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Twenty things to remember about Eckhart Tolle

What isn't and what is this contemporary mystic teaching?

Eckhart Tolle

Ten things to remember about Eckhart Tolle.

What isn’t Eckhart Tolle saying and doing?

He has impacted on my life as he has on millions of others.  In addition to his general spiritual illumination of our lives and of reality I am interested in how he can illumine specialist areas of life including teaching, parenting and management.  However this first post is an attempt to separate what he is doing and saying from what he isn’t.  Why?  Well take a look at the cistern of hate and mis-representation that has poured out from ‘Christians’ and others on YouTube and elsewhere.

1 He is not a religionist.

2 He has not started a religion.

3 He is not speaking from the point of view of inter-faith but meta-faith or pan-faith and beyond.

4 He doesn’t speak from within a religion, or about others’ religious beliefs.

5 He avoids religion, and thereby teaches the purest heart of religion.

6 His life has been in three stages.

7 Before the age of 29, there was extensive ‘dark-night-of-the soul’ experience.

8 At the age of 29 he had a transformative experience.

9 The subsequent 35 years, his life’s work, has simply been a commentary on that transformative experience.

10 The 35 years is itself split into two phases, the first of which was 30 years processing the experience – via reflection, study and articulation.

11 The writing of his few books, has been over the last half decade, and the meteoric rise in their and his popularity over just the last year or two.

12 He is a Universalist, and one who most of the time avoids the trigger words that set off fundamentalists and ‘exclusivists’ and other professional haters. (That hasn’t stopped a rag-bag of fundamentalists and ‘exclusivists’ and other professional haters from attacking him, especially since Oprah gave him a platform!)

13 He is existentialist by tone and direction.

14 He is not a theologian (thank God), but he is closest theologically to panENtheism.

15 He avoids scholarship (thank God) as one of many ego-traps that potentially ensnare any of us.

16 He is quintessentially the doer as opposed to the talker – but via talking about non-talking and non-duality!

17 He is quintessentially a Universalist.

18 He is directly in the tradition(s) of all of the great mystics.

19

20

I haven’t decided on the 18th and 19th – which ones would you add to the list?

The WikiPedia entry on Tolle is a good place to start if you want to know more about him.

Photo source Flickr

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Coming Home: an Introduction to Spirituality

There are many who yearn for spiritual food who are put off by the antics and corruption of religions. Perennial Philosophy or mystical paths such as Sufism can provide that food. But what are the basics of this core belief that transcends religions?

This is the beginning of an attempt to provide such a n i.ntroduction. Currently I am developing it in a question and answer format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Home

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Waking up to the Spirit you have always been

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A book for the non religiously spiritual.

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Roger Prentice

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Introduction:

 

This is an attempt, using questions and answers, to present simply and clearly the truth about being spiritual – initially without reference to religions.

 

This is for family, friends and students – and all those who want to realize, i.e. realize the deepest in themselves. I haven’t achieved this to a high order. Many of you can out-do me in many good things. But it seems my task is to collect and re-present these insights. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings. But as Heschel says to be human is to suffer the knowledge of the difference between what we should be and what we are. The only ‘crime’ is to say ‘that’s the way I am and I’m not going to change’. To say that is also very dangerous. We are all designed to struggle toward our own perfection – to become more and realize our gifts more fully in the mutuality of love.

 

This is an action-based account i.e. there are a range of simple ‘To do’ practices that can help you relax into:

To do: Sit quietly as often as you can – and let your breath breathe you. (More to follow)

 

Part 1 is an attempt to present the ‘bare bones’ without reference to the great and the good, or to philosophies or religions.

 

Part 2 goes a stage deeper and introduces ideas from some of the great and the good – people such as Ken Wilber.

 

Part 3 goes deeper.

Coming Home

Part 1- Re-finding our-selves = re-finding the spirit we thought we had lost

 

Q. What is spirit?

A. All that isn’t simply physical.

 

Q. Does that mean mind as well as feelings?

A. Yes if we put mind and heart together we get ‘heart-mind’. Heart-mind = our interior landscape or simply consciousness – the great inner ‘sea’ of feelings and thoughts. Neither heart nor mind in this sense are physical.

 

Q. Is that all spirit is?

A. It a) is the life-force b) the force of attraction that holds all bodies together and c) it is walking on in the right spirit – until all becomes Spirit.

 

Q. Are there other names for the spiritual?

A. Yes many – love, energy, chi etc.

 

Q. So spirit, or love as attraction, holds everything together?

A. Yes. Another definition of being spiritual is ‘to live for others’, to be of service.

 

Q. What else comes from spirit, apart from the warmth of love?

A. The light of the mind, knowing. ‘Warmth and holding together’ and ‘the light of seeing and knowing’ – both flow from love.

 

Q. What about everyday activities? Is walking spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is running spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is Sky-diving spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is sex spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is breathing spiritual?

A. It can be. The great yogic teaching is that the breath is that which connects the physical and the spiritual.

 

Q. Why ‘can be’ in all of these?

A. It is ‘yes’ if we a) re-cognize such activities in the context of the spiritual and b) realize the eternal in ourselves.

But it is ‘no’ if we remain tied to the miseries of our own ego.

 

Q. Does that mean that everyone is spiritual?

A. Yes but each needs to plug in and switch on! We all spring from the Whole, just as sunlight emanates from the sun. But we have to allow ourselves to feel, & acknowledge, the awareness that deep down we know was there from the beginning.

 

Q. Is being spiritual a normal state of being?

A. Yes it is simply being more than self-centredness. It is being conscious of the Whole/the Source/the Spirit that is beyond our individual ego. This consciousness gradually widens the circle of its concern and allows us to lessen our attachment to our ego.

 

Q. So loving more widely – like the outflowing circles from a dropped stone in a pond – is freeing?

A. Yes – those who really achieve insight cease to be run by the pleasures and torments of the the ‘small self’ – the ego and tru freedom increases..

 

Q. Isn’t this something that only special people – saints or mystics – can do?

A. No it is part of being human and we all have such experiences. But we fail to realize their closeness and fullness, mainly because they are so simple & there all the time – we’ve failed to notice, for want of quietness and contemplation! In any case we are all mystical just as we are all philosophical its part of the package of being human – just as much as is being social, sexual and creative.

 

Q. How do we make those experiences a stronger part of our lives?

A. Contemplation or meditation – as one source says ‘Be still, and know …’.

 

Q. How do we stop or prevent ourselves being spiritual?

A. Not staying conscious of that Whole from which we spring (emanate). And by staying attached to the pleasures and torments of ego-identification.

 

Q. Is there any other sense that someone might not be, or stop being, spiritual?

A. When they are attached to any thing that prevents her/him from experiencing their true Self.

 

Q. How many kinds of attachment are there?

A. Many – we think of gross ones such as alcohol and drugs but many are subtle – materialism, status etc – some are very subtle, perhaps ultimately even the attachment to not being attached!

 

Q. What do I do if violent or filthy or self-destructive thoughts or ‘demons’ come into my head?

A. Let them pass as though they were moving across a cinema screen and say, ‘Hello good morning/ eve etc, thank you and goodbye.’ Our True Self is not our thoughts. Thoughts come from the ego.

 

Q. Why what good would that do?

A. It will help you understand that you are not your thoughts.

 

Q. If I’m not my thoughts then what am I?

A. You are part of the Whole, in the temporary emanation and form of being uniquely you for 80 or so years.

 

Q. The Whole of what?

A. The Universe and beyond (everything – and all that is beyond that isn’t a thing!)

 

Q. What else am I?

A. You are star-stuff made conscious (SEE the 3 recent BBC physics documentaries called ‘Atom’.)

 

Q. What else am I?

A. You are ‘a hairy bag of sea-soup’. (This is not only a joke but is an accurate statement about our physical make up and evolution!) Science and spirituality are two ways of approaching truth.

 

Q. Do rituals and practices help?

A. Yes providing we don’t allow them to breed complacency, narrowness, and self-satisfaction i.e. a state of attachment. The most important are contemplation/meditation, prayer, and service to others.

 

Q. What really is contemplation or meditation?

A. Being still to experience our True Self, instead of the mind chatter and ‘TV interference’ of the ego.

 

Q. And what is the ultimate secret of the universe?

A. It is pointed to, not described, in these the final sentences of Wilber’s The Eye of Spirit;

When the great Zen master Fa-ch’ang was dying, a squirrel screeched out on the roof. ‘It’s just this’ he said, ‘and nothing more’. SFB P.258

 

Q. I don’t geddit!

A. Here it is again from another master;

The world is illusory

Brahman alone is real;

Brahman is the world. (SFB p19)

 

Q. Still don’t geddit!

A. Here it is again from another master;

There is neither creation nor destruction,

Neither destiny nor free-will;

Neither path nor achievement;

This is the final truth. (One Taste p468)

Q. Still don’t geddit!

A. ‘Walk on‘ (The Buddha). Walk on in the right spirit – lighten up and have forgiving and compassionate fun – until all becomes Spirit.

 

End of Part 1 (To be developed)

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All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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For some time I have been looking for a key passage as a way into discussing aspects of Wilber’s work – especially in relation to education. This is the best I’ve found so far.

….according to the great sages there is something in us that is always conscious – that is literally conscious or aware at all times and through all states, waking dreaming, sleeping. And that ever-present awareness is Spirit in us. That underlying current of constant consciousness (or nondual awareness) is a direct and unbroken ray of pure Spirit itself. It is our connection with the Goddess, our pipeline straight to God.

 

Thus, if we want to realize our supreme identity with Spirit, we will have to plug ourselves into this current of constant consciousness, and follow it through all changes of state-waking, dreaming, sleeping – which will (1) strip us of an exclusive identification with any of those states (such as the body, the mind, the ego, or the soul; and (2) allow us to recognize and identify with that which is constant – or timeless – through all of those states, namely, Consciousness as Such, by any other name, timeless Spirit …..

 

The moment this constant nondual consciousness is obvious in your case, a new destiny will awaken in the midst of the manifest world. You will have discovered your own Buddha-mind, your own Godhead, your own formless, spaceless, timeless, infinite Emptiness, your own Atman that is Brahman, your Keter, Christ consciousness, radiant Shekhinah – in so many words, One Taste. It is unmistakably so. And just that is your true identity – pure Emptiness or pure unqualifiable Consciousness as Such – and thus you are released from the terror and the torment that necessarily arise when you identify with a little subject in a world of little objects.

 

Once you find your formless identity as Buddha-mind, as Atman, as pure Spirit or Godhead, you will take that constant, nondual, ever-present consciousness and re-enter the lesser states, subtle mind and gross body, and re-animate them with radiance. You will not remain merely Formless and Empty. You will Empty yourself of Emptiness: you will pour yourself out into the mind and world, and create them in the process, and enter them all equally, but especially and particularly that specific mind and body that is called you (that is called, in my case, Ken Wilber); this lesser self will become the vehicle of the Spirit that you are.

 

And then all things, including your own little mind and body and feelings and thoughts, will arise in the vast Emptiness that you are, and they will self-liberate into their own true nature just as they arise, precisely because you no longer identify with any one of them, but rather let them play, let them all arise, in the Emptiness and Openness that you now are. You then will awaken as radical Freedom, and sing those songs of radiant release, beam an infinity too obvious to see, and drink an ocean of delight. You will look at the moon as part of your body and bow to the sun as part of your heart, and it is all just so. For eternally and always, eternally and always, there is only this.

 

But you have not found this Freedom, or in any way attained it. It is in fact the same Freedom that has lived in the house of the pure Witness from the very start. You are merely recognizing the pure and empty Self, the radical I-I, that has been your natural awareness from the beginning and all along, but that you didn’t notice because you had become lost in the intoxicating movie of life.

 

With the awakening of constant consciousness, you become something of a divine schizophrenic, in the popular sense of ‘split-minded,’ because you have access to both the Witness and the ego. You are actual ‘whole-minded’, but it sounds like it’s split, because you are aware of the constant Witness of Spirit in you, and you are also perfectly aware of the movies of life, the ego and all its ups and downs. So you still feel pain and suffering and sorrow, but then can no longer convince you of their importance – you are no longer the victim of life, but its Witness.

 

In fact, because you are no longer afraid of your feelings, you can engage them with much greater intensity. The movies of life becomes more vivid and vibrant, precisely because you are no longer grasping or avoiding it, and thus no longer trying to dull or dilute it. You no longer turn the volume down. You might even cry harder, laugh louder, jump higher. Choiceless awareness doesn’t mean you cease to feel; it means you feel fully, feel deeply, feel to infinity itself, and laugh and cry and love until it hurts. Life jumps right off the screen, and you are one with all of it, because you don’t recoil.

 

p.45-6, EKW

This passage covers a lot – but that’s the point.

To be developed.

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All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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On YouTube there are a number of videos showing Ken Wilber in dialogue and answering questions

The posters of this video say;

The Catholic theologian Karl Rahner famously said “the Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, or not a Christian at all.” Few people have impacted Christianity in this regard as has Fr. Thomas Keating. A Cistercian monk from St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, Fr. Thomas has spent a lifetime in deep Christian practice, and in sharing the fruits of this contemplation with countless others. We were enormously blessed to host a dialogue with Fr. Thomas and Ken Wilber in April of 2006. In today’s featured video, Ken presents some of the foundational concepts of Integral spirituality.

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All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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Elsewhere on this site I gave a view of the meaning of the Adam and Eve story (in the Circus essay) but here is another one that I like just as well from Wilber;

“The eating from the Tree of Knowledge, then, was not itself Original Sin. It represented the acquisition of self-consciousness and of true mental reflection, and with that evolutionary knowledge men and women then had to face their prior alienation. They still were born, still suffered, still died-but now they knew, it, and had to bear just that new and agonizing burden. This is why we said the eating from the Tree of Knowledge was not Original Sin or Original Alienation, but the Original Apprehension of Original Alienation. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge, not only did men and women realize their already mortal and finite state, they realized they had to leave Eden’s subconsciousness and begin the actual life of true self-conscious responsibility (on the way to superconsciousness, or Actual Return). They did not get thrown out of the Garden of Eden; they grew up and walked out. (Incidentally, for this courageous act, we have Eve to thank, not blame.)”” – Ken Wilber

Wilber´s site is here

http://www.kenwilber.com/home/landing/index.html

Source

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All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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‘Definition of God’ – and it still leaves us with the job of living with each other through the unity of mystery

The nearest I have ever come across to a satisfactory definition of God is as follows;

God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere.

Anonymous, ‘The Book of the Twenty-four Philosophers‘ (12thC)

Of course it isn’t really a definition – it’s more like a Zen Master’s ‘pointing’ – but what a pointing!

Of course I like it because it expresses my theological perspective and worldview – that of immanence plus transcendence i.e. panentheism.

Of course unless we lie through assertion or dupe through self-deception we don’t really, unequivocally, know. The best we can have is reasonably high degrees of certainty – and then preferably by combining several ways of knowing including sense observation, reason, intuition and the precedent of community precedents. We in truth live with mystery. As it says in the Koran ‘Man is my mystery and I am his‘.

“We are united by our doubts and divided by our convictions.” Sir Peter Ustinov

Recognition of ignorance is strength not weakness as Saint Augustine pointed out;

I am in a sorry state, for I do not know what I do not know!

Because we have unique histories we have unique worldviews. In fact it is the fact that at our centre we need faith to bridge the gap that exists between knowing and not knowing between finite humanity and that other defining characteristic of God – infinity.

As I suggested elsewhere excesses of certitude cut us off from truth and can lead to horrors of cruelty – the Nazis were certain that Jews, and Gypsies were sub-human.

“Certitude divides and diversity unifies…..We have to elevate religion above politics…..”

H.R.H. Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan BBC Newsnight 9th Feb 2006

All desire to be united is as the drop that longs to come one with the ocean – the rub, and the joy, is that the duality through which we learn is the dynamic that exists between oneness on the one hand, via contemplative letting go of the ego, and l-one-ly separation on the other.

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If you’ve struggled with what people actually mean by postmodernism and its relationship to modernism and pre-modernism you might appreciate these extracts from Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology – I certainly did.

 

See also my other posting on I, WE & IT and also the posting on Mythos and Logos including Karen Armstrong’s work.

 

Modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism

In other words, the four quadrants (or the Big Three) are actually the underpinnings of the modern differentiation of the values spheres of art, morals and science. Where premodernity had tended to fuse, or not clearly differentiate, the Big Three, modernity clearly differentiated them and set each free to pursue its own path. This differentiation was part of the dignity of modernity, which, in allowing each domain to pursue its own truths, allowed each to make stunning and far-reaching discoveries , discoveries that, even the harshest critics agree, set modernity apart from premodernity.

 

But something else set modernity apart. The differentiation of the big Three went too far into the dissociation of the Big Three : the dignity drifted into disaster, and this allowed an imperialistic science to dominate the other spheres and claim that they possessed no inherent reality of their own (scientism, scientific materialism, one-dimensional man, the disenchantment of the world). Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its; ” a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying a material, endlessly, meaninglessly.”

 

And so it came about that virtually the entire spectrum of consciousness, and certainly its higher levels, (soul and spirit), were reduced to permutations and combinations of matter and bodies. Put bluntly, all ‘Is’ and ‘we’s’ were reduced to ‘its’, to objects of the scientific gaze, which no matter how long or hard it looked, could find nothing resembling the Great Nest of human possibilities, but saw only endless patterns of process ‘its’, scurrying here and there. Integral Psychology P.64

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Thus , it seems that premodernity had at least one great strength that modernity lacked: it recognized the entire Great Nest of Being, which is basically a general map of higher human potentials. But premodernity also had at least one great weakness; it did not fully differentiate the value spheres at any of the levels of the Great Nest. Thus, among other things, objective-scientific investigation of the spectrum was hampered; the specific and often cultural expressions of the Great Nest were taken to be universally valid; and the moral injunctions recommended to all were tied to those limited cultural expressions. Giordano Bruno might have experienced many of he upper levels of the Great Nest, but because the value spheres were not fully differentiated at large and their individual freedoms were not protected by law and custom, the Inquisition cheerfully burned him at the stake.

 

Modernity, on the other hand, did manage to differentiate the Big Three of art, morals and science, on a large scale, so that each began to make phenomenal discoveries. But as the Big Three dissociated, and scientific colonialism began its aggressive career, all ‘Is’ and all ‘we’s’ were reduced to patterns of objective ‘its’, and thus all the interior stages of consciousness – reaching from body to mind to soul to spirit – were summarily dismissed as so much superstitious nonsense. The Great Nest collapsed into scientific materialism – into what we will be calling “flatland” – and there the modern world, by and large, still remains.

 

Our job, it thus appears, is to take the strengths of both premodernity and modernity, and jettison their weaknesses. Pp 64-65

To re-legitimize other ways of knowing, to work clearly with and between all three I, WE & IT ways of knowing (plus community-tradition) brings the possibility of re-enchantment and balanced development of the individual and of societies!

The model at the heart of this site utilizes Wilber’s triadic structure you can read a summary HERE.

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

 

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