As a species, we are addicted to cultures and as a cultured species, we love drama, whether the drama is staged in theatres or on a personal level within us. We cling on to tragedies, our addiction to pain is manifested by how we choose to not let go of the anxieties and past pains. The sages tell us that if we want happiness then we must forgive. But forgiving is not easy, especially when the one we need to forgive is our own self. A wise person once told me that happiness is found in having a purpose, and the purpose of humanity is to help others reduce their burden. That seems like a tall order when our focus is fixated on selves, our own burdens. This fixation deprives us of reaching our full potential; of self-actualization. Our fixation with our own burden helps create our downfall through stagnation.
Most people who are experiencing burden related stagnation in life belong to one of two categories; those who dwell in the past and those who are anxious about the future. Both desire happiness but both choose to suffer. The past embodies the pain of guilt and regrets while the future is full of uncertainties leading to anxieties and worries. Very few choose to live in the present, living in the ‘now’, argues Eckhart Tolle in his book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (Yellow Kite, 2001).
What we fail to realize is that “constant emotional pain can become a parasite, feeding on your energy, making you ill, and making your life miserable,” writes Eckhart Tolle. No matter where we place the blame, whether we blame modern life or consider it as part of human nature, the fact is “compulsive thinking has become a collective disease.” Millions, if not billions of people are affected by this. Eckhart Tolle argues that as part of the therapy, it is pertinent that we watch and see if the mind is up to no good.
The mind can easily be influenced by the ego. Without knowing, it becomes a slave to the ego. Yes, the problems originate from the ego, as “the ego needs problems, conflicts, and enemies to strengthen the sense of separateness on which its identity depends.” Thankfully, there is an antidote. The antidote Eckhart Tolle offers is simple; we just watch and observe the mind doing its thinking. “The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.”
It is a simple idea but difficult one to master, i.e., to stop the mind from interfering and thinking of old emotional pains constantly. However, when you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the now, you can see the change in you as you feel the calm and peace. When we become the watcher, we unleash the power of ‘now’, we start to monitor how the mind is playing games. Basically, we do not allow the ego to dominate the mind and to control our thoughts. Undoubtedly, “the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.”
As for all addictions, one needs willpower and focus as well as the tenacity to gain freedom from the addictive habits of the mind, and confidence will be built with practice.
By enlightening the readers about how to avoid the mind traps and repetitive thoughts of past pains and future anxieties, Eckhart Tolle in effect opens the doors to lasting happiness for the sufferers. His book offers help and guidance on everyday problems discussed normally in counselling sessions. The book ought to be essential reading for counsellors. Eckhart Tolle, however, does make the effort to emphasise repeatedly the importance of staying focused on the program as prescribed, which I felt was necessary and required. The enchanting aspect of the book is that, it offers a simple but powerful healing idea; that we should focus on ‘Now’. Only by being in the present we can free ourselves from the emotional pains and anxieties. Indeed, it is the simple ideas that are the most profound and powerful.
It is evident that we possess the necessary tools for healing within us but we fail to utilise them. Our insouciance is more harmful than good when it comes to mind and the thought processes. We need to acknowledge that we are already complete and fully equipped to heal ourselves, we just need to refocus our healing powers, to restore the mind, by being in the ‘Now’.