Team Eckhart

I just finished reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The New Earth”. It’s a significant event, because I rarely even venture into the land of New Age books, as Borders would undoubtedly classify this, and as such this book would long have stayed out of my purview were it not for life’s intervention. In this particular case, I have my wife, my sister, and Oprah to thank for conspiring to put this book in front of my face… Powerful women, all, so it’s no wonder that, after reading & reflecting on E.T.’s work, I too feel more “powerful”.

Here’s why.

His life, as explained in the book, is not what you & I, the unenlightened might call “life” at all. His consciousness has evolved. In his world, life is a series of things. Things that happen, things that you consume, build, lust after, chase, get, don’t get, etc. It’s literally all clutter. This is not Life, a separate definition that is hard to denote with any letters, even a Capital L. As he would express it, Life just is. The things of the lowercase life are all constructs, are all structures created by our dearest friend & most insecure friend, Monsieur Ego, in a constant & desperate effort to justify his own existence. We do not need Ego to accomplish our purpose in life. Ego actually runs counter plots to this true purpose by convincing us that he is the one in charge & that his desires are what matters. Our purpose is to simply live Life, the Life that Oprah would call her Best Life, by realizing we are all Beings, and as such we are all connected to a higher Being, which E.T. describes variously with apropos but loaded words like Truth, Consciousness, Awareness, God, Self and Life.

He claims that we, before attaining consciousness (which he explains in such adroit fashion as to encompass and equalize most of the world’s religions), create and destroy in the futility of the act of defining ourselves & everything in our world on some meter or scale or reference point. My favorite part of this dialog is his discussion of how nothing is actually Better or Bigger until you decide it’s so. I totally can’t do it justice at the moment, since i only read it once & neglected to take notes. Just take it from me that this was one of the many aha!- like moments I had in the course of his 300 pages: every measurement requires a point of reference, and since society is full of Beings with independent points of reference, yours is the only one that matters, which simultaneously means that none of them do (let’s all stop short of spiraling down into the dystopic argument that society can’t function without some shared givens). There is no Good or Bad, but thinking that makes it so.

But consider that every Being is born and has a spark of life – and that, my friends, is where the similarities end. The only thing we “know” is that we are alive and others are alive. If we can realize that, accept that, and act as though it were the only Truth, everything else that causes us discontent melts away.

The most freeing section in the whole book is where he relates that to action and time. When you accept that the world and time are constructs in which you are forced to participate physically but do NOT define who you are, because YOU are more than your actions, all the risk to You/Self is moot and it’s only your Ego at play that makes you act differently. What you choose to do in any given moment is exactly the right thing to do if you are aware of the choice. Put simply, the only moment there ever is is Now, and the only Action required is the one you choose.

That is a concept that made me fall off the couch. That is some Ninja shit right there. I feel like I earned a blackbelt in like thirty different isms all at once.

Here’s where it can go a little sideways for those less introspective than even I am. Realizing that, accepting that, acting on that… In short, thinking about it (or anything for that matter) is still a lowercase life. Thinking is all Ego. Getting in touch with Life, though, is “simpler” than that. He gives us a few activities to try in the book, but my go-to kata is this: close your eyes and just feel the blood, heat & energy I your fingertips. (I learned focused breath in college yoga classes, so I take for granted that this is easy; I highly recommend learning this technique if for no other reason than it’s ability to quell anxiety & get me to sleep at night). Then let that awareness slowly creep out into your hands, into your arms, your shoulders, your core, the top of your head… that sort of trancelike state you enter when you can honestly feel that energy & not act or think about anything else… that is the Awareness with a Capital A that E.T. says connects us all. It’s the only thing that connects us all, but the point is that we are all connected. However you choose to manifest that Life, whatever God you choose (if any), whatever clothes you wear, whether you’re for Team Edward or Team Jacob (note from my Ego: I am the only guy who would even ATTEMPT to mix Eckhart Tolle and Twilight, and therefore I am awesome), all those decisions are yours and all of them insignificant in the pursuit of Life, Happiness, Zen, Nirvana, Heaven, or Valhalla (what up Nordic readers!).

All you gotta do is let go. The only moment there ever is is Now, and the only Action required is the one you choose. There is no Good or Bad, but thinking that makes it so.

I apologize for the heady meta vapors you’re now wafting in, but this post serves three purposes. First and foremost, to document my own thoughts on this book. It hasn’t turned me into Superman or Oprah or even Dr. Phil, but whatever potential I had that I felt was untapped or that I wasn’t “allowed” to tap, which caused me to worry I was wasting myself, or at least that others were thinking I was wasting myself… Well, none of that matters. And holy jumping Jesus in a jumpsuit did it make a difference in my life.

Second purpose of this post is to tell you about it. Spread the germs of consciousness, I suppose. Without becoming an evangelist, I will simply say that, if you can hang with his meta-analysis (or at least aren’t totally turned off by the words meta-analysis), you will get something of value out of reading it.

Third purpose is to publicly acknowledge and accept that I am more than the sum of my actions, and so is everyone else. That, inevitably, leads to forgiveness, which is a surprising word at this time in my life. I’m afraid that’s a horse of a different color, though, so I’m postponing further public exploration of that.

My thanks to the many different Muses that manifested that book & granted me the good fortune to be able to read it. Hopefully at least one other person will choose the same experience.

Today’s LONG Run and my missive to The Guy In Charge

Alright, so we stayed up ’til 2 last night with Mike & Tina, which obviously made the 8am start time with Punchie an unreasonable expectation. He graciously agreed to wait ’til 9, but my head was closer to 10. So I did, unfortunately, punk out on my running partner today. BUT, importantly but not more importantly, I did NOT punk out on the long run. I did 8.5 miles, all by my lonesome… and I didn’t walk. At all. I stopped 4 times for a 30-90 second stretch break, which at a minimum added 15 seconds to my pace, but then I kept going. So it wasn’t a GREAT pace… but it’s better than I’ve been doing. And what do we always say is the most important thing? (“Breakfast.” “No, family.” “Oh, I thought you meant of the things you eat.”) Going the distance. Pace & effort & elevation & heart rate can suck it. Distance is what matters when you’re going for the twenty six and two.

Let me also say it was f’ing WINDY on the way to Hopper’s Hands. And of course, by the time I got turned around to come back with the wind, it wasn’t freakin’ there, and I had a word or two with The Guy In Charge Of The Weather. Because he also happens to be The Guy Who Already Engineered My Body Not To Be Able To Do The Things I Want To Do But If I Maintain Dedication And Train Consistently I Should Be Able To Do Them, I asked him what the f was up with the wind holding me back on the way out and not helping me out on the way back. He wasn’t online, of course, being it’s his “day of rest” or whatever. But man will he get an eyeful when he opens his email tomorrow. That frikkin’ guy. I question whether or not he truly has my back.

Dear Guy In Charge,

Do you have my back? You f’ed me up with the wind today, and then you didn’t even hit me back on the flip side. What the f? And don’t say it has anything to do with the fact that I say ‘What the f’ all the time – you know as well as I do that the words themselves are only given meaning by the emotion behind them, and you know damn well what my emotions are: occasionally passionate but never evil.

If I’m going to accomplish this feat of human dedication & physical conditioning, I would APPRECIATE it if you’d just lay off with the frikkin’ wind. And the rain. In fact, if you were a TRUE friend, for the next 3 months you’d turn off as many of the less-than-beneficial-to-my-training parts of your weather system as you can. I’m not asking you to cause droughts or make the flowers bloom artificially, but to the extent that you can just let a brother get his training in & give me a pleasant frikkin’ environment, a STABLE frikkin’ environment to do it in, it would be much appreciated.

Also, while we’re on the subject, enough with the digestive instability. Make me regular again. I don’t mind the burping and “turning on the afterburners” every so often whilst running, but having to stock so many ponds with brown trout is beginning to affect my sunny disposition. That’s all I have to say about that.

I don’t want to end on a sour note, but I did want to make sure I said what needed to be said. I know, in the end, you’re a friend to be counted on. And you have REALLY great ideas & intentions most of the time. (I still think the whole “Women Shall Have Breasts” thing was your finest hour.) But I’m trying to accomplish a Life Goal here, and I just think you forget that sometimes. It would just be nice if you paid a little more attention & were a little more aware of the results of your actions.

Anyway, hope you’re enjoying your day of rest. Hope we’re still solid. R sends her love. Thanks for including us on your holiday card list – we’ll return the favor next year.

Rock On,