Saturday, May 16, 2009

The False and the Real

I've recently been listening to Eckart Tolle's A New Earth as an audio book.   Something about his quirky German accent makes the words more resonant than when I read them on a page.  His voice conveys his realization.  It's remarkable he's had such success, appearing on Oprah and what not. He's telling people to abandon their search for meaning through possessions or accomplishments, to transcend their egos... not exactly mainstream.

I was particularly struck by this line: "Recognition of the false is the arising of the real."

When we find ourselves getting caught up in our ego's story line - "He insulted me!  I'm innocent.  How could he think that!" - with that very act of awareness, we step into the present moment.  The only thing that is real.  (The meaning of "real" could be further debated, of course).

I take comfort in this insight.  Often, when I realize that I've gotten caught in some negative thought cycle - "Low class numbers today. I'll never make it as a yoga teacher.  Who am I kidding?  I should just go to law school." - I end up laying on another layer of judgment - "How could I think that?  If I have so much doubt, maybe I'm really not meant to be a yoga teacher.  I wouldn't doubt myself so much if it was my true calling..."  Because I identify myself as a "meditator" and "yoga teacher", I feel like a spiritual failure when I realize my thoughts are as worldly as ever.

But, as Tolle points out, the act of recognition is perfect in itself.  No further justification or analysis is required.  If anything, I should celebrate my ability to recognize myself getting caught up in thinking.  What a relief! Meditation is not some heroic prohibition of thinking, but the repeated discovery that the Real Self is something much larger than our thoughts.

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