Saturday, July 31, 2010

Soul Questions

Lately I have had some questions about SELF. If we follow Eckhart Tolle, then I understand that we all need to find stillness, and access Being, the One, perhaps God, the Universal Life Force. A Oneness that links everything in the universe, big or small. It is the infinite, and eternal. At our essence, that is who we are.

But. Doesn't that make us all the same, in essence. Clearly, we are not all the same. Another tried to explain that it is the way that essence flows from you, that is your unique Self. I worry that I want a unique self for Ego purposes.

Then I picked up a book that has been sitting on my shelf such a long time, neglected, waiting for the right time to appeal to me. And so it is here. The book is by Sue Minns, called Bodies and Souls - A down-to-earth guide for the human experience. The book had been purchased after it had been highly recommended to me, but had never grabbed my attention. I wasn't ready, I guess.

Sue Minns differentiates between the Soul and the Spirit. The Spirit being that described above, while the Soul is "our essential natures, the very hearts of us, our natural talents."

She says, "The Soul is like a snow flake, a totally unique, individual particle. Spirit is the cloud that formed it, and from which it fell." Sue describes the Soul as the element of us that senses our human experience. "Each individual Soul is like a sensor-cell for All That Is."

And finally this feels like the answer to Self. Soul explains for me the difference between stillness, and the vibrant life sensation that I can have when really seeing a beautiful flower, or am awe struck by a magnificent tree, or that pull toward another person that does not make rational sense at all, or when I take the time to really taste what I am eating, and listen to the sounds of my life.

Lastly, Sue writes "You are unique! Not a clone, not a robot, not a carbon copy. Listen to your soul. It gives you permission to be - it requires you to be - fully present as a shimmering representative of the Great Creative Spirit. Throw the rule book out of the window; give your soul some time; dare to be different. You might even hear laughter as your soul - on behalf of its Creator - begins to live through you."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shining like the sun.

I still work toward seeing the light in others around me. Sometimes I see a glow in my children. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be to see the world in its full color, without interpretations, names, commentary, expectations and criticisms piled on top of it a lot of the time. However, I have had enough lovely moments of shining treasures that I can glimpse it.

Below is Thomas Merton's words, written in mid 1900, about the revelation he had one ordinary day:

"In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. … This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. … I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. … At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak his name written in us … like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere." (Shining like the sun)

Can you see the light?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The universe speaks!

Can you hear the universe conversing with you? Do you spend time in quiet and stillness giving the universe the opportunity to let you know its secrets? What would you think if you heard its whisper? Would you take a step in a new direction if you heard the universe speak?

"Every one of us is a mystic. We may or not realise it. But whether we know it or not, whether we accept it or not, mystical experience is always there, inviting us on a journey of ultimate discovery. We have been given the gift of life in this perplexing world to become who we ultimately are: creatures of boundless love, caring, compassion, and wisdom. Existence summons to the eternal journey of the sage – the sage we all are, if only we could see."
(Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, By Wayne Teasdale)

Take some time to Be, and see where it leads you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Christianity and The Power of Now 4

Another entry by our guest blogger, Brad Harris.

The next Bible verse quoted by Eckhart Tolle in ‘A New Earth’ is from the gospel of Matthew. It records Jesus as saying:
‘ if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well’. Matthew 5:40

This seems a simple piece of advice but the implications of it are enormous. It goes far beyond not taking people to court to rectify disputes. My understanding of what Jesus was saying used to be that, in order to please God I needed to discipline myself to always put
others’ needs first. This in itself is surely not wrong. Who could question the need to be considerate of the needs of others in every thing we do. Our actions, if based only on selfishness and self-satisfaction are inevitably going to cause harm to others - either directly or indirectly.

In taking this view of Jesus’ teaching I came to think that I didn’t deserve success or wealth and that I shouldn’t even expect happiness. In fact my life always had to take second place to others. I felt that my life should be dedicated to constantly giving in to the will of others. I began to devalue my own life! And what’s more, other people began to take advantage of my ‘good nature’ and I became somewhat of a ‘door mat’.

In ‘A New Earth’ Eckhart Tolle records his conversation with a dying women. He tells her “Whatever the ego seeks and gets attached to are substitutes for the Being it can not feel. You can value and care for things, but whenever you get attached to them, you will know it’s the ego. And you are never really attached to a thing but to a thought that has ‘I’, ‘me’, or ‘mine’ in it. Whenever you completely accept a loss, you go beyond ego, and who you are, the I Am which is consciousness itself, emerges”.

The women replied, “Now I understand something Jesus said that never made much sense to me before: ‘If someone takes your shirt, let him have your coat as well.’”

Tolle replied “That’s right. It doesn’t mean that you should never lock your door. All it means is that sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on”. (p. 41)

When I can understand that ‘my’ coat (or anything else that I call mine) is not really mine in the first place, I can’t feel hard done by at having to give it to someone else. I go with the flow of life more easily by accepting what comes and accepting what passes. Every moment, no matter how it appears on the surface is a blessing from God and I rejoice in it. It’s not a matter of taking second place to everyone else. It is a sacred realization that everyone and everything has equal value in God’s eyes. We are all a part of His creation and in ‘letting go’ we get more than we could ever realize. Amazing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Gruen Transfer - Advertising

You may or not have seen a very successful show on the ABC called The Gruen Transfer. It is a 30 minute show devoted entirely to looking at advertising, most specifically television advertising. It is a fascinating insight into a world of attention grabbing, what triggers our interest and desires, and how that can be manipulated. It also looks occasionally at how advertising has developed, and in some cases become very sophisticated.

I was made aware of the power of advertising when I watched a history program many years ago. The program spoke about the problems that many western countries faced after the Second World War. Much industry was in place to develop and produce weapons and ammunition, which were no longer required. This industry began to create and produce items such as fridges and washing machines. However, after many years of conservative spending and economy that was the result of the dread years of the Depression, no one would buy the new products. They were considered luxury and non essential to the spend thrift population.

Something was required to change the habits and thoughts of the populace, so the would buy. In order to keep money moving, industry producing and workers employed, people had to buy what they did not believe they needed. Then began a new phase in the advertising realm (used most effectively during the war years as propaganda) to create a desire in consumers that they did not have. The campaign was "You deserve it."

And consumers believed it and changed their spending habits to prove it. They agreed they had suffered many years of hardship, and want, and making do. They believed it was time to reward themselves. Then they bought a new washer, although the old one worked well enough, but was not as shiny.

I was astounded that this consumer desire that most of us have suffered has been a manipulation from the beginning. Not only does it continue on - only becoming more subtle, sophisticated, invasive and expensive - but it's still necessary to the continued function of this world system. In reality, the people of the past may very well have deserved some luxury after years of saving, and re-using, and making do. But I am not sure how the argument goes nowadays. Never-the-less, advertising still manages to make us feel we deserve to up-grade.

This advertising world encourages us to be dissatisfied with what we have, to want more, better, bigger, brighter. Advertising and its role in our world perpetuates suffering in our human phychi. Rather than an attitude of gratitude for all we have, and the beauty of our world, we are encouraged to be dissatisfied with how we live. Rather than bringing our minds into the Now, advertising is there to remind us to strive for more, make more money so we can buy more. Advertising,therefore, takes our thoughts directly into the future. And instead of allowing our ego to subside, we have advertising to trigger everything our ego's feed on - envy, desire, greed, dissatisfaction, and criticism.

What can we do? Personally, we can understand, and recognise the mechanics of advertising - recognise the deception and manipulation there in. Remain conscious. Practice gratitude everyday. Question what we NEED. Fast forward the ads.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The suffering of expectation

Sometimes when I tell people that I run an Eckhart Tolle Silent Meditation Group, I am told - "Oh, I need something like that" or "That would be really good for me."

It jars a little to hear these words. I give details of the meetings and await their disappointment. I feel they will be expecting something from our gathering, to learn something or be given something. In fact, those in our group don't come to gain, but bring something with them to share - their presence.

I understood after hearing Eckhart Tolle speak about speaker expectations - it is an area I fear he knows a bit about. People come to hear him, but have an expectation of finding themselves, receiving the answers. When they don't receive such unattainable gifts of knowledge, they become disappointed, and disillusioned. They are let down.

For those, however, who listen with an aware presence, so much more is gained - they have no expectation, or illusions of what they will receive. Instead they have an awareness and appreciation of the Now, and are able to share their presence and at the same time feel, enjoy, marvel in the presence of others so giving.

Expectations are a wishful projection onto a future event - a very reliable route to suffering.

All are welcome to our group meetings and the more exposed to Eckhart Tolle teachings, and others like his, the more conscious the world of humans will become. However, our meetings do not provide the answers, or the truth or a route to the real you. As Eckhart says, those things are already part of you and cannot be given.

Come, be empty of expectation, be still, and on a good night you may just get a glimpse of heaven.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Year of Wonders

It is over a year ago that I read A New Earth, and a short time after that that I began the Silent Meditation Group in Sutherland.
In a spiritual sense it has been a huge year.

~Last year I could sense the life tingle in my hand, as directed by Tolle. Now I can stop and feel my whole body alive.
~12 months ago I might have the odd moment of peace, and now can have entire days of presence (school days only!)
~Back then I loved to look at special trees and be awed by them, now I can feel a buzz of life connection with trees and flowers, clouds and waves.
~Once a different dimension was just a science fiction concept, now I see it
fleetingly out of the corner of my eye.
~Last year I had no belief in God, and now I think I share his source, and feel his pure patience and faith in me.
~I never believed I was good at learning languages, but this year I learnt a new language, and found others who speak that language, too.
~A year ago I could be irritated, and bored, frustrated and annoyed, and now a mantra seems to have developed in my head of its own accord, "You don't have to feel like this." And it hits me over and again, This is the Good News.
~I would spend days, weeks at a time getting lost back in thought, and now it is rare not to connect with presence at least several times a day.

And all this is Good News for anyone else starting on the spiritual path. For all I have done is to simply get back to Presence/Now/Being/Stillness whenever I remembered to, and now I see that that is enough. Eventually this brings about a more conscious you than unconscious.

I wonder what I will be able to say next year!

Postscript: I should mention that finding Eckhart Tolle as my teacher, and making a regular time commitment to his guidance, which I do through running the Eckhart Tolle Silent Meditation Group, has been an important part of my Year of Wonders. If Eckhart Tolle speaks to you, check out his website for a local meditation group to join, or do something radical, START YOUR OWN.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Christianity and The Power of Now 3

Our guest blogger, Brad Harris, continues with his series, A New Way of Seeing God.
This time we take a look at the two verses in the Bible from which Eckhart Tolle takes the title of his book ‘A New Earth’. They are both prophecies relating to a transformation of the earth. One is from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and one is from the New Testament book of Revelation.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” Revelation 21:1
“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17

I used to understand these verses as a vision of the future ‘Kingdom of God’ which God promised to establish on the earth at the second coming of His Son. They spoke to me of God’s intention to totally overturn the world’s present systems of government and to create a ‘new world order’ under the kingship of Jesus. I believed that those people found to be faithful to God in this life would be granted eternal life in a perfected world when Jesus returns.
This belief made more sense to me than an afterlife in heaven, as it gave me hope that all my personal problems and all the problems facing the world (eg. poverty, starvation, global warming, global financial crisis) would ‘one day’ end. My thoughts and hopes were tied up in a future event. In a sense, my life was always ‘on hold’ as I waited for my life to be fulfilled by God’s promises. Although I was confident that these things would come to pass, my faith in future outcomes often paled into insignificance when things in the ‘here and now’ weren’t working out as I believed they should for a good Christian. There were so many questions I couldn’t truthfully answer. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why do ‘bad things happen to good people’? Why doesn’t God answer all my prayers?
Complicating these questions was the fact that many Christians didn’t agree with my particular interpretation of the Bible. Many, in fact most, Christians believe in heaven as the place where the afterlife takes place. How could so many people of the same religious tradition see things so differently? Wasn’t a correct belief necessary to obtain the promise of eternal life? What would happen to those who had wrong beliefs?
In ‘A New Earth’ Tolle says that the New Heaven is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, presence, and awareness, and life in a New Earth would be the physical reflection of that awakened consciousness. He states that looking to the future for salvation is one of the oldest dysfunctions of the mind – that is, looking toward a future time for happiness, rather than seeing it in the moments in which we live – in the present moment.
Tolle points to salvation in the inner realm of consciousness, and that nothing we can imagine in the future can free us. No future event is going to make us free. As Tolle puts it: “Nothing is going to make us free because only the present moment can make us free. The realization is the awakening.”
‘What did Jesus tell his disciples? “Heaven is right here in the midst of you”.’ (p. 308)
Having got the sense of what Tolle says I have come to realize that salvation is no longer a future event (either on earth or in heaven). It is here and now. It is freedom from ego, freedom from being dominated by my own thoughts.
This life, every day, every moment is “heaven on earth”. How could it get any better than this? My relationship with God is stronger and more real now and I have ceased to be anxious about the future because “future” no longer exists to me in the way it did before. The details of what will happen in the future (either on earth or in heaven) are of little interest to me now – and the best thing of all is that I no longer worry about being ‘good enough’ to be rewarded by God in a future kingdom for, as Jesus said “The Kingdom of God is within (me)” (Luke 17:21)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Head Space

When you hear Eckhart Tolle speak, or read his words, you often hear him say that if his words are not resonating with you, or are meaningless to you, then you may yet to have had your first glimpse of consciousness without thought. This first moment of consciousness is an act of grace, and can happen to anyone, in any circumstances, at anytime. You can't DO anything to bring it about.
But, for so many, living a life of unhappiness, emptiness, hurt, dissatisfaction - ordinary, common lives - how can a thoughtless moment squeeze in. These are heads full of history, hurts, problems and a constant stream of wanting, needing, hoping, wishing, looking to the future with desire. There is no space for an act of grace. And I should know, and perhaps you do too, for I have been there.

I don't remember any particular act of grace, but I have had some beautiful moments of peace, and a glimpse of God since. Sometimes I feel a flash of connection with trees, or the waves of the sea, and in general life is a lot more peaceful and quiet inside and out.

My act of grace, and the choice to pursue it thereafter, I don't believe, was possible without the clearing work I did beforehand. I didn't know what I was clearing for. I only looked toward a happier existence, and to be able to teach my children a better way of living than bitterness, anger, and dissatisfaction.

So, can we expect a great wave of spiritual enlightenment for a larger population without spending some energy on some clearing? Clear away some personal history - accept, forgive and let go. Learn to be grateful for how we live, and not always be looking for more. Clear a space in which we can love ourselves a little more, give ourselves value. THEN there may be a little space for meditation, to sit quietly, to listen to a beautiful piece of music, and to give grace an opportunity.

I think the role of those who help others to clear mental and emotional space are just as important as Eckhart Tolle, and other spiritual leaders, in helping great numbers of souls to a more spiritual existence.