Tag Archive | Eckhart Tolle

Bringing our visions into the world of form



I was standing in the check-out line of a grocery store the other day and the woman in front of me began telling another woman about the difficulties that she was having with her adult son. In a very short period of time, I heard this woman’s story (regarding her son). The “story of her son” was one that I could feel had been repeated  by her hundreds, if not thousands, of times: he’d always been difficult, always struggled with anger and depression, she was at the end of her rope with him, she was worried sick about him.

This unhappy story was a huge part of her life. At one point, the woman listening to her said, “He hasn’t always been in so much trouble. Remember when….” but the woman cut her off saying, “And now, his doctor wants to take him off all of his medications……” Her friend had tried to crack through that dense, dark, sad, story but this woman’s ego was having none of it, so she escalated her story. She was, “Arguing for her limitations”, and she was doing it for both herself and for her son….and it is so easy to see when someone else is doing it…not so easy when it comes to our stories.

When we lock into our minds dramatic, highly charged, scenarios about ourselves or anyone else, they stay locked in, in our experience, and it doesn’t matter if they are scenes that we hate or love. We become mesmerized by these images, believe them to be true, and they come to life.

A few years ago, I sat with my mother and my son Matt, and I asked them both where they saw themselves in a couple of years. Matt saw himself in LA (he was not living there at the time) working in films, doing what he felt passionate about, and also becoming more recognized for his work. When he shared his vision, I didn’t start a conversation about how it could happen. I didn’t give him any advice or “helpful ideas”. This was not a discussion, it was a vision.

At one level, this is a fun game to play, but it is also a powerful way to gather two minds for a common vision. From that day forward, when I thought about Matt, I held a snapshot of what he told me, in my mind. If I started to become worried (because he didn’t have a place to live, or that his total wreck of a car, cracked windshield and all, would break down, etc.) I’d get quiet, close my eyes, and pull that “success image” to mind. I’d see him happy and loving his work. He also held his vision, and he worked for it. Every opportunity presented (even the smallest) that felt like a step in the right direction, he said yes to. A couple of years later, when Matt and the film crew from that season of The Deadliest Catch, accepted their Emmy, no one in our family was surprised.

But it wasn’t the outer manifestation alone that we had seen. It was the feeling of the vision (which is ultimately the important thing). When I see myself and others as peaceful, loving, and happily fulfilling our purpose for being (awakening and thus helping others to do the same) I have become a conscious creator.

Our minds are continually creating our worlds, whether we are conscious of this or not. Release your limited, unhappy, visions. Set them free, let them go. Open your arms and your heart to a new vision.

If you look within rather than only without, you discover that you have an inner and an outer purpose, and since you are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm, it follows that the universe too has an inner and outer purpose inseparable from yours. The outer purpose of the universe is to create form and experience the interaction of forms–the play, the dream, the drama, or whatever you choose to call it.

Its inner purpose is to awaken to its formless essence. Then comes the reconciliation of outer and inner purpose: to bring that essence, consciousness, into the world of form and thereby transform the world. The ultimate purpose of that transformation goes far beyond anything the human mind can imagine or comprehend. And yet, on this planet at this time, that transformation is the task allotted us.”    pp 281, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle


My reason for being… in the web of Life

This spider has taken up residence in the corner of our kitty litter room. Jack pointed it out to me the other day so I would disturb its web....I love that man!

This fairly large spider has taken up residence in the corner of our kitty litter room. Jack pointed it out to me the other day so I wouldn’t disturb its web….I love that man.

A couple of days ago, I decided to go for a run much later in the day than I usually go. It was really hot out, so after a mile, I turned around to head back, and noticed a small turtle that was just beginning to cross the road. I picked it up, gently carried it to the other side (in the direction that it was headed) and put it down in the grass.

As I ran back home, it occurred to me that just possibly, this was the reason that I had “chosen” to run so late in the day, and maybe carrying that little turtle to safety was my “reason for being” that day.

Nothing is random and nothing is unimportant. Every thought, every action, is a sacred, interconnected thing,… whether I choose to see life this way or not. But I do choose to see life this way, because when I do, it feels good and right, and when I forget this, and think that unhappy circumstances and events are happening “to me”, I don’t feel good; I feel small, disconnected, and alone, and I think that I am unimportant to the whole.

What is my reason for being today? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll never know. But I know this reason exists, for me, for you, for every being, seen and unseen. We are all a part of the magnificent pattern of Life.

Behind the sometimes seemingly random or even chaotic succession of events in our lives, as well as in the world, lies concealed the unfolding of a higher order and purpose. This is beautifully expressed in the Zen saying, ‘The snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.” Eckhart Tolle pp 194, from A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Susan's turtle (I couldn't insert it below her comment, but here it is)

Susan’s turtle (I couldn’t insert it below her comment, but here it is)

A new question


Smiling sky

One thing that I keep needing to re-learn, is never to ask myself a question when the answer will not be helpful. Have you ever noticed that the only time you ask yourself the question, “What is wrong with me?” is when you are not feeling good? And what then do we think the answer will be? Something new, uplifting, and helpful? Never.

Questions like, “What is wrong, what is missing, why do I feel so ……?”, are ripe opportunities for the egoic mind to jump in and say, “I”ll tell you what is wrong with you! And then it goes crazy with all sorts of worn-out, old, frightening reasons why you are in the wretched state that you are, and why this is your (or someone else’s) fault. And we believe it. It feels like the truth.

When I catch myself doing this, I try to ask a better question, like, “What is right about this (or me?). What is right in my life right now?” and then I don’t try to figure it out, I let an answer come. Sometimes just asking the question is enough to lift my spirits and help me start feeling better. It is such a simple and heart-felt prayer: “Show me what is right, show me what is good about my life, right now.” Questions like these have the power to break old patterns of reactive thought since they are invoking the deeper self: the Spirit of Love itself.

Ask yourself a new question today….one that doesn’t cause you to cringe and brace yourself for the answer, but that makes you smile in happy anticipation; one you would enjoy hearing the answer to.

The voice in the head has a life of its own. Most people are at the mercy of that voice: they are possessed by thought and by the mind. And since the mind is conditioned by the past, you are then forced to reenact the past again and again. The Eastern term for this is karma.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (pg 129)

*As a friend and I were walking to our morning watercolor class this past Saturday, I looked up in the sky and saw a plane flying in what appeared to be an arc, and then it began to close and make a circle. We stood there speechless, as it completed the circle and then came back around to make a smile (you can see the outline on the right).

Gentle reminders; let’s try again

The little shrine in Jack's shop

The little shrine in Jack’s shop

I stopped by Jack’s store the other day but he wasn’t there. The door was open and music was playing …he always plays the same cd: Jennifer Berezan’s “Praises for the World”. The first thing that I noticed was the music seemed too loud, then I saw a watercolor painting with dirty glass. As I walked toward the back of his shop, I noticed something else; my need to scrutinize, judge, evaluate, and try to “improve” my (or Jack’s) environment.

When I noticed this thought, I stopped and took a breath. It almost brought me to tears. …surrounded by all of this beauty, I looked for the dust. Looking into the face of someone I adore, I notice the pimple. Looking at my own smile, I notice the teeth that are not white anymore.

As I became present, standing in the middle of Jack’s shop, I saw a little shrine against one of the walls. As I walked closer, I realized that although it probably once housed a religious statue, Jack had arranged little glass chickens and a rooster (accented by a model T Ford plaque) inside. My thought was,

“If I didn’t know who owned this shop, I would like to get to know him.”

Then I realized that I didn’t know him. Not really. When I think I know what he will say next, or how he should arrange his store (or his life), how can I know him? I know my version of him; the version that, to my mind, always needs tweaking.

When I am finding fault with Jack, or myself, or anyone, it’s because I’ve focused on something that (in that moment) is unacceptable to me, and the result is always the same; I am unhappy, and I think that I need to change it. Now! …I also know enough to recognize when I’ve fallen (yet again) into this state and what I can do about it.

First, I notice. Second, I try to be very gentle with myself and say, (almost like I would speak to a little child who fell down, or to a newly rescued animal that was still very afraid of getting hit), “It’s OK (to whatever just happened!). Let’s try again.”

“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life. The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. …Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life, and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you”. pages, 33-35,  Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


Fred napping (in one of my favorite spots) on this rainy morning

Fred napping (in one of my favorite spots) on this rainy morning

“Pets fulfill an incredible function that hasn’t been fully acknowledged and recognized in this world. They keep humanity sane.” Eckhart Tolle (recorded during a retreat at the Findhorn Foundation)

I was listening to an Echart Tolle CD the other day, and when I heard him say these words, I knew that I wanted to share them with you. 

I invite you to share any stories about how animals have positively effected your life.

The valley of the Universe: The field of Love

Eleanor looking for her toy

Eleanor looking for her toy

I had a dream the other night that I was supposed to marry a prince, but I had to pass a test first. I sat in the backseat of a car, trying to explain to someone that the prince didn’t know me, but that didn’t stop the driver. As we moved forward, I realized that the “test” was to say what I had learned (in life?) and I said, “What I’ve learned is that I don’t have control over anything.” and I woke up….and I knew that this was true.

All of the amazing openings, connections, opportunities, gifts, incredible people, ideas,…every “miraculous thing” that has ever been a part of my life (has come to me) was presented like a gift, for me to say yes to, or not. When I did say yes, the action that I took (if action was needed) always felt right.

There is so much advice floating around today about how we need to be “out there” pushing our ideas, peddling our wares, making a name for ourselves, becoming well-known, marketing ourselves and our “products”. The feeling behind this kind of approach to life is; if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. If you don’t push your own agenda, no one else is going to do it. And yet, I don’t find this to be the Truth. Pushy people (in my experience) push people away, just like people who calmly and deeply believe in themselves, in what they are doing, in Life Itself, draw more of that Life to them as they emanate the same.

I’m attracted to people, products, events and ideas that radiate love, kindness, warmth and expansion. I can feel this because I am a part of that larger field of energy….we are all a part of the Field of Love, of God-Consciousness, and when we remember this, we align with it and let it move us, breath us, live through us…and life begins to feel miraculous to us.

If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. …Instead of trying to be a mountain, teaches the ancient Tao Te Ching, ‘Be the valley of the universe.’ In this way, you are restored to wholeness and ‘all things come to you.” A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle

Dancing our way through life

Esther on her pillows (which made me think of the song,   so the link to it is below)

Esther on her pillows (which made me think of the song, Celebrate (by 3 Dog Night)! the link to it is below

It came to my attention, after posting yesterday (on assuming perfection in our lives) that some people thought I was saying that having a perfect life meant getting everything we wanted, how and when we wanted it. This is so far from what I intended to convey that I wanted to clarify a bit.

Several weeks ago, I decided to take dance lessons for one reason: so I could dance at my son Tom’s wedding and feel relaxed. I signed Jack and I up, but he was sick for the first lesson, so I went alone. What came out over the next week (as he and I talked about learning to dance) was that he didn’t really want to take lessons…for whatever reason. This left me with the choice to either go alone, not go at all, or coerce him into doing something he didn’t want to do. The choice was mine and I chose the way that felt best inside of me….and called it perfect. What I had originally thought I wanted was for us to go as a couple, have fun learning together, and be able to practice at home.

But this wasn’t Jack’s idea of fun, it was mine, and I had to decide what course would bring the most fun to my life. The way was clear: take lessons alone.

The “perfection” that I am seeking is inner peace, inner joy, inner happiness, no matter what is going on outside of me. It isn’t peaceful to feel like a victim or pitiful. It isn’t peaceful to think that if someone loved me, they’d do what I wanted them to do. …because I could just as well flip that scenario around and say that if I loved him, I would do what he wanted.

The perfect day is one in which I remember the deepest essence of who I am; when I don’t fight the world. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take action or that I just sit on my couch passively Oming away the day, never making a decision, but I know that when I’m upset because things aren’t going “my way”, then I am not in the flow and that’s my cue to look for the perfection. Many times I just claim it before I really feel it, but just saying “Well, this must be perfect” unlocks something inside.

I no longer fight with Life (well, almost never!) and that is perfect for me.

“How would you cope if you had to live in a Disco for a week?” (an unhappy participant at an Eckhart Tolle seminar asks him this question in response to the noise and crowds at the current retreat location). Eckhart responds, “If I couldn’t find peace, then I would walk out the door. Assuming that I was locked in, what’s left is surrender….so I would probably start dancing.”  Eckhart Tolle

A new way of seeing is born

Luke wants me to play with him, but is patiently waiting!

Luke wants me to play with him, but is patiently waiting for me to finish writing.

I was listening to a CD by Eckhart Tolle yesterday. He was talking about the questions that get submitted (for him to answer) during the retreats he leads, pointing out that labeling anything as “mine” tends to attach us to the thing, and then we (our egos) take it personally. If my question isn’t chosen, I might feel dismissed, or if it is chosen and someone says, “What a great question!” then I feel proud…as if the question is me!

I thought about this attachment of myself to objects, thoughts, gifts, and even my body, all day yesterday, and woke up with the thought that I would like to begin looking at my world or I could say, the world, in a new way, without personal attachment to things outside of me. And by me, I don’t mean only my body or my thoughts or posessions…these are not the true me anyway. They are, at best, temporary forms, but this is a good place to start.

Have you ever brought a dish to a potluck and had no one say anything nice about it, and ended up feeling bad? I have.

Have you ever purchased a new dress or gotten a new hair cut, and had no one really notice, or even hear someone say they didn’t like “it” and found that you felt bad? I have.

Have you ever written something or asked a question and had someone call it dumb, and felt terrible? I have.

The list could go on and on.

I do wonder how many times (hundreds of thousands?!) that I have done this; attached my sense of Self, my value, my worth, to an object, or a thought, or even a person’s (usually a relative’s) behavior.

This is what I believe is meant by the words, “We must die to the old self to be reborn in the new”. The old self doesn’t know who it really is. It is limited in the extreme. It is all egoic mind. It thinks about itself, its problems, its objective world, constantly. It is always worried, planning, afraid, on alert.

We are all so much larger than our egoic minds believe. We really are infinite beings, all capable of realizing the Truth of our being, but to do so, we need to realize the larger dimension of Self.

I am here in a body, but I am not my body. I have thoughts, but they are not me.  When I let go of the old concept of  myself as a limited being, confined to only what you can relate to through the senses, I naturally expand. …I let myself out of the box labeled, “I am only what you see, what I own, what I create, read, touch, hear, think…” No. These things are just the tip of the iceberg of magnificent you.

Thinking isolates a situation or event and calls it good or bad, as if it had a separate existence. Through excessive reliance on thinking, reality becomes fragmented. This fragmentation is an illusion, but it seems very real while you are trapped in it. And yet the universe is an indivisible whole in which all things are interconnected, in which nothing exists in isolation. ” Echart Tolle, from “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.

True freedom

Esther in her favorite place; outside

About 15 years ago, I was going through a particularly rough time and while visiting a friend in California he said, “You need to see Robert. He is an amazing healer.” I was open to trying almost anything and so I did. Robert was in his late 70’s, living in a very small, unimpressive apartment and didn’t look like he was in all that great shape himself (as I recall, he wasn’t able to stand up to greet me). I sat in a chair and he waved his hands this way and that, and chanted something under his breath.  I can’t remember how long I was there, but as I got up to leave the most wonderful feeling came over me. It was as if I was bathed in a peaceful, warm light, inside and out.

I left feeling like a different person. I was relaxed, calm and felt an inner joy that I hadn’t felt in so long that I couldn’t remember. But the next day, as I went through my day, the feeling subsided and within a short time, I was back to feeling the old anxieties and worries. I so wished that I lived near Robert and even thought about moving to California to see if I could work for him in exchange for sessions, but that didn’t pan out and in retrospect, I’m glad it didn’t. Robert had learned how to focus his mind for the good of others, but the piece that was missing was my mind and my thoughts. Although there was no doubt that I felt better, I was also feeling like he did it and that was subtly disempowering.

It was my mind that created, through negative, worried thought, the conditions of my life and no person, place or thing on the outside of me could  heal that in a lasting way. I can receive temporary help (and many times that help will be enough to get me to a better feeling place so I can really work on my own thought life) but if I don’t change my dominant pattern of thought and belief, I will end up back where I started.

When we become aware that our thoughts are creating the conditions of our lives, then we are empowered to change from within, and can celebrate and embrace all the help that comes from others instead of feeling dependent in a disempowered way. We are here to help each other by sharing our unique gifts and strengths; never to make another dependent on us, but always to help others become aware of the Divine within themselves.

Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.”Eckhart Tolle

Help is always around…even if we are having trouble feeling it in the moment

Matt and Tom in the front seat (Jack and me in the back)…having a wild day!

Our flight to Philadelphia on Saturday morning was delayed getting out of Burlington, which left us about 20 minutes to make our connection. There were a number of us on the plane flying to Mexico, and so we hoped they’d hold the flight if we were late, but we sprinted and got to the gate just as the final passenger was boarding. Our hearts were pounding, we were out of breath, sweating and happy as we arrived at the gate on-time, behind the last few entering passengers.

The woman ahead of me tried to give her boarding pass to the attendant but she wouldn’t take it, saying that we were too late. “What?!” There are people going down the ramp right now!” my fellow passenger gasped, trying to catch her breath. The airline worker was stone-faced. Then about 15 of us, all who were booked for that flight (which was still sitting at the gate, as they loaded passengers) started asking why we could not get on. The 2 women behind the desk began looking things up on the computer so we waited and waited and when someone asked what they’d found out, one of them looked up said, “I can’t deal with any of you right now. I am finishing up this flight.” The long and the short of it was, that they had filled all of the seats (probably had over-booked the flight) and we were sent to customer relations.

Our unhappy little pod of 15 made our way to the customer service desk and were told that we would be put on stand-by for the 7pm flight (it was currently 10 a.m) which was full also, or we would be guaranteed a seat on the 7:30 a.m. flight the next morning. My visions of sitting on the beach, smelling that wonderful sea air, under the full, Cinco de Mayo moon, seemed to be fading and were rapidly being absorbed by the dismal thought of spending the night in a Philadelphia airport hotel under cloudy, diesel-fuel-smelling skies.

Some people were accepting the stand-by tickets, others were trying to get any  flight out of Philadelphia, and I was becoming more discouraged as several hours ticked by. At one point I plopped down in  a seat outside the customer service area, and closed my eyes. I could feel a cauldron of negative emotion swirling around my gut. I kept trying to imagine arriving that evening and seeing Matt (my son who was flying in from L.A.,  and would be waiting for us) but I didn’t really feel any better…my efforts felt insignificant and puny.

Suddenly my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but answered it anyway. The voice on the other end said, “Hello Mary? This is Brother Michael. I used to work with Sister Margaret…” Sister Margaret (a Catholic nun) was my beloved spiritual advisor who had died several years ago. I wrote about her on this blog once.  She was well-known for saying goodbye with the words, “Have a wild day!” Brother Michael (a monk) had never called me in all of the years that I had known him. He had a very mundane question about, of all things, the skin balm that I make, but I knew that this call had nothing to do with that.

Sister Margaret’s name brought a peace to me that felt like a hug. I hung up the phone and my son Tom (who had been very patiently working with the customer service people for the past 2 hrs) handed me a piece of paper with an 800 number, and asked me to call it and tell them what happened. I called and immediately got the sweetest guy named Jeremy* who put us on the 3:30 flight to Charlotte NC with a connector to Mexico. I told him that the customer relations people had already tried this flight and it was over-booked. He said, “Well, I’ve just put you on it. You’ll get in at 8:15 tonight.”And he was right.

“You are not just a meaningless fragment in an alien universe, briefly suspended between life and death, allowed a few short-lived pleasures followed by pain and ultimate annihilation. Underneath your outer form, you are connected with something so vast, so immeasurable and sacred, that it cannot be spoken of – yet I am speaking of it now. I am speaking of it now not to give you something to believe in, but to show you how you can know it for yourself.” Eckhart Tolle

*When I got home, I looked up the meaning of the name Jeremy….it means, “God will raise up.”