Sign’s Up!

I have a confession to make: I’ve always prided myself on my intelligence.  I considered my mind to be my greatest asset.  I’ve almost always thought my ideas were better than everyone elses’.  And contrary to what I wrote in a previous post, I do like to play the role of the expert.

I know it sounds ugly.  It pains me to admit it now. 

I share this unpleasant confession because I’ve recently become aware of my ego and the roles it likes to play.  Given what I used to think above, it may come as a surprise that I now completely agree with the following statement:

Thinking is no more than a tiny aspect of the totality of consciousness, the totality of who you are.

I owe this new-found awareness to the book I’m currently studying: A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purposeby Eckert Tolle.  That quote comes from page 130.

I’ve also been listening to the podcast archives of the New Earth webcast classes that ran earlier this year through Oprah’s Book Club.  Oprah as the host of a world-wide spirituality class – how weird is that?

I’m still reading the book, studying the class, digesting the information.  I still have a lot of ground to cover, and I don’t know how this is all going to turn out.  All that said, this book is having a huge impact on me, and I recommend it to anyone who is seeking in their spiritual journey.

A New Earth has helped me to see that I’ve been lost in my mind for the vast majority of my life.  I’ve identified with the thoughts in my head; I’ve believed those thoughts were me.  I’ve unconsciously allowed my ego to dominate me.  It has caused me to spend endless hours worrying about the future and regretting things that I’ve done in the past.

Tolle shows how focusing your attention on the now, bringing awareness to the present moment, is the key to dissolving the ego’s hold on your consciousness.  It creates a space that allows the real you, the “I am” that we all share at our core, to awaken.  As we practice presence, we live a more conscious life, no longer bound by the ego’s roles.

“But are you actually able to achieve this “awareness” in practice?” my friend Mike asked me yesterday in share group.  I understood the concern that was showing in his eyes.  All of this sounds like so much New-Age garbage.  Am I tossing away a good, Christian faith to chase after a pipe-dream?

I think the answer is, “Yes.  I am achieving awareness in practice.”

Not perfectly.  Not even well at this point, but a little more often each day. 

And as I do practice awareness, more and more serendipity is being drawn into my life.  Each time this student is ready, a teacher arrives.  For every question, the confirmations come from multiple sources.  Even the scriptures from Matthew that I’ve been reading each morning have been sparkling with new-found meaning, depth, and understanding.

Tolle contends that we’re at an evolutionary crossroads as a species.  We have reached a level of population, society, and technology where the planet can no longer support our unconscious, ego-dominated life styles anymore.  If we don’t evolve to a conscious way of living, we will over-whelm the planet with our self-inflicted problems and become extinct.

Tolle repeats over and over again in the book and the web class that the key to change as a species is for individuals to awaken to a new state of consciousness.  If enough people achieve consciousness, it will reach a critical mass, a tipping point, and that can’t be stopped.

At first that idea made absolutely no sense to me.  Don’t resist the dysfunction of our collective egos, just become still and you’ll become conscious.  What sort of a plan is that?

But then I thought of how I call for quiet during a noisy boy scout meeting: I hold up my right hand and make the scout sign.  As the scouts in the room each become aware of my sign, they become still and raise their own sign.  And the room becomes still.  It works for three people or three-thousand.

It’ll work for six-billion-plus.  Brilliant.

PS. I know this post will be a challenge to some.  Please, ask your questions in the comments section below.  Let’s see where they take us.

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4 Responses

  1. Wow, Doug, now you’ve got me scared! I’m with your friend, Mike! It appears as if you are tossing away a good, Christian faith to chase after a pipe dream. You can always spot “New Age” garbage by the way it takes the focus off God (and His message to us through Sacred Scripture and Christian Tradition) and puts it on “Self.” Self-discovery, self-awareness, etc. to the point where you become more concerned with what you can discover from within yourself than how you can know, love and serve God in this life so that you can be happy forever with Him in the next.
    Oprah has become so cought up in this new age stuff that not only is she the host of a world wide spirituality class, she is also its Lord and Messiah.
    As a student who is ready, you should always check the resume of the teacher who arrives. The prince of darkness is a very eager and enthusiastic teacher.
    Return to your Christian roots before you are overcome by the weeds!!
    Your Concerned and Loving Friend,
    Sue-Z-K-S

  2. Sue-Z-K-S x 2 !

    I couldn’t agree more with our friend Sue on this, Dugg…

    Self-awareness can be easy or complex as you want to make it.

    For the New Ager self awareness peels back layer after layer of the onion. I’m unsure if you ever find anything after all that peeling (and crying…)

    For the Christian its an easy set of equations …
    Human = Sinner
    Sinner – Christ = Eternal Loss
    Sinner + Christ = Eternal Happiness

    My question for Mr Tolle (and for you) is what do you DO with your new-found self-awareness ?

  3. @ Sue-Z-K-S & Tman11787,

    You’re both good friends, and I appreciate your honest feedback and concern. You both have a strong Christian faith, and the fruits of that faith are apparent in the lives of your families.

    Reading back through this post, I believe I tried to bite off too much. An ideal blog post is 500 words or less – anymore and you lose most readers. In my efforts to communicate my ideas, I left out a great deal of information. Read without that information, it does indeed sound self-focused.

    In truth, eliminating self-focus, or the ego as Mr. Tolle would put it, is at the core of A New Earth. Here’s a quote from the section I just read this morning:

    “…The ego asks, How can I make this situation fulfill my needs or how can I get to some other situation that will fulfill my needs?
    Presence is a state of inner spaciousness. When you are present, you ask: How do I respond to the needs of this situation, of this moment? In fact, you don’t even need to ask the question. You are still, alert, open to what is. You bring a new dimension into the situation: space. Then you look and you listen. Thus you become one with the situation. When instead of reacting against a situation, you merge with it, the solution arises out of the situation itself. Actually, it is not you, the person, who is looking and listening, but the alert stillness itself. Then, if action is possible or necessary, you take action or rather right action happens through you. Right action is action that is appropriate to the whole. When the action is accomplished, the alert, spacious stillness remains. There is nobody who raises his arms in a gesture of triumph shouting a defiant “Yeah!” There is no one whos says, “Look, I did that.”

    So far, there’s nothing in Mr. Tolle’s book that conflicts with my Christian faith, even though the terms he uses are different.

    The inner space that opens through the practice of presence makes room for something much greater than the “little me” of my ego. This “alert, spacious stillness” is far greater than me and beyond me; it’s a Presence that we all share.

    The Christian training in me wants to label this Presence as the Holy Spirit, but I hesitate to write that because labels are inadequate and restricting. As awareness creates more separation from the ego, there’s more space for Presence to live through me.

    We serve an intimate Creator. Quoting from Luke 17, “Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.’ ”

    It’s only when I’m still and focused on the present moment that I become aware of this “small, still voice.” Is this Spirit or just another trick of the self or the devil? It feels right, but who am I to judge?

    For now, I’ll continue to pursue Mr. Tolle’s teachings, and trust to God for guidance and protection.

  4. I’m glad to see people challenging Doug and his views. Many times we hear people say “I would trust him with my life.” How often can we say that we would trust someone with our afterlife?
    What is difficult to have come across in a short blog is the hours of dialogue that Doug and I have had on this topic. I have been VERY careful to listen to how he is expressing what he means. My question of “But are you actually able to achieve this “awareness” in practice?” was a challenge to make sure that he is discerning what he gleans from secular information and making that shift to Christ centered application.

    This morning our discussion brought us to an analogy of parallel lines. Doug made a comment about the somewhat common statement that all roads lead to the same place. That led me to think, do they really? You can walk a VERY similar path (a parallel line) to the right one and NEVER reach the right destination. The enemies of this world will try to mask and create paths that look right only to make them different enough to lead you in the wrong direction in the end.
    A person following an azimuth with a compass can end up in a completely different place than another enenthough they are following the same direction. Many factors come into play. From where did they start? Are there other points that they need to go to first?
    One the flip side, many paths can lead to the same point. We can all start at different places and travel through different points in our life and still end up at the same place in the end.
    The most important part is making sure that your parallel line is the right one. You can do this by making sure that it is the one with your eyes on Christ. However, that path is the most dangerous because there are MANY fake paths that look the same.
    There are also many fake compass courses that share the same path for a while eventhough they do not end up at the same place.
    I feel that Doug IS on the right path and he is gleaning from the secular information and analogies to this world and making the jump from that parallel information and using it to better see the Christ path in front of him. He is using the course plotted out for him and the times his path crosses and shares a part with the worldly evils to learn better about the road ahead of him.
    I will continue to make sure he discerns from what he reads and shares with me how to apply that to his Christian life and make it grow rather thatn how to turn it to a “me focus” and keep it internal. His internal focus, I feel, has been one of seeking out the God truths within him and how he can better keep to those truths not an internal focus on what am I doing to be better as me. I expect him to do the same for me and to challenge my ideas and interpretations of what I learn and see throughout my life experiences.

    Thanks for your comments. I hope what I have shared sheds some light on the deeper analysis that Doug has done on this subject. I am encouraged to see that there are others willing to question the answers. Lets just be careful to not throw out the baby with the bath water.

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