For the first time in what feels like a while, I am taking a break from poetry for this lovely Sunday.
I am currently reading an appropriately enlightening book (one that many of you might already know), Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. From what I have taken away from the book so far, Eckhart’s main idea is that we all, as humans, have grown to identify ourselves with our minds. Our identities are thus formulated around time: the mind depends on time to function, the idea that we have a past behind us and a future in front of us. The problem with this, however, is that the past and future do not truly exist. Our minds wind up thinking too much about something that is not real, instead of focusing on the Being in each of us, the only thing that is real: the “now.”
This book is important to me, if not for any other reason than for putting into words a feeling that I have had much of my life, the same feeling that has escaped me for quite some time. If you were to find a mirror right now, stand or sit in front of it for more than a minute, and just stare at yourself, absent of thought or surrounding noise, what would you see? Would your brain register the image as you, meaning “Michael” or “Mary” or “John”? Would you feel that name and your “story,” your past and future self, is the real “you”? I used to do this growing up, most times accidentally, and I would, after a while, say my name to myself. I would repeat it over and over. And yet it did not stick. The name had no meaning– if anything, it made me truly question, “Who is Reaching Joy*? She is not real.”
It didn’t feel like me; but it was a good feeling. I felt like I was much more than just my name, my story. I was, my identity was based upon, the simple feeling of being alive. I felt connected to a force much bigger than myself, a force that held more truth than the identities we carry with us day to day.
It was a unique feeling, indeed, to experience growing up. I once tried to explain the experience to my friend in college and she looked at me like I was crazy. I do not blame her. But now, reading Tolle’s book, I can see and begin to understand what I was experiencing. Was it a form of “spiritual enlightenment,” as he describes it? I am not sure. But I do know one thing: the one thing that I have always believed in is that we do not know anything in this life. Tolle’s book has now let me in on a second thing I truly believe in: listening.
When we listen to others, to the world around us, to our own selves, we tap into something much more meaningful and truthful than anything we could speak verbally or inwardly through thought. To truly listen means to quiet everything: the mind, judgement, the notion of time. If we really know nothing as human beings– as I believe– listening allows us to observe our world and experience it for what it is, not for what our perception makes it out to be. If there is a truth to be found in this world, listening is the way to it.
Oh, and I do believe in love– a love that connects our experiences to each other and everything around us. Love and listening: they are what I want to be the center of my life. Thank you, Tolle, for teaching me this.
What do you think of Tolle’s message? And what is the center of your life?
*I substituted my real name for my blog name, naturally