Sunday, 10 January 2016

Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now and A New Earth are books written by Eckhart Tolle which have become international bestsellers. Remarkably eloquent and well spoken, Eckhart's central message is very simple: live in the present moment. Through the power of this "presence", the imaginings of the mind are halted and one discovers the true nature of Life for themselves. Eckhart retells the story of his own awakening, which came at the age of 29 when he was suffering from deep anxiety. He felt pulled into a void which asked him the nature of his true self. After this, it seems he was able to see the reality of himself as awareness living in the now, and his ego self died. Thus, the idea of awareness being the true self is also part of Eckharts teachings. But central to the practise here is living "mindfully", which means mindful of the present moment rather than having a mind full of past and future thoughts! Tolle's books have popularised the idea of a pain-body, which means traces of egoic thinking and feeling patterns left in the energetic body of an individual. Although Eckhart admits the egoic nature of mankind makes us suffer, he says it is time to evolve from this by using presence to become more conscious. He says to perform the alchemy of turning "base metal into gold" which means suffering consciously and realising our true nature.

Eckhart has appeared in western media, such as on the Oprah Winfrey show, and other broadcasts. His messages draw upon words from Jesus and Buddhism primarily but he says we can go deeper into any tradition to find the same transcendent truth. I am sharing a video from his channel here:

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Who am I?

This is the central question of the spiritual quest. Leading on from the last post, if we are not the thoughts in our minds, the emotions we feel or the bodies we use then who or what are we? A human has the capacity to ask this question with mind, but mind cannot provide the answer. Well, the mind tries: the popular explanation is that we are souls, energies that have become conscious. But this means very little when we have no experience of it. We have experience of our physical senses, ideas and emotions but rarely encounter being anything outside of these. Even in the dream state, we experience emotions and sensations. When do we experience being "soul"?

Until this dimension comes into our experience, talking about what we are is just a theory, like a child talking about being a grown up. But Sri Ramana Maharishi says the experience of who or what we are is available to us right now. It does not come from asking anyone for any answer, it comes from asking within our own mind, "who am I?" over and over, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, rejecting any identification with mind-body phenomena which changes continuously. Another way to say this is, ask who is AWARE of what is happening. That awareness or rather the experience of being that awareness without any other identity is self-realisation. Sounds so simple to experience ourselves as awareness, but when you practise clearing awareness from its identifications (e.g. I am a woman, I am this type of person) you realise how much you are caught up in ideas that are mere projections of mind. Nisargardatta Maharaj also practised this method of Self Enquiry. He said I AM is the ultimate truth, we are awareness itself in a play of mind. To be aware of being awareness leads the way to knowing the true self and can be understood as the process of knowing I AM THAT I AM. 

This process maybe what Eckhart Tolle discusses as "presence", which we'll look at in the next post...

Friday, 8 January 2016

The meaning of Life

The sense of wonder we have as children requires no mental understanding or conceptual explanation. We are happy just to be in the wonder, moment by moment. But once the intellect develops, we are taught to label and explain. Just being feels foolish and we want to know. Every answer to the question, "What is the meaning of life?" feels false and contrite. We're here to learn, we're here to create, we're here to know God. All of these answers fail to reach the sacred space of heartfelt truth. I read, watched and heard many masters speak, and noticed there was was something in common with all their explanations to the meaning of life question: the common factor was they never gave an explanation! Not Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie or Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev or Mooji or Jesus or Buddha. They permeated a knowing, but they did not expain the truth because they said it needs to be experienced, to be felt within. Sadhguru goes as far as to say life has "no meaning" - he means the mind cannot grasp it. So every attempt to reach truth, even while using these feeble words, has to be felt rather than analysed mentally. The words of truth point to the experience of knowing the meaning of life, felt within one's innermost being. What is this realm without mind, mental concepts, reasonable understanding and logical explanation? Is it soul? We'll come to that in the next post with some quotes from Sri Ramana Maharishi and Nisaragadatta Maharaj. 🙏🏼

On the road to understanding

It's taken me many years to begin this blog. It's not really about "me", the little me, my identity on this planet. It's about the search that has gone on in my life since childhood, the quest for truth and the many many teachings I have read, perused and learned about. The citations here will be to the works of many great masters from all different traditions. I am not trying to endorse any views or present any arguments, but I intend to share what nourishes the soul of the universal seeker...