I'm enjoying your exchanges on this subject and resonate with Phil's critique of Tolle. Tolle has such a good heart, and I suspect he will be "singing a different tune" in a few decades.
About the "methods" for entering into the pre-reflective states, Phil, I'd agree with your warnings that it can used as a kind of "drug." The non-dual states are very appealing to those very wounded souls for whom facing the work of repentance and forgiveness provokes too much anxiety. So living in the NOW field is wonderful, but cannot be sustained under the pressures of the past and our interdependence of others which scream out for integration/healing.
I guess this is what you mean by "authentic engagement" from your quote about Lonergan above which I copied below:
What he would call "true self" is not the state of simple attentiveness, but authentic engagement in all the levels; becoming a person is a lifetime project.
Hi Phil/Sasha/Katy - Sasha what you said:
"The non-dual states are very appealing to those very wounded souls for whom facing the work of repentance and forgiveness provokes too much anxiety. So living in the NOW field is wonderful, but cannot be sustained under the pressures of the past and our interdependence of others which scream out for integration/healing"...this has been my experience and I have been doing much of the harder work these recent years and have been living more in authentic engagement in all levels. Thanks Phil and Sasha for helping me see and understand the attraction to Tolle and some of the pitfalls that I have for the most part avoided.
I watched that Utube of Tolle. It struck me how much Tolle seemed 'in love' with and exalted unity consciousness as if it were the only dimension of reality that is required to bring about peace and learn to love. We are living in multiple dimensions of reality, it seems to me. There's the 'me' that is one with creation, but it is the least interesting and important part of who I am. I see reality as one throbbing mass of consciousness, like Tolle and the Eastern gurus have described, consciousness taking on form, all of creation a massive ONE-ness. As I look out at the world through me eyes, I see my �self� in all things, equally distributed, belonging to me and in me at once. However, there is more to 'me' than the one who is One with creation. By herself, even as one with creation, she is not very interesting!
No, creation is not God's crowning achievement.
It is the *New* Creation brought about by Christ Jesus that is God�s crowning, glorious achievement. Ah, now this is the God whom I worship and fear!
Unity consciousness is not the Abba Father to whom Jesus prayed. Tolle has discovered the bliss of unity consciousness, not the God of Israel.
As noted by Phil, there is no sense in Tolle�s teachings of struggling to know a personal God and no sense of wanting to do God's Will over our own will. He makes it sound as though just dwelling in that stream of consciousness would automatically inform us of our true identity, what we are becoming, and what is right action, as though our character is formed only through our release from wrong identification with our personal story and the contents of our mind. It just ain�t happenin� for me...
There are times when God calls us to react to our personal stories and the contents of our minds with horror and grief and passion and appropriate shame! At these times, unity consciousness must take a back seat so that Christ can teach us about growing in love.
Alan, I'm glad to hear you've found the kinds of distinctions and discernments we're sharing here helpful. There are indeed important implications for spiritual practice. E.g., if one understands the kind of non-duality to be a higher state than Christian contemplation (Thomas Keating seems to be of this viewpoint now: http://tinyurl.com/4gfgd8 ), then why not just go ahead and become a Buddhist and forget about lectio divina, scripture study, the Sacraments, church membership, etc. The Buddhists seem to get by without these, and if they're aiming for a higher consciousness and have practices to help you realize this, why not become a Buddhist? That's one of the many implications of buying into the notion of non-duality as a higher state than inter-subjective mysticism.
- - -
Good to have you join the discussion, Shasha. As I recall from your sharing on other threads, you've had some deep experiences of non-duality, so it's especially helpful to hear you speak of the primacy of faith in Christ.
- - -
I see that Richard Rohr has updated his reflections on Eckhart Tolle's work:
I had sent him an email with some critiques, to which he graciously replied. There are still some problems with the update -- e.g., he still equates infused and natural contemplation; natural mysticism = contemplative practice -- but overall it's better. See what you think.
Well, I have to disagree with point #2 in the section, "What Tolle is doing" in that updated paper. He states that what "we would call the person born again in Christ" is what Tolle would call "consciousness." This just isn't my experience at all.
Shasha, I am so glad you showed up, I read one of your posts on another thread and I have been wanting to ask you some questions about Christian meditation... this was your post:
I just had some questions regarding your opinion on using mantras using words from scripture (mostly "Jesus"), using the mantra with the rhythm of breathing, and using "active recollection" to gaze at Jesus within the spirit as per the teachings of Teresa of Avila... I understand the importance of intent, and all I want to do is make a real spiritual connection with Jesus who lives in me, be loved by Him and love Him back, to know His Divine Personhood, and worship Him- this is what I am after. I should also add that I am also meditating so that I have a better and more consistent awareness of His Presence during my times outside of meditation (as if I could affect this on my own), so as to listen and be lead by the Holy Spirit in a more sensitive and consistent manner (I hope this isn't a selfish intent, but it is a desire that I have and can't explain). I have been practing these things for a few years and I just wanted to get your feedback on them...
PS - Have you been watching the Florida Outpouring of God on TV or the Internet? God is using Todd Bentley in a way that I have never scene... exciting times we live in!
Phil, or anyone else... I am trying to better understand what happens during Zen and Yogic meditation. This is my understanding:
Zen (zazen) - eyes open, concentrates on breathing, intent is to be detached from all thoughts and feelings associated with the ego, the focus is on the "gaps" between thoughts with the hope that the ego is neutralized, brain activity is mid range alpha waves...
Yogic Meditation - eyes closed, use breathing and usually an audible mantra to become totally void of thought or emotion, intent is to completely bludgen the ego so that it disappears, brain activity is usually low level alpha waves with the intent to enter the realm of delta waves...
Please add your corrections and insights as you or anyone else deems appropriate.
Thanks, and blessings in our Lord Jesus,
What, then, is your understanding of Prayer, using the same terminology that you have used to describe Zazen and Yogic meditation -- and nothing else?
I remember once, someone describing prayer as "not telling lies to God". It made so much sense. I liked it. Why sit there praying empty words, when in our hearts we want to be authentic. So why not tell the truth.
It was first described as so by Martin Luther.
Hi HP, all I am trying to understand is what happens to someone practicing Zen or Yoga during their time of meditation, I mean no disrespect to anyone who practices Zen or Yoga, I would just like to learn... I think this will help me to understand what Tolle is aiming for with his spirituality.
To me Father Keating is talking about a non-duality that follows the Transforming Union or
Bridal Mysticism. These non dual states are not the intent of practice as in many of the Eastern Religions, but a grace.
The Bridal relationship that is so deeply
intimate would be the dualistic union one would return to as these non dual states are seldom permament.
So to me this is reason to be Christian & do all the practices you have mentioned, Phil.
Right, Ajoy, Fr. Thomas is referring to a non-duality that follows Transforming Union, but he's most definitely considering it a "higher state" or deeper development. As Buddhists come upon this without going through Transforming Union (which need not be understood as "bridal mysticism" but as union between the self and God), then why consider it deeper? Why not another kind of mystical experience -- say of a metaphysical order? That makes more sense to me -- that we are dealing with at least two kinds of mystical experiences, here.
In all of this, it should be remembered that non-duality doesn't mean the loss of one's personhood or individuality. I think the term no-self or no-ego gives the wrong impression, as there is definitely still a unique person and personality expressing in an individual body. In Christianity, we say that each individual has a created spiritual soul endowed with its own intellect and will. Does anyone doubt that Eckhart Tolle, Bernadette Roberts of even the Buddha still had such after their enlightenment? Even when joined with the divine in deep loving union or when awake to itself in the ground of Being, there is still an individual. The Resurrection signifies the continuance of individuality beyond the grave, and even the Ascended Christ addressed Paul with "I am Jesus . . . " This kind of positive affirmation of a metaphysical self or individual consciousness is missing in most teachers of non-dual spiritualty, including Christians like Bernadette Roberts.
That sounds wonderful, Caneman. As you know, it's all about intent, and the methods and disciplines for drawing close to God will vary across personalities and seasons. Like you, I sometimes use repetitive prayers like "Hail Mary..." Repeating this even just a few times seems to serve a dual purpose--it's both a way of stilling and calming my mind PLUS the content puts me in a more humble, surrendered state of being.
The quote above about my coming to realize that God called me to pray INSTEAD of meditate was life changing because I had devalued prayer / character formation and over-valued enlightenment. I was seriously misguided in believing that God was in non-duality. In my experience, I feel like I�m living across both dimensions (dual and non-dual) simultaneously. Non-duality is the backdrop of my experience which is ever-present like one�s peripheral vision is ever-present. But by the burning love of Christ, I am compelled to live in some pretty contracted states and retaining my unique personality. On this dimension of my being, this is where I�m pruned, where I learn about growing in love, and where I�m being prepared for the next life.
Your desire for intimacy with the heart and character of God is very beautiful. This was not my experience until I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and God did not only become personal at this point, but more precise: all about Jesus/ the movement of the Holy Spirit to form a new character in me. I don�t think that discovering the metaphysical Self, which is �found� in non-dual state, is preparing us to live in our glorified bodies. This is why I don't agree with Tolle's equating "consciousness" with being "born again" (as per Rohr�s read). Phil once explained it to me as the difference between the Created Order and the Divine Order, if I understand him correctly.
Christ's peace to you, dear Caneman.
p.s. You're the fourth person who's told me about Todd's gathering, but I haven't had a chance to catch it yet. If you're inspired, start up a new thread on it.
Yes, I totally agree. This is my hunch, two kinds of mystical experiences. It is disturbing to me when I read Christians like Keating and Roberts assert that non-duality is a higher spiritual state than experiencing Christ's love. I gotta wonder if they've ever received a genuine Baptism of the Holy Spirit...? Might this be a relevant consideration?
No disrespect implied!
Nevertheless I would really like to see how you define Prayer using similar terminology, rather than a completely different language.
Shasha, I'm positive that most people writing on non-duality and Christian prayer haven't experienced the baptism of the Spirit in a pentecostal/charismatic sense. They certainly do show signs of the Spirit, however, so no judgment implied in my statement. Keating considers pentecostal prayer (e.g. "tongues") to be yet another kind of mysticism that he calls "exuberant." Yet from my own experience, I know this isn't the case, as glossalalia need not be emotional. I'm convinced it's a kind of contemplation, however; it certainly is non-discursive.
I wrote about my own non-dual experience (which is ongoing) in my book on kundalini, and have a summary of it here: http://shalomplace.com/res/ground.html That's kind of complicated, I know. Basically, what I noticed years ago was that the faculties of consciousness (reason, memory, imagination, feeling, will) no longer converged on self-image . . . that the self-image "project" had been abandoned, as it were. I still had a self-image, of course, but it had become completely dis-affected, and the persona (the face we show to the world) was, for all practical purposes, dead in the water. This happened rather suddenly -- like the faculties just "unplugged." In my journal, I'd do inventory again and again:
- reasoning, present;
- choosing, present;
- memory, check . . .
Something had changed, however. I couldn't identify any inner focal point to call "me." Instead, there was this vastness and silence, which was very peaceful and comfortable, but also rather strange. It was around that time that I came upon Bernadette Roberts' writings and very much identified with what she described, even though I was uncomfortable with the "no-self" language. I knew what she was talking about, but I also could not deny that "I" was still here as one who thinks, chooses, remembers, etc. I called my new situation "true self," or "spiritual ego." I'm still OK with that terminology, but prefer, now, "metaphysical self," or even spiritual self. It's important, as I noted in a post above, to affirm the positive side of the experience: what stays, what goes on, etc., instead of using only negative language like "no-self" or abstract terminology like non-dual consciousness or Ground of Being.
Yes, I recall reading some of your stuff. What you describe is exactly what I experienced a few years ago. I remember this sense of being totally free of anything that I once identified as "me." (It followed a period of kundalini activity, mostly seeing a lot of lights and spontaneously slipping into deep meditative states that came unbidden).
People would ask, "How are you doing, Shasha?" and I would burst out laughing because it seemed there was no such person left anymore. no Shasha and no "doing" either as it felt like energy was just moving through me without a sense that I was willing anything to happen. I was sort of "putting on a show" of being Shasha, but I didn't feel connected to anything of my past, like every bridge was burned to my former identity. It was weird because I knew that nobody could tell by looking at me, but I was different on the inside.
I guess I've just gotton used to not being known, not in the psychological sense, but that deeper soul that is me...sometimes, I wonder if anybody will ever look at me and really see me...isn't it a lonely place at first, did you find it lonely?
Since that blow-out, what's most salient to me is not the change in who I am in terms of my identity within my body, but that I feel literally intimately connected to everything around me. It's as if the metaphysical world blew open and I can see the same raw material from which we're all made--like seeing my own insides everywhere I turn. I just can't get away from my Self!!
As far as the vastness/bliss, nowadays it's usually only in the early morning or at night with eyes closed that I sometimes enjoy that soaring formlessness. During the day, I often must suffer but I know it's all for the sake of my growing in Christ. Honestly, now that I think of it, without Christ as my daily "food," I wouldn't feel connected to the world in any meaningful way. See, being one with creation is not meaningful to me. It is awesome, mysterious, incredible, but still lacking in meaning. What is the point of experiencing vastness / emptiness / silence? That is my experience; only Christ brings meaning to me/creation.
Has your experience changed over the years, Phil, since you wrote that book? Do you feel re-made by Christ since that time or are you simply walking in union with God all the time? Maybe this isn't the best thread to talk about this at length, but I thank you for listening and sharing.
About Baptism of the Holy Spirit, yes, I know the fruits of the Spirit can still exist in many, but an actual Baptism of the HS is another matter altogether, imo. I have had such amazing experiences of praying in tongues as it moves things in the spirit world. It's not about emotionality, hardly at all, in fact. Keating seems misguided on this point. This is the problem when people talk about profound things about which they've never experienced directly. Have you ever talked with him about this, by the way?
peace to you, Shasha
That�s a beautifully naked description, Shasha.
Thank you so much for sharing it!
Ajoy: yes,this is what i have been calling a new ego>
OK, Ajoy, that makes sense. The terminology is all over the place, as we can see from even our discussions.
Shasha, I join HP in thanking you for so generously sharing your experience, which I can relate to very much. The term, "blowing out," is one I've used to describe the change with me many times. I do not usually talk about this much, as people who have not experienced it do not understanding and are often frightened by it. That's why I believe it's important to state that we do continue to exist as persons, individuals, with all of our spiritual and psychological faculties intact. What's missing is this sense of "me," which is what most mean by the term, self. It is awareness and the faculties working as self-image/concept, which we use as a basis of identity, projection, persona -- living! This isn't necessarily a false self; it seems to be how our human development proceeds. The false self aspect would be how we try to hold one side of self-concept open to the world to manage other's perceptions of us. But as most people don't know themselves apart from self-image, trying to explain what that's like is very difficult. I recall feeling the same when I'd read Buddhist accounts of enlightenment, and find myself annoyed that people who'd written of their experiences claimed they had no self. "But someone wrote those words," I would object, and that's true, only it wasn't a self as I knew myself to be.
But you asked about my feelings, and how things are with me. I am an inveterate teacher, and not particularly interested in talking about myself. Indeed, it has been over 20 years since this change in my life, so I've become accustomed to it. There is no loneliness inherent in the state, as I am very comfortable in silence and solitude and don't much need to share about this situation with anyone. I enjoy sharing my ideas and values on many topics, and do experience feelings concerning what's happening here and now. Beyond the present moment, there seems to be little connection with past or future, especially in an affective sense.
- see http://shalomplace.com/ubb/ult...;f=1;t=000123#000000
I do sense God in creation (or creation in God) as well as in personal relationship of prayer. There was nothing in my experience to lead me to change my view of the Christian mysteries; it seemed as though my faith held me together through those times, and still does. It is the only thing that gives me a sense of being a self, or person. Knowing myself as one in relationship with God is the core of my identity, so you might even say that without God, I don't know who I am. That's how it goes when one dissociates from self-image; we don't know who we are, but that's OK.
I very much appreciate Phil and Shasha sharing here. Thank you!
It seems that people have this constant need to project an image of themselves in public (as well as to themselves, privately). One of the great benefits of what I think I hear you guys describing is the great liberty in not having to do this. There is contentment (and power) in just being and allowing energy, especially the energy of the Holy Spirit, to flow freely through us.
For myself I feel that I cannot say that I am this or that, but I'm aware of a gentle coaxing in any given setting to be someting in the eyes of others. This may come from outside and I feel I've been aware of it and been resisting it since I was a teenager. It actually feels quite distasteful and is at odds with the desire to just let one's gifts and talents express themselves without the ego having to do so. It's also something which blocks this intimate connection, this unity with everything else which Shasha talks about and which I sense at times.
The enlightenment experience is at the borders of my consciousness and I constantly feel as if its about to burst in on me. I sense a place of great rest and bliss where the self is totally liberated. The burst may never come, however. It could all be just a slow, gentle unfolding. Perhaps, for me, the thing is to just live with that.
Christian Prayer/Meditation � eyes open or closed; breathing, a mantra, or scripture reading can be used to help one be attentive and present to the Lord Jesus Christ who one can perceive as being within or without; intent is for the whole person (including the ego) to be present to the Lord Jesus Christ in relational love and be responsive to that love (rest, worship, transformation, guidance, etc.); brain activity is primarily alpha, however this can change to much lower or higher brain wave activity as moved by God but we do not seek this for itself.
I know you wanted me to only use the same language as with Zen and Yoga, but I found it to be difficult because the intent of the three experiences are completely different, imo, and because I don�t understand Zen and Yoga well enough.
Tongues... Once I heard this described as "noisy contemplative prayer", and since then the entire intent and use of tongues made sense to me, and it is now another way to meditate upon Him.
This has been an interesting discussion. I wanted to chime in here, as I've been thinking about Eckhart Tolle after watching the videos on utube. I have to confess that I'm only vaguely familiar with his written work and I'm not too drawn to it -- as it seems to rehash age-old truth without any metaphysical grounding. I can see the attraction here, but I can't see the practicality of it.
I suppose my concern (and, admittedly, this comes with the caveats noted above) is that Tolle doesn't really offer much in thinking through how 'being aware to the present' is inhibited by negative emotions (false I). Certainly, it is possible that one can get glimpses of the present moment, but without a purging (or, a 'dark night of the soul') I don't see how the present moment can be maintained.
So my first question in regards to Tolle is how does his work deal with what Yung calls the shadow? (And you know, the shadow is not simply an archetype, but it also contains within it the violences of history stored into the cells of the body, collective memories etc.)
I'm coming at this from a non-Christian, as well. After a long period of suffering - one which I haven't entirely completed - I see that a third person which has started to emerge which I can confidently call true I. However, I have noted that this true I, or objective self, is associational. It has an intersubjective component to it. At times it is deeply interested in the other and engaged. In other words, true I (as I experience it) is not disconnected from bodily awareness and doesn't require a strategy of suppression in order to live it in daily life.
Yet I'm still not certain (as wc is) that his form of advaita is predicated on suppression. If there is evidence of dark night in his experience, and a methodology for dealing with the very real false self, I would reconsider that claim (personally).
Here's an example of what I mean by true "I" and how it might manifest in a situation, what it brings up (from my daily journal). I note this because I want to start to understand how objective self neither suppresses, nor plays out the false self:
Yesterday, I was in a mode where in observing 'I' was there the entire day. It continues today, but is lessened to some degree. When future thinking came up, everything was easier. In that moment, I was forced to make a decision: would I act on this judgment (in this case, it had to do with fear of judgment from other in an event that has not even occurred), or would I take responsibility for it? When I identified with the observer, there was a connection made between that observer and an associated feeling of suffering which I'll describe in greater detail below (i.e. there was no suppression or expression.) What came up as a result of this was a pain of me judging others. i.e. I fear judgment b/c I haven't taken responsibility for my own judging of others. Objective awareness is neither suppression, nor expression of the self -- but something else entirely.
I am also quite skeptical that objective "I" emerges from a transcendental source. Rather, I believe we are born with this true "I" and it constitutes a vector, or a movement towards God, the Beloved. Certainly, I would not equate it with God. I think it awakens us (and in an increasingly constant manner) to God's presence.
I would, however, like to read Tolle further to see how he thinks through the real dark night, or the problem of the false self.
I am also interested in how the new age has taken this sort of turn. It seems to me to be a progressive movement (if I can speak in such broad gestures). After the fragmentation of religion caused by globalizing processes, the loss of metaphysical foundations through postmodern critique, one can see why it is that people would turn to Tolle and neo-advaita. There is a real longing for authenticity, for a connection to being. I think what he might offer is simply a foundation for genuine religious practices. If people are aware of the methodolological dangers of neo-advaita, I suspect they might be able to use it productively.
I am continually intrigued, for example, at how neo-advaita strikes a chord in many Germans. I wonder why many Germans of my generation go off to India to find refuge in neo-advaita. My hypothesis is that they are attempting to sublimate a really horrific historical past. This is not confined to Germans, though. There are thousands of exiled Jewish folks, also of my generation, that seek refuge in neo-advaita.
The most obvious critique is that is that it gives the globalized person a kind of quasi mystical experience, that can help them reconnect to a nostalgia for religion in postmodernity. It allows one to dip their feet, as it were, but not actually confront their darkness.
And yes, why is it that we equate this observing self with God? Do we wish to be Gods? On the contrary, this objective awareness might allow us to disappear into God momentarily - but from this we might learn the impossibility of perfection in this absolutely fallen world.
All very good, Asher! I think if you read up more on Tolle (try wikipedia.com) you'll find that he does treat the topic of our brokenness in what he calls the "pain body," which is his way of talking about how we hold our pain and the dysfunctional thinking that goes with it. His first book, The Power of Now, dealt with that extensively.
Why do we equate our witness consciousness with God? Well, many have avoided this pitfall, though some prominent teachers like Ken Wilber don't distinguish between God and consciousness. I'm not sure Tolle makes this mistake; he does, at times, recognize that the ultimate source for the Ground of being is beyond any manifestation, but he also seems totally disinclined to do any kind of theological reflecting. In this sense, he's more like the Buddha than New Agers; Buddha, as you know, chose to be silent regarding God. But, yes: the belief that one's consciousness is God is the ultimate Ego trip!
�As you go more deeply into this realm of no-mind,
as it is sometimes called in the East, you realize
the state of pure consciousness. In that state, you feel
your own presence with such intensity and such joy
that all thinking, all emotions, your physical body,
as well as the whole external world become relatively
insignificant in comparison to it. And yet this is not a selfish
but a selfless state. It takes you beyond what you previously
thought of as "your self." That presence is essentially you
and at the same time inconceivably greater than you.
What I am trying to convey here may sound paradoxical
or even contradictory, but there is no other way that I can express it.�
I agree with that in the real �I,� the filters
may be loosened. The fact that we can still function
within this state is part of the mystery of the real �I.�
It is in that paradoxical space of inside/outside
the mechanisms of false self that the mystery of presence
arises. How is it that one can be both inside/outside?
Does this mean that inside is completely irrelevant?
Attention is naturally divided between performing functional
tasks and simultaneously connected to real �I.�
This arises effortlessly and comes with variations
of clarity. Yet, as you and others have noted, the
memory is still in tact, the mind still functions, emotions
are still alive. I think what makes me wary
of what Tolle describes above is that it is seen as the pinnacle,
you know, of enlightenment. It is this description that takes
precedence over the harder sell: mind grueling work,
bursts of insight/existential break through, dark night, more mind
grueling work. Then some clarity comes in increasing measure.
However, how is it that clarity=God? Or existential breakthough=
the pinnacle of life? How can one prove, or even theorize that it
equates to God? Or that an existential breakthrough
is �pure consciousness� which more or less equals God?
All one can rationally say with certainty is that false self is a necessary stage
(for cognitive development) and that true �self,� allows us to live freer, individuated lives.
Interesting that there is something on 'pain body.' Still, I don't see this emphasized in his work:-)
|Powered by Social Strata||Page 1 2 3 4 5|