Interesting conversation on Eckhart Tolle. When a spiritual teacher breaks into public consciousness I usually read his material to examine why this person seems to be making an impact. Usually I find nothing new in the teachings. So I ask myself why this person's writings are making an impact. Here is what I find to usually be the case.
Except for the Celestine Prophecy the book is fairly well written. All orthodox reviewers thought thus book sucked as a novel but it did present some ideas that were not well known and stimulated thinking.
The second thing they do is present a teaching that can be at least partially grasped by general humanity as a next step for them to take. The writing will avoid going too deep to keep interest.
Thirdly, it is often a synthesis of current new age teachings that have not made it to the general public.
Fourth, it has a hook such as talking with God (Conversations with God) or in this case a mystical name and strange accent.
I'm always a little suspicious about the lack of glamour behind someone who changes his name to sound more mysterious. Eckhart's real name was Ulrich, but changed it to Eckhart after the medieval mystic. This move seems to contradict his teaching about being ourselves and not attempting to be anything else to impress anyone.
I'm about half way through his audio book on New Heaven and Earth. It does have some interesting things, but nothing new that brings that "ah-ha moment" that true seekers are always looking to find.
A lot of his teachings reflect the Course in Miracles but uses a little different language. He also deals with the question Who are we? Ironically this was the main theme of my first book.
He rightfully concludes we are not our bodies, things, or our minds, but I do not recall him mentioning emotions.
He concludes that we are merely consciousness. This was the guess reached in the Immortal when we were about half way to the answer.
I thought I'd give you some of the dialog from the book to refresh your minds.
"It is true that you are a human being. You are also a son of God as the scriptures teach. But just saying you are human or a son of God, Godlike or angelic means little. It is just an expression of words with little meaning to most. Let me ask you again... WHO OR WHAT ARE YOU, really?"
This sounded easy at first, but I was beginning to get the idea that it might be harder than I thought. I thought a moment of every teaching I could think of about who I was and then responded. "Some say I am Spirit or Soul. Is that who I am?"
"And what is Spirit or Soul?" said John.
"Well, I guess it is me without my body. Perhaps that which continues after death."
"If I were to tell you that you are Spirit, does that tell you anything about who or what you are?"
"Well, yes. I guess so."
"What does it tell you?"
"It tells me that I... that I'm.... that I'm, well, some type of spirit essence."
"Didn't you learn in basic English that you are not supposed to define a word with the word you are defining? You do not define red by saying it is red. You do not define spirit by saying it is spirit. Now let me repeat. If I say you are Spirit, what does it tell you?"
I was about to define Spirit by using the word Spirit again, but caught myself and thought a moment. "I guess if I am Spirit then I am not physical."
John then reached toward me and grabbed my wrist. "But I can feel your physical self. So are you really Spirit?"
"Well, I guess am a physical being with a spirit."
"Let me explain something that you must remember throughout this course. I will always speak to you precisely. I did not say that you have a spirit, but I asked you what it would mean if you were Spirit?"
"I guess it would mean that I am not physical."
"Progress at last!" said John. "But if you are not physical, then what is left?"
I thought a moment. "Spirit, I suppose."
John sighed. "Again I ask, what is Spirit?"
"I'm not exactly sure... Perhaps life, essence, vibration. It is what we are when we are not physical."
"But if you are Spirit it is also what you are when you are physical. If you are Spirit then you are always Spirit. Do you think you alter between being Spirit and not being Spirit?"
"I guess not."
"You now have food for thought. Think about this question for the next week. We will then meet in seven days and review your thoughts and give you more direction. Please repeat the question for me again."
"What is Spirit?"
"No, my friend. That followed the question. If you are to get the correct answer, you must contemplate the correct question. What is the question?"
"Who am I?"
"Not quite. Think again. What is the question? Remember what I said about exact wording."
"Was it What am I?"
I thought back to the beginning. "Was it WHO OR WHAT AM I?"
Now, getting back to the subject, do you have any other ideas about 'WHO OR WHAT YOU ARE' before I give you your next hint?"
I thought for a moment. "So, basically all my answers are correct, but they just don't mean anything. I am a human, I am spirit, I am soul, I am a son of God and I am even a god or maybe even God in some esoteric way, but none of these statements communicate more than a vague idea. Is this correct?"
"That is exactly correct. Can you think of an answer to the question that does mean something to you?"
In your own words, tell me: WHO OR WHAT ARE YOU?"
I took a deep breath. "OK, here are my thoughts. If I am not my body, mind or emotions, and if all the other terms I've passed by you do not have enough meaning, I guess all that is left is consciousness itself. I am consciousness."
"Do you know what consciousness is?"
"Consciousness is livingness. Life."
"And what is life?"
"An awareness of what?"
"An awareness of whatever is out there?"
"How about things that are inside yourself? Is consciousness awareness of that too?"
I thought a moment. "I suppose," I said.
"So consciousness is awareness of things outside and inside self."
"I think so," I said, unsure of myself.
"So the real you is like a camera that takes snapshots of what is outside and inside of itself?"
"I'm not sure," I replied weakly.
"That just doesn't feel right, does it?"
"No it seems silly when you think about it. We've got to be something more profound than a camera," I said.
"Again you found something that you are not. A camera is something a living thing uses, but it is another type of vehicle that is in use by the real Self."
I thought silently for a few seconds. "I think I'm at a dead end here. I have passed by you every thing that a human being has ever considered that he was, and not one of them is the right answer."
John smiled. "If the answer were obvious, you would not need a teacher. A true spiritual teacher does not show up to teach maxims that are readily available in the books of the world. There are hundreds of books in print dealing with the divinity in man or the idea that humans are gods. Then there are many others dealing with the standard spiritual ideas.
Have you discovered who or what you are yet?"
"I think I have either found the truth or am close to it," I said, leaning toward John. "When scientists examine matter they say that they cannot find proof that solid particles exist. All they can seem to find on the smallest level is wavelengths in motion. If all these wavelengths were to be stilled, the universe would virtually disappear. If the motion of the wavelengths that make me would be stilled, then I would probably cease to exist. Therefore, the real me has to be motion or action of some kind."
"That's very good," said John. "Coming to this point is a milestone, but you are not there yet. Answer me this: What is it that is in motion and what is the force creating the motion?"
I thought a moment. "If there is no such thing as solid matter then nothing is in motion, if that is possible. I guess the force propelling the wavelengths is pure energy."
"But," said John, "if there is no solid matter, then nothing is in motion, as you say. Therefore, does it not stand to reason that energy is not required for motion since nothing is really in motion?"
"Maybe I was right after all," Elizabeth chuckled. "I said half joking that we were nothing and perhaps I was right."
"As far as the material plane goes, you are correct," said John. "But from the greater reality you are a great something. That something which creates all motion in the universe is the great mystery. Energy is not the answer because in reality there is really nothing solid in motion.
"Now I will give you two major hints. First, in my hand I have a pen. Now I will take this pen and throw it on that sofa over there."
John threw the pen on the sofa.
"Now, what made that pen fly over to the sofa?"
"Obviously you did," I said.
"And who or what am I? And don't say John."
"So the real you threw that pen?"
"Yes. That which is the real me made the pen move. This is the first major hint. The second one is a parable. Do you both have a few minutes while I relate it to you?"
"We're not going anywhere on a bet," I said.
Word for the Day
Pecksniffian: adjective hypocritically and unpleasantly affecting benevolence or high moral principles.
Pecksniffian is derived from Charles Dicken's Martin Chuzzlewit of 1844, in which Seth Pecksniff is a land surveyor and architect, though the author remarks that the only surveying of land he did was of the view of the countryside from his windows and that "of his architectural doings, nothing was clearly known, except that he had never designed or built anything." In truth, Mr Pecksniff, though in appearance the most upright of men who prated about high moral principles and benevolence, was an awful hypocrite, full of meanness and treachery. Dickens remarked scathingly that "Some people likened him to a direction-post, which is always telling the way to a place, and never goes there." In common with some other Dickens' characters, including Gradgrind, Micawber, Podsnap, Scrooge and Uriah Heep, Pecksniff has become an archetype. He was turned into an adjective as early as 1851 and later became a noun, Pecksniffery.
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