“Most people don’t inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one.”
Eckhart Tolle ‘A New Earth’
“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Do we live in reality?
In recent blogs I have commented on the issues our society faces in relation to economic and educational structures which are having a profoundly negative effect on our environment. It’s easy to find fault but the individuals who make up this society are you and I. There are many activists, working on many issues, in an attempt to help our society find a better path. This is commendable but activism holds a danger. It gives us a position to hold and we can become personally identified with being ‘against’ (or ‘for’) something. This is essentially the work of our ego, as is identification with a lifestyle, objects or other people.
In the quote above Tolle is pointing to possibly the most important issue which faces us. Do we live in reality? I think what he means is; are we able to step back from our ego positions and observe ourselves and our behaviour from without? In other words - a disidentification. This is very challenging but it’s at the core of many of the problems we face. I can think of times I have taken entrenched positions about issues which are largely informed by my history and personal experience. It’s an expression of my thinking process. I automatically respond but these are essentially ego positions designed to reinforce the image I present to the world.
You and I are certainly much more than our egos. We are also the mystery of soul and spirit. However, if we look around us we see ego dominating business and politics. Our commercial structures push us to consume more, trying to bolster personal self images which are never satisfied. This is a negative spiral (but in the news they call it growth). In the cycle of consumption we are only ever the sum of our thoughts. Not really human ‘beings’, more human ‘buyings’.
Not square pegs in round holes
If we are to have a profound restructuring of our societies and communities, one which redefines edifices such as our economic, educational and environmental policies, it is down to each individual. Using the existing system to identify problems and come up with solutions is a process doomed to failure. Why? It’s the world of “I am entitled”, I am against/for”, “I am a victim”, “I am right”. (For example, the last climate summit in Copenhagen was pretty useless because so many said “I am protecting my countries rights”.)
Jesus said “before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8v 58 NIV) and scandalised the religious authorities. He also used “I am” to talk about resurrection, gateways, bread, light, life and the Way. An opening up and giving away of Himself, which is an altogether different spirit from that prevalent in society then, and now. The kingdom that Jesus spoke of is happening today. It contains the fundamental template for a just, even, fair and equitable society. One where economics and education help people to simply be the “I am” they are designed for, not square pegs in a round holes. I think Jesus was telling us to get beyond our rational, thinking minds and find the truth of our individual “I am” so we can live it.