The ego and awareness: separating your true self from your dream self
Yesterday I wrote about my life going past in a blur. Do you ever wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and wonder how you got where you are? Every day I am changing. One of my fave gurus Goenka has said (I am paraphrasing), “Every day you see the same Goenka, but think of the child at ten. You go to see him twenty years later and – where has the child gone? A man stands in his place.”
My body and mind change every day
I don’t see the subtle changes that affect me every day but they are there. Every day my body changes, every day my mind changes. I am a living, growing thing – that one day will die. I believe that parts of myself will continue on, even when this body of mine has worn out its welcome this time on earth. No biggie.
Every day I try to anchor myself in awareness. We are often unaware as we drift though our days. Sometimes my eyes glaze over, my ears hear sounds that don’t connect and I let the world push and pull me here and there, then I complain that I have no choice. I get confused.
Awareness in New Age literature
Lots has been written about awareness in modern “new age” writing. I will point to the work of Eckhart Tolle who you may have seen on Oprah. I have read parts of his book and I think they’re good for the most part. Some people I know believe them to be an ‘incomplete teaching’ and say that they are somewhat dumbed-down.
Well, credit where credit is due. To quote Wikipedia: “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is a self-help book by Eckhart Tolle. First published in 2005, it sold 5 million copies in North America by 2009. In 2008 it was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and featured in a series of 10 weekly webinars with Tolle and Oprah Winfrey.”
Oprah got very excited about it. Of course, anyone who has ever stepped outside main stream religion (and many who work within mainstream religions) wouldn’t find its content that revolutionary.
Let me summarise A New Earth’s message
Humans are ego-filled beings who have only a fleeting sense of their true selves. By being more ‘aware’ we can separate the ‘dream’ self from the ‘true’ self. Critics of the book say that he tells us what’s wrong with our level of awareness, but not how to fix it.
You can fix it. In fact – that’s probably one of the main things you are here to do. To become more aware of the self.
My goals: Growing awareness of the real self. Gaining consciousness of the parts of me that exist that are non-tangible. Separating myself from my egos.
Criticisms of Tolle on other blogs
How To Forgive People Blog lists some criticisms of Tolle: “Eckhart sees all problems as stemming from the human ego, which he defines as the seat of mental attachment and identification. We experience thoughts that tell us that we are a certain kind of person and that things need to be a certain way and we mistakenly believe that these thoughts are who we really are. The result is suffering by minding when things do not work out the way we expected.”
One blogger (read this excellent post) has said: “He (Tolle) explicitly does not teach a system, with all the dogmatic beliefs, jargon, history, and rituals that go with those.”
Is A New Earth pulp-fiction spirituality?
That’s the problem I have with this book. It’s junky, pulp-fiction spirituality which will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy but completely blank and stuck where you are right now. Man needs actions to take, directions and exercises to progress. Understanding and learning alone will not get you anywhere. Don’t ask me – decide for yourself.
I read an article that evangelical Christians and youth-churchers in the United States were now tossing out their lattes and Christian Rock revival bands for the hard floored kneeling of the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy. The author felt that the new church had been too focused on making messages ‘accessible’ and ‘appealing’ to their ministries.
There is a kind of movement now for ‘spirituality without effort’ or the notion that ‘we are all growing and ascending’ and that this is the only direction we can go. Personally, I think this is total crap. We go up, we go down. We have to constantly fight. No rote religion, no wishy-washy directives.
How do we increase our awareness?
The only thing I can say is that it’s important to start looking and doing your own research. Read widely. Question everything. Argue. Debate. Deny. Accept.
“The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions.”
I don’t care if you don’t agree with me, in fact, I urge you to question everything I have written here, and investigate for yourself. Honestly – if focusing on your spirituality is not your priority, you have your priorities wrong.
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”
The only “things” you can accumulate now are things that you can take with you on the next leg of your spiritual journey. Find out what those things are, and start to store them up.