Today I interviewed a celebrity.
I mean, don't get me wrong, it wasn't like a global megastar or anything, but it's a TV regular who appears with frequency on British TV.
He's a comedian - Sean Lock. He's on a show called 8 Out Of 10 Cats, and he's a regular on various panel games and such.
Here he is on QI.
He's a career comedian - been doing it for 19 years. I got to interview him for a local Edinburgh entertainment review paper. It broke up the day nicely.
In other news, this Tolle stuff continues to kick ass.
I feel like the last post - that whole week - was a major moment for me. I've got a whole new perspective on this whole thing now. It's fascinating.
The best way I can describe it is like a moment of ignition. The past few days I feel like I'm not theorising anymore. For better or for worse, something specific, something very real, some irrevokable mental shift seems to have taken place in my head.
Now if you're nodding along with this, beware. A thousand times a thousand I thought I'd made 'the breakthrough'.
I think it comes of wanting it so much. No matter what caveats Tolle puts into his work, I don't think anyone's really got into it who hasn't reinvented it in their own heads as some kind of utopian paradise.
As some kind of beautiful ending, the thing that will make everything ok. And in a way, it is. But if you're engaging with it in those terms you're not getting it. You might as well be worshipping a stone idol, burning a witch or backstabbing your friends to get ahead in your career.
The fact is that thinking 'ah, I finally see' is a screaming symptom that it's just one more lie filling your head.
But damn, he's right - I knew he was right. There's something here, something real. He's really right, really talking about something highly specific and non-theoretical. This isn't a 'belief system' as much as it a map with a big X on it. There is a very real treasure buried here, very real.
But just as it's not a 'belief system' as such, it will become a 'belief system' very fast. The mind is amazing at constructing belief systems. Do not be so naieve as to think you will, or even can, avoid this. You cannot. If you could, you wouldn't need to listen to Tolle in the first place.
That's why I think this saturation approach is deceptively strong, for all the 'Oh no, that'll never work because of X, Y and Z' stuff that you can throw at it.
I mean, to my mind A New Earth is easily - easily - the most groundbreaking work of philosophy since Immanuel Kant's body of work. There's nothing in the last hundred years that can even come close to it in terms of originality, insight, power, relevance, clarity or power. Not close.
But here's the thing - it's just a book. And a book shining with truth, no matter how bright, will only take you a few days to read. After that, what's left?
The presence? Sure, reading anything by Tolle gives a kind of zen thrum that lasts for a few days.
The ideas? Sure - but in a way that's almost a bad thing. The concepts he uses to point to the internal process he's trying to trigger inside you are just that - concepts. After a few days, weeks, months - whatever - you'll forget them, or confuse them, or distort them. Worse still you might 'agree' with them, and believe them to be 'right'.
There's a lot of subtle distinctions here, don't get lost in it.
Think of it like this - the point of Tolle is not to give you presence. And if you read 'A New Earth' and agree with it, Tolle has failed in his purpose of writing that book.
There is an actual moment, a process. If you know anything of Tolle's past you'll know that in his life there was one moment where he, to paraphrase 'separated from his pain' and triggered the rising of the clarity and peace for which he is now justly famous.
The point is this - ignition. That's what you're looking for. Ignition. There's no point agreeing with the stuff - and piggybacking off Tolle's presence is only a temporary and highly limited way of experiencing what he's talking about.
I mean, don't get me wrong - Tolle's work is compelling and you will agree. But if you don't move beyond that you might as well have read a copy of Mein Kampf for all the deep change that will occur in your life. Nothing will change. You will remain lost and life will break you over and over, as it has always done, as it will always do.
And as for piggybacking off Tolle's presence - if you have any doubts as to the deep power that this guy has tapped into then get a copy of A New Earth and read the fucker. You'll see what I mean. The deep sense of clarity and vibrant calm that you get from it is unlike anything I've ever got from any other book at any point in my life ever.
But who gives a fuck? What does it matter to add a little calm to your life - or even a lot? It's not self-sustaining. All your deep inner shit is still there, it's just held at bay. It's like you have a dark room full of roaches. You can shine a light in the window and scare them off, but you'll not get rid of them forever.
To do that you need to light up the room permanently. Eliminate all trace of shadow. And set a fire that'll burn those fuckers out.
Your head is full of roaches. You know it. You keep fucking shit up. You've got all your regrets and even now, as you live your life day in, day out, even today - you do messed up shit you have no control over and you know it.
And it's not messed up in some vague 'moral' sense. We're talking the kind of deep self-sabotage we're all guilty of that ruins the loving relationships you've watched crumble to dust. That ruins the opportunities at work that you miss because you weren't on the ball, or because you let yourself be sidelined because you weren't sure what to say.
We're talking about that book you'll never write because you'll never have the clarity of vision. The children who will hate you because you'll talk down to them - and even knowing that you're doing it you won't be able to stop. The friends you'll watch leave your life forever - and the awesome friendships you never knew you never had.
There's something else beneath all this - beneath all this shit. Beneath all this talk of Zen and such hippie bollocks as 'spiritual awakening'.
Something's here. A thing you can do inside your head that will permanently change things. I don't know if it's for better or worse yet - I guess we'll find out soon enough.
But ignition. Ignition, my friends.
Beats agreeing with this spiritual bullshit. Beats theorising about the 'correct' way to 'awaken' or somesuch crap. Beats living in fear.
Beats living in fear.
That moment that Tolle speaks of, that he describes, where in the depths of despair he saw his own pain and was separated from it. That's the only thing here worth anything. Everything else is bullshit and chaff.
My formula for ignition is as follows -
Sustained saturation in Tolle. This has two effects. Firstly, it will make you aware of a whole new dimension of reality you'd never known about before. Secondly, it will give you the map - the psychological directions that are necessary to get beyond psychology.
But both of these things are useless in and of themselves. Waste of fucking time. Might as well play Xbox. Timesplitters 2 is my favourite. And Burnout 3. Burnout 3 rules. Timesplitters 3 was a bit of a disappointment though. Nevermind.
This is all about making this shit self-sustaining for you. So you're not dependent on the presence of some dinky German.
This is about putting this shit beyond a point where you can fuck it up.
This is about starting a self-sustaining, irreversible process in yourself.
This is about igniting this shit inside you. Most of the time we're just warming our hands at the fire. But unless we become the fire, unless we ourselves ignite with incandescent flame, this whole thing's going to be one long circle-jerk. Just a bunch of fanboys watching the latest vogue from Oprah.
So the first two things Tolle Saturation gives you:
It makes you aware of a new dimension of reality.
It gives you the map to get beyond your own psychology.
There's a third and final ingredient that is necessary for ignition to start.
Luckily this final ingredient is something that life is happy to provide in abundance.
That's right boys and girls.
Pain is needed. It's the only thing that makes this real, that takes this out of the arena of theoretical debate. It's the only thing that can give you the context to apply the map you get - and the motivation to fucking use it.
And before you think I'm getting all Opus Dei on you, be cool. I'm not suggesting you seek pain. I think we're all old enough and ugly enough to realise that it finds you. It always finds you.
Pain will find a chink in your armour. It will crawl under your skin. It will tear you apart.
This will occur. Nothing that you do can stop it.
But in saturating your mind with Tolle you can get the presence and the map to give yourself a chance you've never had before. To use the pressure and heat of your pain to ignite your personal presence. To pass that irrevokable boundary, to make that permanent shift.
And that's what's going to change your life.