Idol Chatter

Here we are already at week six of the Oprah Winfrey/Eckhart Tolle “A New Earth” web event. Monday night’s class, based on Chapter 6 “Breaking Free,” is now available for viewing (at or here at Beliefnet).
Something really struck me Monday afternoon before the class aired. People are experiencing change all over the world from reading a book and watching two people chat on a computer screen.
Reading, in general, has always been a great catalyst for achieving new levels of consciousness (which I tend to think of as nothing short of a miracle in its own right), but people are finding out more about themselves and making great strides toward greater awareness or enlightenment in their lives through what is little more than a high-tech conversation. Isn’t that odd if you really think about it?

We’re actually using the Internet as a tool to find the peace within that is our very birthright! So much for it being the final nail in the coffin of both physical book-reading and basic human social skills as it is so commonly described.
How often do we think we need a pill or an overpriced class or a flashy dog-and-pony show to help us out in our own spiritual journey? Perhaps the most amazing thing of all, in this day and age, is that these classes are free!
I found all of this to be both profound and pretty fascinating.
Back on task, Oprah started off Monday night’s class by reading a passage from the beginning of another of Eckhart’s books, “Stillness Speaks”:

Stillness is your essential nature. What is stillness? The inner space for awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts. Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world. You are that awareness disguised as a person.

That’s the point of all this awareness talk, these classes, the Q&A…everything! When you realize that awareness is your fundamental nature and when it hits you on an experiential level, then you have reached the elusive enlightenment that we hear bandied about by so many Eastern and Western seekers. That’s really all it is.
And when you have that epiphany, you realize that you’ve known it all along. No new knowledge has come to you…only a new state, or shift, of consciousness.
Again, we are not our thoughts, we are the awareness of our thoughts. We are not our bodies or our emotions or our sense perceptions; fundamentally, we are the awareness of all of those. When we bring awareness to any of them, we open a space between our true identities and those emotions/thoughts/perceptions so we can learn not to let them define us.
Since this week’s topic is breaking free from the pain-body, that “entity” of accumulated and unprocessed negative energy, the first step is to give it awareness. (Told you! I knew I should’ve placed bets on that one.)
First we need to learn to recognize the pain-body. We know it’s been triggered when a flare-up happens, be it one of anger or irrational fear or of blatant insecurity. When you see yourself giving or feeling a much bigger reaction in a situation than is warranted, that’s your pain-body.
By learning to recognize the pain-body we can start to diminish its endless cycle of power over us. When we give it awareness, it is transformed into and dissipated by Presence.
Just how do we do become aware of the flare-ups? One way is by practicing what they do at the beginning of every class where Eckhart asks that we take our awareness out of the mind and into the body to feel what it’s experiencing in the moment.
A great question to ask yourself throughout the day and not just when you’re in the throes of an emotional reaction is, “What’s my inner state right now?”
By checking in from time to time you can learn your base state. Once you become familiar with that basis, you’ll be able to notice pretty quickly when the pain-body has been triggered by your interactions with the outside world…or even by your thoughts alone.
Oprah read a particularly relevant passage from the book to address a common question about breaking free:

A question people frequently ask is, “How long does it take to become free of the pain-body?” … But it is not the pain-body, but identification with it that causes the suffering that you inflict on yourself and others. It is not the pain-body but identification with the pain-body that forces you to relive the past again and again and keeps you in a state of unconsciousness. So a more important question to ask would be this: “How long does it take to become free of identification with the pain-body?”
And the answer to that question is: It takes no time at all. When the pain-body is activated, know that what you are feeling is the pain-body in you. This knowing is all that is needed to break your identification with it. (p.183)

These are the basics of the Monday night class. Since the content seemed to skew off-course for much of the class about breaking free, including questions about true love and fights with your spouse, among many others, I thought I’d stick more in this commentary to the main topic of breaking free from your pain-body and not run down a long list of highlights like I usually do.
That being said, there was a great quote from Eckart that came up with regard to loving others which was:

If you don’t love God in the other person, you love the form in the other person and that is based in the ego.

There was also this thought about suffering with some paraphrasing on my part:

There is grace hiding behind every suffering. And it takes the acceptance of the suffering while it is happening to open up the space for the grace behind it.

There were also some funny, interesting tidbits about Eckhart near the very end of the class where he responded to an e-mail asking if he was perfect. His response was that he was form and form can’t be perfect.
He’s a sharp one, that Tolle! And he loves his daily Starbucks coffee, apparently. (I’m now waiting for the coffee chain to seize on the publicity and start offering “enlightened lattes” or “enlattes”!)
Next week’s class is on the much-anticipated Chapter 7 “Finding Who You Truly Are.” Also, Oprah is dedicating her entire hour-long daytime talk show on Wednesday, April 9 to “A New Earth” in case you can watch it or set a VCR/TiVo to catch it.
See you next week!

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