The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
NOTES AND REFLECTIONS
Tolle advises us to notice our cravings instead of immediately giving in to them. However, without the craving for food, water, shelter, and connection, we would not seek out those things that sustain our lives. When scientists have blocked dopamine and cravings, mice die because they don’t seek water or food. Animals in nature are present and do not have the same awareness or mental creation of separateness as humans. They also have biologically driven cravings to act in ways that sustain them now and ensure future generations survive.
If our cravings are biologically driven to benefit our survival, why do we need to pay attention to them, bring awareness to them, as Tolle advises? Why have our cravings gotten out of control? Why do so many cravings in modern society lead to detrimental behavior instead of life-sustaining behavior? Why are modern cravings preventing us from living in the present moment, or why have we let our cravings take over us?
Perhaps cravings have always taken over us, and the next part of our evolution is that they need not. Perhaps we needed to reach a point where we made cravings so all-encompassing–by refining to higher and higher potencies those things that bring pleasure–that we have to learn to be able to step outside of them. Have we created the situation where these refined cravings will annihilate us if we don’t become aware of them? Without the push of industrialized and manufactured cravings, we might never have the need to move beyond our life driven by biological cravings. Perhaps the recovering addict, whether from food, gambling, alcohol, sex, or drugs, has made it to the other side. Is it the recovering addict who is a beacon of light showing us our next step in evolution?
If craving and wanting create suffering, the goal of enlightenment cannot be to eliminate suffering because, without craving, life has no drive to survive. If animals use dopamine and other chemicals to reinforce pleasure to repeat beneficial actions, what mechanisms do plants utilize to promote their survival?
If peace, love, and joy are only available when we live in the present moment, how does planning for the future fit in? Tolle would say that goals and things are here for our amusement. Is Tolle saying that we can look at the pieces of life like the pieces in a game? In this game, the players all reach the end (death) at different times and with different experiences and possessions, but all the pieces, all the possession, and the board get put in the box at the end just the same. We need not be attached to our things or even the events. In themselves, these cannot bring joy, peace, and enlightenment. The point of a board game is to experience the ups and downs with others, thereby creating joy in the present moment.
What humans have done, in our effort to survive, is use our brains to invent ways to get more for ourselves to ensure our survival today and the survival of our offspring tomorrow. In this race for resources to ensure our survival, we created a complicated game that we forgot why we were playing. We are no longer playing a game of life but of hoarding and getting lost in the illusion that candy (both metaphorical and literal) helps us survive. We take the sweet candy for ourselves, give others the wrappers, and think we have won. Winning and losing are just different sides of the same coin and cannot be separated. When one side has all the candy and the other the wrappers, there will be theft and crime, and everyone has ill health either from excess or lack.
I see evolution as a spiral. We are building on “what is” while looping around. Before humans developed analytical thinking and before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and saw themselves and all things as separate, life just existed as one… just as our body exists as one with countless pieces serving different functions. We might think that our skin is different than our arm and brain, but they all work in concert. We might remove a leg from the body or dinosaurs from the earth, but we cannot remove all the skin from the body or kill all the bacteria on earth and expect life to continue. Without the connection of all that we have evolved with, we cannot survive.
The only reason to “wake up” to the here and now and practice peace is for our own survival. The only reason to practice healthy living and care about our environment is our own survival. Being present is seeing the truth, which will set us free.
* Where are the spiritual and enlightened women with families?
* How do we work on goals while still being present?
* How do we justify learning about new things while practicing being present?