I remember that when I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, how difficult it was for me to get my brain around what he was trying to teach me. Oprah was conducting a course of sorts with him that I could have plugged into but didn’t because I barely knew what they were talking about. But now I am reading another book by Eckhart, A New Earth: Awaking to Your Life’s Purpose, and am amazed at how clear his teaching seem to me.
Eckhart’s teaching focuses on the discovery of the true self as distinct from the false self, or the ego. When I read The Power of Now, I was so intrenched in my own ego that I couldn’t see it. For some reason, however, I really wanted to know who I am and I went through all sorts of exercises to discover this real self. There were various methods to help me including personality tests like the Meyers-Briggs inventory and a complext process created by Carolyn Myess. I have pages and pages of journaling that give testimony to the hard work I did.
In the end, I came up blank. It was as though my true self was buried so deep within me that I couldn’t get to it. God sent me mentors, however, and one used the term “observer” as somewhat synonymous with true self. Eckhart Tolle uses the same term. For me this has been a journey from the outside to the inside. So I first came to observe my actions, then my feelings and thoughts. Tolle suggests that when you are observing all of this in the moment, that is your true self. The thing about seeing yourself as the observer is a pretty dry concept. I was disappointed when I finally got it. Is this all there is to me? There has got to be more.
In the process of observing, I couldn’t help noticing something. Within me I saw this unique bent or tendency. This person I was watching has this unique tendency to write stuff down all the time. She’s been doing this since she was a child. She’s writes stories and journals like crazy. She is forever making notes of things she sees and hears and experiences as she goes about her days. She uses writing to communicate with others as a blogger or letter writer. This tendency to write is kind of compulsion. She can’t help herself. She writes whether anyone reads her words or not.
In looking out into the world, I see that other people have their own unique tendencies or compulsions. Artists of any kind. Why do they do the particular art they do? Why does one play with paint, another clay or metal? Why does one find themselves drawn to making music or to creating gadgets to make life easier for people? Where does the curiosity of the scientist come from or the historian or the philosopher? Observing these unique bents in myself and others, I can’t help but think there is more to the true self than just the observer.
I am still pondering this “more” of the self. It is a curiosity that in some way delights me. My sense is that it is a spiritual thing. I think about the Creator of all. As the story goes, God breathed into the body of man and woman God’s own spirit. I find myself linking this Divine Spirit with that part of self that is unique. In other words, the creative self is actually a part of the Creator made manifest in the world. God dispersed Godself into creation. If what I am thinking here has a truth in it, then it seems to me that if we want to understand or experience the Divine, we best be open to God in all of creation or we are apt to miss something of God. And if we want the world to experience God, we best honor our own bents as we go about living our lives here on earth.
These are pretty deep thoughts for a Saturday morning. I don’t know where such thoughts come from, but it is time to move on into my day.