torsdag, mars 20, 2008

Tolle should change the Title of A New Earth

Why not change the title from

A New Earth
- Awakening to your life's Purpose


A New Life
- Surrender to your life’s Suffering

Now millions of people all over the world watch Oprah talk about the book – A New Earth – with its author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. And most of them, hundreds of thousands wake up, or at least believe they wake up. I don’t mean to question anybody else’s experiences, I just want to report how this process called awakening was experienced and still is experienced by me and clarify what it means and what it doesn’t mean (for me… of course).

Waking up hasn’t made me special in any sense, I remain the same “bodymind”. Maybe some things have improved, others have become worse, but I don’t think that actually has anything to do with the awakening. Come on, let’s face it, most of us wants to awaken in order to feel better, to be relieved from suffering. That was the case for me, I wanted to experience bliss, openness, etc. I wanted to escape from all the pain that is part of this bodymind. I didn’t want to deal with the messed up person I am, so I wanted to TRANSCEND IT. Go beyond, a word often used by Tolle. B E Y O N D. It sounds fantastic, taste that word, …. What is to be found beyond the ego? Oh, there must be Peace and Openess and Love and Oneness and all the wonderful things we long for. Must it not? When we listen to Eckhart we certainly get that impression, at least I do.
But what if there are things we don't long for?
What if going beyond the ego means that we will have to experience more pain? Tolle often refers to Jesus, or at least his own interpretation of the new testament. You get the impression that Jesus in Tolles eyes was a great spiritual teacher, a truly awakened being. Ok, lets assume Jesus was awakened like Tolle and soon the rest of humanity … thanks to Oprah...
What was life like for the awakened person Jesus Christ?
Was it blissful, was it full of peace?
No. I dare to answer that question with a clear NO.
It was so full of suffering and pain that we don’t wish that for our worst enemies. He was crucified and he cried out, - Father, why have you abandoned me?
Whatever that exclamation means, it can’t mean that he was at peace. Can it? It can of course mean anything you want it to mean, but my “non-theological”, amateur-like, interpretation is that he suffered. He suffered like hell!!
What is my point here, what am I aiming at?
I absolutely encourage anyone who feel the urge to awaken to try to do so. But on that path is a huge trap, right at the beginning, a trap that I fell into. Fact is I am still not out of it. But I can see the clear sky up there, climbing up the slippery walls …
What am I talking about? Well, I am currently reading a book by Mariana Caplan called - Halfway up the Mountain, Errors of premature claims to enlightenment - . I like the subtitle about premature claims to enlightenment, I can foresee that Oprahs programs will result in quite a few premature claims to awakening … (just so that there will be no misunderstandings – I really appreciate what Oprah and Tolle are doing, I mean in order to encourage people to take the first step It would be stupid to mention all the traps that lie before the seeker. But its not my ambition to encourage anybody to awaken, neither is it needed any longer, Oprah and Tolle takes care of that.
What about the book Halfway up the mountain by Caplan? A few lines in that book made me wake up from the awakening. Got that? Buddha said that life is suffering. Period. I guess the waking up many people experience reading A New Earth by Tolle is nothing more that changing one dream for another more peaceful dream.
All these great epiphanies like – oh, I can not be my ego since I am aware of it, ... oh, I am that infinite space in which everything arise and disappear. … Mmmm, that feels great. Experiencing the witness behind all your experiences for the first time is a completely new acquaintance, it’t like falling in love – falling in love with an entity inside your psyche sometimes called The Witness. When then somebody you trust and respect, like Oprah for instance, tells you that the Witness is your true nature, and that this true nature is infinite and timeless and the same for everybody, so that means we are all ONE and you go, Wow, that means I will never again be separate from anybody, never again feel alone, never again be afraid of anything, because all the things I was afraid of before are JUST FORMS and I am the FORMLESS ONE AWARENESS behind all these forms that are quite illusory anyway, just a play of form that means nothing, nothing to be afraid of, nothing to cling to, nothing to wish for, nothing that can make you suffer anymore.
And that last goodie, that lottery win, that incredible reward is the trap.

I was there. I felt that. I was absolutely convinced I would never again have to suffer. I will tell you what I think that condition means. It means your brain chemistry is playing you a trick, similar to what happens when you fall in love. No more, no less.
Buddha said that life is suffering, not that Joes life is suffering. He didn't say that if you meditate and do all the right things you will be relieved from suffering. No, waking up is to see that there is NO WAY OUT. That realization brings about real surrender.

I know this is what Tolle is pointing to, I don’t want to be unfair and accuse him for not being clear on this point, I just see that what he does in the Oprah show is encouraging people to take the first step. And I can think of no other spiritual teacher that could do that better. He is perfect because he manifests the opposite of what people associates with the abusive Guru, greedy for power, money and sex. Corrupt Gurus are something that holds people back from eastern spiritual teachers, and has done so ever since the days of Osho Rajneesh, Sai Baba and others.
But Tolle looks so harmless, there is something nerdish over his appearance, something that allows us to relax. And I think he is the way he appears to be. There cant be any desire for power, money and sex in that man. I know you shouldn’t be too sure of anything, but I would be very surprised. People are always hungry for a new Messiah, but we haven’t dared to believe in that for quite a while, well, 20 years is not much in a bigger time perspective. Maybe its time for a new Messiah for the 21st century, and the name of that Messiah will be Eckhart Tolle. Why not? I think it’s a good Idea.

But back to the suffering. Will this New Earth of Tolle be filled with people that don’t suffer anymore?
Interesting question. There is this mentioning of A CHANGE IN CONSCIOUSNESS that will bring about such a big change in the human race that we could be seen as a New Human Being. A Humanity that isn’t identified with our thoughts anymore. That sounds great. Free from thoughts, and since emotions follow the thoughts, we will be free from emotions also. Not meaning we won’t have thoughts and emotions anymore, but according to Tolle, we will think less and BE more and most importantly, we will not be identified with thought forms - we will be IN the world but not OF the world. We will change from “Human Thinkings” into (or back to) “Human Beings”. A nice play with words, but I guess this is very appealing to many people on the earth right now.
When I think of it Tolle has put himself in quite a predicament and I am very curious to see how he will manage himself out of it. I don’t pretend to understand these things better than Tolle, I don’t have a clue as how to put these things into words. Tolle often, on his CD:s, talks about SURRENDER.
I think SURRENDER should be the keyword for his teaching because he over and over again talks about the Power of Now, and how there cant be any future in the Now. Well, the now gives space to our thoughts about future, in Tolles teaching the future is nothing but a concept, an empty thought, a chemical dance around the synapses in the brain. The future doesn’t really exist. He is clear about that. But what about this awakening project, and the New Earth, if there is no future, what does it matter if we get a New Earth??
What I like about Tolle is that he is fully aware of the absurdity of talking about the NonDual, the timeless and formless in a language that is constructed for duality, time and form. He often starts giggling when the absurdity becomes too obvious. So actually his main point is SURRENDER. Because when you surrender FUTURE you surrender everything. But he can not allow himself to be very clear about that, because what is the point with having millions of people watching you and then make them scared and angry. Completely pointless. Mr Tolle has to give them hope, hope of a New Earth, and what is he doing then? He is giving them future, the exact thing he often says we should surrender. And surrender, what is that actually?

Surrender is a term often heard in spiritual circles. It can mean many things. Often its about surrendering to a Guru. It’s like giving up, but the difference is that you give yourself away to something that is greater than your person, you ego, your will etc. Like Jesus says, - Not my will but Yours be done, meaning Gods will.
Surrender is something very beautiful but strange in our culture. We are taught to be strong and stand up for who we are and what we want. Surrender is the opposite. It’s about realizing that you are just a small human being living for a glimpse of a second on this earth and you don’t have a clue what to do about it. You don’t know why you are here, what its all about, (not really, you pretend to know by adapting different cultural viewpoints). You cannot see the purpose even though you love to paraphrase statements like - the purpose is to be of service to the people I meet, - the purpose is to contribute to a better world with more joy and peace and playfulness.
Wow, that sounds nice. But what about getting old and sick. What about losing loved ones? Whats the purpose of that? We don’t have a clue, nor do we have a clue how to relate to the fact of our own coming death. But we love when people tell us what our purpose is. And that is exactly what Eckhart Tolle does, the undertitle of A New Earth goes, Awakening to your life’s purpose. Oh my God, don’t we love to hear that?!
And when are we going to awaken to this purpose? Well, in the future, a future that don’t exist. Ok, I know that Tolle is aware of the problems with words although he masters them better than any other spiritual teacher, obviously, since he can reach so many people.

Back to my journey. For me it’s all about SURRENDER right now. I am not going as far as surrendering the whole concept of future, like Tolle suggests we should do. No, but I am willing to surrender to suffering.

A New Life
Surrender to your life’s Suffering

That is in my opinion the real benefit of Tolles Teaching and the one that is hard. I don’t know if you can do that until you have tried and failed enough times.
I have realized that no matter how high you fly you inevitably will fall down into this little bag of skin and bones with a computer up in the scull that runs the same old suffering-programs over and over again and there is NO ONE who can remove these programs or shut of the computer unless you kill yourself or get killed or die of old age or by an accident or by a disease. That’s a fact.
People can look you in the eyes and tell you that they have attained permanent peace and happiness and really believe that. Well, check back after a year, two years, five years, and you wont be surprised to find them deep down in suffering. Overwhelmed by feelings of nothing meaning anything and so on. Cause that is the price you have to pay for freedom, nothing really means that much anymore and that’s a scary part. You think you are insane and feel alone in a world full of people running around believing every little matter actually matters. At first it’s comical, then it’s a tragedy, a comical tragedy, then it’s just sad. Empty and sad. (that’s my experience).

But then, after living for a while with this empty sad feeling, I came to the next phase. Since the notion of me being a separate individual no longer was that relevant or interesting, (I mean, I do care about not getting run over by a bus or something) I suddenly realized something else. Or rather felt something else. Since I was no longer separate from other people (at least not in that contracted fearful way, there are no black or whites on the path) I was not separate from other peoples pain and suffering. This might sound like some psychiatric dysfunction, not being able to protect myself from others feelings, confusing others feelings with my own, …. NO, its not a dysfunction, (I hope) Its something else. It’s waking up to the realization that LIFE IS SUFFERING.
Suffering is not a collection of feelings that I own inside my body, something I can call MY suffering. THERE IS NOPERSONAL SUFFERING. To believe otherwise is to be deluded. We are one human race, sharing this time on earth, and if anything would be dysfunctional, it would be this – BELIEVING THAT SUFFERING IS PERSONAL.

That is why I say that it’s a trap to believe that the awakening will relieve you from suffering. It will open you up to suffering. I mean, why would Jesus Christ tell his truth even if he knew he would have had a much more comfortable life as a carpenter, why would he bother himself with speaking the truth?? That didn’t relieve him from suffering. On the contrary.

So where is my path leading me from now on. Suffering can also be used as a fuel, a fuel you need to contribute much more than you could do before. Because my life has to be about contribution. But with what can I contribute? I don’t know. That is another thing I realize has to be let go of. The need to know, the need to understand. Back to - Not my will but Yours be done - Part of the inevitable suffering of living in a body is not knowing, not understanding, being confused, building and protecting conceptual constructions. Fearing that reality might tear down your understanding. Protecting yourself from reality. Selecting the things that fits with your expectations and understanding. And then complaining over a life lacking adventure and excitement. It is a tragedy this existence. But its absurd and funny as well. A crazy show. With the words of Shakespear –

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hourupon the stage
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I agree.
And that is what we fear most of all. That’s what we resist with every ounce of our being. LIFE HAS GOT TO MEAN ANYTHING …
Yeh, it means suffering. And here we are starting to play hardball. Prepare yourself for a tuff ride. This is where spirituality begins. All the rest of spirituality is nothing but consoling lies that protects you from LIFE.

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3 kommentarer:

  1. Du borde läsa Jeds "Spiritual Warfare" bok. Den är hans kanske bästa, och inte alls negativ.
    Ha det kul! :-)

  2. ok, jag bryter mitt löfte om att inte läsa för många olika andliga böcker. Skall bli kul ... :-)

  3. First i have to apologize for my english. i read your text, and i mostly agree, but there is a part i dont understand. it is about telling this :"And when are we going to awaken to this purpose? Well, in the future." i think you can not suffer in the future, because you always suffer in this moment, even a thought about the future is happening now. I love Eckharts books and at times it seems i even feel very much connected to his teachings. but i keep on falling back to my thoughts and same worries. i think even Tolle speaks about not expecting the world to make you happy...suffering will happen it is the matter how you react to it. i think surrender is the best thing you can do. But how to surrender, this i dont now. i can tell myself to accept it, but do i really? maybe i need to accept i can not accept ;) i Like tolle a lot, but than again i can not understand thing like: why are his live teaching so expensive, or why does he tells that Obama is present...Well after jumping like a jojo all the time i realized one things:
    - negative thinking always produces more negativity. You can tell yourself, ok i fell negative, but there is now point of torturing yourself with negative thinking. maybe this is surrender to suffering. and if you surrender maybe the suffering ends?
    I dont know.
    Thank you for your wonderful post