I wanted to continue the conversation from this post I wrote on Friday. I was talking about the book I'm reading "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. Oprah did a show last week interviewing people around the world via Skype webcam allowing people to share how their lives have been affected by reading the book. One couple that Oprah interviewed shared that they had been a very wealthy family owning their dream business, dream home, dream cars, housekeepers, and anything they could ask for until 3 months or so ago they were forced to declare bankruptcy because they lost 60% of their income. The wife said that at bedtime when it was dark and she laid there in bed with her head on the pillow and it was quiet she felt this feeling of "I'm one of those people that declared bankruptcy". I can only imagine the pain that she must've felt. But then she read the book "A New Earth" and she realized that she had placed her identity in her material possessions and that those things didn't define her and actually that this bankruptcy made her realize what's really important and that she is much more alive than ever before because she is aware of the ego and she's aware of living right now in the present moment. All of her attachment to things dropped off. Her husband says she is a peaceful person now and that she sleeps better than ever. Also, they have 4 (adopted) special needs children and she said that she felt pressure to be this perfect theraputic mother to those 4 adopted children because they lost their birth mother but now she realizes after reading Tolle's book that really all she needs to truly nuture them is to be with them. To be fully present with them. She said it was so freeing for her because the strain she put on herself nearly buried her.
That's just one story of how the book has made a real and practical impact on people's lives. The stories are truly amazing - a woman with cancer, a soldier, a student overcoming weight issues, a troubled marriage, a mother/daughter relationship - to name a few. What I like about the book is that there is a depth there that goes beyond belief systems that you layer on top of what you already believe.
For me personally reading the book has taught me what the ego truly is. Tolle says that "whenever you feel inferior or superior to anyone that is the ego". He says that when a person walks into a room they subconsciously feel the need to identify and place or rank themselves within the group. This is the ego. But if we are aware of the ego - you seperate who you really are from your thoughts and your emotions and then see your thoughts almost like watching cars on a freeway then you are seperate from the ego and then can move beyond it. But he says that trying to get rid of the ego is just more ego. He says that you don't need to try to get rid of the ego because that's just more ego. Just like a millionaire can have less of an ego than a supposedly spiritual person who gives up everything they own to feed the poor. If that person who gave up everything they own then identifies with that act and thinks that they are somehow more spiritual or a better person than the millionaire then that is also ego.
It's just really freeing to me to see these behaviors within myself and know that by being aware of the ego I can move past it. Tolle says when you see the ego at work just laugh at it or if you see it at work in another don't react to it. Because that will only make it stronger.
So this brings me to how I feel that as a Christian how do you seperate the ego from thinking that only Christians have the truth? And some would say read the bible. But, I went to Bible College and I have read the bible. I've got the post-it notes and highlighted pages to prove it. But still there is a deeper question: Where did the bible come from? Who wrote it historically and how did it get decided upon and what about the countries that never heard of any of this? This is where evangelism came from but what is the true motive or what was the true motive way back when. These questions are questions that I kind of asked when I became a Christian but my experience spiritually and emotionally overwhelmed my questions. I felt at home in church and trusted the people in leadership. But now that the leadership trust has been broken I no longer take what I've been fed blindly. I want to know answers to these questions. And I think I'll find them.
It's so funny because last night on Desperate Housewives Linette decides it's time to go to church for the first time in her life and they show the idiosyncrasy of churches and thought processes around becoming a new Christian. It's funny. But at the end of the show the narrarator said something along the lines of "faith is believing in something when you don't have proof and sometimes things happen to cause you to doubt and when that happens fear comes in" - it was something to that effect. I can't remember word for word. You can watch last night's episode on abc's webite. It's so true that fear comes in when you start to doubt your faith. My husband and I have been talking all of these things through and it is kind of scary but you know what? In the end it will probably just bring us even closer to God and have even more understanding of what the truth really is.
It's the age-old religious debate. I say "religious" although I don't consider myself to be a "religious" person. I have always been one of those people that was more interested in a relationship with Christ. But how do you do that really? How is that practical? Is it by being still and meditating on his promises? Does he really speak to people? Or was Jesus just another individual who came through history to show us how to be fully aware and conscious? Ask a muslim what they believe? Do you think that suicide bombers just became that way overnight, no. It's because of where they were born, the family they were born into that developed their ego and their belief systems. But underneath all of that they are a real human being unaware of what they are truly doing. I think it's fear that holds most people to what they believe. And it's fear that holds you back sometimes from really examining questions that you have in your faith. I think that atheists are the bravest people in the world. To stare eternity in the face and think that they have it all figured out. Wow. More courage than I could ever have. Or maybe it's a lack of consciousness to their existence. I don't know and right now it's okay that I don't know. I'm living in this moment right now.