Did that get your attention? I’ve been thinking about this all week. It’s Eckard Tolle’s fault. As you know I’m listening to The Power of Now, thanks to my brother Andy. Funny, Pat’s brother, Richard gave us a copy when we were in Paul Roux. I really did try to read it, but found it too heavy or maybe I was ‘heavy’ and couldn’t hear it at that point.
The essence of Tolle’s argument,as I hear it, is that our egos take on a life of their own and are, like all living things, very invested in survival. In defining ourselves by things, places, relationships, culture, achievements we strengthen this identity and it gets very threatened very often. He says that the source of our anger, resistance, avoidance and negative emotion is the ego’s fear of not surviving. (I’m using ego because it feels vaguely Freudian to me, he uses the term ‘the pain-body’, which actually works better because it is something one acquires through life rather than something that is a ‘natural’ development like Freud proposed.)
It is the ego/pain-body’s concern about survival that rushes into play whenever we stop thinking and just are for a second.
That’s the meaning of my header which is a quotation from Tolle. The ego or mind is not who we are. Our beingness is who we are. At least this theory, if it is a theory and not a truth, explains a couple of things to me.
a) My road rage – not extreme enough to involve baseball bats but certainly carries a lot of invective. Sometimes it is a reaction to real threats to survival but often, I observe, it’s more to do with my perception of another driver’s unconsciousness, arrogance, lack of consideration, dominating behaviour. My life is not at stake, but my sense of who I am and how I deserve to be treated, is.
b) Another thing it sort of explains is this sense of living in two places, that I have had since the diagnosis. The living dyingly idea that I posted before. One place is the daily issues of dogfood and actual work. The other is the a much bigger and peaceful place of knowing that it’s all OK, and a sense of a vast aliveness beyond my understanding that is highly trustable. Now I’ll come out as areligious/agnostic. I’m sceptical of religious dogma that seems to stop people from thinking for themselves (mind?) yet all my life I have felt connected to something more. I like Richard Bach’s term “The Is”. It’s not parental in anyway, at least in my experience. It’s more like pure energy and aliveness. Tolle calls it the “Unmanifested”.
c) The other bit that kind of makes sense is as a sort of explanation for why for e.g. a cancer diagnosis or any other completely unpredictable tragic event happens. Basically something like that throws one into a place where thought as a mechanism to manage one’s life and identity is impossible. It forces one into the space of just being and experiencing the Now, which is maybe why there is this weird ambiguity of experiencing Blessing/Grace/Love in the midst of what seems should be Terror/Pain/Fear.
Ag I don’t know whether this makes sense at all, and even if it is supposed to. Maybe the hope of making sense is the ultimate “magical thinking”.
It does raise some issues for me about the value of having studied the shaping of identity for so many years, and now wondering if it is inimical to ubuntu or whether there is a middle space where social fear/pain/anger are not daily experiences.
Anyway, I thought I’d try to capture it. It certainly has made the time fly as I sip my ‘breakfast’ dye before the CT scan this morning. I’ll only get the results next Monday when I see Dr Landers and find out whether I continue with the current chemo regime or he changes it.
Would love to be able to be in the self-study workshop with Joan Walton and Marian Naidu, along with my students and colleagues. Maybe this is a kind of self-study also!