Step beyond the edge of understanding. That's something Tolle says somewhere, I think in the first part of Through The Open Door.
It's one of those 'spiritual' things to say. It sounds ever so profound, and usually provokes one of two different reactions. One is violent, contemptuous rejection. The other is treacly, fawning acceptance.
The violent rejection may seem like the more dark, the more broken, but this is an illusion. At least straightforward rejection, no matter how rash or irrational, has a kind of honesty to it. It dresses itself up as an intellectual rejection - a rejection of the 'pseudo-philosophy' of spiritual thinkers, a rejection of the fuzzy logic, a rejection -- let us be straightforward here -- of hippies.
Most gut-reaction revulsion to deep spiritual truths (or whatever you want to call them) comes from this - a strong distaste for the self-delusion of the happy-clappy hippie crowd. There's a lot of this is Christianity too, and I speak as a Christian. I know a lot of atheists claim that they reject Christianity because of the judgemental rules, the doctrines and the dogmas, the injustices, the cruelties, the paedophiles - and all the rest of it.
But I think secretly, the reason most people won't even consider Christianity is because of a deep-seated fear of becoming that weak and fawning, happy-clappy drone, gleefully building a world of delusion around them. It's the fear of being so broken that you are complicit in your own imprisonment, like Winston at the end of 1984, if you've ever read it or seen the film.
At least in the defiance, there is a kind of integrity, broken though it may be. And it is this integrity that many, including myself, cling to even as it drags them again and again into madness, horror, failure and despair.
It's a devil's deal, isn't it? Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
On the one hand, all the darkness that people run to religion to escape. It doesn't go away if you're an atheist. It doesn't give a fuck what you believe. It doesn't give a shit about you.
On the other hand, burying yourself in a world of lies. Breaking so completely that you no longer care what truth even is. You'll agree to anything just to make the pain go away. You have broken. You have failed at the deepest possible level.
And that's it, really. That's how I lived, certainly. One or the other. I would pile on the damage to prove to myself I still had spirit, still believed. In what? Hard to say. The value of courage, the value of the truth.
But the past couple of years I've been feeling weary. Like I was getting really close to not giving a fuck anymore. To breaking completely and just diving straight in to the world of delusion.
And I suppose I tried. But the kicker is this - lies don't make it better. That world of delusion's like a house of cards in a hurricane when the nastiness rears it's head.
But here's the thing. No matter how much of a Goth I've been, no matter how 'film noir' I've let myself become, I have always believed that there's another way. That there's something else that lies beneath and beyond that terrible choice between damage and delusion.
The truth. In and of itself. Something that is not a delusion, something non-theoretical. Something really real, as real as the ground beneath your feet or the chair beneath your ass.
We're so used to living in a world of fiction we don't know what reality looks like. We've never used our eyes before. But that time last week I punched through into something. I did it agian last night.
And guys, it's fucking real. Really, really real. Not like 'should it be like this or should it be like that,' but real like a lump of fucking stone or a pair of fucking tits.
And we strive for our honesty, for our integrity, for our happiness. Some of us strive for God, some of us don't.
But here's the the kicker - we're so deep in this shit. Like deep deep.
And all the ways we 'change the ways we look at the world' - how the hell would we know that we're not just rearranging the fiction.
I'm not making an abstract point. So many times, reading through the Power Of Now or whatever, I'd get some insight and suddenly I'd 'see the world in a different way'.
But we are so deeply steeped in fiction! How would we know what truth looks like, when we have never seen it in the raw? How?
How easily can we be deceived, can we be led into lies or fiction? How we each want to believe so strongly that we have finally made it through the labyrinth, that this - no, this - no, THIS is the real answer.
How do you know what infinity looks like?
You stare into the night sky. It's just there, it's what it is. Silent, infinite, epic and simple all at once. And so far beyond any of those words that it makes all words, no matter how grand, look like childish scribbles in the sand next to the untamed majesty of the sea.
I just looked at a televangelist ripping Tolle on a US TV clip on Youtube. And it's amazing, it's like watching the Inquisition threatening Galileo with torture for saying the earth revolves around the Sun.
It's not that it's an injustice. It's got nothing to do with that. I'm not saying 'oh, this Televangelist is wrong.'
It's that there's something ludicrious about watching people try to argue with Tolle. It's like watching someone trying to argue away a rock.
A rock is. It doesn't matter how much you rail against it. It doesn't matter how much you undermine it's intellectual underpinnings. It doesn't matter if you believe in it, or how much passion or righteousness you pour into your argument.
The rock doesn't give a fuck. The simple reality of a humble rock is deeper than the reality of your best argument or your most impassioned speech.
There's a legend, with no proof to it, that Galileo had a parting shot to the Inquisition. "It still turns," he is alleged to have said.
It still turns. You see, the Inquisition threatened him with torture and he recanted. He announced publically that he had been mistaken, that the Earth was indeed the centre of the universe.
It was a lie of course, and one might believe that it was the lie of a coward unprepared to face torture for what he believed.
But here's what I think.
I think that Galileo knew differently. I think he knew that recanting his ideas meant nothing. That in winning the argument against him, the Inquisition had acheived nothing... because it wasn't about him. It was never about him. Nothing he said would change the fact that the world still turns around the sun. No victory the Inquisition scored could mean anything in the face of that.
The truth is the truth is the truth. And we are so often caught up in the dramas of life that we believe like fools that our beliefs are even relevant.
They are not.
The truth simply is.
And here's the thing. Twice now, once last week and once again last night I was able to get through to that world. That "timeless state of presence" as Tolle calls it. That real world, the really real infinite moment from which all creativity and love arises. And it's really there.
But to finish up, let me sound a note of caution. My mind threw up a thousand fakes before I glimpsed the real thing. Do you believe the darkness in you is so stupid as to be unable to pass itself off as light?
Of course it can. The only time Satan shows up in the New Testament the only thing he does is quote scripture. The darkness is a master of deception and it will fool you.
But the reality is unmistakable. It has a quality of reality to it that is so deeply pronounced it is like a hallmark on gold. It's this sense of clarity multiplied by a thousand, an incredible sharpness to things. Way beyond anything you could ever impose upon reality from the outside.
It's not like I'm living in that state. But I have seen it, and in seeing it, I know it's there.
There are two effects to this saturation so far.
One of them is to give me secondary benefits. Just dwelling in Tolle's presence makes me chill and clear, heals my mind, sorts my shit out.
But the real prize of this whole thing is reality itself. That truth which Tolle speaks of. And the more I glimpse it, the more his words pull themselves into focus in a way I never expected them to. It's like I'm hearing him describe something that I'm increasingly starting to see in real life.
I don't know. We'll see where this leads. But this shit is real, and it is reality which it points to. And it's there, guys. It turns. It turns whatever we think of it, whatever we believe or get lost in. It's there, and it turns like a motherfucker. It's so far beyond the fawning agreement of hippies and happy-clappy Christians.
My honest opinion is that many of them are more lost than the most broken, hate-filled atheist alive.
This shit isn't 'nice' or 'good'. It's way beyond that. It's real. It's fucking real. It's crazy, it's exactly like Tolle describes it but far, far beyond what you picture in your head from listening to his descriptions.
And God, it's beautiful.