Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More to Me Than Meets the I

Should I not be I, but us? 

Talking in an interview about his awakening to the power of the present, Eckhart Tolle explains that what stopped him as a young man from succumbing to his suicidal thoughts one agonizing night was recognizing as he was thinking, “I can’t stand to live with myself anymore,” that there must be two of him. “Who is I who can’t stand to live with Self?” he asked. This epiphany was the catalyst that initiated his journey to become one of the world’s foremost spiritual teachers, to my delight, one who intentionally disaffiliates from formal religions. 

My interest in Tolle’s teachings began in early May when I borrowed the audio book, A New Earth.  At the end of April, before I encountered his teachings, I posted about my little big dream that posed the question, “Can the ego be dissolved, what is the role of the observer?” and shared with you my own power of Now mini epiphany.  http://litadreaming.blogspot.com/2012/04/observer-or-observed.html 

The serendipity of finding his teachings on ego/observer right after writing about the same subject confirms for me the importance of this material, as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I’m sharing the story with you because it also makes the organic process of dream spirituality pretty obvious.  A dream from 11 years ago (Hey, Trish, I found my eleven!) seeds this profound spiritual koan in my heart and gradually, with the help of one sign post after another, leads me to this great, new to me, teacher who can deepen my understanding of the question.

Dreams are organic spirituality; all it takes is listening, paying attention and braving up to the difficulties they may present, as well as, recognizing the gifts they bring.  Writing them down ensures that you’ll have them eleven years later or when you can really appreciate them.  Dreams are way ahead of us.

I began by asking a question about our use of the personal pronoun, should it be singular or plural? Well “we” is the royal personal pronoun, isn’t it? 

There are many theories of personality proposing that we’re actually multi-selves, whether we talk about  complexes, sub-personalities or lost soul parts.  It can be a little hard wrapping the logical mind around this; I think of it as psychic string theory.  In many psychological models, the ego is seen as the captain of the ship, the center of personality that must be in charge to keep us from going crazy.  The stronger the ego, the better able one is to cope with life’s vicissitudes and become successful.

Tolle shakes things up when he proposes that the ego is crazy and letting the ego control our lives is insane, both on a personal and collective level.  The ego is shortsighted and easily deluded; egoic consciousness focuses on the world of form, gets lost in the past or the future and is thrall to distorting subjective thoughts and projections.  When we switch our awareness, become the Observer, we live in the reality of the present moment and can tune in to a larger consciousness than our puny human egoic thinking can fathom. The observer is the part of us that can see the ego’s self-created dilemmas and detach, releasing the obsession by seeing it for what it is, what William Blake termed, mind forged manacles.

The challenge that Tolle lays out isn’t new and sounds pretty Buddhist to me, but his synthesis of many spiritual teachings into a clear, contemporary understanding is very helpful.
So, can the ego be dissolved?  What is the role of the observer?

Shall we sleep on it?

Here’s the link to ET TV where he tells his story.