Last weekend something amazing happened. I returned to my hometown of Caloundra to spend some time recovering and ‘slowing down’, as one invariably does from the time they hit that Caloundra turnoff, to the time they return on the way home. (For those that are yet to experience the slow-mo-ness of Caloundra, I guess you feel the same sort of feeling when you drive into Byron Bay or when you lie on a beach). The flickery, fidgety nonsense of the everyday-ness in the city just seems to dissipate to a calm, nature-induced presence.
It was this specific trip, however, that really gave me more than the usual weekend injection of sunshine, nostalgia and smiles. Much, much more.
Saturday morning I woke up very sleepy. Being my mother’s birthday, I went into her room and lay next to her while she opened her presents. After which, tired from the night before, I ended up falling asleep next to her and for some reason she put an earplug in my ear that had an audiotape of Eckhart Tolle’s latest book ‘A New Earth’ playing.
In retrospect, I now see it as such a beautiful, nurturing experience from my mum. She is such an amazing woman. Unfortunately, I probably give her more grief than any mum should ever get, especially because we don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to the concept of ‘self-development’ and I admit that I often hold that against her. I heard this really great quote recently – ‘if you think you are enlightened – try spending a week with your parents’. So true.
Anyway, back to last weekend. So I was lying there, dozing in and out of sleep (as you do on a lazy Sunday morning) listening to this voice that seemed to reach it’s deep resonating arms into my mind and at the same time, both calm my spirit and also plant this irritating seed of thought that said I needed to finish listening to the entirety of this book.
So I did. I just finished the CDs this weekend and the messages that I received from that book have been absolutely invaluable. I thought I would share some of the major things that I have got from it. The biggest of which, was an answer to an existential question that has been seriously bugging me since his first book – The Power of Now.
My question is – if we are all just little egos running around and all there is, is the ‘now’, then what is the point of ‘doing’ anything? More to the point, in relation to self-development, what is the point of working on my psychology and becoming a better person, when in essence it is just the ego I am working on and I am already that person?
As a response, I personally drew this from the book…
Everything that I do and everything that is ‘done’ to me has a specific and necessary purpose in the development and evolution of my acceptance of my ‘being’ and the growth in my presence. The purpose is to seek the learning from the moment and avoid playing the role of the victim or the victor because both are the same thing (given a long enough timeframe). Therefore, if I focus on finding a cure for binge drinking (like putting a boundary on it – alcopop taxes for example), then the true success of this outcome is only time dependant. Because there are many ways for people to escape consciousness, the truth is that alcohol is just a popular one at the moment. Therefore, whatever solution is created, it needs to provide ways of developing presence in young people, not just put a stop to one of the tools they have to take it away.
Furthermore – my personal success and the success of HSM, is not about how many people read the blog, or even how many young people make better choices around their lives and alcohol and it definitely isn’t how much money I can get out of it as a result. To achieve real success in this project, the core purpose has to be about how much I can empower myself to be present (or conscious) and by extension, how much this can flow on to the creation of the presence in others.
Finally, to answer my initial question – presence is not something that can be taught or written about so this is the ultimate, underlying goal of all activity, but choice made by the individual. However, I believe that working on things like identity, relationships and a sense of purpose (the three most prevalent psychological reasons why people drink at risky levels from our research) is a pretty good way to get rid of the conditioning we have that prevents that presense.
Anyone got any ideas on this?
Here is an interview with Tolle –