Hello, this is a long thread, and I must confess that I didn’t read all of it.
A little background before I offer “my” perspective which is similar to Webwanderer’s perspective. In the 1980’s I was involved with guru-based nondual teachings. I became interested in such teaching after I had an experience where amongst other things I understood that I am the beingness that is aware of my body-based life. Eventually I found that many of the gurus I knew about were not as wise and all knowing as I assumed. This enabled me to have the freedom of mind to thoroughly question what the gurus I knew of said. Some of the things they said sounded correct, but not everything. There was also the matter of their not speaking of significant spiritual points, that one would expect a spiritual master to speak about.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll dispense with an explanation of all of my experiences, and instead speak of two of them. One night I was meditating and I wondered what it is like to be a being who is aware of a lot of information all at once. Suddenly I experienced myself as an Oversoul/higher self being. I was aware of numerous incarnations at once. It wasn’t difficult to be aware in such a way, because my awareness was much more expanded than usual, yet I still felt like I was “me,” minus a physical body.
Going by what I have been able to figure out, the source of everything, call this being God if you like, figured out a way to use his own being to create the rest of us, and we now exist as many souls. The more we make conscious contact with our Soul while in this world, the more we’ll find that it exists in an expansive and quite capable higher self/oversoul kind of way. When we reunite with this Oversoul, sometime after our body dies, our uniqueness as an extension of our Oversoul won’t be eliminated. Rather, we will become privy to all of the knowledge and wisdom our Oversoul and Soul Group has acquired.
One night I was meditating and I wondered what “Oneness” means. Suddenly I found myself walking down a city street (not physically). I was very happy and excited because I understood that we are all “One Self.” I walked up to strangers and hugged them, and they hugged me back, because they too understood that we are One Self. Then I leaned to hug my mother and we didn’t experience ourselves as One Self, because we viewed each other according to mother/son identities, rather than as One Self. Then I went to hug a lady I found attractive, and she also found me attractive, and we didn’t experience each other as One Self, because we viewed each other according to man/woman concepts, rather than as One Self.
When this experience was over I understood that it isn’t a sense of self that causes us to feel separate from each other, it is self-centered viewpoints that do so. If it wasn’t for the fact that we do in fact exist as unique beings, we couldn’t share love and oneness with each other in a substantial way, because, how could insubstantial beings do such a thing? They could only share delusion, and certainly divine love and oneness are more than a delusion. I have found that we are one and many at the same time.
A key factor is that the awareness, mind and creative aspects of being cannot be separated from each other. It is impossible for such a thing to be done. Therefore, when the mind and creative aspects of being create something, such something does in fact exist for as long as it does so, because it has an origin that is real and that does in fact exist.
As I stated earlier, going by what I found, each of us does in fact exist as a unique being, soul, that was created by the source of everything. When it comes to a body-based identity, this is somewhat arbitrary, because, for example, a person who incarnated as a body-based person and assumed the role of a rock musician, could’ve just as well incarnated as jazz musician. A temporary imagined identity isn’t key, the knowledge and wisdom gained is. For example, a rock musician might learn that love and true fulfillment isn’t obtained by receiving adoration from his fans. Rather, they are found spiritually.
When I read Mr. Tolle’s Power of Now book, I get the sense that people probably interpret what he says in different ways. Some people will conclude that only the awareness aspect of being is valid, our mind aspect of being doesn’t have anything to do with who we are, and that we don’t exist as individuals. Other people might conclude that when a person tunes into his (or her) presence, he uses a portion of the mind that belongs to him and nobody else, to bring the rest of his mind into subsidence, so he can become more aware of the more formless part of himself. Going by some of the discussions at this forum and other places, it seems as if people do interpret what Mr. Tolle wrote, in both of the ways I described, albeit, with some differences from what I said.
It seems as if Mr.Tolle’s words represent both perspectives. When he speaks of ego, it seems as if he was influenced by ACIM. I am not a fan of this course. It is interesting that Mr. Tolle has referred to this course, because on page 141 of “The Power of Now” (first paperback edition, section called “The True Nature of Space and Time”) he wrote:
“What appears to us as space in our universe perceived through the mind and the senses is the Unmanifested itself, externalized. It is the body of God. And the greatest miracle is this: That stillness and vastness that enables the universe to be is not just out there in space—it is also within you.”
ACIM on the other hand says that not only did God not create this world and the universe, he is not even aware of its existence. I don’t agree with this at all. I have found that God’s beingness is very present in this world. Our essential nature is made up of this beingness. I have found that the more I have embraced my uniqueness, the gift of my soul that God has provided me with, the more I have been able to feel his love and presence, and the divine presence of everyone else. I am able to do so to a much more significant extent, than when I was involved with nondual teachings in the 1980s and wouldn’t allow myself consider things beyond the perspectives such teachings provided. I have found that the more I take responsibility for my mind aspect of being and change it for the better rather than deny it, the more I have grown spiritually. It seems to me that when Mr. Tolle speaks of the pain body, he is suggesting that people deal with aspects of their minds that are troublesome. The more that we do so, the more we’ll be able to enjoy “now.”