Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Enlightened Relationships

A great deal of the suffering we inflict upon ourselves involves relationships.  Our culture constantly bombards us with the message that we are entitled to great relationships (especially romantic ones), and that we can never be happy without them.  It’s no surprise, then, that Tolle pushes us to consider how we allow relationships to pull us away from Now, and toward ruminating over the past and the future.

  • Enter the Now from Wherever You Are
    • People think of relationships as one of those future experiences that will “save” them – especially romantic relationships.
    • “True salvation” is a state of freedom from a sense of insufficiency and fear.  Tolle reminds us that there is nothing we can achieve or experience that will get us closer to this freedom than we already are.
  • Love/Hate Relationships
    • “Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, all relationships, and particularly intimate relationships, are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional.”
    • Tolle observes that the mind creates a love/hate cycle with all relationships.  This cycle creates a sense of drama, and aliveness, that can become addictive (wme: We come to despise those whom we’ve assumed would heal us.).
    • Tolle asserts that this cycle has nothing to do with “True Love,” which arises from beyond the mind.
    • Romantic love is actually much more like addiction. (Rohr: Addiction is misplaced spiritual energy.)
  • Addiction and the Search for Wholeness
    • “The reason why the romantic love relationship is such an intense and universally sought-after experience is that it seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack, and incompleteness that is part of the human condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state.”
    • Tolle expresses a perspective in sync with marriage therapists: We are drawn to a person based on our wounds, and are ultimately disillusioned by the other’s failure to heal those wounds.
    • “Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to—alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person—you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain. That is why, after the initial euphoria has passed, there is so much unhappiness, so much pain in intimate relationships. They do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you. Every addiction does that. Every addiction reaches a point where it does not work for you anymore, and then you feel the pain more intensely than ever.”
    • One of the more sinister lies the Mind can accept is that our spiritual path depends on another person.
    • However, there can be great power in a couple agreeing that the relationship will be a part of their spiritual practice.
  • From Addictive to Enlightened Relationships
    • Relationships activate the pain-body when we are disillusioned.
    • To “heal” we must dis-identify with Mind and connect with Now.
  • Relationships as Spiritual Practice
    • “If you stop investing it with “selfness,” the mind loses its compulsive quality, which basically is the compulsion to judge, and so to resist what is, which creates conflict, drama, and new pain. In fact, the moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace. First you stop judging yourself; then you stop judging your partner. The greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way.”
    • “If your partner is still identified with the mind and the pain-body while you are already free, this will represent a major challenge—not to you but to your partner. It is not easy to live with an enlightened person, or rather it is so easy that the ego finds it extremely threatening. Remember that the ego needs problems, conflict, and “enemies” to strengthen the sense of separateness on which its identity depends. The unenlightened partner’s mind will be deeply frustrated because its fixed positions are not resisted, which means they will become shaky and weak, and there is even the “danger” that they may collapse altogether, resulting in loss of self. The pain-body is demanding feedback and not getting it. The need for argument, drama, and conflict is not being met. But beware: Some people who are unresponsive, withdrawn, insensitive, or cut off from their feelings may think and try to convince others that they are enlightened, or at least that there is “nothing wrong” with them and everything wrong with their partner. Men tend to do that more than women.”
  • Why Women are Closer to Enlightenment
    • Tolle echos Rohr’s contention that women are naturally closer to enlightenment than men because they naturally live closer to their bodies.
    • “As a general rule, the major obstacle for men tends to be the thinking mind, and the major obstacle for women the pain-body, although in certain individual cases the opposite may be true, and in others the two factors may be equal.”
  • Dissolving the Collective Female Pain-Body
    • Tolle asserts that the female pain-body has a collective element due to the subjugation of women across time.  This is another element of human history that Rohr insists place women further down the spiritual path than men.
    • Tolle invites women to consider the degree to which they have identified with their pain-body.  He says that the degree to which she is identified will reflect the degree to which she resists letting go of the pain.
    • “So do not use the pain-body to give you an identity. Use it for enlightenment instead. Transmute it into consciousness. One of the best times for this is during menses.” (Have you read The Red Tent ?)
  • Give Up the Relationship with Yourself
    • Being does not contain the elements of male and female.  Therefore, when we are able to connect with Being in the Now, we develop the capacity to rise above the need for the opposite sex to fulfill us.  Being contains all we need.
    • “If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”

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