So, this is my life.

And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

it's time

i've held off as long as i could. you all know how i get when i read a book that i love, and this one in particular i've tried to not gush about. i don't want to alienate you by talking about my spiritual journey -- besides, it's my own. it's private. then again, what is "private"? what is anything? what is a unicorn?

i think i've held off long enough. it's time to talk about A New Earth. cpg and i read it together, and we've had some fun discussing and applying it. the book is also getting a ton of internet chatter, both praise and criticism -- likewise for its author, eckhart tolle, and the channel through which about a billion people have come to hear about the book: oprah. as you may know, tolle and oprah are being criticized for "repackaging Buddhism," "profaning the church," and creating their own religion. but i'm telling you, this isn't about religion. this is about you. us.

i'd like to share with you, over the next few days, a few parts of A New Earth that spoke to me in special and memorable ways -- just a few, despite the fact that i found so many portions of this book to be eye-opening and moving. do with these excerpts what you will. if they speak to you, then go grab a copy of A New Earth. if they don't, that's all right, too.

NOTE: i've found that tolle's writing takes patience. if you can make it to the end of a paragraph, or the end of a chapter, you're more likely to see the big picture. it can be a slow walk, though, i'm warning you.

* * *

The greatest achievement of humanity is not its works of art, science, or technology, but the recognition of its own dysfunction, its own madness...

To recognize one's own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence. A new dimension of consciousness had begun to emerge on the planet, a first tentative flowering. Those rare individuals then spoke to their contemporaries. They spoke of sin, of suffering, of delusion. They said, "Look how you live. See what you are doing, the suffering you create." They then pointed to the possibility of awakening from the collective nightmare of "normal" human existence. They showed the way.

The world was not yet ready for them, and yet they were a vital and necessary part of human awakening. Inevitably, they were mostly misunderstood by their contemporaries, as well as by subsequent generations. Their teachings, although both simple and powerful, became distorted and misinterpreted, in some cases even as they were recorded in writing by their disciples. Over the centuries, many things were added that had nothing to do with the original teachings, but were reflections of a fundamental misunderstanding. Some of the teachers were ridiculed, reviled, or killed; others came to be worshiped as gods. Teachings that pointed the way beyond the dysfunction of the human mind, the way out of the collective insanity, were distorted and became themselves part of the insanity.

And so religions, to a large extent, became divisive rather than unifying forces. Instead of bringing about an ending of violence and hatred through a realization of the fundamental oneness of life, they brought more violence and hatred, more divisions between people as well as between different religions and even within the same religion. They became ideologies, belief systems people could identify with and so use them to enhance their false sense of self. Through them, they could make themselves "right" and others "wrong" and thus define their identity through their enemies, the "others," the "nonbelievers," or "wrong believers" who not infrequently they saw themselves justified in killing. Man made "God" in his own image. The eternal, the infinite, and unnameable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as "my god" or "our god."

And yet... and yet... inspite of all the insane deeds perpetrated in the name of religion, the Truth to which they point still shines at their core. It still shines, however dimly, though layers upon layers of distortion and misinterpretation.

* * *

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