Friday, April 20, 2012

Beware of the hidden should

Several people who are dear to me are struggling with difficult "stuff" this week -- new medical challenges, new relationship challenges, job challenges -- so, again, I am having mixed reactions to Eckhart Tolle.

In today's reading, he says, "People believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness, that is to say, dependent on form.  But what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe.  It changes constantly.  

They look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened and shouldn't have or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should have.  And so they miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that is always already here, that lies beyond what is happening or not happening, beyond form.  

Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is deeper than any form and untouched by time;... the joy that emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and thus is one with who you are."

In my spirituality class last week, someone asked what enlightenment feels like.  My guess is that if I were truly enlightened I might be able to say and believe this and live this way; to be this sanguine about the vicissitudes of living.  But I'm not, so I'm not -- and while I do occasionally get glimpses of what it might feel like to be able to rise above (or sink below?) the challenges, it would be cruel, I think to quote this to my friends who struggle.

We can hold this up as an ideal -- and I do -- and work toward befriending each moment as best we can, trying to look beyond what makes a moment good or bad to the "isness" of it.  But this kind of statement contains a hidden should that can be very hard to achieve, and therefore could so easily turn into a platitude.

Better, I think, to be as still a pond as possible, and instead of offering advice to simply listen and be present.

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