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Thread: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

  1. #1

    Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I wonder if anyone is watching Eckhart Tolle discussing his book A New Earth with Oprah on http://www.oprah.com
    This is a 10 week series and this week Chapter 5 is about what he calls our "pain-body". I think this particular talk is excellent.

    Gassho Jenny

  2. #2

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Yes, I was wondering that too. He isn't exactly Zen, but having read two of his books, 'The Power of Now' and 'A New Earth' I haven't found much that contradicts Zen teachings. Only thing - although he mentions meditation, he doesn't seem to say much about establishing regular meditation practice. Maybe that's because he became 'awakened' through a process of mental suffering himself and not from years of zazen practice. I especially like his description of the way we get caught up in the 'egoic mind' - very lucid.

    Gassho,
    John

  3. #3

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Well, right now. I sit. Don't really know much about that philosophy stuff. Does he sit?


    G,W

  4. #4

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Please give me a few days, as I want to watch the Oprah series before commenting. I have read some of his books, and have had some opinions, but I want to see this before offering a perspective. Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Does he sit?
    G,W
    Actually............



    he does. :mrgreen:

  6. #6

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    In answer to Will's question "Does he sit?" - no, he probably doesn't sit in shikantaza as we do, but he does speak of entering into silence in various ways. There is a list of exercises for beginners on the website provided by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield and Bro. David Stendl-Rast.
    Many of the million or so listeners to the programme may be unfamiliar with the teachings of Zen or other forms of meditation, and perhaps this is a good introduction to a wide audience of a different way of living one's life.
    Jenny

  7. #7

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Thanks Jenny.

    Al said

    I'd like to hear more thoughts from the group on Eckhart
    I couldn't really say much. I just know sitting practice. Philosophy was mentioned which I don't invest much in. Forgive my persistence Like I said. I'm just a beginner.

    This is a Zendo right? :roll:


    Gassho Will

  8. #8

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Hello Treeleaves!

    Not for one second do I claim to be an Eckhart Tolle expert....I read some articles about him and his teachings and listened to one of his lectures via you-tube a while ago. My gut reaction is however that he seems to be doing at least something right, otherwise Christian extremists wouldn't feel the need to edit together whole videos to fight against the Church of Oprah. I agree with alot of what seem to be his core teachings (Buddhism anyone???....and before anyone shouts Advaita-Vedanta, I guess it's good to remember that Hinduism had to wait until Shankara came along before they really got their own non-dual philosophy thingie completely together....and still believed in Atman), however unless I am very much misinformed, he never really knew how he came to be the "enlightended" man that his PR-people make him into. His major experience of awakening just happened, which is nothing too unusual really. How can he help people on a path, when he needed years to re-examine his own key-experience that just happened? I mean it's nice of him to offer everyone a share of his "on top of the world"-view, but isn't he just guessing as tohow he really got there. Shakyamuni Buddhas didn't offer just his experience and a few helpful exercises, he gave us (or however was responsible for the Nikayas etc.) the eightfold path, which in turn blossomed and developed into a variety of teachings like our Shikantaza.

    This whole thing seems to be a double-edged sword in my view....even if he promotes some very positive and important key points, he's only reflecting partially the splendour of one of the three jewels, the dharma (at least some bits of it). But without the other two jewels, a lot of extra problems can potentially arise. Is the Oprah-community feeling really all that one needs in terms of Sangha? I simply do not know...

    Diffrent strokes for diffrent folks....yet how much of a risk is it to introduce people to certain ideas without the possibility of receiving direct help from more experienced practitioners, a community etc. Does the Oprah-patchwork-spirituality approach (if taken to its extreme) offer any stability? Where is Eckhart during the "dark night of the soul" of one of his followers? It sure seems like a good first step to open up people's minds to the possibility that there is more than one way to Rome, but if the result of that is that people end up without anything to hold onto....well, I just don't know.... Last year the Dalai Lama visited Germany and actually made a point of saying in one of his lectures, if I remember correctly, that western people are in a lot of cases better off to stay with their own religious-culture (meaning Chrisitianity) instead of embracing some neither-this-nor-that kind of consumer-style Buddhism.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  9. #9
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Wow, I hate to sound negative, but what I've read (parts of one of his books) and heard of him (a number of YouTube videos) shows that he's just a spirituality supermarket huckster, tossing together a bunch of basic, non-offensive new-agish ideas that are easy for anyone to swallow. His "philosophy" is a combination of stoicism (in the original sense of the term), Buddhism and a few other isms. He seems to be more of a product than anything else.

    Kirk

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Interestingly enough(lol well perhaps just to me), but a co-worker is currently reading his newest Opra-rific book and was telling me i too should pick it up as its talks about meditation etc. She then explained what he was suggesting one would do (it was kinda like "think of your hands and what they do" was her explanation).
    She was "warned" by here priest that it was a good book with some bad spots and to be wary. I have not read the book and i probably will not, i have seen a lecture given by this guy via a zencast podcast (Video #116 for reference sake), and i found he covered a lot of 'spirituality'. doesnt do much for me and id rather have the hour+ i spent watching that vid, spent on the zafu.
    just my 2 pence

    edit: have to add that if its helpful to whomever (which it seems to be for my co-worker) then fill your boots, just not my cup of tea

    Gassho
    me (but you can call me Dirk)

  11. #11

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Interesting comments. I also noticed that there are parallels between Buddhism and Stoicism, e.g. that it's not what happens to us but how we react to what happens to us....A lot of Buddhist ideas are also in other religions, I think. Maybe I don't see any problem with and enjoy reading Tolle because I have a good firm background of zen practice and have studied a lot of philosophy, so I know how to read critically. So I appreciated the extra understanding I gained through the way Tolle explains concepts like the importance of living in the present moment, attachment, impermanence, the idea of no self etc.

    I agree that although his teachings might be a good way of helping people to find a way out of suffering, they lack a dimension that could deepen and stabilise their experience, one that that would be provided by a sangha. On the other hand, I think his teachings are valuable because they provide some kind of relief for some people's suffering - and there sure is a lot of mental suffering out there. And some of these people might then look for and find deeper teachings.

    I'm also a bit wary of slapping labels like 'new age,' 'only for baby boomers' and the like that can put prejudicial barriers in others' paths. Wouldn't it be better to discuss the parts of the books you/we disagree with? I certainly don't like the way he assumes we can totally dispense with the egoic mind just by becoming aware of it - I think that's need lots of work on the cushion. But I wouldn't rule out the fact that others can be awakened via a different route.

    Gassho,
    John

  12. #12

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I initially started this thread because I felt that Eckhart Tolle's way of explaining part of our suffering which he calls "the pain-body" was very helpful and I wondered if anyone else had read or heard his explanation.

    Very briefly he describes an energy field in our bodies which is the remnants of pain left behind by every strong emotion that is not fully faced, accepted and then let go of. This usually begins in childhood but also continues into adolescence and adulthood. He calls it the false sense of self which is the basis of our life and can cause not only ourselves to suffer but those around us, mostly our nearest and dearest.
    It thrives on negative thinking and drama in relationships, and when it arises it wants to make others miserable in order to feed on their negative reactions, and of course awakens their own pain-body. ( Many rows within marriage can testify to this.)

    Hopefully for those of us who sit zazen we can learn to open the hand of thought and let the negative thoughts dissipate before real harm is done.

    I'm not leaping to Eckhart Tolle's defence because I don't have to - he is as he is. What is interesting is the various ways people have responded, which shows a lot about us and nothing about Eckhart Tolle!

    Jenny :?

  13. #13

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    So I appreciated the extra understanding I gained through the way Tolle explains concepts like the importance of living in the present moment, attachment, impermanence, the idea of no self etc.
    So. Yesterday. I wandered in to the Center of All That Is Evil Mart, aka Wal-Mart, and did a quick read of Tolle's books (which btw they had 'em for $9 e/a :shock: Whoa!). I found his take on "the now" and other terms readable. My only criticism is when I started to read more about what he means with the "pain-body" & how that is put into actual "real" day-to-day context is when my skeptical buttons kicked in.

  14. #14

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Hi Jenny,

    I am sorry for the time it took to answer. I wanted to watch the Oprah series, and go back to some of his online talks and books, so as not to give an uninformed answer.

    I think that Eckhart Tolle speaks much wisdom, and that the general thrust and content of his talks are quite traditional in theme and sound in advice. He has never seemed to me (on the surface anyway) to be like so many of the snake oil salesmen, hucksters, crooks, gurus and new age fluffmeisters out there just seeking to sell books (even though Eckhart sells more than most of them combined ... and will surely sell millions more after appearing on Oprah!). The heart of his teachings is, in fact, the central message in most Buddhist traditions including what we speak of around here. I am not so down on Eckhart as some, even as I think that some depth and practical guidance is lacking.

    So, you can do much worse in life than reading an Eckhart Tolle book.

    That being said, I will echo some of the comments raised by Hans and others.

    For example, reading a book about taming and riding a wild horse is not the same as "hands-on" becoming truly skilled in taming and riding a wild horse. (Of course, I am comparing the human mind to a wild horse). Talking about managing the ego in a self-help book, and a series of short exercises to perform as one turns the pages, cannot be compared to the practice of meditation day in day out. I often compare our ways of Zazen to a daily exercise routine in the gym, the only real way to get in shape ... one does not do that by watching an exercise video while eating cookies on the sofa!

    And, of course, I believe that reading a book about being present in the present moment, freeing ourselves from ego and the thoughts, allowing the emotions to balance, dropping the past ... well, I believe that the best method for most people in order to learn that is "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, in which we just sit changing nothing, practicing being present in the moment, dropping ego, allowing thoughts to fade and emotions to balance, free of the past etc. etc. I think it is a method which even other forms of meditation cannot hold a candle to (which is why, of course, I teach it around here!) :wink:

    Second, I do think that there is a bit of the new age fluffmeister even in the case of Eckhart Tolle. Some teachings seem to be dumbed down, and made acceptable pablum, for a "self-help" book reading, happiness seeking, shopping mall worshiping middle class Western audience. Answers are often too pat, too much like simple slogans, without recognizing the ambiguity of life that we tend to recognize in Zen practice. For examples, many self-help teachings seek to provide a 10 step program to being "happy" and "content" and "successful" (in all fairness, Eckhart does not seem to be emphasizing material or business success as much as many preachers and gurus these days). In Zen, we do not promise that you will always be happy, content and successful and, in fact, sometimes all human beings are quite naturally unhappy and discontent. However, our Zen Practice allows us to be happy and fully content with the fact that we are not always happy and content! That is a major difference, and our definition of true "inner peace" ... true "Success" by dropping a thought-scale of "success" and "failure"! (We are also about not becoming slaves to "happiness" "unhappiness" or any other emotion or thought).

    Third, there is a "new agey" element in his talks (which may be the influence of Vedanta more than New Age teachings) that the purpose of our practice is to "Get in touch with the Cosmic Consciousness", that the "Universe is moving to a higher plane beyond ego", that the purpose of meditation is to allow the inner "energy", or "spirit", or "godhead" or "Cosmic Buddha" or the like to shine forth (by dropping the ego) ... and that when that occurs, we find our "True Self" or "True Being" or "True Consciousness" or the "true way we are to live". Then "Universal Love" will shine forth and the like.

    Now, such perspectives are present in Buddhism too, including in many strains of modern and ancient Zen Buddhism (some Zen teachers have always looked at "Buddha" or "Mind" as something like that, and the purpose of our practice as being to find that and manifest that "True Self" hidden by the harmful "lie" that is the small, human self ). However, for other ancient and modern Zen teachers, "True Self" includes and lives as the small human self EVEN AS we recognize it as a sometime source of harm and a kind of fiction ... another subtle but very important difference. Our job is not to get beyond being human, but to live well as human beings. We are not trying to get beyond that, to kill that, even as we learn to ride the wild bucking horse well (not leave or kill the horse, just ride the horse).

    Furthermore, we do not dare impose on the universe our small brained ideas of what it means to be the universe. For example, some say that if we do find this "Cosmic Consciousness" or "God" or "Buddha", then it/he/she is found "Perfect, Good and Just" as humans understand those terms. Thus, by manifesting in our lives that inner "Consciousness" or "God" or "Buddha", then our lives will become more "Perfect, Good and Just" as humans understand those terms.

    Well, assuming that such a "Cosmic Being" exists (our Zen Practice does not care so much), how dare we tell the "Universal Consciousness/God/Buddha" what it has to be, and that there is something "wrong" if it and our lives do not perform as we expect them to perform. This is a subtle, but very important point. So, instead of expecting that that universe be "Perfect, Good and Just" as human subjectively and Self-ishly demand, we are closer to embracing all as "perfectly beyond all thought of 'perfection' or 'imperfection', perfectly "good" at being "just" what it is". We are one with the universe on its own terms, a true "Peace" beyond all thought of "peace" or "disturbance". We do not demand that God (if she exists) be who we demand her to be ... or even that she exist at all!

    As well, instead of rejecting the "wild bronco" of human life and the ignorance of "not knowing" which is the human condition, we say, "Well, since I somehow, mysteriously, have been born with a human brain and body, I guess I am to live as a human being. I am not to reject that or seek for something other than being human." It is almost as if we say, "well, I am born ignorant of the deep inner workings of the universe ... perhaps something wants me to be ignorant and to live "not knowing", without need to know all the secrets ... assuming there are secrets". Even though, in our mediation, we can come to perceive that which is not obvious to the ordinary mind (such as new perspectives on life, death, why there is suffering, why "bad" things happen to "good" people, the nature of the "small self" and the "Big Self") a human brain ... even in the highest planes of meditation ... is simply incapable of knowing every darn "answer" about the universe.

    So, we live with our "not knowing" ignorance and that is fine.

    Is there a "Universal Consciousness/God/Buddha"? If so, live human life, fetch wood and carry water. Is there no "Universal Consciousness/God/Buddha"? If so, live human life, fetch wood and carry water. We do not reject the human condition and mind (the wild horse) even as we learn to ride her skillfully (for example, rejecting the more excessive and harmful aspects of being human such as greed, anger and ignorant actions).

    Anyway, I have gotten a little off the topic ...

    Jenny wrote:

    I initially started this thread because I felt that Eckhart Tolle's way of explaining part of our suffering which he calls "the pain-body" was very helpful and I wondered if anyone else had read or heard his explanation.

    Very briefly he describes an energy field in our bodies which is the remnants of pain left behind by every strong emotion that is not fully faced, accepted and then let go of. This usually begins in childhood but also continues into adolescence and adulthood. He calls it the false sense of self which is the basis of our life and can cause not only ourselves to suffer but those around us, mostly our nearest and dearest.
    It thrives on negative thinking and drama in relationships, and when it arises it wants to make others miserable in order to feed on their negative reactions, and of course awakens their own pain-body. ( Many rows within marriage can testify to this.)

    Hopefully for those of us who sit zazen we can learn to open the hand of thought and let the negative thoughts dissipate before real harm is done.
    While I have a bit of a problem with fluffy talk of inner "energy fields" and such, I think his basic description of how we are bound by our emotions and thoughts is correct. Thus, so much of our Buddhist practice around here is about facing those emotions and thoughts, learning to manage or drop them. I have no problem with this, including the way he describes how many of us "enjoy" wallowing in the pain, depression and suffering ... and come to learn to love pushing others' "pain buttons" (yes, I confess to this too in my marriage). This is Karma.

    So, in conclusion, one could do worse than reading one of his books or watching one of his videos. But one can also do a lot better than such "spiritual bubblegum" and get down to actual Practice. I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - The foregoing should not be confused with my feelings on Oprah, who I think it a true seller of fluff ... all kinds of nonsense from the "Secret" ...

    http://skepdic.com/lawofattraction.html

    to the "Prayer of Jabez" ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prayer_of_Jabez

  15. #15

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ......The heart of his teachings is, in fact, the central message in most Buddhist traditions including what we speak of around here. I am not so down on Eckhart as some, even as I think that some depth and practical guidance is lacking......
    Thanks Jundo. The above quote encapsulates how I see it.

    Gassho,
    John

  16. #16

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Hi Jundo, I very much appreciate the trouble you took in offering your views on our topic and also your not unkind remarks about Eckhart Tolle. Your emphasis on the importance of our sitting practice won't go unheeded either. Books and tapes have been very helpful for me, but I know I can't eat the recipe.

    You are a very good conductor of this orchestra which is Treeleaf, and if we go out of tune sometimes, as is to be expected with such a varied bunch of folk, you can always be guaranteed to tap the baton and waken us up!

    Incidently, Eckhart passed a good remark on Monday night's show. He said no one can ever be liked by everybody. But it's important to know that this isn't necessary.

    Gassho Jenny

  17. #17

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Jundo - thank you so much for the essay - its an excellent piece of writing. I have read one of Mr Tolle's books (about "Now" I think) & agree with you - "fluffy" sums it up.

    Best wishes

    Jools

  18. #18

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I thought some might find this Youtube interesting after the recent discussion of Eckhart Tolle and Oprah. Apparently 5,000,000 have seen the video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA&feature=related[/video]] ... re=related

    As interesting as what is said in the video by the narrator is what is not said, and how they seem to let Oprah and Tolle "damn themselves" without need for narration, as if their comments were so obviously anti-Christian that nobody needs to even point it out. I guess we are in trouble here at Treeleaf too! :|

    Oh, and at the end, apparently Oprah-Obama-Tolle & the Devil are in league to take over the world. Now you know.

    Gassho, Jundo

  19. #19

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Oh man, that video is really depressing. People are so controlled by their own fear that someone saying "God is love" is somehow radical and heretical??? These culture wars are so unhelpful.

    The plug for the conspiracy book at the end was the cherry on top.

  20. #20

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Skye wrote:
    People are so controlled by their own fear that someone saying "God is love" is somehow radical and heretical??? These culture wars are so unhelpful.
    I couldn't agree more, Skye.
    You hit the nail on the head . . . fear is the basis of the kind of rhetoric in the video. People identify so strongly with beliefs that anything or anyone who challenges those beliefs is a defacto challenge to their sense of self. The sad part is that as much as I see it in others, I see it in myself (I hope to less destructive degrees), but I am convinced that a nice side-effect of practice is that I am reducing the need to defend that illusory self.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  21. #21

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    What ironic is that the same people consider their form of worship to be authentic, true and unchanging, even though it bears little if any resemblance to anything practiced before in history. Talk about a perfect example of Dukkha....

    Hmm, which brings me back to thinking about the Buddha-way ... seems like its impermanent too, and it changes with the times (witness our little Zendo vs some other orthodox hardliners elsewhere), although the Buddha-nature is beyond such distinctions.

  22. #22

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    and it changes with the times (witness our little Zendo vs some other orthodox hardliners elsewhere), although the Buddha-nature is beyond such distinctions.
    Being so simple and speaking to the core of what we are, lends adaptability and expression to the path which walk. Orthodox or little Zendos. Really we're all on the same path just walking it in a different style. Referring to Bill's previous post:

    Norman Fischer's Everyday Zen

    I see now how one thing leads to another and institutions and establishments are set up. This is something inevitable and useful. It is what happens when people want to practice and continue practicing "suffering and the end of suffering," which is neither Japanese nor Indonesian nor Irish."
    G,W

  23. #23

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    It would be difficult to have a friendly discussion or dialogue with an evangelical Christian about Zen, for instance. Well, more or less impossible here in N. Ireland where most people are either Catholic or Protestant and it would be hard to find a Buddhist to argue with!

    Our small Zen group here meets weekly in what was an isolated farmhouse by a river, but is now an educational centre. A new member arrived one evening recently by taxi and mentioned that the taxi driver told him a cult met there. We were half an hour into our tea and biscuits at the end when we realised he had been talking about us!

    Jenny

  24. #24

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    Our small Zen group here meets weekly in what was an isolated farmhouse by a river, but is now an educational centre. A new member arrived one evening recently by taxi and mentioned that the taxi driver told him a cult met there. We were half an hour into our tea and biscuits at the end when we realised he had been talking about us!
    LOL!!! Thanks for that.

    Gassho
    Ken

  25. #25

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    :shock: You sacrifice tea and biscuits? :shock: !!!!

  26. #26
    Senior Member rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    :lol:

  27. #27

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    It would be difficult to have a friendly discussion or dialogue with an evangelical Christian about Zen, for instance.
    Hi.

    Yes i find that this can be somewhat true, with a lot of different people, especially since they often don't really know what it's all about.
    But mostly when you "set things straight" they are happy to talk about it.
    I even have some priests here who almost "Seeks me out" to talk about things from an "buddhist perspective", it's even more fun since one is my barber (At the beginning that one was a little nervously, going there)...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  28. #28
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Off topic now, but that video about the Church of Oprah reminded me of something:

    I live in what has been described to me as not the Bible Belt but the Bible Belt Buckle, which means it's pretty extreme here. A student of mine recently posted a video on Scientology on Facebook saying it was interesting how slick their marketing was to attract "customers." I watched the video and all it had was some slick production values and comments about how people were unsatisfied and looking for something bigger in their lives, and at the end they promised the Truth through Scientology. A lot of the comments were about how this was Satan advertising. I commented that it was a pretty generic commercial and that any religion promised the same thing (yes, maybe even Satansim), a way to relieve suffering. It was so generic I think Buddhism could've used it (if we were ever into that sort of thing). My student agreed about that it was generic, but the other folks started screaming there is only one TRUTH and how dare I suggest anyone else might have an answer, which is just what those people in the audience got so upset at with Oprah when she suggested there was more than one way to God. I think it's sad. It makes me want to do metta practice.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Those fundies do get cranky don't they , Alan?

    Dave

  30. #30

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Hi.

    Back to the Tolletopic...

    I somewhat encourage people to read Tolle, but i give them a "finger of warning".
    He has a way of saying "A car is a thing with a steering wheel, a bike has handlebars".
    Not always so.
    He's a little "light" on some subjects.
    And he's a little "new agey", but arent we all?
    But once you see through that he can be a good wayto get people to practice, and open their mind (is that correct in english?).

    I actually have the new earth lying around in a box somewhere (i'm in the movingprocess...), I'll look it up.

    Now, the pain-body, He's using a "Tollean description" which is quite common in his writing, he mixes and blends stuff and comes out with something that looks good.
    Can't really say what fits where, but in a neat "Tollean" description of things it does, and gives a quite nice picture.

    And one can't stop oneself from wondering as Oprah get's more "new age/Buddhist" fanlike, maybe we'll even have Brad Warner on... :shock:
    or not...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  31. #31

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    From the video: "Christians, open your eyes. There is only one Truth."

    There may be only One Truth but there are any roads that lead to It.

    When John Paul II was alive, he encouraged dialogue with the non-christian religions. His famous (infamous) 1986 visit to Assisi, the home town of St. Francis, showed him praying together with buddhists and hindus and others which the fundamentalist Catholics promptly decried. For JPII, dialogue need not be feared but embraced.

    Let us pray...uhm...let us sit.

    Fr. James

  32. #32
    disastermouse
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    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    What Eckhard called the pain body, Sidd called 'karma' or 'conditioned experience'. The Tibetans call it one of the six realms.

    The problem with Eckhard is that there's no practical entrance point. I had a 'Buddhism-free' kenaho experience. I had a bit of a hard time examining the method by which that realization was attained and hence found it difficult to point people to the experience so that they can see it themselves. Stumbling into Zen was a blessing! Here's a methodical and scientific means by which falsehood simply drops away.

    Eckhard shows a picture that's relatively true - but it's a description! If you meditate for any length if time, the description will have more meaning for you. Just like all the written or spoken Dharma - if it isn't lived and examined in your own experience - it's just decoration.

    Chet

  33. #33

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    I initially started this thread because I felt that Eckhart Tolle's way of explaining part of our suffering which he calls "the pain-body" was very helpful and I wondered if anyone else had read or heard his explanation.

    Very briefly he describes an energy field in our bodies which is the remnants of pain left behind by every strong emotion that is not fully faced, accepted and then let go of. This usually begins in childhood but also continues into adolescence and adulthood. He calls it the false sense of self which is the basis of our life and can cause not only ourselves to suffer but those around us, mostly our nearest and dearest.
    It thrives on negative thinking and drama in relationships, and when it arises it wants to make others miserable in order to feed on their negative reactions, and of course awakens their own pain-body. ( Many rows within marriage can testify to this.)
    Hi Jenny,

    These days, there's a lot of terminology that gets a bit frou-frou IMHO when we try to deal with issues of physical/emotional pain. In my work with managing pain (physical and emotional in myself and my patients), I really try to steer clear of anything that isn't evidence-based but that becomes a tough balance when my patients really want to "work with what Tolle said in ." There have been many a long session (I wish they were sesshins) about energy fields and as best I can I try to bring it back to physiology (boooring!) and cognitive therapy (Hard Work!). At some level I can translate Tolle into something resembling "good science". But gosh, it's an effort to get past the craving for an easy answer. No one likes to hear that emotions are physiological; that's just not noble drama - although it is a Noble Truth of Dharma. :wink:

    Anyway.... IMHO What Tolle calls the "false sense of self" to me is (not simply but just) the self that emerges given the causes and conditions of the moment but onto which we throw ourselves to avoid feeling vulnerable. Perhaps all I'm learning from Tolle is that there are more parsimonious ways to say the same thing and those things have been said and substantiated by others in more elegant and applicable ways.

    I once had someone withdraw from our mindfulness-based therapy course because she already knew about being in the "Now". There was no problem with the fact that she wanted to leave the course after the first class. What struck me was her reasoning: she didn't want the "Now" she had with its challenge of pain and its implications and was upset with me because I wasn't going to offer anything different.

    Gassho,
    Ly

  34. #34
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I laugh and laugh at people who say 'emotions are physiological'. Intrinsically we know that such a statement is idiotic - but if a well paid professional says it, we accept it as science.

    There is no science that can reduce emotion to physiology. All science can say is there is a correlation - and shame on you for buying and propagating that particular piece of dogma.

    Emotions bound up with matter, sure. Reducible to matter - that's just dogma. Not only that, but your patronizing tone is an affectation of superiority meant to cover your own insecurity, be it conscious or not. Such lack of introspection MUST prevent you from being the most helpful therapist you could be.

    Oh yeah, welcome to Treeleaf.

    Chet

  35. #35

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Chet, Isn't an emotion both a mind and body state. ie mental and physiological. example: stress gives yu a headache

    I understand Tolle's pain-body model but I don't know what his solution is. What is it?

  36. #36
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Wow, my last post was a smidge venemous - sorry about that.

    Body and mind aren't really separate. I guess I have an issue with a particular form of psychotherapy that is particularly reductionist and materialist. I agree that Tolle's 'pain body' is more poetry than science. I just think that the reductionist materialist alternative offered by that poster (on iPhone and cumbersome to look up right now. Sorry.) was patronizingly dogmatic and inexpressive of Dharma. One does not experience a death or divorce as a (merely) physiological event. I also just disagree with pure behaviorism as 'whole' therapy. In my case DBT would have aimed at symptom control for my Borderline PD. The thing was, I didn't want to just have better behavior in light of oversensitive emotional triggers - I wanted to reduce the actual response. For THAT sort of healing, you have to get into the 'black box' empathetically - not reduce emotions to mere physiological responses and attendant behaviors.

    Chet

  37. #37

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Hi Ly, I began this thread in April 08 mainly because I thought Tolle's description of "the pain-body" was
    written in simplistic terms over 52 pages in A New Earth, and would be helpful for a layperson who knew
    nothing of zazen and sitting and wanted to find a way out of the maze of negative thoughts and their
    subsequent emotions they found themselves in every so often.

    To answer Rich - yes Tolle does suggest a solution which is (nothing new here for Zen practitioners)to be
    aware of the negative thoughts arising, the energy in the body that follows e.g. anger, and then to
    acknowledge, allow, and then disidentify with both. In other words not to get hooked! (I still get
    "hooked" every so often myself unless I catch it in time. However it's all grist for the mill.)

    Jenny

  38. #38

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    Hi Ly, I began this thread in April 08 mainly because I thought Tolle's description of "the pain-body" was
    written in simplistic terms over 52 pages in A New Earth, and would be helpful for a layperson who knew
    nothing of zazen and sitting and wanted to find a way out of the maze of negative thoughts and their
    subsequent emotions they found themselves in every so often.

    To answer Rich - yes Tolle does suggest a solution which is (nothing new here for Zen practitioners)to be
    aware of the negative thoughts arising, the energy in the body that follows e.g. anger, and then to
    acknowledge, allow, and then disidentify with both. In other words not to get hooked! (I still get
    "hooked" every so often myself unless I catch it in time. However it's all grist for the mill.)

    Jenny
    Unfortunately for negative thinking and fortunately for positive thinking some of it is so deeply habituated that it is almost impossible to dissassociate or 'disidentify' with it but we keep trying. Getting hooked and spitting out the hook is a continuous practice. If I had seen this only intellectually (like tolle's teaching) without sitting/koan practice, I don't think it would have been worth as much.
    /Rich

  39. #39

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I absolutely agree with you Rich. I gave the book to some members of my family who did understand
    initially and appreciated particularly the part re the pain-body. However as they have no interest in
    Zen and do not sit, it seemed to be only a momentary understanding and soon dissipated. Yes the work of each moment is on-going, and I am so grateful for what I have learnt through Zen practice.
    Jenny

  40. #40
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    Hi Ly, I began this thread in April 08 mainly because I thought Tolle's description of "the pain-body" was
    written in simplistic terms over 52 pages in A New Earth, and would be helpful for a layperson who knew
    nothing of zazen and sitting and wanted to find a way out of the maze of negative thoughts and their
    subsequent emotions they found themselves in every so often.

    To answer Rich - yes Tolle does suggest a solution which is (nothing new here for Zen practitioners)to be
    aware of the negative thoughts arising, the energy in the body that follows e.g. anger, and then to
    acknowledge, allow, and then disidentify with both. In other words not to get hooked! (I still get
    "hooked" every so often myself unless I catch it in time. However it's all grist for the mill.)

    Jenny
    He does suggest it...but it's sort of like suggesting that toddlers learn aviation. Tolle doesn't suggest a method by which to catch the thoughts or to become conscious enough to be aware.

    Chet

  41. #41

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I see what you mean, Chet. Eckhart Tolle comes under the umbrella of Non-Duality/Advaita teachers.
    I listen to quite a few of their interviews on http://www.conscioustv.com as I find them interesting. However
    one thing I have noticed without fail about them is the fact that although every one of them seems to
    have previously been involved in meditation, be it Zen, T.M. Vipassana etc. and some even for 30 years
    or more, they all insist that this is not what caused their "breakthrough", "shift" or "Self-Realization", and that it is, in fact, not necessary. I find this puzzling.

    Jenny

  42. #42
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Because they are technically correct. Meditation isn't required. Also, meditation incorrectly performed is mere concentration and is as likely to block your realization as facilitate it. As long as you think that enlightenment is some state other than the state you are in - you're blocked. That's one of the meanings of 'gateless gate' or 'enter from there' or my favorite - Lin Chi's 'What at this moment is missing?'

    The best thing to do, IMHO, is forget about enlightenment or realization as an idea and simply attend to the present moment with an attitude of curious vividness. To the extent that you are obsessed with realization, the more it becomes just one more thing that the self wants to check of its list - the ultimate achievement.

    Even though Soto Zen goes a little wayward with its 'posture-Nazi' ways and the popular misconception among its practitioners that an intellectual understanding that 'you are already enlightened' has any meaning if one hasn't tasted it - even with those limitations, it's still a moderately decent path. Honestly, every path has blocks and all of those blocks are overcome by the sheer ruthlessness of self-honesty. Soto approached with ruthless honesty will lead you through the 'gateless gate'. Same with Rinzai. Hell, same with Christianity - although ruthless honesty is typically not promoted there.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  43. #43

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    The best thing to do, IMHO, is forget about enlightenment or realization as an idea and simply attend to the present moment with an attitude of curious vividness.
    Chet
    I agree with your statement above but when you say 'meditation isn't required' I would ask that you consider that sitting zazen is actually just attending to the present moment and the posture with its maintenance is the balanced state itself.

  44. #44
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    The best thing to do, IMHO, is forget about enlightenment or realization as an idea and simply attend to the present moment with an attitude of curious vividness.
    Chet
    I agree with your statement above but when you say 'meditation isn't required' I would ask that you consider that sitting zazen is actually just attending to the present moment and the posture with its maintenance is the balanced state itself.
    Do you think that this attitude is only expressed through sitting?

    Chet

  45. #45
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    I'm just popping in for a second to clarify something:

    When I say 'meditation isn't technically necessary' - notice the 'technically'. What I mean by that is that spontaneous awakening is possible - if a smidge unlikely. But then again, how many people do you know who meditate and are not yet awake? Meditation can be used for all sorts of wrong-view type pseudo-spiritual excursions. In fact, MOST meditation is used this way because most people aren't really all that interested in waking up - they're interested in the idea of being a person who is awake. These are totally different things. Heck, a lot of people in Soto Zen aren't interested in either. It's considered a bit gauche or in bad taste to even admit an interest in awakening. So they become control freaks, posture-Nazis, and spiritual athletes instead. I think a lot of this is the slightly off-the-mark advice of teachers who want to STRONGLY discourage the second idea (the idea of becoming a self who has achieved 'awakeness') and end up discouraging both waking up AND the misunderstood drive to become one who is awake.

    Then again, there is also the richness of the dream properly participated in - and yet oddly, you cannot truly participate in the theater of life if you have no inkling that it is indeed a bit of theater.

    IMHE, IMHO

    Chet

  46. #46

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Chet, I really appreciate your last two posts. Such down-to-earth common sense regarding meditation,
    why we meditate and why we feel there is something missing that we have to attain.
    It will be interesting to see what other responses arise.
    Jenny

  47. #47

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    The best thing to do, IMHO, is forget about enlightenment or realization as an idea and simply attend to the present moment with an attitude of curious vividness.
    Chet
    I agree with your statement above but when you say 'meditation isn't required' I would ask that you consider that sitting zazen is actually just attending to the present moment and the posture with its maintenance is the balanced state itself.
    Do you think that this attitude is only expressed through sitting?

    Chet
    No, this attitude is all the time. For years I didn't sit but still tried to maintain 'this attitude'. I don't know why sitting makes a difference but it did and does.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I'm just popping in for a second to clarify something:

    When I say 'meditation isn't technically necessary' - notice the 'technically'. What I mean by that is that spontaneous awakening is possible - if a smidge unlikely. But then again, how many people do you know who meditate and are not yet awake? Meditation can be used for all sorts of wrong-view type pseudo-spiritual excursions. In fact, MOST meditation is used this way because most people aren't really all that interested in waking up - they're interested in the idea of being a person who is awake. These are totally different things. Heck, a lot of people in Soto Zen aren't interested in either. It's considered a bit gauche or in bad taste to even admit an interest in awakening. So they become control freaks, posture-Nazis, and spiritual athletes instead. I think a lot of this is the slightly off-the-mark advice of teachers who want to STRONGLY discourage the second idea (the idea of becoming a self who has achieved 'awakeness') and end up discouraging both waking up AND the misunderstood drive to become one who is awake.

    Then again, there is also the richness of the dream properly participated in - and yet oddly, you cannot truly participate in the theater of life if you have no inkling that it is indeed a bit of theater.

    IMHE, IMHO

    Chet
    What I think of as dream and reality is not it. I just can't rely on anything.

  48. #48

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Actually, I say I rely on intuition or wisdom but I don't really know what it is.

  49. #49
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Eckhart Tolle and the Pain-Body

    Sitting usually does make a difference, yes. That's certainly not an atypical experience, I don't think. Trying to maintain that awareness without meditative practice is like I said earlier - asking toddlers to learn aviation. It's just a huge leap to go from running our conditioning - barely aware of our inner state - to actually seeing what your mind is doing without having any experience of meditation.

    Chet

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