Not long ago, on Facebook, I posted that I was not only re-reading Tolle’s “A New Earth,” but also that I was coming to a point in the book (a sub-chapter) that he’s labeled “Incontrovertible Proof of Immortality.” Elsewhere in the book, he mentions a very low place in his current life where he was on the verge of suicide and thought to himself, “I can’t live with myself anymore” and quickly realized there were two parts to that notion – “I” and “myself.” He almost immediately wondered who is the “I” and who is the “myself” that it couldn’t live with.
The experience led him not only away from self-dying, but also into a level of increased awareness he’d not previously experienced. He realized that what is commonly referred to as “I” isn’t really who he is (or who I am, or who you are…) and that he (and everyone else!) is truly the unchanging field of consciousness silently witnessing from behind that “I.” This relates directly to Tolle’s incontrovertible proof.
A major function of the ego (Which, by the way, is what enables us to even have a human experience in this physical world – karma mandates the experience, but ego enables it.) is identification. Most of what it seeks is to identify is itself. I am a mother. I am a priest. I am a CEO. In fact, its survival depends on the successful execution of that identification function. In some cases it identifies according to what it is not. In this context, it somehow makes more sense to distinguish others – that is, to create the perception of separation. He is this. She is that. The loved knows (defines) itself according to perceived proximity to the lover. The relationship of separateness must be perpetuated for either to continue existing. It really doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re standing on. So long as you’re deeply buried in identification, you will remain an active player in the delusion that is the “other.” How does this apply to Tolle’s supposedly incontrovertible proof of immortality? Precisely because the same delusion and the same liberating realization factor in.
According to Tolle, much of our delusion is hinted at in our language when we speak of life. Mind you, he’s speaking of the English language, specifically. Other languages may use a different structure when referencing life, which might mean this will be less or more applicable. It should be noted that language, as a human instrument, is one of the first expressions of the mind’s outreach. We think something and initially only thoughts that are relatively connected to the seed thought are affected. When enough “secondary” thoughts become affected, emotions begin to pool and shortly thereafter the beginning of a physiological response occurs. If this continues long enough, that physiological response grows and diversifies.
An example might be that we think we’re not doing well at work (seed thought). We begin thinking of the reasons why this is so (secondary, tertiary, etc… thoughts), and we soon feel nervous (emotions built on primary and secondary thoughts) that our employment might be in jeopardy (attachment to identification we’ve already convinced ourselves of: I am an employee. If I am fired and am not an employee, I will be “less.”). When those primary and secondary thoughts ricochet enough off of each other and the resultant emotions, that energy is recirculated in/through/around itself. As that momentum grows, and it doesn’t take much/long, we might eventually notice that our pulse has quickened and perhaps our palms are sweaty. All of this happens as a result of identification.
Tolle explains this well. According to him, the ego is the result of a split within us. The whole process is rather schizophrenic. You end up living with a conceptual image of yourself that you have a relationship with. When this happens, you end up speaking of “my life,” the result of which is that life becomes conceptualized and separated from who you are. As Tolle points out, “The moment you say or think “my life” and believe in what you are saying (rather than it just being a linguistic convention), you have entered the realm of delusion. If there is such a thing as “my life,” it follows that I and life are two separate things, and so I can also lose my life, my imaginary treasured possession.”
After that point, says Tolle, death becomes a perceived reality and threat. We continue using words and concepts to break life up into segments, which in turn continues and strengthens our delusion and misidentification – our ego.
Tolle contends that all implication that “I” and life are separate entities goes on to also imply that “I” am also separate from all things, all beings, and all people. This goes against some of Hinduism’s deepest and most shared structural beliefs. There can be no “I” apart from life. It is impossible. “So there is no such thing as “my life” and I don’t have a life. How can something be lost which wasn’t had in the first place?
I am life, and so are you. How can you lose something that you are?
Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha