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Monday, March 23, 2009

Presence

The past few weeks have been eventful to say the least but I felt that it was time to blog again and offer some thoughts and let people know that I am still here and growing stronger each day.

As part of this process of change, repentance, healing and restoration I have been considering the place of anxiety in my life. I have been really challenged by a fascinating book called "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I picked it up from a charity bookshop a while ago and recently started reading it.

It is a book that, I guess, fits into what evangelicals would call "new age" teaching and I must confess that when I saw it on the book shelf I felt the old evangelical misgivings creeping in but I decided, as I knew he was an important spiritual author, to give the book a fair go. It is wonderful. I can't say that I agree with all of the ideas contained in the book but the basic premise has really helped and encouraged me in recent days.

Tolle asserts that the only moment that ever exists is "now". We allow the past to impact upon us too much and we worry or plan for a future that we can never know and these two pressures cause us anxiety, fear or simply to not be in the "now". What interested me as well was the suggestion that there are no "problems" but simply "situations" that need to be dealt with. Tolle asked the reader to learn to be here and now. If there is a situation we can do one of 3 things; we can get out of the situation, we can change the situation or we can accept the situation as it is.

I am still trying to learn, understand and accept other parts of the book but last night as I lay in a temporary holiday cabin where I am staying with Thomas while we look for a rental I accepted the now, enjoyed my surroundings, became at peace with my circumstances and slept well and did not allow anxiety to crowd in as it has done so often in the past.

I am told that this teaching is similar to certain Buddhist teachings and, as I said, I am still figuring out which parts of the book I disagree with and why that it is but, as a guide to being and the power of the presence it is a very, very good book. Too often Christians live in a world of head knowledge and ridicule or dismiss meditation and contemplation forgetting that the history of the church is rich with these practices.

For me I am going to sit awhile and just enjoy being here now.

4 comments:

wayno said...

I am dealing with a lot of the same issues. You might want to read my blog entry here:

http://dhbctucson.org/wordpress/?p=192 entitled: "The Challenge"

Wayno

Jamie said...

This is very much in line with Buddhist teaching. Buddhists want to move closer to accepting life and everything in it as simply "the way it is." Buddhist teaching emphasizes the "here" and "now" aspect of existence; once this is accepted, then release from it may become possible. In some schools, the very definition of enlightenment is living completely and utterly in the present - not conditioned by the past or shaped by what might be. Rather, finding peace and solitude in the present is the ultimate goal to Buddhist living.

JW

MysticalJase said...

mate, Such great news, trust your self. Trust God's spirit.
There is much to learn from all people and all faith traditions.
Don't be afraid of being 'poluted', this is a misplaced 'holiness' which I don't believe is the way of Jesus.

Matt Stone said...

Les, yes similar to Buddhism but I am sure there are some things to learn from. My own experience, from Zen and Christian meditation, is that Christian meditation is radically relational in ways Buddhist meditation is not. As for a now focus, there are shades of that in the teaching of Jesus, he did tell us not to worry about tomorrow, but at the end of the day he is not nearly so fatalistic.