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Idol Chatter

Starting with this week, the third week of the Oprah Winfrey/Eckhart Tolle “A New Earth” Web Event, I’ll be posting here on what I gleaned from the live “class” held each Monday evening at Oprah.com (9/8c) (you can also watch the classes here on Beliefnet) and from the corresponding chapter in the Eckhart Tolle book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.”
My first coherent thought after reading this week’s chapter (Chapter 3: “The Core of the Ego”) and watching the corresponding online class was…ack! No, really. ACK!!!
That’s not a hairball lodged in my throat— I’m stunned at how the book and class ultimately bridge our outward-searching religions of the West with the inner, contemplative philosophies of the East. The scope of this subject matter spans who we really are, how to alleviate human suffering, why there’s no point in “thinking” about what happens when we die and…the granddaddy of them all…what or who “God” is or isn’t!
I’m guessing next week we’ll learn about the meaning of life and where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, though not necessarily in that order.


Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled, ecstatic even, that Oprah has fallen in love with this book and I applaud the fact that she and her team have worked so hard to provide a safe, intelligent and multimedia forum for the deep and often difficult dialogue that inevitably arises when addressing such existential topics. However, I don’t know how easy my job will be to summarize what I have learned and how I will apply that knowledge to my own life.
(Oh, wow! That’s just my ego complaining because of its insecurity that I will not be able to meet the insurmountable expectations that it has created. Looks like I’m really learning something, after all!)
Before tackling Chapter 3, I’ll try to sum up as briefly as possible what I’ve taken away from the class to date:
Those rambling, often defensive, negative and self-defeating thoughts in our heads are evidence of the ego, which is not a thing, but only unconscious thought patterns. By merely paying attention to that running chatter, we start to become aware of who we really are and, as a result, we start to disassociate our identity from our thoughts, our feelings and our histories (or the stories we so often claim to be “us”). Only then will we learn to live in the present moment where the ego cannot exist and realize that we are that basic awareness itself. As the cherry on top of this spiritual sundae, by quieting the mind/ego, we find peace, stillness, and divinity within. We will discover that God is not a person or a belief or any thought-form, God simply is. “Be still and know that I am.” By experiencing that we simply…are…too, we can all start to bring about a new Earth.
Anybody else have a hairball in their throat at this point?
That’s really the whole kit and caboodle right there; everything in the coming weeks will come back to those core tenets. For those who come from a traditional religious background and who find themselves leery of any of this, the role of religion is addressed at Oprah.com here.
As for this week’s class which explores Chapter 3—”The Core of the Ego,” there are several things that jumped out at me that I’ll be reminding myself of all week long and would like to highlight here:
1) From the book, I found this great tidbit:

The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist. (p. 64)

2) One of the most profound concepts I learned was when Eckhart said that if you don’t have a good connection with the present moment, then you don’t have a good connection with life because life only happens in the now. Even if you’re replaying past events or worrying about the future…both those mental “activities” only happen in the present moment. Therefore, as he said during the class, “The present moment is the exit door out of the ego.”
3) The ego always produces suffering. (Buddha, party of one, your table is ready.) If we really want peace in our lives…and some people say they do but actually self-identify with the drama they need and create…then we must learn to observe the ego so that we can transcend it.
4) Complaining serves no purpose unless it brings about change. Idle complaining for its own sake is just the chatter of the ego. When I find myself complaining, I will now consciously ask myself, “Does this serve a purpose? Will it bring about change of any sort?” If not, I will see it as the fear of the ego and move on.
5) Oprah was asked how she deals with all of her fame and access to things, or forms. She replied that she feels blessed that she doesn’t have to be anybody other than herself and that that keeps her grounded. That is everyone’s goal, to become more themselves in their daily lives. How we do that is…you guessed it…by becoming more present in the moment.
6) If you find that you don’t know who you are, then you are on the right track. To know who you are means that you have found labels, concepts, and thoughts to stand in place of the brilliant consciousness which is your true identity.
Every class to date has been filled with real and wonderful stories from Eckhart and Oprah, including some amazingly keen insights and questions from viewers literally around the world. Check out previous episodes, including full transcripts, which can be viewed and downloaded for free by following the various links at Oprah.com.
Next week’s topic: Chapter Four—”Role-Playing: The Many Faces of the Ego”
As a self-described knowledge nerd, I’m excited to say: See you in class!

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