Thursday, March 06, 2008

Similar Truths

For better or for worse, Cuppa and I enrolled ourselves in Oprah's course with Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth. We bought the book, did the chapter one exercise, and watched the webcast. True, due to glitches, we weren't able to watch the webcast live, but we got there eventually. One has to make allowances for putting on an event such as this for 750 000 people; there were hitches, and that's okay. One thing Tolle says that at their core, all religions preach the same basic message. Of course, each uses it's own terminology, but the concept of spiritual awareness is essentially the same in each, and I for one certainly saw the parallels between Tolle's perceptions and the Christian ones with which I am familiar.

Ekhard talks about how humans are dysfunctional to the point of madness (his terminology) because of we are driven by our Ego natures. In biblical terms, it's our sinful nature, or Paul's old man or the carnal mind. To my perception, Eckhart and Christianity here seem to speak of the same thing with different language. The way to overcome the Ego in A New Earth is to find a place of stillness in order to discover the goodness that is at our core being. The Christian teaching exhorts us to "be still still and know ... God." Finally (for now at least) Tolle claims that the Ego, by its nature, cannot be changed or fixed but that we can awaken our consciousness by finding the goodness that is at our core. Likewise, in Christian terms, our sinful natures can't be fixed, but if we allow the spirit of Christ to dwell within us, we become new creatures.

It was interesting for me to begin to see these connections. I found it helpful to put the concepts into the framework that I understand best. I think very early on The Church became somewhat sidetracked and got more that a little hung up with a lot of doctrinal issues and, therefore, often lost sight of the essential message. However, even as I say that, I hasten to add that I must not paint with too broad a brush because the fact that these concepts of our dual nature (sinful vs spiritual) are familiar ground to me reveals that these ideas are certainly understood and taught within Christendom. It just makes it easier for me to understand what Eckhart is saying if I can frame them in old and familiar terminology.


Cathy said...

This is so interesting. I'd not heard of this program and have to admit that as Spring arrives, I'm less inclined to do much serious thinking:0) But, I'll look forward to your impressions of this most important and weighty journey.

Donna said...

Exactly.....I have been so shocked to realize how much I Didn't know. I'm learning...I'm So free spiritually...and loving it! Have fun in Your journey!hugs

thailandchani said...

I was also at that webcast. You make such an interesting point about how we see the same messages in our own framework. For me, it sounded like Buddhism 101 - a bit watered down to make sure no one would be offended - but the concepts were very consistent with it.

I'm not impressed with the book but will probably continue to watch the webcasts anyway. It's interesting to hear the questions people ask.

Pearl said...

That makes 3 bloggers there. Stillness is something everyone needs certainly. The slow-down yoga, slow-foods are in the right direction but if one does rolling stops at every intersection of life, it see where I'm going...

Janet said...

I will definitely try to find the book. I consider myself a Christian school survivor (several posts wait for that topic) and am continually reading and learning and trying to figure out what is what. And what to teach my children.

Ginnie said...

The more I "grow" the more I realize how little I really know...but I don't find the answers in organized religion. I relate most closely to Albert Einstein who says "Try to penetrate, with our limited means, the secret of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force, beyond anything that we can comprehend, is my religion."

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Ooooooo. . . .you are going all religious on us. Does it have to be "the Gospel According to Oprah"?

If you want some challenging reading try Bishop John Shelby Spong
I might have stayed in a mainstream Christian church if I had known someone like him when I was a teenager.

I wish you well in your spiritual quest.

Valerie - Still Riding said...

I have been through the book, too. It's not where I have ended up.

You will enjoy the mental stimulation of ideas from it, I think. With Cuppa to talk it over with it should be fun for you both.

I invite you to
to read, if you would like.

I have been keeping it kind of quiet, but I am interested in how others see life, love and God, too.

"As I see it" is on my side bar, too. Another peaceful read of thoughts I like to think on.

See you there!

Coll said...

I too had problems viewing the live webcast.. but the next day I was able to download the podcast from iTunes and enjoyed it at my leisure. I must admit to really enjoying all of it. After watching the podcast I reread the first chapter and better understood much of his words. I find it all quite fascinating and am looking forward to this weeks class.. although I think I may skip the real time venture and simply download it the following day.