Idol Chatter

Wow! We’re already at Week 8 of the Oprah Winfrey/Eckhart Tolle “A New Earth” web event. As usual, Monday night’s class, based on Chapter 8 “The Discovery of Inner Space,” is now available for viewing at or here at Beliefnet.
This is a great chapter and web class for getting all of us in touch with our own inner space, or inner spiritual dimensions, but what does that mean, exactly?
Inner space can also be called stillness or presence or peacefulness, but it’s much vaster than any one word or the definitions of that word.
If you’ve ever been in a stressful situation (life-threatening, even) where you suddenly felt a calm and knowing wash over you and obliterate all fear and anxiety, that was a glimpse of what Eckhart Tolle calls “inner space.” It is that dimension between each of our thoughts, beyond the high and low-tide wash of emotions, where a person’s true power resides. It is the eternal part of our identity beyond any form or label and, although it sounds odd or perhaps dramatic to say, it’s the very ground of Being.
And it’s all right here. And always has been!

At the beginning of the class Eckhart said that most people’s minds are full of stuff (thoughts, emotions, reactions, the past/the future, etc.) and their external lives are equally as full of activities, commitments, and responsibilities. What he realized is that people have no space in their lives anymore; all they have is just one thing to do after another. That’s where he came up with the idea of calling it “inner space.” (I’m sure you can all relate to this as you’re probably stressing about reading this post amid the twenty other things you feel you should be doing right now.)
What’s more, he says that if you have no spaciousness in your life then you have no connection to the spiritual dimension.
Amen to that! Which naturally makes me think that that’s what prayer or meditation or even one conscious breath does…it gives us reason to pause and acknowledge our own inner space, our own spiritual dimension within. Heck, you never know what you might find!

It has been said: “Stillness is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation.” Stillness is really another word for space. (p.255)

So how do we get in touch with that inner space? How do we speak the language of God, if you choose to think of it as such?
One of the tings you can do is to simply become conscious of consciousness. For example, look at a rose and become aware that you are two things; you are the awareness allowing the experience to happen and you are also the content of the experience (in this case the visual field of the rose, the smell of it, etc.).
By separating the content of the experience from the witnessing awareness, you begin to open up and feel the vast inner space.
Eckhart likened it to the fact that our bodies, or any matter, is 99.99% space, given the distance we know scientifically exists between atoms and molecules. So you could even look at is as getting in touch with the vast, divine space that exists within your own body.
Even Oprah is getting in on the action more as the classes progress when she said with confidence, “You are not your thoughts, but you are life itself.”
Good stuff. And it ties in with one of my favorite lines of all which is that when you are not accepting what is in the moment, you are not living because life only knows the present moment. Life is not a memory or a future speculation, it’s only here. Now.
In my own studies and writings, I have come up with an analogy for Eckhart’s “inner space.” I often think of my life as a movie. Everything’s playing out up on the huge silver screen of experience, but I am the awareness sitting in the theater watching it unfold. I may get caught up in the drama from time to time, but it’s really just a story unfolding reel after reel.
In my analogy, inner space is the theater itself which I view as one of those vast, amazing movie palaces from Hollywood’s heyday. Yes, my inner space even has a Baroque flair to it, if you can believe it.
Although it starts as an image and a concept (which are only form as we’ve learned), those only serve as a springboard into a tremendous feeling of peace and stillness within. Also, since we’ve seen so many movies in our lives, it has a real-life trigger that resonates with me.
In line with all of this, Eckhart writes:

Most people’s lives are cluttered up with things: material things, things to do, things to think about. …This is the dimension of object consciousness that is many people’s predominant reality, and that is why their lives are so out of balance. Object consciousness needs to be balanced by space consciousness for sanity to return to our planet and for humanity to fulfill its destiny. The arising of space consciousness is the next stage in the evolution of humanity. (p.227)

You know, that’s all. Just the evolution of humanity we’re all talking about here in these web classes and commentaries.
Onto some highlights from Monday’s Opreck exchange:
1) Eckhart said that the observer is timeless. That inner space, the movie theater (in Toddspeak), is timeless. If judgment comes into a situation, then your mind has become engaged again. The observer doesn’t judge, it only observes what is and accepts what is.
2) Alan from Eugene, OR, a Christian, said that he wanted to go beyond the quotes of Jesus that Eckhart uses and actually follow His teachings, not just quote Him. He wanted to shine the light of awareness on his own life and give forgiveness to all, among other things, and that “A New Earth” has helped him to do just that. Alan said he had left the church but now he has returned because of learning how to apply the concepts from the book and web classes.
3) Peter in Phoenix said that he was addicted to smoking for 13 years but stopped almost instantaneously 11 weeks ago because of the book. He did it by becoming aware of his feelings so when a craving to smoke came, he simply observed it and it eventually passed. Several hours later, another craving came that was less intense, which he observed again, and then his cravings never came back! He can even hang out with friends who are smoking and it doesn’t affect him.
Eckhart admitted that this was not necessarily the norm, but that he has heard of those cases before. All due to simple awareness.
Just so you don’t think I’m being paid by anyone to write all this, Peter was calling in to say that although he did it with smoking, he’s finding it much more difficult to curb his TV-watching, alcohol use and overeating. He was afraid the teachings weren’t working and that he had gotten into his head with it all and turned it into a problem.
Eckhart responded that every time that awareness is applied to a pattern and the pattern “wins” out, it doesn’t mean that you have lost. Eventually, something will happen to the addiction since old addictive patterns and awareness cannot coexist together.
4) Oprah said that she understands the “This too shall pass” story that begins on page 223 during bad times that happen in her own life, but she doesn’t want to acknowledge the same saying during the really good times. I think she speaks for many people here. After all, we learn early on that a good life is about the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
Eckhart explained that you can enjoy the good times, of course, but know that they are transient; the error is when we cling to them or even start to fear their eventual change.
5) Linda emailed that she was very unhappy in her sexless marriage and wanted to know how to tell the difference between a decision that she was scared about making, how to know whether it was coming from the ego or from a more “conscious” and present place.
Eckhart said that we know it’s coming from Presence and being conscious when it leads to a peaceful resolution for our whole being versus a decision made out of fear. If a decision brings us to a sense of powerful and peaceful certainty, then it is not ego-based. To be sure, sadness may happen if that decision leads to a breakup (versus counseling or some other therapeutic remedy), but the centeredness and calm within is our proof.
6) Nick at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood wanted to know how to stay in the moment and not worry about paying his bills as they piled up.
Eckhart replied that you have to pay your bills, but you don’t have to worry about them. Nick said that worrying in the past had motivated him to take action and fix a situation so how could he afford, literally, to give it up?
(I think Nick speaks for millions of people out there who are trying to understand the practicality of being in the moment and I’m glad they gave his query so much attention.)
Tolle said that yes, you have to pay your bills, but do you worry about them the night before or the day you pay them? He said when you sit down to pay your bills, you look at a bill and say, “Do I have the money for this?” If yes, then you pay it. If not, you put it down and, being in the present moment, you make a phone call or take action and decide what you’re going to do to get that money. It’s about empowerment, not worry.
This is a big misconception that I think many of us run into, including myself, which is confusing being passive with being in the moment. There’s so much talk about being the observer and accepting things as they are that I feel I may be falling out of the moment when it’s time for action. It feels like a double-edged sword and so I’m glad they continue to pepper in questions like Nick’s during the web classes.
7) A cool saying that deserves some noggin time:

When a situation arises, don’t react to it…merge with it and let the decision arise out of the stillness…which is vastly bigger than the ego.

8) Oprah echoed the Nick Sentiment a little bit later when she repeated that these teachings are not about being passive, they’re about bringing our personality in alignment with our Higher Consciousness or Soul’s Purpose or God or whatever you want to call it. The goal is to operate from a place of Being, which benefits ourselves and everyone else in the world, so that the inner space is directing your life and actions and decisions. As such, life flows, she said, speaking from her own experience.
9) A woman named Natalie was on vacation with her family when she joined the class. She thought it was an amazing trip and found it even more enjoyable since applying the book’s principles and living more in the moment, but she was worried that when she gets back home, her everyday life with all of its responsibilities will be too stressful yet again.
Oprah said, again from experience, that when you bring Presence to your daily activities, whatever they may be and no matter how repetitive they may feel from the outside looking in, everything becomes amazing. Her and Eckhart both assured Natalie that once she lives more in the moment in her daily life, she will find it just as fascinating as the new people she’s meeting who speak different languages and all the foreign monuments she’s seen, etc.
That’s a good place to end the highlights as I think that’s truly what happens when you do start applying the principles to your own life…life becomes a wondrous joy again. And now I speak from personal experience.
This isn’t drink the Kool-Aid talk, this is about acknowledging the miracle of life at every turn. Every day is a new day, regardless of what you’re doing. And every experience is one that can inspire wonder and awe.
It did when we were children so perhaps this whole book is just about rediscovering it deep within, as it had never fully left our world at all.

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2)

See? I can use Bible quotes, too!
We’re nearing the finish line, campers! Catch you back here next week for Chapter 9 “Your Inner Purpose”. See you then!

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