Six years ago I purchased the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. For six years it sat on my shelf collecting dust. This bestselling book that “everyone” was reading, I didn’t like – until now. For me this isn’t a book you plow through. It’s one to be read slowly and at times reading the same paragraph over and over and until I completely grasp what he’s teaching.
This morning this is the paragraph that grabbed me and caused me to pause:
(Excerpt from The Power of Now) What Are They Seeking?
Carl Jung tells in one of his books of a conversation he had with a Native American Chief who pointed out to him that in his perception most white people have tense faces, staring eyes, and a cruel demeanor. He said: “They are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We don’t know what they want. We think they are mad.”
I recognize that even though I have kicked 80% of my over-doing habits, I am still seeking. The difference is I am no longer seeking outside of myself. I am now seeking within. However, as we are culturally hard-wired for doing and seeking, this will always be a daily practice and so in addition I also practice no self judgement.
The question I ask is this – are we ‘over-doing’ because we are seeking something we don’t feel we have within? The majority of people are seeking happiness, peacefulness, love and contentment (aka, self-wholeness). And most are seeking this from others (perhaps their partner) or from accomplishments and the accumulation of possessions.
A little head game I play to test where I am at on the spectrum of self-wholeness is this:
I imagine myself as the last human on earth. All the “stuff” is gone and the people I love are gone. It’s just me standing in a big wide open field. A few years ago this head-game of mine would leave me in tears. To just be me – all by myself – unimaginable! But now I know that the people in my life who are not standing with me aren’t really gone; they are in the sky that I see, the air that I breathe, the flower that grows and the water that flows. They are everywhere. The strongest feeling, when imagining myself as the only human left on earth, is my connection to God, Source, Divine etc… This powerful and beautiful energy flows through me and grounds me. I am not scared. I am not anxious. I am not alone. I feel safe, held and know that I am exactly where I need to be. For nano second the thought pops in “but what will I eat?” and I quickly hear the words “trust”.
So perhaps what that Native American Chief embodied is complete trust in the now. He wasn’t seeking more, he was simply living each day in the present and knew only the power of now. The white people were constantly seeking new land, building new homes, acquiring wealth and sadly, reaping havoc along the way. When I look at it from this perspective, we are indeed “mad” for living in the past, the future and not the present and even sadder that along the way we have dragged entire cultures into our way of thinking and doing.
To begin the process of discovering if you are ‘mostly’ seeking outside of yourself, ask yourself these questions:
1) What is the ‘something’ you want and why?
2) How will this ‘something’ make you feel?
3) If this ‘something’ goes away, will the feeling remain?
4) When you feel uneasy and restless, what do you do?
5) What are you doing, that you don’t need to be doing, that gets in the way of living in the present?
The first step is awareness. Each step after this is uniquely yours and above all else, practice gratitude, self-respect, self-love and laugh a lot (laughing is living in the now).
PS. The photo above was taken by Ryan McCullough, my son!