Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Chunk Of Zen

(Originally Posted on WordPress, October 3, 2008)

This is interesting. After just a few days I’ve started to notice something.

There was always a reactivity about me. I was always good in arguments. I used to see flaws in other people's thoughts, in their ideas. I'd take people down, be the clever one. It was like crack to me. I could hardly resist the urge to explain or expound.

There’s something about me now. It’s hard to describe. It’s the ‘presence’ that Tolle’s talking about, but there’s a difference to it. anyone can experience that. Just pick up a copy of Power Of Now - you’ll know what I’m talking about before you get to page 5.

It’s like a deep undercurrent of chill that flows through everything I do. And here’s the thing - I have no control over it. It’s interesting, because it’s not like “I am really chilled out” as such. It’s like this project is building up an inertia of something inside me.

I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe this properly, I haven’t experienced this before. Here’s what I reckon might be happening.

Initially, when you engage with the work of Eckhart Tolle it’s fun to play around with all the little tools he gives you that give you glimpses of presence.

My favourite was always listening to silence. It sounds like the kind of thing a hippie would do, and of course that is true, but it’s like a route to immediately experiencing the vastness of being, the dimension of the sacred, God, the Holy Spirit - whatever you want to call it.

Briefly, you know how words on a page are little black squiggles surrounded by a vast emptiness (relatively speaking) of whiteness? Well all the noises you are hearing right now, from cars on the road outside to thrash metal music exist in silence. Silence isn’t just the absense of noise - it’s the backdrop to noise which allows you to hear noise clearly.

Listen to it. Take a few breaths and listen to the vast empty silence that lies beneath the noise you hear.

….

…….

………..

Cool, huh? Yeah, it’s interesting. Just one of Eckhart’s little gateways, things you can do to experience presence rapidly.

(btw - if that meant nothing to you, don’t worry about it. Start reading A New Earth or something, you’ll get it soon enough)

They’re really important, these little gateways he has and I think are one of the key things that separates him from other spiritual teachers. He can prove to you that he’s not just talking mumbo-jumbo. You can experience the truth of what he’s talking about immediately and directly.

However - at the end of the day all I was ever able to do with that stuff was get me a glimpse. I could hold myself in the place of ’stillness’ as he calls it, and it was cool.

But it was like the stillness was still at the disposal of my darker self. I’d use it, then congratulate myself for being such a good ‘Zen’ person or whatever. The point is I could never sustain the deep level of presence.

I could have potentially got better at it (which is a very dodgy way of putting it Zen-wise) but I’d always just forget. Life is very distracting and pulls at the attention in a million different ways. And it always, in my experience, finds a way of getting under your skin in the end.

Whether it’s through a girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife, job, argument, friendship, vendetta - something will pull your eyes off the ‘Now’ in the end. And suck you in and down and away.

That’s a pretty dark way of looking at it, I realise. But it’s been my experience on a personal level. I’m probably a special case (basket case) in certain ways, probably more volatile than average… but that’s what seems to happen.

Hey - don’t let this discourage you if you’re having personal success, BTW. I’m just doing my experiment and it’s only been going a few days. I don’t know if what I’m doing is better or worse than any other approach - but we’ll all find out in the end.

But anyway, I digress. The point is that the presence was like something I could ‘do’. I could ‘turn it on’ and revel in it if I wanted to. I could understand it and articulate it, and analyze and number crunch - but of course in the end I’d always sink back beneath the waves of mental noise, slipping back into the pettiness and banality of regrets, judgements and pipe dreams.

Something different is arising in me. It’s made of the same stuff as the presence I felt before - the main difference is that it’s a lot more robust. I’m becoming extremely hard to shake, or to get an emotional reaction out of.

Of course, everything’s relative. There are a lot of people who I’m certain have never heard the name Eckhart Tolle and are a lot more chilled than I am now. But compared to the rawness, rage and reactivity that used to blast through me I’m like a totally different person.

And it’s interesting, because it’s not like I’m less interesting, driven or passionate than I was. If anything the opposite is true. There’s a clarity that surrounds me that wasn’t there before that means I see everything - both internally and externally - with a deep purity (I know this isn’t a great description, I’m doing my best) that I’ve never really seen before. It’s cool. Really cool.

It’s like I’m building up a big-ass chunk of Zen inside me. A mass of presence. And this presence doesn’t go away when I get distracted, when I get pissed off or annoyed. It’s always there, rooting me. Grounding me.

And so you know, yes my mind often throws up belief systems surrounding what I’m doing. Labels, judgements, mini-ideologies from every angle you can conceive. I can only assume that there are several bubbling beneath the surface that I have no idea about. Conceptual maps, ideas, judgements, moral extremes - all that jazz.

But here’s the thing, and I mentioned this before. That shit happens anyway. Certainly it happens to me, and has been happening to me since I can remember.

The mass of presence - that’s new though. Haven’t had that before. Groovy.

I suppose that if I were to be wildly optimistic what I would hope for from these 1000 days is that the presence will build to a critical mass and trigger the kind of conceptual-identity-dissolution that Tolle himself experienced.

It’ll probably just give me a slight German accent.

Only time will tell…

9 comments:

1000DaysOfPresence said...

Discussion from WordPress transferred over:

7 Responses to “A Chunk Of Zen”


1. Spencer Says:
October 3, 2008 at 9:49 pm
Cool, keep up with the experiment and your posts. I am interested to see where your experiment leads.

2. IvánPérez Says:
October 3, 2008 at 9:57 pm
This may sound weird, but I feel that presence that you talk about, it comes through your post. This is the 12th day of my blitz and I feel somewhat that vastness and chunk of zen. To me is easier, cause I’m way more young than you. It’s very coold the presence that is coming to this world through us.
BTW: the weather is horrible, life sucks, the world is crazy, this computer is not new enough, your English is better than mine… hehehe.

3. 1000daysofpresence Says:
October 4, 2008 at 12:56 am
“BTW: the weather is horrible, life sucks, the world is crazy, this computer is not new enough, your English is better than mine… hehehe.”
Hahaha! Exactly…

4. ranger101 Says:
October 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm
Aren’t you simply going to find that your mind becomes numb to Tolle, that it becomes yet another peice of background noise in your life. Us humans are very good at absorbing routine and equating it to nothingness. That previous sentence could sound rather profound, but in practicality what could possibly happen is that Tolle ‘no longer does it for you’.
Surely you would be much better served in choosing a few “Zen sutra’s” presented by Tolle and spending 1000 days fully meditating on them.
Like that old Zen saying, It’s like a finger poiting at the moon; don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory above.
But, as you said, this is your experiment and you are your own guineu(sp?) pig. I look forwards in anticipation to the continued results of your progress.

5. rob Says:
October 5, 2008 at 3:26 am
“It’s like a finger pointing at the moon; don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory above.”
That’s not Zen, it’s Bruce Lee ;P

6. 1000daysofpresence Says:
October 5, 2008 at 9:16 am
Bruce Lee sounds like a chicken.

7. ranger101 Says:
October 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm
It’s Zen. Bruce Lee is most famous for quoting it, but it’s certainly Zen.

IvánPérez said...

Bruce Lee is most famous for, you know, beating up dudes.

1000DaysOfPresence said...

4. ranger101 Says:
October 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm
Aren’t you simply going to find that your mind becomes numb to Tolle, that it becomes yet another peice of background noise in your life. Us humans are very good at absorbing routine and equating it to nothingness. That previous sentence could sound rather profound, but in practicality what could possibly happen is that Tolle ‘no longer does it for you’.
Surely you would be much better served in choosing a few “Zen sutra’s” presented by Tolle and spending 1000 days fully meditating on them.
Like that old Zen saying, It’s like a finger poiting at the moon; don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory above.
But, as you said, this is your experiment and you are your own guineu(sp?) pig. I look forwards in anticipation to the continued results of your progress.


Cool, thanks for coming along for the ride. Always appreciate your comments.

In answer to your question, yes and no.

(already the Zen takes hold, mwahahaha!)

Yes in the sense that if I’m listening to the ideas it will get boring extremely quickly and I’ll zone it out. Yes in the sense that after about 6 months of this I’ll probably know all of Tolle’s work off by heart. Yes in the sense that if I interface with it in a conventional way then it will become boring and useless extremely fast.

But no because this isn’t just some self-help dude or spiritual teacher. This is Eckhart Tolle. Behind the words he resonates with power, it’s fucking mental. His ideas are almost incidental to his message, and what’s even better, his work hits you (at least I’ve found) at deeper levels the more you listen to it.

To put that in context I’ve listened to Through The Open Door about 100 times. I left it alone for a few months. Came back to it – it was like listening to an entirely different program, I shit you not.

I guess it boils down to this: I believe that there is something going on with Tolle that’s way beyond the level of conventional thought. I wouldn’t dedicate three years of my life to this if I didn’t. I’m having a great time and although yes, I’m sure that the intellectual content of Tolle’s work will be fazed out by my mind (there is actually a specific part of the brain that tunes out repetitive sense perceptions) I reckon this is hitting me at a far deeper level.

This isn’t a chore. It’s incredibly relaxing. I’m much better at work and at home than I’ve been in longer than I can remember and I’ve not even been doing it properly for two weeks. Tolle-tastic, baby.

New way of the future.

IvánPérez said...

About the getting bored with Tolle stuff I have to say that I find myself loads of times wanting to listen to him because of his silences. I literally think (yes, I still think something) "Let's listen to some tollean silence".

The real power of Tolle stuff IMO falls on two things. First, he transmites and amazing still and present state to you. He sucks you... out of your mind. The second thing is that if you put that on your ears you only hear it if you're not trapped in your mind. So, say that you maybe are totally in your mind then you hear some noise in your ears and you are like "what's this? oh, that". It reminds you to choose to awake now.

1000DaysOfPresence said...

IvánPérez said...

About the getting bored with Tolle stuff I have to say that I find myself loads of times wanting to listen to him because of his silences. I literally think (yes, I still think something) "Let's listen to some tollean silence".


Brilliant point. I'm listening to part 2 of The Realization Of Being over the past few days and you're so right. It's got loads of big silences in it.

It is weird as fuck, I cannot explain it - but the static hiss of a Tolle audio is so fucking potent.

It struck me this one time when, during a big Tolle silence, I accidentally knocked the cord out of the mp3 player. The actual silence around me seemed so much less chill, so much less still, than the 'silence' on the recording.

I was actually thinking of splicing some of it together and creating an mp3 file of Tolle's silence, and listening to it. See if it does anything.

I know this sounds mental, but I'd like to give it a go.

Chumley said...

Good luck on this project man; glad to hear it's already yielding results.

The dangers of getting lost in the "philosophy" are definitely very real. There are so many Buddhist stories about monks who memorized Sutras and spoke extensively on them, but did not understand their true meaning.

Doing some meditation might be useful too.

Anonymous said...

Cool,

Tolle got your head spinnig.

Anonymous said...

It struck me this one time when, during a big Tolle silence, I accidentally knocked the cord out of the mp3 player. The actual silence around me seemed so much less chill, so much less still, than the 'silence' on the recording.

Sounds like your stillness is coming from something external, rather than from within. Shouldn't you listen to and appreciate your own silence as well as Tolle's?

Out of interest, what happened to your Zen practice?

1000DaysOfPresence said...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your stillness is coming from something external, rather than from within. Shouldn't you listen to and appreciate your own silence as well as Tolle's?


Obviously. At the same time what me and Ivan were getting at is that there seems to be a quality to the recording of Tolle, even when he's making no noise. That's a pretty trippy thing in and of itself. I think it merits further investigation. I'm just rubbish with computers, and don't have a sound editing suite. As soon as I do though... you mark my words.

Another thing - you have to be careful drawing these 'should' and 'should not' distinctions when talking about something like this. Whatever point we make may sound like a brilliant point, and odds are it is. But all brilliant points can very easily become brilliant prisons.

It's so easy to get lost in a single perspective and miss the deeper dimensions of the whole picture. Don't do that here. If we're arguing in abstract concepts about how we 'should' or 'shouldn't' interact with stillness, we're already moving rapidly in the opposite direction from it.