Observations about “Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”

I recently started listening to the audio book A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. I’ve always loved Eckhart Tolle’s quotes, but have never read or listened to any of his work. This book from Audible.com is about 9 1/2 hours, which makes it great for my long daily commutes. This Audible version of Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is actually narrated by Eckhart Tolle himself, which I really like because he is flat out brilliant.

Eckhart Tolle - Awakening to Your Lifes Purpose eckhart tolle picture1

At this time I’ve listened to about 4 hours or what amounts to several chapters in the book. While I never like to give away too much in these posts, as to not spoil it for the reader; I am really enjoying this audio book. Tolle spends a lot of time talking about how the ego has prevented us from being ourselves, from finding any sense of our true self. He also spends a lot of time discussing our material desires that are driven by ego or sense of a false self, and how we cling to roles that we so closely identify with as we feel they define ourselves by these roles.

This is really an incredible audio book because it makes you question everything you think you are and value. If you have questions about a world where we seek to divide groups of people, where material wealth is king, where we seek to feel superior to others, and live a life stroking our egos then you will really enjoy Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.

Namaste

 

 

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Clinging to a sense of self

Selflessness

Identifying yourself as a role

Think of all the roles you play in your life, from mother or father, provider, democrat or republican, atheist or christian. May be you are a student, doctor, lawyer, policeman, drug dealer, psychiatrist, software engineer, accountant, salesperson, American, Indian, Chinese, South African, Brazilian, Canadian, or Italian. Whatever you think you are you have over the years created this way of identifying who you are by one of these roles or associations. Our sense of self is often all wrapped up in what we do, the roles we play, and who we associate with. This sense of self is of course impermanent as life changes and results in changes in your roles.

Clinging to these roles

Clinging to a sense of self and then creating an ego based on your roles makes for a very limiting existence. Are you really one of the roles you play everyday? I know people who have been crushed by the loss of a job or a spouse because their whole identity was wrapped up in that job or person. There sense of self was all about some external factor and their life seemed over when this association was broken. Carrying around some false sense of ego and self only limits your happiness and separates us as human beings. You are not what you do for a living, you are not a political party affiliation, you are not where your ancestors came from, and you are not a culmination of all the roles you play each day.

Fruits of selflessness

I was reading the Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield this morning and there was a quote by Dipama Barua “In my mind there are only three things: loving kindness, concentration, and peace”. These are the fruits of selflessness, not of someone burdened by the self. As you approach each day think about the times your behavior and thoughts are tied to this sense of self. Does this false sense of self result in happiness?

A role is a role not you

As someone who has lived too many years thinking that my sense of self is what I did for a living; I’ve begun to realize I was terribly wrong. The more you can separate the roles you must play from who you really are, the more joy and openness will permeate your life. Being selfless doesn’t mean you don’t have a sense of your own value as a human being, but it does mean you can now focus on thinking for yourself and you can be more open to valuing others.

Namaste

Exercising Choice

choices the three C

No this is not about choosing the right exercise, although that could be a choice for you.  Really this post is more about breaking free of a habit based existence and exercising this little thing called choice in your life.  As human beings we tend to create habits for ourselves some good and some not so good, but nonetheless we live out these habits.  For many people breaking a bad habit is something that takes a crisis not because that is the best approach, but it is in our nature to stick with that habit even though it may have very negative consequences.  Consider the heroin addict, smoker, or alcoholic it often takes a dire consequence, a pretty severe wake up call for them to even think about moving away from the habit by choice.  We have all been there, following some bad habit that may be detrimental to our health, relationships, or careers.  I contend that we naturally stick with the habit and we are not exercising a choice but simply sticking with what is familiar.

Think about your day or your typical week, how much of it is made up of rituals you have developed.  What do you do in the morning, my guess is you follow a pretty regimented routine, preparing yourself for a work day, and then arriving at the office within a 15 minute window of time.  Of course these are not necessarily bad things, but they exemplify how we like to follow a pattern of behavior, a ritual if you like.

Life is about choices

Are there habits you should cling too?  Maybe, but don’t be to hasty, even what you perceive as good habits or patterns of behavior may be limiting you.  Let’s take the person who gets up every morning and goes running, sounds like a good habit doesn’t it.  Would another form of exercise be maybe even more beneficial from time to time?  Oh no I run every day, not by choice so much as I am now a runner and have created a daily habit and short of a pretty bad injury that is where I am headed in the morning.

See we create paradigms that we actually live out.  I am a project manager, I am a runner, I am a brick layer, I am a doctor, I am in law enforcement, I am a tax attorney, I am stock broker, I am something.  I have created a category, a role for myself, and thus limited my choices.  Regardless of all the silly ways that society reinforces the limitations that go along with your role and tries to box you in to a set of required skills, it does no define your potential.  A runner can lift weights or do yoga, a brick layer can be a florist, a tax attorney can be an artist, a college drop out at Harvard can create Microsoft.

The point of all of this is you have choices as to how you spend your time, hopefully you see yourself as more than a role you fulfill.  Choice is something we really don’t exercise much, but it is more available than you think.  Start with those negative habits that enslave you such as smoking, drinking, drugs, a poor diet, bad relationships, or a dead end job.  Start making a conscience choice to follow another path, an alternative action.  Otherwise let your habits consume you and dictate your future, you have a choice.

Namaste