The Joy of Being

The more I delve into Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth - the more I realize how there is really nothing new under the sun - for the essence of his teachings mirror the essence of not only quantum physics, but many classic spiritual texts of the Eastern tradition - including the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, and the Reiki practices and teachings I am immersed in. It is wonderful to see how it all comes together - and how everything reinforces everything else. At the same time, I find myself making many connections on so many different levels. It's almost like coming home...

Eckhart Tolle tells the amazing story of seeing Stephen Hawking while he was a student at Cambridge and not knowing at first who he was. This brilliant theoretical physicist has lived with ALS for a long time. But once, while Tolle held a door open for him, he looked into his eyes and was struck by the clarity of them. Tolle was moved hearing that when asked about his life, Hawkings once responded: "Who could ask for more?"

Unhappiness or negativity - Tolle observes - is a disease on our planet. When we are dependent on what happens as a source for happiness - we are bound to be disappointed - for everything changes constantly. Instead, Tolle recommends:

"Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is deeper than any form and untouched by time.

The joy of Being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person or event - through anything that happens. That joy cannot come to you - ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and thus is one with you who are."

I then thought of Yogananda, who teaches that the increasing experience of ever new joy we have in meditation, is the Presence of the Divine...

While there was nothing I did not already know in these paragraphs - as in all experiences - there is a right moment to imbibe certain messages perhaps more deeply, and I indeed had an "aha!" moment.

Tolle goes on to say that:

"A powerful spiritual practice is consciously to allow the diminishment of ego when it happens without attempting to restore it...

For example, when someone criticizes you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself - do nothing. Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what that feels deep inside you. For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable...then you may sense an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive...

When you no longer defend or attempt to strengthen the form of yourself, you step out of identification with form, with mental self image..."

I thought of how we all have these experiences from time to time - of someone mis-interpreting or criticizing us - and why our responses would indeed pull us deeper into drama and identification with form.

Tolle quotes the Tao Te Ching which says that:

"Instead of trying to be a mountain...'be the valley of the universe.'" This should be our response to such situations.

Jesus taught something very similar when he said:

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Ultimately, we are formless consciousness...This, Tolle teaches, is a great lesson:

"A sane, balanced, and fruitful human life is a dance between the two dimensions that make up reality: form and space...

What you see, hear, feel, touch, or think about is only half of reality, so to speak. It is form...

Being is prior to existence. Existence is form, content, 'what happens,' Existence is the foreground of life; Being is the background...

The collective disease of humanity is that people are so engrossed in what happens...they have forgotten the essence, that which is beyond content, beyond form, beyond thought. They are so consumed by time that they have forgotten eternity...

Eternity is the living reality of who you are..."

These words left a powerful imprint on me as I read them before retiring last night. I realized, that most of my life - I have wanted to know as much about loved ones as I possibly could. Similarly, I have also wanted to be known as well. As I reflected on Tolle's writings, I became more deeply aware of the fact - that what I wanted to know about others - or what I wanted others to know about me - was only content - it had nothing to do with the Essence of those loved ones or myself - that is to say - that Essence which is Eternal and Divine...There was something incredibly freeing as I entered into that awareness.

I also thought of Yogananda and so many of his exhortations urging us not to get embroiled in the details and suffering of our lives - for it will all someday pass - and be merely a dream in the face of all Eternity...

So everything comes full circle...And as I sat and did my midnight meditation, I had an experience of these teachings that was deeper and which I can only describe as ineffable.

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