Before I personally discovered the Internet in the late nineties I wrote in what was then called 'My Success Journal'. Sounds pretty spiky when you compare it with the word `diary', but there you go.
Whenever I found a book that really moved me (and by their nature there are not many) I went through a certain routine: I read it once. Then I read it again, using a marker to mark all the important passages. After that I copied the marked passages into my diary, for two reasons. Retention of information is better when you write something down, and secondly, since I did it with a word processor, I could play around after that, underlining the real important parts, changing their fonts, etc.
The last time I did it was in the late nineties, when I went through that process with Scott Peck's 'The Road Less Traveled'.
Now I'm doing it with Echhart Tolle's 'A New Earth'. Hope you enjoy it!
(Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life`s Purpose, Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.. Previously published in a Dutton edition.)
The first part of this truth is the realization that the "normal" state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness.
Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin is to miss the point of human existence.
Most ancient religions and spiritual traditions share the common insight - that our `normal`state of mind is marred by a fundamental defect.
The greatest achievement of humanity is not its work of art, science, or technology, but the recognition of its own dysfunction, its own madness.
To recognize one`s own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.
They realize that having a belief system - a set of thoughts that you regard as the absolute truth - does not make you spiritual no matter what the nature of those beliefs is.
When you don't cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity instead of using thought, became possessed by thought.
In normal everyday usage, the "I" embodies the primordial error, a misperception of who you are, an illusory sense of identity. This is the ego. The illusory sense of self is what Albert Einstein, who had deep insights not only into the reality of space and time but also into human nature, referred to as an "optical illusion of consciousness".
Your reality becomes a reflection of the original illusion.
I didn't realize yet that thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence.
I didn't realize yet that thinking is only a tiny aspect of the consciousness that we are, nor did I know anything about the ego, let alone being able to detect it within myself.
The unconscious compulsion to enhance one's identity through association with an object is built into the very structure of the mind.
What kind of things you identify with will vary from person to person according to age, gender, income, social class, fashion, the surrounding culture, and so on. What you identify with is all to do with content; whereas, the unconscious compulsion to identify is structural. It is one of the most basic ways in which the egoic mind operates.
When you live in a world deadened by mental abstraction, you don't sense the aliveness of the universe anymore. Most people don't inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one.
The ego doesn't know about it because thought is what it consists of.
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.
Unease, restlessness, boredom, anxiety, dissatisfaction, are the result of unfulfilled wanting. Wanting is structural, so no amount of content can provide lasting fulfillment as long as the mental structure remains in place. Intense wanting that has no specific object can be found in the still-developing ego of teenagers, some of whom are in a permanent state of negativity and dissatisfaction.
It is not just people with good or near-perfect bodies who are likely to equate it with who they are. You can just as easily identify with a "problematic" body and make the body's imperfection, illness or disability into your identity. You may then think and speak of yourself as a "sufferer" of this or that chronic illness or disability. You receive a great deal of attention from doctors and others who constantly confirm to you your conceptual identity as a sufferer or a patient. You then unconsciously cling to the illness because it has become the most important part of who you perceive yourself to be. It has become another thought form with which the ego can identify. Once the ego has found an identity, it does not want to let go. Amazingly but not infrequently, the ego in search of a stronger identity can and does create illnesses in order to strengthen itself through them.
Forms are not just material objects and physical bodies. More fundamental than the external form - things and bodies - are the thought forms that continuously arise in the field of consciousness.
Don't try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it (the grievance) has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place.
One can go so far as to say that on this planet "normal" equals insane. What is it that lies at the root of this insanity? Complete identification with thought and emotion, that is to say, ego.
Nobody is wrong. It is the ego in someone, that's all. Compassion arises when you recognize that all are suffering from the same sickness of the mind, some more acutely than others. You do not fuel the drama anymore that is part of all egoic relationships. What is its fuel? Reactivity. The ego thrives on it.
The underlying emotion that governs all the activity of the ego is fear. The fear of being nobody, the fear of nonexistence, the fear of death.
Why fear? Because the ego arises by identification with form, and deep down it knows that no forms are permanent, that they are all fleeting. So there is always a sense of insecurity around the ego even if on the outside it appears confident.
This is because the recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to dimensions of the formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it "eternal life".
The playing of negative roles becomes particularly pronounced whenever the ego is magnified by an active pain-body, that is to say, emotional pain from the past that wants to renew itself through experiencing more pain.
Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form, and erodes identification with form. A lot of it is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego - but not until you suffer consciously.
Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of ego.
The ego says, "I shouldn't have to suffer", and that thought makes you suffer so much more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say 'yes' to suffering before you can transcend it.
Then there is Being. It is found in the still, alert presence of Consciousness itself, the Consciousness that you are. Human is form. Being is formless. Human and Being are not separate, but interwoven.
It has been said "God is love" but that is not absolutely correct. God is the One Life in and beyond the countless forms of life. Love implies duality: lover and beloved, subject and object. So love is the recognition of oneness in the world of duality. This is the birth of God into the world of form. Love makes the wold less worldly, less dense, more transparent to the divine dimension, the light of consciousness itself.
If the egoic earth drama has any purpose at all, it is an indirect one: it creates more and more suffering on the planet, and suffering, although largely ego-created, is in the end also ego-destructive. It is the fire in which the ego burns itself up.
Unhappiness is an ego-created mental disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It is the inner equivalent of the environmental pollution of our planet. Negative states such as anger, anxiety, hatred, resentment, discontent, envy, jealousy, and so on, are not recognized as negative but as totally justified and are further misperceived not as self-created but as caused by someone else or some external factor. "I am holding you responsible for my pain." This is what by implication the ego is saying.
What is more, suffering or negativity is often misperceived by the ego as pleasure because up to a point the ego strengthens itself through it.
For example anger or resentment strengthen the ego enormously by increasing the sense of separateness, emphasizing the otherness of others and creating a seemingly unassailable fortresslike mental position of "rightness". If you were able to observe the physiological changes that take place inside your body when possessed by such negative states, how they adversely affect the functioning of the heart, the digestive and immune systems, and countless other bodily functions, it would become abundantly clear that such states are indeed pathological, are forms of suffering and not pleasure.
Whenever you are in a negative state, there is something in you that wants the negativity, that perceives it as pleasurable, or that believes it will get you what you want. Otherwise, who would want to hang on to negativity, make themselves and others miserable, and create disease in the body? So, whenever there is negativity in you, if you can be aware at that moment that there is something in you that takes pleasure in it or believes it has a useful purpose, you are becoming aware of the ego directly. The moment this happens, your identity has shifted from ego to awareness. This means the ego is shrinking and awareness is growing.
If in the midst of negativity you are able to realize "At this moment I am creating suffering for myself" it will be enough to raise you above the limitations of conditioned egoic states and reactions. It will open up infinite possibilities which come to you when there is awareness - other vastly more intelligent ways of dealing with any situation. You will be free to let go of your unhappiness the moment you recognize it as unintelligent. Negativity is not intelligent. It is always of the ego. The ego may be clever, but it is not intelligent. Cleverness pursues its own little aims. Intelligence sees the larger whole in which all things are connected. Cleverness is motivated by self-interest, and is extremely short-sighted. Most politicians and businesspeople are clever. Very few are intelligent. Whatever is attained through cleverness is short-lived and always turns out to be eventually self-defeating. Cleverness divides; intelligence includes.
-- to be continued -