Wrapping up this round of posts on the arts with a few more, beginning with these short video clips in which six teachers share their perspectives on the role of art and the artist in society. Teachings of this type have deeply informed my mindful journey back into the world of form and have helped me to glimpse the larger human story embedded in all works of art and creation.
What happens to our sense of ‘me’ after death? Does our consciousness reincarnate in another form to live another life? How should we prepare for our death – and what does that even mean? Insights of the type shared by these six teachers in this video gallery helped me discover a new perspective from which to grapple with such questions about the transformation that is death.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (2006)
Immediately upon gaining even a small understanding of the awakening experience, I began wondering what my new role in this world would be. Wondering ... then worrying ... then planning ... then trying not to plan. Over the weeks, 'wondering' became 'impatience' and I turned to my growing stack of books in the queue for any about 'purpose'.
“Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.” ― Eckhart Tolle, 'A New Earth'But as Eckhart explains at the start of this book, the 'purpose' in question is 'awakening'. And as millions of people have come to find out, Eckhart is very effective at crafting the verbal pointers to help awaken the mind to the Now. Though I had already awoken, as it were, the book still helped me identify the things within me, my life, and my way of thinking that must have shifted to allow this profound encounter to make its way past my egoic self. So even if the book did not hand me the keys to unlock a specific purpose (damn!), it definitely helped propel me down the path to further clarity about the awakening itself. Good stuff.
Eckhart is a German-born spiritual teacher now living in Vancouver, BC. He may be one of the most popular non-dual teachers in the world and two of his several books - Power of Now and A New Earth - have each sold millions of copies. His teachings, which are informed by many traditions, focus on helping the individual recognize both the egoic sense of identity and the core awareness as separate entities within the mind. Eckhart provides a number of instructions to help one minimize the energy given to the ego in favor of bringing forth awareness, true insight and awakening.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” --Eckhart Tolle, 'A New Earth'What's been helpful: First, there are a lot of Eckhart's teachings available - his website features hours and hours of presentations, meditations and interviews and YouTube offers a whole bunch more. While I had earlier come across snippets of his videos and writings, I was not aware of the nature of his teachings until early this year - and then they were like a balm for a confused psyche. Eckhart's style is usually calm, quiet and largely non-dramatic and his insightful, powerful teachings include effective lessons about the ego; how it is formed, how it negatively influences our perceptions and therefore our actions, and most importantly, how to extricate oneself from egoic control. I found his writings and seminars as more like practical advice and less like spiritual texts; things I could do instead of just new ideas to contemplate. I consider Eckhart's teaching to be an excellent primer on the nature of ego and awareness and the role each play in the human life.
Eckhart is conversant in a number of spiritual traditions and asserts that, in their basic form, these traditions are all pointing to the same truth of a single shared awareness, a message which deeply resonates with me post-awakening. And he is careful to remind his audience that his own words are also just pointers to help you find your own truth. Having studied so many texts and teachings, Eckhart often gives examples from multiple traditions when illustrating a concept, providing the uninitiated with interesting glimpses into a number of ancient beliefs and how their messages are related.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (2004)
Eckhart begins this book with the story of how he came to be a spiritual teacher before going on to write that this book represents the essence of his work. Since it was written in 1999, some may wonder if this statement still holds true. Having listened now to many an hour of his recent meditations and lectures, I'd agree that this book captures the essence of the wisdom Eckhart Tolle is still sharing today with audiences around the world. He uses a Q&A format, the content coming from lectures, counseling sessions, and seminars. I found this format to be a penetrating way of shining a light on the illusory nature of ego and the nature of the true self. The book also provides numerous practical teachings on how access and stay connected to our true nature.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” --Eckhart Tolle, 'The Power of Now:'What I especially appreciated about this book is the straight-forward, eye-to-eye nature of the writing, perhaps because the message is not always easy to take. Accepting the 'death' of the ego identity is experienced as a substantial challenge by most people; this book provides the mental concepts - the pointers - to more clearly perceive the egoic self and awaken from its illusion.