spiritual realisation, says Tolle, is seeing clearly that what we perceive, experience, think and feel is not who we are. These are all ephemeral things. When we become aware of the impermanence of all outward forms, we are awakened to the formless within us: that which is inseparable from the Source that which is the Source.
Finding inner space
It is from inner space, the unconditioned consciousness itself, that true happiness, the joy of Being, emanates. To be aware of little, quiet things, however, you need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Listen. Be present.
All creativity, Tolle says, comes out of this inner space. When any creation of ours becomes manifested as form, we have to be careful that the notion of "me" and "mine" do not arise. If we let the ego take credit for what has been accomplished, then the ego is back in charge. The inner spaciousness has be-come blurred, and we are not operating as part of the Whole.
There is no substitute for finding true purpose
Tolle warns us that finding the true or primary purpose of our lives does not depend on what we do but on what we are. We have an inner purpose and an outer one, and it is the inner one that concerns Being and is primary. The outer purpose concerns doing and is secondary but we need to blend our outer and inner purpose so seamlessly that it is almost impossible to speak of one with-out referring to the other. (p. 258)
Awareness, says Tolle, is conscious connection with universal intelligence. Consciousness without thought. (p. 259) In order to be true to life, we have to be true to our inner purpose. (p. 269)
One of the consequences of this deeper connectedness is a greater frequency of helpful synchronistic events.
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