June 5, 2013

What I'm Reading & Thought for the Week

"... We cannot really honor things if we use them as a means to self-enhancement, that is to say, if we try to find ourselves through them." - Eckhart Tolle

I'm currently retackling A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I'm not that far in as yet because I'm really taking the time to absorb the material and reflect on how it is relevant to my life.

And as it turns out it's quite relevant. Not that I expected any differently. This is my third time reading this book, and I'm expecting it to actually be the first time I finish it - simply because I need it right now.

Early on in the book Tolle takes a very thorough look at all the ways the ego functions - how it keeps us back, hinders growth, and if not deconstructed keeps us from awareness and reaching our highest self i.e. a self beyond the confines and selfishness of "I". What Tolle has conjured up in my mind is a quasi out-of-body experience i.e. you are able to step into awareness which allows you to be truly present in every moment, yet abandon the need to attach one's  sense of self/being to entities (physical or otherwise) outside of You - even the body.

In a culture invested in and operating by ideals of individual success that are typified by material gains a.k.a the American Dream, how important are the "things" in our lives, really? All the things that we have worked so hard to achieve - houses, cars, degrees, money, hot bod - how do they define us? Without these things who are we?

Asking these questions should not lead us to disdain for the things we have achieved, rather they should lead us to a realization that who we truly are, our true worth and value, does not increase because we have more "things." We simply cannot rely on things to make us feel better nor can we define ourselves by the things we possess because these entities are not permanent. If disaster strikes and the result is the loss of everything outside ourselves that we have come to define ourselves by, with what are we left? Fragile way to live, no?

If we cannot see our worth outside of things- things with the basic purpose of making us feel better... than others - and believe that with out them we are enough, then who are we?

I appreciate how Tolle, so far, has been able to paint the murky picture that is life without awareness of the ego - the endless cycle of unhappiness and fear.

My personal struggle with ego has always been anxiety which is exacerbated by negative self-talk which causes more anxiety etc etc (you see the problem). This almost always comes as a result of comparing myself, life, or a situation to someone else's or to a socially acceptable idea of what these things should be. It's an attachment to an entity (other's opinions about me) outside myself - a thing that serves no purpose except to strengthen my ego. It's a daily process of unlearning and re-education.

If you've read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle share your thoughts by leaving a comment. What are you currently struggling to let go of - unhealthy relationship, unhappy job, unhealthy diet? What is preventing you from being better? Leave a comment below.


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