The world promises fulfillment somewhere in time, and there is a continuous striving toward that fulfillment in time. Many times people feel, "Yes, now I have arrived," and then they realize that, no, they haven't arrived, and then the striving continues. It is expressed beautifully in A Course in Miracles, where it says that the dictum of the ego is "Seek but do not find." People look to the future for salvation, but the future never arrives. So ultimately, suffering arises through not finding.
And that is the beginning of an awakening-when the realization dawns that "Perhaps this is not the way. Perhaps I will never get to where I am striving to reach; perhaps it's not in the future at all." After having been lost in the world, suddenly, through the pressure of suffering, the realization comes that the answers may not be found out there in worldly attainment and in the future. That's an important point for many people to reach. That sense of deep crisis -- when the world as they have known it, and the sense of self that they have known that is identified with the world, become meaningless.
That happened to me. I was just that close to suicide and then something else happened-a death of the sense of self that lived through identifications, identifications with my story, things around me, the world. Something arose at that moment that was a sense of deep and intense stillness and aliveness, beingness. I later called it "presence." I realized that beyond words, that is who I am. But this realization wasn't a mental process. I realized that that vibrantly alive, deep stillness is who I am. Years later, I called that stillness "pure consciousness," whereas everything else is the conditioned consciousness. The human mind is the conditioned consciousness that has taken form as thought. The conditioned consciousness is the whole world that is created by the conditioned mind. Everything is our conditioned consciousness; even objects are. Conditioned consciousness has taken birth as form and then that becomes the world.
To be lost in the conditioned seems to be necessary for humans. It seems to be part of their path to be lost in the world, to be lost in the mind, which is the conditioned consciousness. Then, due to the suffering that arises out of being lost, one finds the unconditioned as oneself. And that is why we need the world to transcend the world. So I'm infinitely grateful for having been lost. The purpose of the world is for you to be lost in it, ultimately. The purpose of the world is for you to suffer, to create the suffering that seems to be what is needed for the awakening to happen. And then once the awakening happens, with it comes the realization that suffering is unnecessary now. You have reached the end of suffering because you have transcended the world. It is the place that is free of suffering.
Ekchart Tolle, in an interview by Andrew Cohen. Tolle is best known for his books The Power of Now and A New Earth.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the notion that the purpose of the world is for you to be lost in it, ultimately? Can you share an experience of a time when you felt that suffering was unnecessary? How do we use the world to transcend the world?
" In order to find our way, we must get lost." --An African Proverb
Last week, one of my students posed the question, "if the sole point and purpose of my life is to know, love and serve The Lord (so that I can have life eternal with Him in Heaven), then WHY do 'earthly distractions' (WHY all the opportunities) surround me.
My response, simply, "To GLORIFY God". (Since, like it or not, we have no choice in the fact that, at this moment, we are alive and breathing on this good earth. In it/with it, we need to multiply the gifts He has given us in a way that is pleasing to Him.
This writing speaks to "the way". Who conditions me/us?
Quite interesting expressions exemplifying the reason why tolle is found confusing and maze like by so many erudite experienced practicing readers, he extracts pre written adages scriptures of Advaita Vedanta, and other modern genuine authors and dilutes them with modern pop accepted contradictory personal views that are originally advised against, such as moral ambiguity, leaving an artificial version of his own, originating in his suicidal depression, a
Superficial unfulfilling projected emptiness that is devoid of the genuine spiritual experience which is an unspeakable joy. As subad Ingrid wrote, he often aligns depressed semi sociopathy and apathy with spirituality, never done in the east where it originates traditionally, in order to be user friendly. In balance, consider when a famous multi millionaire of personally owned accomplished melded works accrediting his suicidal depression with wisdom speaks of non accomplishment encouraging non productivity as spiritual, the wild irrationality of it taints the beauty of the true nectar of our true self, the source of flooding beauty into the world as rumi, and those who truly experienced stillness as love have always discovered. To balance the perspective, explore the more lucid origin of eckarts, or his birth name of origin, works in eastern scriptures from original masters who describe the ecstasy of fulfillment that floods over and through us, creatively.
This is a gift in what Eckhart Tolle is expressing; this point when there is the realization suffering is unnecessary. I have my own personal brand of suffering and the shocking realization is letting it go of this suffering is not simple. Sometimes I am caught in the grip of obsession over negative thoughts, and my relentless self-reproaches become delusional thinking. If I become convinced I am utterly and permanently defective there is no ray of hope to intrude. I go around in my self-enclosed circles and I can feel my identity caught in my woundedness and with my sense of inner deficiency. I can make a lifestyle out of suffering.
Holding onto my suffering offers this tension, complaints, conflict, blaming, drama, rationalization, projection, justification and all the energy this allows. It is like if I let go of my suffering who would I be. Yet I do not want to go back into this delusional thinking where there is no ray of hope and endless suffering. In my letting go of my story and suffering is the realization my conclusion is shocking. The conclusion is shocking because there is no accomplishment or achievement. The conclusion is nothingness. This nothingness and void feels like walking of the edge of the world, like death itself.
This death is my boring life and this feels like depression, where there is no coming back to life. Just recently, though, in my “nothingness” and in my years of letting go I began to feel the satisfaction of stillness. This moment was not a feeling or even inspiration, as there was just this calm, peace and stillness. My inner void could be quiet. I also noticed I was not filling my void with suffering or my story. This emptiness paradoxically created a personal being and it seems like an identity centered in Essence. Divine awareness appeared to be the guide, rather than my projects and preoccupations of my suffering and personality.
I have discovered this stillness in the Now, as Eckhart has penetrated profoundly. It is also my discovery of this unanticipated truth. I say unanticipated because I am shocked the conclusion is “nothingness” like death itself, yet it is everything. The Now is the hidden element of stillness. It provides the key to understand the whole. This Now is like a leap from the known to the unknown, falling into the void and everything emanates from it. The void is completely empty and is full of potentiality and is everything.
I like Echart Tolle's writings; they were helpful in my path of recovery. However, for those of us who have come out of the fire, is it not our duty to eradicate suffering? Do we let the world wage war and stand by idly because "well, the world needs to suffer to mature"? Last year, 500,000 Libyans, many brown and black children were blown up by nato bombs paid for by our taxes. Was this necessary suffering? 1,000,000 Iranian children died because of US sanctions on Iran. Was this necessary suffering? Then secretary of state Madeline Albright said she thought the cost "was worth it". So you see, we have people in the highest echelons of power who have a Malthusian world view -- that the population has gone out of control, "so what's the big deal if we eradicate a million or two people here or there?" We must move beyond the idea that suffering is necessary for growth. For the ignorant, yes, suffering is the only door they can walk through. I consigned my ex-wife to this fate by divorcing her. I realized the lies in our marriage would only fester and get worse. The only way to grow was to end the charade and "induce" suffering. But as for the next generation, the YOUTH, please, listen to my words, suffering is completely unnecessary. We have to the tools through social media to empower children to follow their dharma, their God-given path by simply embodying and practicing love. Love is Truth and the truth will lift us all up, regardless of creed, gender, economic status. I pray we end war and eradicate suffering from the face of this planet. We can affirm Tolle by sharing our own stories. Peace.[Hide Full Comment]
The purpose of the world is for us to be lost in it as a step to finding our way out. As Ram Dass says, this world is our curriculum to learn to transcend this world. I'm not sure how that happens. I do think it's natural, that is, it's our way as human beings -- we begin this human incarnation in a physical body and world that we are captured in and become lost in. Eventually, after enough of the kind of experiences that wake us up and shake up our perception, we become aware that this world is the manifestation of something more and deeper, something that is not a physical thing, some spirit or force behind the scene, referred to by many names such as Infinite Spirit or Soul or Source or God. We then begin to be in the world but not of it. We develop a binocular vision and living, with one eye and one foot in this world and one eye and one foot in the spiritual. We begin to find our way out and transcend the physical body and world with which we began. I think it's a long slow and often difficult process and road along which we each do some traveling. As for suffering, I don't remember a time when I thought that suffering was not necessary -- maybe when I was very young and naive. To me, suffering is part of being human. I suffer my experience, which includes my pain. I've come to realize I can suffer unnecessarily, that is, in a way that creates unnecessary pain. My hope is to grow in suffering necessarily, efficiently and gracefully.[Hide Full Comment]
This is a mutated and rather confused version of Advaita Vedanta. It is misunderstood. The purpose of the world is burning off karma and finding the joy of your true self the supreme in it, giving joy back not to be lost.