Eckhart Tolle, Power of Now    
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Getting Oriented
Seeing Where We Are

We have, since the time of the proverbial garden of Eden, been making a very fundamental, yet unconscious assumption. We have assumed that all our thoughts and interpretations and conclusions and ideas that we have about ourselves actually constitute who we are. This is a logical outgrowth of our whole method of investigating the world that has served us so well in matters such as building houses, getting food and water, and inventing the airplane.

Since we ate of the apple of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we have pursued knowledge. How could knowledge of good and evil be a bad thing? It's not. Mostly, of course, knowledge is a very very good thing. But if we think that we can, by means of the thinking mind, get at the reality of who we are, then we can be said to have strayed out of that proverbial garden, into a kind of a quagmire.

Who we think we are is inherently limited. Who we really are, is something that cannot be reached through concepts. Who we really are, is what is there unmoving when the concept-making process pauses for a moment. It's what never changes while our thoughts and emotions move us from happiness to impatience to grief to satisfaction and on and on. Who we really are is what is the same no matter whether we're feeling good about ourselves or not, no matter where we decide to live, who we decide to marry or not to marry, or what kind of person we are. There is an unchanging core in us that is completely out of the reach of any idea we might have about it, even this one.

This becomes terribly relevant as we spend our lives trying to find ourselves in, and bolster ourselves up through outer things; by being successful, through our relationships, our children, by being who we "should" be, or by rebelling. Those things don't satisfy us in the end, and it becomes neurotic as we try to accumulate more money, finally find the one right relationship, surpass the neighbor's accomplishments or possessions, or crush whatever seeming enemy is on our horizon.

What we are looking for in all these activities is already in existence, like the silence in which sound occurs. Like the unmoving screen that we take for granted, on which an action movie is played. We are so busy watching the action, that we miss the one thing that would satisfy us completely. We miss that who we are is something so beyond what we thought, that our ideas about it are like comparing a picture of a flower with a real flower. We miss that we ourselves are so incredibly and profoundly awe inspiring, and so already totally satisfied, that any further activity we might undertake comes from a simple intention to somehow creatively express the joy of life.

And then we don't miss it.

We open our eyes,
We see beyond the picture of ourselves.
And like a fresh flower,
Damp with morning dew,
We open to awareness of birdsong and color
Beyond the known senses..
Who could have dreamed such magnificence?

Eckhart Tolle, Power of Now

By some great blessing, it seems that it is now possible to escape the life-like but ultimately unsatisfying world of conceptual reality, and encounter the incredibly fulfilling reality that lies behind or beyond it, and find it as familiar and closer than our own old socks.


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