It’s a quote from a lone stoner, tripping on something very long and strong, that we picked up hitchhiking after a gig many years ago. We giggled then; we giggle now. The Mind as an oft-misunderstood faculty comes in for a lot of stick from Eckhart Tolle, one of the most, if not the most, honest and sincere of spiritual teachers at work today. But Eckhart, when you say: ‘All things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind’, then I think you are in danger of overstating the case. Eckhart wants us to eschew the Mind and get past it, beyond it to the silent place – he would call it ‘The Now’ – where pure consciousness lives and where we can live in it, silent, powerful and peaceful. That’s what this whole Ecology of the Soul project is about, of course.
But it pays to respect the Mind, and to put some work into polishing and tuning it so instead of leading you astray it brings you to that place of pure consciousness. I’m not comfortable with the logical progression of Eckhart’s proposition, which could tempt people to think that the Mind is rubbish and the whole project is to bypass it or shut it down. Yes, we get to the silence beyond the Mind, but the Mind is actually an incredibly powerful thing to be harnessed in the service of the enlightenment project aforesaid.
When I saw this quote from Eckhart I was thrown back to Rhonda Byrne and her Law of Attraction phenomenon ‘The Secret’, which – apparently, because surely it must be a matter for interpretation – essentially proposes that the power of thought is such that whatever you think, it comes true. There is a trick of course; to get rich, you have to persuade yourself into the rich mindset and ‘think rich’, even though the bailiffs might be battering down your door. No good just saying ‘I want to be rich, I want to be rich’. You have to feel it, live it. Not a simple proposition then, and there’s a lot about The Secret that I’m deeply suspicious of, but it does at least recognise the power of the Mind. If in meditation – whose aim and intention, we agree, is to still the Mind – we are pinpointing, focusing our thoughts on that aim, the Mind leads itself to stillness. It’s a tool, a conveyance to get us where we want to go. And while we’re still at that conscious level, how about the subconscious Mind? The bit that creates miracles or unwitting disasters? The truly powerful bit? Are we somehow not in control of that? No, we’re demonstrably not. And isn’t getting some control or awareness of our subconscious thought process part of the whole meditation project? By which we achieve even greater power over our own state of mind?
Lot more to think about here, Eckhart. And when I think, I’m using my Mind. Yep, true enlightenment, beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace, arise beyond the Mind. But right here, right now, I taste those things with my Mind, and sow the seeds – power seeds – of Soul consciousness. In the Mind. What else is ‘Mindfulness’?