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Introduction to the Enneagram, Thursday, April 21, 5:30 to 7:00. If you would like to attend, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Cost will be $10 if we can get at least 20 people who want to attend.
Power of Now – Class 1 Summary
Thanks so much to all of you who came to our first meeting last Thursday evening (3/31). Here’s a summary of what we covered, along with some suggestions for other resources. Please post your comments, questions, and suggestions below.
Tolle begins his book by asking us to own a single core concept: “You are not your mind.” Or, to put it another way, “You are not your thoughts.”
Tolle then makes 4 sub-points
- If you buy in to your mind’s perception of reality, then you are doomed.
- Behind the chattering mind lies pure consciousness.
- You have the ability to put your mind in to neutral, and allow pure consciousness to emerge.
- Emotion, which is a product of the mind, adds to the fog which obscures consciousness.
My comments on this were:
- These are statements of faith, not statements of fact.
- My definition of faith is simply Living as if something is true even though it cannot be proven true.
- Tolle’s assertions, though unprovable, are well grounded in the world’s great spiritual traditions.
- Just like with any faith system, it will only be meaningful if you can make two commitments:
- I will live as if these things are true.
- I will practice the disciplines that have been effective in helping others incarnate this faith.
I then asked the question: Why is this so hard to live in to?
- To paraphrase E.O. Wilson, The brain is a machine designed for survival, not for understanding.
- Your brain defines a good day according to one simple question, “Am I still alive?”
- Your brain has a very crude warning system to supposedly help you achieve this goal of staying alive: Anxiety
- Our friends, the neuroscientists, have helped us understand how our brains develop and function.
- The tripartite brain
- reptilian – the most primitive part of the brain, most associated with survival.
- limbic – the source of emotion and attachment.
- neocortex – the source of rational thought.
- Tolle is making the point that the neocortex, our greatest tool as human beings, ends up being our greatest challenge.
- I suggest that this is due to the ways in which we experience and respond to anxiety.
How do we Start?
- Your first responsibility is to become acquainted with your small self mind chatter, through mindfulness
- One of the first chatterings I’d like you to pay attention to is critical judgment.
- Immature people are judgmental… Mature people are curious
- Your second responsibility is to become more familiar with the nature of your small self chatter.
- Everyone’s chatter is unique, yet there seem to be universal patterns of chatter.
- The Enneagram is a helpful tool for understanding the nature of your anxiety and how it is likely to be expressed in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I explained my use of the terms small self and Authentic Self. These terms were coined by Burt Burleson, and correspond to Tolle’s description of the chattering mind versus the centered connection to Being. I recommend that you read The Authentic Self for a fuller understanding of Burt’s concepts.
I also would like to recommend the following books for those who would like to read ideas very similar to Tolle’s but within a more distinctly religious context:
- Richard Rohr The Naked Now Christian
- Thomas Keating Invitation to Love Christian
- Pema Chodron The Places that Scare You Buddhist
- Kabir Helminski Living Presence Sufi (Islam)
Next class currently scheduled for 4/28.