Meeting 3 – Chapter 3 – Moving Deeply into the Now

Thanks again to the group for providing stimulating conversation.  We focused on one particular idea that came from this chapter:

We are obessessed with the past because we believe it defines us.
We are obsessed with the future because we believe it will redeem us.
Both are illusions.

Core Points

  1. Distinguish between psychological time and clock time.
  2. Psychological time is obsessed with memory and anticipation.
  3. Clock time makes use of past and future in order to make the best use of Now.

Chapter Summary

  1. Don’t seek yourself in the mind.
    1. The ego’s needs are endless.
    2. My thoughts
      1. Once the ego’s basic need for security is met.
      2. It then turns it’s attention obsessions with belonging, love, and power.
  2. End the delusion of time.
    1. Stop living through memory and anticipation.
    2. “[The] past gives you an identity, and the future holds the promise of salvation.”
  3. Nothing exists outside the Now.
  4. The Key to the spiritual dimension.
    1. Emergencies, or other intense situations, focus most people on Now.
  5. Accessing the power of Now
    1. Withdraw energy from past and future whenever you become away that they have no practical value in the moment.
    2. Develop your “witnessing presence” (Authentic Self).
    3. Identification with the mind gives it energy.  Observation of the mind withdraws energy.
  6. Letting go of psychological time (by using “clock time”)
    1. If you recall a mistake from the past and correct yourself in the present, you are using “clock time.”
    2. If you recall a mistake and become caught up in shame or fear, you have lost the Now.
  7. The insanity of psychological time.
    1. Many political movements have used violence to move toward some perceived, ideal end.
    2. I would say we use great violence on ourselves in order to achieve such ends (judgement versus curiosity).
  8. Negativity and suffering have their roots in time.
    1. “Usually the future is a replication of the past…. real transformation is rare and depends upon [your ability] to dissolve the past by accessing the power of the Now.”
    2. “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and a denial of the present”
    3. You cannot achieve presence to Now because you are already there.
  9. Finding the life underneath your life situation.
    1. Your life situation is the result of all that has happened to you.
    2. Your life is occurring at this moment.
    3. Again, the discipline needed is mindfulness.
  10. All problems are illusions of the mind.
    1. You cannot have a problem in the now.  Problems are all mind made.
    2. the Now (Authentic Self) always receives the moment as information.  (A fireman does this naturally…)
    3. In a true emergency, time stops.
  11. A quantum leap in the evolution of consciousness.
    1. Tolle believes there is a creation-wide evolution of consciousness occurring.
  12. The joy of Being.
    1. Living in the Now is characterized by joy, ease, and lightness.
    2. Be present to the current action rather than the goal of the action.
    3. In the Now, you can pursue goals with the illusionary burden of expectation.
    4. “Being free of psychological time, you no longer pursue your goals with grim determination, driven by fear, anger, discontent, or the need to become someone.”
    5. “When this is your state of Being, how can you not succeed?  You have succeeded already.”
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Power of Now – Class 2 Summary

Thanks to all who attended this challenging discussion.  We experienced together how difficult it can be for the mind (small self) to wrap itself around the possibility that we create much more of our pain than is necessary.

Wes

Meeting 2 – Chapter 2: Consciousness: The Way Out of Pain


Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!
Shel Silverstein, 1974

Review of Chapter One: You are not your Mind

Main 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.

Chapter Two

  • Core idea: You can eliminate pain by remaining conscious of the Now.
  • Main points
    • You can let go of past emotional pain.
    • The physical body carries memories of pain which the mind (ss) identifies with.
    • The ss believes that you ARE your pain, so if you let go of your pain, you’ll no longer exist.
    • Instinct fear and psychological fear are not the same.
    • The ss does not trust the wholeness of the AS, so it continually draws us towards victimhood.

Deeper Points

  • Create No More Pain in the Present
    • Emotional pain that we feel is the result of the mind not being Present.
      • Past: guilt, regret, bitterness
      • Future: stress and anxiety
    • My comment: He comes close to suggesting that the AS does not experience pain
      • I’m curious about what he would say about grief and “righteous anger”
      • Still is still a distraction from his main point, that the Now is infected by the past and present.
  • Past Pain: Dissolving the Pain-Body
    • Our bodies, which includes our brains, carry the memory of pain.
    • The degree to which that pain continues to shape us is determined by how we choose to be present to the Now.
    • Developing awareness with the ss pain-body
      • Watch the emotions in your body.
      • Feel them.
      • Don’t label or judge what you feel.
      • Allow the emotions to be there.
  • Ego Identification with the Pain-Body
    • The ss, or ego, believes that you are your pain.
    • The ss wants you to identify pain with Self
      • I am a victim of abuse.
      • I grew up in an abusive home.
  • The Origin of Fear
    • Instinctive fear and psychological fear
      • Instinctive fear, which is real fear, is a response to an actual threat.
      • Psychological fear is fear of things that may happen in the future.
      • (I would add that spiritual fear is anxiety over non-being)
    • Stress and anxiety are psychological fears.
    • Mindfulness of emotion helps a person let go of anxiety.
  • The Ego’s Search for Wholeness
    • the ss struggles to acknowledge the wholeness of the AS
    • the ss says, “I can’t be okay until…”
    • the AS says, “I am becoming more whole.”

Task: Becoming a Witness

  • “Sustained conscious attention severs the link between the pain-body and your thought processes and brings about the process of transmutation.”
  • Tolle notes that being the presence of a highly conscious person also fosters this process.
  • fostering conversation between your ss and your AS
  • developing curiosity rather than judgment.

Power of Now – Class 1 Summary

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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 wmeades@gmail.com 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:

Next class currently scheduled for 4/28.

Power of Now Study Group

Program: Study Group on Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now
Location: National Lloyds Building, 9th and Austin,  4th Floor
Dates: The last Thursday of each month, beginning March 31
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Cost: No charge (a $10 donation per meeting is requested)
Pre-Registration: email to wacopartnership@gmail.com

The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care is sponsoring a study of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The study, which will be led by Dr. Wes Eades, will meet monthly at the West Waco Public Library on Bosque. The first meeting will be Thursday, March 31, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

Since its publication in 1997, The Power of Now has been read by millions of people worldwide. Tolle insightfully summarizes the heart of the world’s most respected spiritual traditions and offers a practical approach to living out this wisdom.

Dr. Wes Eades has been studying the role of spirituality and faith in mental health since receiving his Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion in 1989. He has read widely in spiritual traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Buddism, and Islam and has great respect for Tolle’s work.

Space is limited.  To pre-register, please send an email to wacopartnership@gmail.com.   There is no charge for this study.  However, a suggested donation of $10 per meeting is requested.