What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Ego?

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What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Ego?

Postby brighthope » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:12 am

Hi there,
It's not just Tolle's teaching but many other spiritual teachers talk about how your "thought" or "voice in the head" is not true you and it is a form of Ego.I understand this especially when your thought comes automatically. However I don't know if he (or other teachers) include conscious thought.

For example, when I try to understand something, I use my thought/brain/logic. If someone (could be you!) replies to this question then I will read it and think about it and possibly come back with another question. While I'm doing that, "thought" would be in my head. Would it be my Ego?

How about when I make a decision, even a simple thing like "Should I stay or should I go"? I would be thinking of Pros and Cons, thinking of all the possible scenarios of the each decision and I will pick which I think is best/better. Throughout the process, I'm "thinking." Is it my Ego?
Sometimes this process is painful (depending on the situation) and can't decide either and the same pattern of thought keeps coming. This seems like Ego to me. But without this "thinking" how will I reach to my decision?

I "thought" about it :mrgreen: and I thought what those teachers are saying is that the problem is when you identify yourself with the thought and it's OK if I don't identify with it. Maybe this understanding is right but even so I still have to be in this world (if not "of" this world) and I will be in the situation where I have to make a conscious decision. If I don't identify with my thought then how will I make a decision? ( I do meditation or quiet my mind for the answer to come, but in a lot of cases I still don't know the "answer" after I mediate etc.).
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby Webwanderer » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:12 am

My take is that all of your 'thought' questions and logical analysis are an aspect of ego. But that is not an indictment of ego. It's simply a recognition of perspective. Logic and analysis is predominately a perspective based in thought. It's good as far as it goes but true clarity comes from another source of knowing.

The reality is that we are not what we think we are. Logical analysis is born of thought constructs about self and life conditions. Understand, there is nothing wrong with ego. We all live through it to one degree or another while in this human form. It's part of the exploration and evolution of being.

If you want clarity beyond egoic analysis pay attention to how you feel when considering options. We have a feeling nature as well as an analytical one. How we feel is more a matter of alignment with our greater nature. We can feel (if we are not locked into an outcome) what our best course of action is if we can get quiet of mind enough to sense it clearly.

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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby smiileyjen101 » Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:04 am

My take may have slight differences to webby's (& that's okay too, we both love (gratitude & generosity) our, and each other's egos lol!!).

It's not just Tolle's teaching but many other spiritual teachers talk about how your "thought" or "voice in the head" is not true you and it is a form of Ego.

Firstly no one else can know what is 'true' for us. It's not the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and it may not be true for anyone else, but by our awareness, and/or capacity, and/or willingness to know the whole truth, it may still be true for us. For this I love Don Miguel Ruiz's fifth agreement - be sceptical, but listen. Hold our thoughts with scepticism - open mindedness, curiosity, rather than zealousness as if it is the truth, and the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This allows us to hold our thoughts lightly, let them come and go, and flow on one for however long and change when needs or awareness, capacity and/or willingness changes.

Our perspectives and experiences of the world are streamlined 'down' 'thinner' more 'myopic' more 'personally' that the totality of the 'it' (whatever aspect of it we are deciding about). It's a funnel effect from the widest possible awareness to the narrowest possible awareness.

Think of an ocean flowing through a cave opening - it's not the whole ocean, but it is still the ocean. Our awareness and the totality doesn't go anywhere, we just funnel the stimuli as is relevant to us.

Of all the thoughts you 'could' have, you are having the thoughts filtered by your individual, independent to a degree, thoughts about....

And, nothing wrong with this. It is how we do decide and do. Ego is not a dirty word, it's absolutely important and if ET did not have an ego and use it he would not have written a book or spoken at any of his events or anything else after getting out of bed. Our logical reasoning, as Einstein said, and our ego as many have said, are wonderful servants, but terrible masters.

So then you can learn to see the funnelled information as 'part of' not all of the possible perspectives about whatever it.

What we can become aware of with the ego is that it is working with, viewing and deciding within the funnelled information. It's not all the information, just as the ocean in the cave is not all the ocean, it is still information.

A key and very important signpost for me in recognising what is ego in action and what is awareness in action is in ET's ANE book in the section about awakened doing. If one is making enemy, obstacle, or means to an end of a thing, situation or person ----- this is undoubtedly ego taking over - ego now being the master, not the wonderful servant that it can be.

It's likely while ego is playing master that awareness doesn't even realise it, but we can learn from the suffering we experience and the suffering we create to those around us (especially the one we've made enemy, obstacle, or means to an end of) when this is happening. By becoming 'aware' of this, we are widening our experiences and our awareness. Holding space just a little wider for just a little longer.

The signs of awakened doing (even deciding, thinking etc - which becomes more gentle, more curiosity than certainty, more awarely experimental than dogmatic - if I think this then what..... >>>> follow the flow... oops, that's not where I wanted to go, what then if I think this >>>> ).

ET describes the three modalities of awakened doing (which obviously includes our rational thinking in the absence of making enemy, obstacle, means to an end of a thing, person, or situation) as being in modes of either acceptance - it (whatever it is being thought about or enacted) is what it is, and this action/response is required of me in this moment.
Enjoyment - pouring joy into whatever it is - so here you're starting to co-create with 'it' because there is still love (gratitude & generosity) underlying the movement.
Enthusiasm - when you are the arrow flying towards the target, pouring joy into the moments along the way either accepting or enjoying.

You can play with this immensely on any 'thought' or 'doing' activity you encounter - cleaning the toilet, making a bed, going to work, greeting a stranger, watching the tv news.... anything
- first role play making enemy of whatever is the subject of your thought, argue with it, demean it, curse it, demonstrate what an enemy it is to your peace levels, draw your thoughts tighter and tighter into your own perspective - you are CEO of the whole universe and your myopic pov is the only one that should (should and shouldn't by the way is a big clue that you're arguing with reality) be listened to.

then make obstacle of it, all the reasons you cannot be happy lead back to this. victim thoughts are key here.
make means to an end of it, trade with it instead of co-create with it - oppositions are the key here, separation is a key and holding peace and happiness at a distance dependent upon a particular set of circumstances are key here - happiness cannot be experienced now, it will occur when....

Your logical reasoning will play along, your wider awareness will play along, the whole universe will play along and your ego will have a ball!!! It's all just a role play.

Then take the same 'exercise' and instead role play accepting it - it is what it is in this moment, and this is what is required of me. If there is a choice between two or more options / responses actions - which one serves your and others' highest self, which one is the most universally true - that is true for you and true for others when there is no ego involved no myopic 'me' - which one is love in action (& I mean real love, not co-dependent or enabling fear or abusive stuff).
Then pour joy into it be in it with your whole being, sing your favourite song, dance on the doing... have selfless fun with it.
Then see yourself as the arrow flying toward the intended target, singing and dancing and accepting the not quite what I had been aware of, and deciding whether accepting or changing course/thoughts/responses are within your capacity and willingness - ET says the only 'sane' responses are accept, change, or remove yourself from the situation. None of these make enemy, obstacle, or means to an end of a thing, person or situation.

You'll learn from your 'off-course' experiences. If you're getting the experience you want then you are flying, if you're not, go back to the beginning - figure out whether you can accept, change or remove yourself (or the thought / plan etc), pour joy into that and fly as the arrow.

Webby loves to remind us, 'sin' is merely being off-target. For me the bed of sin is merely 'wrong thinking' - not judgementally 'wrong', merely inaccurate - thinking being the seed of the action / response. As soon as we recognise our 'sin' there is no thing to forgive, we merely widen our awareness and correct our thinking and therefore our response.

I can suggest - ET's Modalities of Awakened Doing section in ANE; Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements and the Fifth Agreement; and Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God (particularly book 2) for what love really is.

By merely asking this question, your awareness has widened out, and your arrow has left the bow :D
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby phantombaz » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:26 am

when we think about past and future in relation to our self, any from of negativity.
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby brighthope » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:35 pm

Thank you for your replies.

@WW and smiileyjen101
Thank you for your answers. I think you are both saying something similar. I think I understand both of your perspectives, but I still have questions. If you don't mind clarifying them, it would be really appreciated.

(1)There is nothing wrong with Ego, and we are living with it one degree or another. Ego is a good servant but a terrible master. I think I understand that. Also ET wouldn't be teaching us if he didn't have his Ego. Fair enough. But that said the best thing is that true clarity comes from a another source of knowing, right? However, "true clarity" rarely comes to me in daily life. But when clarity doesn't come, I have to think, and, in a lot of cases I "suffer." What I mean is when my decision doesn't come from "Clarity" then I second-guess. Even if I "decide" just to move on my mind tells me "Was that really the best decision?" etc. That's suffering. It's like putting on the brakes and the accelerator at the same time. I try to calm my mind, meditate, wait for an answer/clarity to come, but it often doesn't (in rare cases it does though). So...I don't really know how I move on in my life. I mean, I still function well in this world, not that I get depressed or anything. But when clarity doesn't come from another source, then should I just depend on my thought=Ego ?

(2) It seems like that some spiritual teachers say you can live with your Ego - using it as a servant. I have heard/read many different opinions about it and some teachers do say that eradicating your Ego is the final "goal." I imagine that it would be your life being in the flow and clarity comes to you all the time not by thinking, but by deep sense of knowing. "Thought" is still used but limited to when you solve purely logical questions or math or something. In this case thought is not Ego but just a brain function(?). I thought ET was in the latter camp(?). I may be wrong about ET. I think, overall (including (1)) my question is what to do when I don't have "clear knowing" and the only option is thinking.

Sorry it seems my writing is all over the place but I hope you can more or less understand what I'm trying to say/ask here. :)
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby Webwanderer » Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:44 pm

brighthope wrote:What I mean is when my decision doesn't come from "Clarity" then I second-guess. Even if I "decide" just to move on my mind tells me "Was that really the best decision?" etc. That's suffering.

That is the type of question that is not just an honest question we ask of self. It comes with a quality of judgment or condemnation that we might be 'wrong'. Horrids! Wrong? How awful of me.

Your 'job' is not to be right, it's to learn to perceive clearly, and those matters where it 'seems' we choose wrong are just as valuable, if not more so, than when we seem to choose right. Suffering has its origin in judgment and condemnation, not choice.

It's like putting on the brakes and the accelerator at the same time. I try to calm my mind, meditate, wait for an answer/clarity to come, but it often doesn't (in rare cases it does though). So...I don't really know how I move on in my life.

Be okay with however it comes out. Being okay with life as it is takes the pressure off. That doesn't mean you don't prefer a better condition, only that the one present is okay. It is your emotional investment with some issue being a certain way in order to be happy that sets the stage for suffering.

Emotions (including suffering) are messengers that the way we are perceiving is out of alignment with that of our true nature. Applying new meaning, or being okay with things, is the way back to alignment and a more enjoyable experience of life.

(2) It seems like that some spiritual teachers say you can live with your Ego - using it as a servant.

Understand the context here. You, in your ego perspective, are not going to use ego in the way you are thinking. It's ego doing the thinking. I suggest you forget the idea of using ego all together. Rather recognize your human experience as a mind created adventure and exploration. There's no right or wrong in the greater sense, there's only experience based on how we interact with life.

Don't get caught up in the 'right' way. Rather do and think in ways that feel best. That genuinely good feeling of appreciation and joy are your guides to alignment and a fun life. Watch the meanings you apply to stuff. How do those meanings make you feel? If you don't like an experience, change the meaning through which you perceive it. It's in your power to do so, although it may take a bit of practice. A better more enjoyable life is awaiting your choices. Feel your way to clarity.

I have heard/read many different opinions about it and some teachers do say that eradicating your Ego is the final "goal."

I say nonsense. Have you ever met anyone without an ego? Ego is the identified thought constructs through which we perceive our human life. We get in the habit however, of assuming only those with 'negative' personifications have egos. There are those who live through love and appreciation that have their own belief constructs through which they perceive life. Joy and happiness does not indicate lack of ego, only lack of negative ego.

Recognize ego for what it is. From an ego perspective, you are what you think you are, and the way you think from that base influences the experience your have. You can mold ego by focusing thought in specific ways and applying meaning that works for you. You're going to do it anyway - either through existing conditioning, or by choosing through preference. Which do you prefer?

I imagine that it would be your life being in the flow and clarity comes to you all the time not by thinking, but by deep sense of knowing. "Thought" is still used but limited to when you solve purely logical questions or math or something. In this case thought is not Ego but just a brain function(?).

If you imagine it that way it will likely begin to appear that way. My experience is that there is more balance. Thinking is far more useful than 'purely' logic and math. Consider. Explore this word/concept. Consideration to me is a blending of thought and feeling. Thought forms unique concepts, and feeling explores the quality of those concepts. The way if feels offers direction. So long as I don't have a strong investment in some idea, or at least recognize that investment as a possibility, I can get the best of both aspects of consideration.

'Consider'/explore this for a while. Apply both thought and feeling to develop a concept of something that interests you, back and forth, adjusting thought and feeling until you feel the best blend. See if it doesn't offer some clarity.

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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby smiileyjen101 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:35 am

Love Webby's response :D

So...I don't really know how I move on in my life. I mean, I still function well in this world, not that I get depressed or anything. But when clarity doesn't come from another source, then should I just depend on my thought=Ego ?


You've noticed, when you are second guessing yourself you are not in the moment - in the 'now'. Clarity can only be when your awareness, capacity and willingness is focussed in the now.

As Phantombaz pointed to, clarity can only wholly appear NOW and about NOW - right here in this moment.
If you're having second thoughts about something in the past, or trying to imagine something into the future, or how things might have been had you chosen differently - you are not THERE, you are somewhat distanced from it, so the clarity and the accuracy can be that much 'off'. (think of that arrow flying towards a target, even a slight deviation can have it land miles away from the target :wink:)

Say you are second-guessing something- accept that our mind does that, you need not necessarily invest heavily in it. If you bring your awareness back to here, now - here, now I am second guessing something - a choice I did take and am experiencing the natural unfolding consequences of, and a path that I didn't take that I can only 'imagine' what that experience might have been. Accepting that you are splitting your awareness into real and imaginary, explains why it doesn't feel so solid. So the accepting then is not even about the path that you took, but that it's natural to imagine and query other paths as well.

An ego making an enemy, obstacle, means to an end, of either choice, is going to feel scary/negative. And that, is just the natural unfolding consequence of entertaining those thoughts. (no thing wrong here, just natural, when you've had enough of that mind will find something else to focus on :wink: ).

by phantombaz » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:26 pm

when we think about past and future in relation to our self, any from of negativity.


2. my question is what to do when I don't have "clear knowing" and the only option is thinking.

Then think clearly :D If it seems to much for me, I tend to ask - what would love do now? (often times love says give yourself a break, nothing's happened yet and you want the guarantees of how it will unfold?... are you willing to live it?)

Very much, if you are making enemy, obstacle, means to an end of a thing, person or situation...... acknowledge the CEO of the Universe (ego) is taking a stand (need a flag raising smiley here!), let it have its time, thank it for the input, and then ask to hear from your heart/soul/or wider perspective. Yes the brain sorts these things out and manifests in thought what it thinks you want to hear - whatever it is it thinks you want to hear.

The first of Don Miguel Ruiz's agreements - Be impeccable with your word - explains this really well, how to 'catch' the automatic thoughts/voices we've been programmed with, to accept they are there, but not build our houses/lives on them.

What would love do now / say now - calls our highest self to our attention. Then we only need to figure out if we have the capacity and the willingness to do and think as our highest self would have for us. As ET says, if it's causing suffering, it's ego fed by fear. If it's not causing suffering, it's clarity as clear as it can be from this place/time/awareness/capacity/willingness.

Use the enemy, obstacle, means to an end clue to figure out which is which.
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby brighthope » Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:46 pm

Thank you both for your replies.
At this point I read only WW's reply and I'll comment on/reply to that (I read smiileyjen101's reply too, but haven't deeply enough yet).

It seems everyone has different ideas about what Ego is and there is a confusion (at least to me) because of it.
I can't really either agree or disagree with the notion there is such a thing as Ego less life. You asked me if I know anyone who doesn't have an ego, and my answer would be I don't know. What appears outside is never who they really are so there might be such a person. If you'd say Buddha or Jesus (if historical or biblical descriptions are correct) still had an ego (although positive ones) and that's why they did what they did then sure there is no one without an ego :) but it might just be a matter of semantics.

I'm not really thinking of "right" and "wrong." I'd actually be the first one to say there is no such a thing at least in this world. (Though in ANE Tolle warns us about the danger of relativism and there is the "truth,") But sure, there are times when I think about "right or wrong." I never know the "right" answer, for example, for the cameraman's dilemma, that is which they should do help a victim or take a photo to spread it to the world. Probably ET would say if you live moment by moment then whichever you choose it is OK and the only moment you have to decide it is when you actually face that kind of a situation. I agree with it.

What's a bit confusing me right now is that your message is a bit different from ET's message about Ego and thought. I can't really verbalize it. Your advice is great as your advice :) so it's not about that. Just it seems like ET himself talks more about "getting rid of your Ego."
When someone said to him "My question is about an Ego, which you don't have anymore" or something jokingly (and everyone laughed), ET didn't deny it. It doesn't really mean just by itself that ET thinks he doesn't have an Ego, but I have had an impression that ET's message is Ego is not really your friend and thought is an aspect of Ego. So asking about "thought" here from the perspective of ET's messages, I'm a bit confused about using "thought" in a positive way.

Incidentally I have noticed in the "spiritual" world there are generally speaking two schools of thought about it. One talks more about having a better experience in this world (or, some say dream a better dream) and the other talks more about "waking up/enlightend." I am not saying which way is better (I don't really know) - just I've noticed about it. And as you can imagine the former camp talks more about healthy Ego and the latter camp talks more about getting enlightened, ego less life and such.

Thank you for your reply again.
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby smiileyjen101 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:02 am

I can see your dilemma bright hope. I found ET's work highlighted egocentric behaviours/thoughts etc well, that I would say is when the ego is the master.

There are indeed many different 'labels' around ego. I'd have to be in the 'healthy ego' camp. I truly have not met or seen anyone who does not know they are an individual, therefore... for that part, however small or however large, ego (sense of 'I') does exist - even for ET and the sages you mentioned.

I learned something very wonderful from watching and listening to the Dali Lhama - he takes his 'role' seriously, but not him 'self', if that makes sense.

It's like the 'roles' are like tattoos they may be permanent on the skin (for our life), but the skin is not permanent (neither is this life), so they're really only 'temporary' for the duration :wink:
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby brighthope » Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:00 pm

@smiileyjen101

Thank you for your replies, and sorry it took me a while to get back.
It is interesting that you ask yourself "what would love do now?" because I use the exact same question when I don't know what to do sometimes :)

Anyway, I'm glad that you were able to see my dilemma.

It seems like a lot of spiritual teachers are talking about "surrendering, letting go" and when you do it some divine power takes over and life happens not by you, but for you and through you. I think when it happens it is no longer "small self = Ego" but "Big self = divine" that is in charge of your life. I think, this is an ideal and then the life starts to flow. I have read many anecdotes or teaching about it. I thought ET was talking about something similar as well. In the end it leads to a "happier dream" too so they may just be saying the same thing from a different angle :)

Anyway thank you again for your comments/replies and some reading suggestions.I have read some of the books you recommended and it is interesting except for ET, the other books (Conversations with God, 4 agreements) have already been (in my head) categorized in the "better dream/healthy ego" camp books! :mrgreen:
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby smiileyjen101 » Sun Apr 03, 2016 6:08 am

Just read the above :D
the quality of asking what would love do now also depends on your construct of what love is / does.
For this I love Don Miguel Ruiz's notion --- Love (lurrrvvvvff) is the equilibrium of gratitude and generosity.

How this links into other great minds / ideas for me is love being the antidote to fear - and ego and fear go hand in hand.

I don't mean fear in a fright - evaluation of a (real, actual, in this moment) situation, I mean fear of what if, rather than what is.
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby Fore » Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:56 pm

smiileyjen101 wrote:
I don't mean fear in a fright - evaluation of a (real, actual, in this moment) situation, I mean fear of what if, rather than what is.

Every thought produces a corresponding sensation linked to a particular vibration. A mental formation or "energetic entity" as eckhart teaches.
Now I am taught that there are different types of these. Some of these energetic entities are reacted to strongly it is like chiseling a line in rock,they will pass away but takes a long long long time. Others are like drawing a line in the sand they to pass away but still require some time. There are also entities that are like drawing a line on the water they pass away very quickly. I have also heard the reference that some arise so fast as it is akin to the flapping of a birds wings, as fast as they arise they pass away.
This last type is the type produced by an enlightened being, egoic reaction can take place(a bus is coming towards me, I better move) but there is no clinging to this egoic entity that arises, it instantly is let go of, there is no back chatter(how could that bus driver do that he almost killed me. ).
When egoic reaction is refined to this level when the body passes away there is no fuel to generate another birth. For all of us here there is a combination of different egoic entities that we have not entirely let go of. We are not simply being, we are continuously generating ego some heavier and some lighter. Honesty with oneself and continuous looking one can witness this process and learn to lighten the thoughts we produce through experiential wisdom.
Moving out of the way of a bus can take an instant (fear in this moment)or you can carry and relive this experience for lifetimes(fear of what if).
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby smiileyjen101 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 1:37 am

Well said Fore.

I liken the awareness of this 'process' as recognising the distance between our expectations and our reality.

Disappointment and the emotions of grief as described by Elisabeth Kubler Ross can arise and be processed into the reconciliation of the distance, bringing us back to equilibrium.

It's not that it won't happen at varying rates of holding on or letting go, that seems to be variable as well.

When it is happening in awareness, it has a different quality of experience to it occurring in unawareness.
Once, or if, we recognise it as it is we can then fully experience it, without fear.

I don't know about the correlation to "When egoic reaction is refined to this level when the body passes away there is no fuel to generate another birth."

It appeared to me in the 'light' (nde) that sans body - (I appreciate that's clumsy biologically) all and everything is experienced simultaneously, without even need for elements of it to pass, or to judge in isolation.

And with it, that life (physical incarnation) is also nothing to fear or favour, it just is. It's just is one of a myriad of expressions and experiences of creation itself. Not even something to graduate from, or seek to avoid.

Which is maybe my benign (as in not tightly held), awareness of, but distance from, the notions of some linear progression ideology.
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby Fore » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:13 am

Understand that birth(mental formations) are occurring trillions of times in the wink of an eye. It is because of this pace that we cannot see this clearly and we see ourselves as unchanging permanent structures. When Tolle was asked what happens after the body dies he replied "I don't give it any thought" there is no attachment to this form and so it is free to dissolve without any clinging towards it.
When the body of a fully awakened one passes there is no desire for future or to cling to past, there is simply present awareness of this moment.
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Re: What does "thought" mean exactly when Tolle says it's Eg

Postby Webwanderer » Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:04 pm

Fore wrote:When Tolle was asked what happens after the body dies he replied "I don't give it any thought" there is no attachment to this form and so it is free to dissolve without any clinging towards it.

Did Tolle actually say this? I'd love to see the source of your quote. I don't know how anyone, especially such a considerate thinker as Tolle, not give any thought to such a pervasive subject. Maybe there is more in the context than the isolated quote suggests.

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