After reading The Power of Now, and while I work through A New Earth, I am becoming consciously aware of my emotional tendencies. I have sought validation for my views, and feared them being heavily disputed. When I say views, I am referring to my rigidly-held beliefs about everything and anything. I have always been one who enjoyed a bit of a debate, looking for the sensation of superiority, of ‘being right’. My validation-seeking came about when I wanted to feel that others thought the same way as I. If they did not, I would try to convince them, or otherwise conceal the views lest they would be negatively judged, hence my avoiding talking about my faith in the past.
What has now changed is that I can now watch the process; I can see the thoughts and feel the emotions around them. I can be totally aware of what is going on, so that I no longer identify with the need to be superior, or the fear of inferiority. Instead, eventually I will experience peace.
Tonight I was faced with another situation where my thoughts and emotions go wild. Something as simple as wanting to get another glass of wine while the group I was dining with were deep in conversation. Thoughts such as, ‘I’ve paid for it, I should claim it’, driving a distractive emotional edge. A mental image of the wine, of me drinking it, pervaded my thinking. I was intensely focused on that one glass of wine I was missing while the group continued to talk. At the end of the process I finally decided to shine the light of awareness, but I was no longer unstable, accepting that I wasn’t going to get the wine, as we were leaving the venue. A silly and trivial situation, but one which highlights the need to always watch the thoughts so that I do not identify with them, and lose control.
I have just finished reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. And now have I little else to say. It was such a profound read, so insightful and powerful, and so gently guiding me to the way of peace, that I now feel as if I cannot search any longer. Any time I now read or look into religious literature, or in fact anything to do with self-improvement (my two primary areas of focus), I consider that this is just another way for me to avoid what I now know, avoid what I must do now – which is to be present in the moment. Every time I think I need another book, another experience, I realize that I am seeking some kind of fulfillment outside of myself, when ultimate fulfillment can only come from within. What else is there? I no longer believe in God as a separate entity from myself, as some kind of super-being. God is the ultimate source of everything, but I cannot adequately describe how God works. I can’t try to devise what is the true nature of God, and I am tired of getting caught up in endless theological disputes.
I’m off to read Eckhart Tolle’s follow-up on The Power of Now, The New Earth (he takes a lot from the Bible).
The below is from a comment post I wrote on Stupid Church People:
Is there rational basis for either belief or non-belief? In one case, you assume that there is some kind of intelligence beyond that which we perceive, and you can name is ‘supernatural’. In the other, you assume that there is nothing beyond our rational understanding. Yet both these are merely assumptions based upon experience. Some people claim to experience the supernatural (in whatever religious or non-religious form), and others perceive all experience as limited to our senses.
From my experience, belief or non-belief makes little difference to moral excellence. I was glad to walk away from my conservative evangelical tradition simply because it merely sustained in me a continual sense of guilt. I don’t live a whole lot differently now, and my ethical standards are still developing just as they were before. I don’t know how to define God, but I strongly suspect a divine influence that runs through the world and is manifested in all religious traditions – yes, flawed as they are through imperfect expression of the great Mystery.