Sunday, 5 October 2008

Second Thoughts...

(Originally posted on WordPress, October 2, 2008)

There are a number of reasons why what I’m doing is a bad idea.

The biggest one is that the mind is constantly working, constantly analyzing. I myself am more prone to this than most, but we’re all prone.

Eckhart Tolle occasionally says that if you fall into analyzing his stuff you’ll find it boring. I’ve never had this problem. If anything, the opposite is true.

I’ve always found deep insights into the nature of being and humanity to be the most fascinating thing around. I’m something of a junkie for it. I can rant for hours about the structure of moral rationalisation, or how we order the world around us to convince ourselves of things that deep down we know aren’t true.

I’m well aware of the human capacity for self-deception because my own is so highly developed. This isn’t to beat myself up about it, it just is the truth. In the past I’ve fought through crusade after crusade, switching one for another and making my life a battle for the privelidge of seeing myself as a hero, or a martyr, or a genius, or whatever.

We all do it.

And the thing is that I’ve done something like this before - never on this scale of course. I’ve saturated my mind for weeks on end with Eckhart’s voice. I’ve had mixed results.

The reason I did it is that I’m prone to deep depression. I’ve been on and off Prozac for a few years, which I suppose makes it official. The smallest glimpse through my last blog will show you some pretty intense posts, and the last year has taken me right to the edge a few times.

Whenever I’d listen to Eckhart it was like plunging a red-hot sword into a pool of water. I could almost feel the hiss and bubble as my mind rapidly cooled.

But no matter how soothing his words, how profound his teachings, my mind would whirr and buzz and weave a web of thought and judgement. I’d construct a philosophy around his ideas, go on missions in my head to “destroy my ego” or “transmute my pain-body”.

I’d go hell-for-leather at it, then get depressed and frustrated as initial insights and successes descended into chaos, confusion and failure.

Still, initial successes that in the end led me back to square one.

I don’t know how much of that was down to the old life I used to lead. Trying to reach a profound level of chill in the situations I’d put myself in was often like trying to build a house of cards in a hurricane.

That’s of course not to say that I’m retreating to a zen mountaintop. Actually, the point of this whole thing is to see what happens when I load myself full of Tolle in the context of a more or less ‘normal’ life. I have a 9-5 job, I have friends I go out with, I have TV shows I like (Supernatural is great, IMHO) and all that jazz.

At the same time, I found myself crashing out emotionally over and over. It hit a point where it became apparent to me that, in the words of Marilyn Manson “all the drugs in this world won’t save you from yourself.”

So I decided to listen to Tolle every night when I slept. Instantly I was more chilled, less volatile. Then I got an interview, and took the job. I really enjoy it, by the way. Great fun. At this stage normality’s like a novelty to me. I feel so official, I love it. The work’s good fun too. Creative, interesting. Not too stressful. It’s cool.

Then I started listening to him in the day.

Then I sat back and reflected on my options. There is a deep anger and agony in the centre of my chest. Tolle’s voice chases it into the background, but it’s always there. It’s like all my nastiest, weakest traits and it’s gone unchecked for a long time. It’s been feeding for a long time.

Thing is, no matter how much I may agree with what Tolle says, agreement won’t save me. No matter how deeply I may be able to understand or articulate his thought, I’ll still get sucked right back into shit when left to my own devices.

The thing is, I don’t think I’m going to be able to significantly chill if left to my own devices. No matter how many flashes of insight I get, no matter how deep they are or how profound, no insight is going to save me.

And why?

It’s simple, and really quite prosaic. Truth is, because I’ll just forget.

Given a week on my own I’ll latch on to some other mission, some other answer. And I’ll follow that will-o-wisp into another patch of quicksand.

This way I don’t need to remember anything. Eckhart’s always with me, keeping me on track.

The other thing is this - that in doing this I’ll create what I used to call a Zen Ego. I don’t really like the use of the word Ego in this context (even though I was using it to refer to a conceptual sense of self before I even read Tolle). Not because it’s inaccurate, it’s a great word to use.

At the same time I think it’s all too easy to conflate that word Ego in the sense that Tolle uses it with the word ‘arrogance’. You hear the word Ego and you hear the word Egotistical, but the Ego that Tolle refers to is a much broader concept, a much deeper concept. It doesn’t just refer to arrogance, but to any sense of who you are based on ideas in the mind. Arrogance can easily rise from this - but so can deep self-loathing, so it cuts both ways.

A Zen Ego therefore is not a Zen Arrogance. It’s a conceptual identity based on ideas gleaned from Tolle. Easily done. So how to avoid it over the next 997 days?

The answer is, again, simple. I can’t. I really don’t think it’s possible for me to do this and not build a conceptual identity out of the concepts I’m pumping into my head. It will happen. Over and over.

My theory, and in some ways my bet, is that there will be another process going on under this. The truth is, I’m going to build an identity around whatever I’m doing, be it my job or whatever harebrained project I’ve dreamed up next.

The analytical identity will happen. That’s a given.

But here’s the thing. I reckon that Tolle is a special case. The man sweats Zen. He oozes chill, he oozes presence. I believe that there’s a chance that even while my mind twists itself around his words, his presence itself will undermine that twisted process.

Given enough time.

Truth is, I don’t know if it’s going to work. I think there’s a chance that it might.

And no-one else will be my guinea pig. So I’m doing it.

After the 1000 days are complete, we should have a pretty good understanding of the process.

I’ll keep you posted.

3 comments:

1000DaysOfPresence said...

Discussion transferred from WordPress:
8 Responses to “Second Thoughts…”


1. Guy Says:
October 3, 2008 at 5:48 am
Dude, you’re not even listening to Tolle.
The phrase “Given enough time.”
Keep the way you said this in mind next time you’re listening to Tolle. You don’t need his voice to get you anywhere; there is nowhere to go. You’re in the Now. You always have been.
Seriously dude, what are you trying to achieve with this? We’re all broken; we’ve all done shitty things. You’re no one special, and there is no reason for you to fry your brain with some guys voice that you’ve latched onto as a guru.
Tolle is a great friend, he nudges us to look deeply into ourselves; but he’s not going to do it for you, no matter how much you try to force his voice to.
You can see you’re obessive, but I don’t think you’re aware of it. I don’t think you’re aware of how it keeps you from being present to the world. I think your ‘obsessiveness’ is an egoic construction trying to keep you from being present. It’s your pain-body. Next time you feel it, just be still, silent and present, and watch what it tries to make you do.


2. nfm Says:
October 3, 2008 at 6:41 am
the reason you’re having trouble with static nature of the so-called “insights” is because they aren’t organic.
you’re looking for a change of _nature_.. not merely a change of mind..
a change of mind won’t eliminate the feeling or imminent sense of death. only a change of nature can do this..
you require a new nature


3. Mark Says:
October 3, 2008 at 9:22 am
Well, whatever works for you man.


4. Stealth Says:
October 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm
@ Guy: Tolle even says that it takes ‘clock time’ to be fully present, but once the change is happening, and the awareness is there, you will become more and more aware.
I think you’re doing good for yourself Ciaran. The more you do something, the more it becomes a belief. The more you stay present, and disassociate from the ego, the more it will naturally be a part of you.


5. Rawl Says:
October 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm
too bad the ego will always trick you. its scary. What tolle tracks do you recommend purchasing.


6. 1000daysofpresence Says:
October 3, 2008 at 6:48 pm
I’d recommend firstly buying the audio book “A New Earth.” It’s a great place to start and listening to it on loop is all you’d need to do for the first month. It’s also cheap - doesn’t cost much more than the book, if memory serves. It also gives a good overview of where he’s coming from - it’s the most complete thing he’s done so far.
I’ll write a review round-up of the stuff of his I’ve listened to in a later post, but suffice it to say that it’s probably more use to listen to one thing on repeat than a shitload of different audio things by Tolle.
For his actual live-recorded audio seminars The Realization Of Being and Through The Open Door are my top tips.


7. Marko Says:
October 3, 2008 at 7:53 pm
I’m doing something similar to this, but with the new Metallica album.


8. Your BFF Says:
October 4, 2008 at 8:44 pm
I like the mountaintop plan. Like a zen bootcamp. Do they really have these?

1000DaysOfPresence said...

1. Guy Says:
October 3, 2008 at 5:48 am
Dude, you’re not even listening to Tolle.
The phrase “Given enough time.”
Keep the way you said this in mind next time you’re listening to Tolle. You don’t need his voice to get you anywhere; there is nowhere to go. You’re in the Now. You always have been.

Seriously dude, what are you trying to achieve with this? We’re all broken; we’ve all done shitty things. You’re no one special, and there is no reason for you to fry your brain with some guys voice that you’ve latched onto as a guru.
Tolle is a great friend, he nudges us to look deeply into ourselves; but he’s not going to do it for you, no matter how much you try to force his voice to.

You can see you’re obessive, but I don’t think you’re aware of it. I don’t think you’re aware of how it keeps you from being present to the world. I think your ‘obsessiveness’ is an egoic construction trying to keep you from being present. It’s your pain-body. Next time you feel it, just be still, silent and present, and watch what it tries to make you do.


Haha!

I take your points - I do. I mean, don't get me wrong. I am aware that what I am doing flies in the face of several core Tolle tenets.

But here - think of it from this point of view.

Thing is, his whole point about 'The Now', about 'pain bodies' about 'ego' - it's not the truth. He says so himself. It's a way of looking at the world that helps you break free of nasty shit.

I mean, don't get me wrong. His level of insight into the inner workings of the human mind is groundbreaking. I don't think anyone's been this insightful since Freud, in terms of breaking new ground about the psychological dynamics of the human mind.

But here's the thing - it's very easy to pick up these terms because they are so revealing, and fall into a new dogma.

I know because I did it. I'm sure you've recognised it time and again on other forums - people get a basic understanding of Tollean terminology and suddenly everything is 'ego' this and 'painbody' that.

Look, I'm not blind to the fact that Tolle would advise against it, but the blunt truth is that doing it the 'conventional' way doesn't work for me.

And that's not 'doesn't work for me' as in 'I still feel stressed' or whatever.

That's doesn't work for me as in 'doesn't stave off the deep and savage explosions of suicidal thoughts.'

You ask what I want from this? Well, I've a number of potential goals that I'll discuss in more depth in the future - but I guess the big one is that I want to live. I'm done with the depression, the howling negativity that screams up inside me like a hurricane of knives. No thanks. Not anymore.

As for the obsessiveness being my painbody? Shit dude, maybe. Maybe it is. Maybe it's dedication. Maybe it's commitment. Maybe it's me putting my money were my mouth is. Maybe it's a wager - I'm betting that this will have a positive effect.

Maybe it's because since I started I haven't wanted to die once.

Who can say?

Either way, the decision's made. No going back now.

He he he.

1000DaysOfPresence said...

Transferred from WordPress:

# butterfly Says:
October 19, 2008 at 6:50 am


I was wrapped to see this blog as I have just read the power of now which has rocked the very foundations of my existance it is fascinating, inspiring,and bloody frightening…as i read about your experience it presses my buttons as i too sat outside practising being in my presence and have lovely glimpses of peace..which is while the kids are in bed and the world is not awake yet..but once the day begins in earnest it is lost my mind is a flurry of thoughts, judgements, fears plans and on and on and on……so it’s all good when there is literally peace outside of me…but then it’s lost where does it go? Hiding behind the big trees outside? hiding in my heart? hiding behind my eyes? where does it go? for it feels gone…