Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Your Name (Basket of Content) The Mentally Derived Sense of Self ~by Eckhart Tolle

Whatever the mind accumulates from an early age, it begins with your name. Your name, I call that the basket into which further experiences, further content is thrown and in which it accumulates, and then, that basket (that is the basket, is the name that you are, that your parents gave you), that becomes the receptacle for experiences that are accumulated, knowledge that is accumulated, successes, defeats, sufferings, relationships; all those things gradually form a whole that is the me, that is the mentally derived sense of self.

I just ask you for a moment to imagine that you don’t have a name, what that feels like. If you don’t know who you are on the level of concepts. Let’s just, for a moment, if that is possible, imagine that, that basket doesn’t hold together anymore. What is there if you are not the name and that which is accumulated in that receptacle? And, of course, a name is just sounds that come out of your mouth. If it’s not pronounced it’s an image in the head and that’s me. And what is there when that goes, so you can’t remember your name, and your comfortable with not knowing your name? Then the experiences that have been accumulated, all the conditioning doesn’t quite hold together anymore. It’s still there, but it’s not a me. Things have happened, where this form is things have happened to this form, but it’s no longer a person there, simply a field of awareness, which is what you are.

And, the story you have been telling yourself in the head of who you are becomes unimportant. It does not give you an identity anymore. You don’t derive your sense of self anymore from the story in the head, which is accumulated experiences, accumulated knowledge, and a sense of self derived from that accumulating, content of the mind.

And every experience is content, everything that happens to you, some experiences become stored up. They become part of the accumulation and they strengthen the sense of self. They are accumulated to enhance the sense of self. So, when you live in that way, from a fictitious sense of self, you are always looking for things to enhance your sense of self, to strengthen it, or to protect it, that sense of me; because, some of the content you might lose, or you want to add to who you are. The sense of not being complete is an essential ingredient of the fictitious sense of self.

Everybody has that. And everybody interprets that as a personal problem. That very sense of not being complete becomes part of who you are and who you are striving to be; haven’t arrived yet. And, even those people who are even being told by the world that they have arrived have the feeling that they haven’t arrived yet; and, there’s something wrong, the world must have gotten it wrong. Their telling me that I’ve made it and I can feel that I haven’t made it. 

And then you read about people who have everything, fame and fortune and good looks and then they can’t stop drinking and they need to go to one psychiatrist, to another. Have they made it? And, in our culture they are showing us examples of, “You too can achieve that!” And everybody, yes, and everybody swallows that. And then the message that is there and the culture is that, “Yes, you can make it, because look at those people, they made it!” If you meet them you will realize that they haven’t made it at all. And some of them actually will come. They read the book. There’s some famous people who loved The Power of Now, because they saw very clearly that what the world was telling them was not true, otherwise they would never have read it. What for? If you’ve made it you don’t need spiritual transformation. So, it is wonderful, a few of those people who have achieved all possible worldly success realize that’s not it either and I still do not know, basically, who I am, and I wake-up in the middle of the night in a state of dread and anxiety, and my relationships are continuously in chaos.

To see that the attempt to complete yourself, to find a more complete and  more fulfilled sense of self on the level of the story, that attempt is futile, because on the level of the story that you are telling yourself in the head of who you are, you are not going to make it. No story has a happy ending. A few false happy endings such as a wedding. That used to be the traditional happy ending on films and plays, but we all know that’s a false happy ending. There’s no happy ending, because all of your achievements are going to dissolve and you’re going to die, and then no matter how many millions that you have in the bank, it becomes meaningless.

And, what is left of every story is the two inch gap between your date of birth and your date of death on your gravestone. The dash that contains all of the sufferings, all the drama that was part of me and my story. And, somebody derived their sense of self from all of that. They thought that was who they were. It’s sad. They never realized who they are. They were trapped in a fiction, their sense of identity, trapped in a fiction for a whole lifetime. Maybe, if they were lucky, shortly before their death, or on their death bed, the whole story collapsed and something else emerged. And, that happens occasionally, occasionally as death approaches, maybe it’s only a few minutes or a few hours away, there’s suddenly, and some people who have been sitting with a dying person have reported that in certain instances something shines through suddenly.

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