Eckhart Tolle tells a wonderful story about a candle in a dark room. Because the room is dark, whether or not the candle is lit is all-important. By the candle flame, we can find our way round and are reassured, but without that feeble flame we are totally lost.
If, however, the room is flooded with sunlight, the candle becomes irrelevant. We are no longer dependent upon its light.
Tolle suggests that in our current state of consciousness, most of us live - metaphorically - in a darkened room. We are dependent upon the ups and downs of the material world to illuminate our darkness. As long as things are going well, we are happy enough. But when bad things come along - as is bound to happen from time to time - we lose sight of the light.
If, instead, we can learn to live in sunlight, we can be free of our dependence upon the material world. In the brilliance of the sun-filled room, even when things go wrong, we can still be happy.
So how exactly can we learn to live in sunlight?
It is said that once this came naturally to us. When we were babies, we were in touch with a natural sense of joy. OK, so things would come along from time to time to cloud that joy: a touch of indigestion, for instance, or if we flung our rattle away. But these upsets were swiftly forgotten. There were tears - and then our smiles returned. Our connection to joy was never far away.
As we grew older, however, we lost that connection to joy.
It seems to me that there were two main reasons for this.
First of all, we were taught the importance of thinking, to such an extent that we eventually became so preoccupied with this new pastime of ours that we no longer took much notice of what was going on around us. So we ceased to notice if the connection to joy was there or not.
Fortunately, this can be easily corrected. Just stop thinking and there it is: the connection to joy is still there. Or else, the connection is there if you give it half a chance. You will probably have experienced it from time to time: as a sudden sense of peace while out for a walk in the country perhaps. Or else suddenly realizing that you are inexplicably happy for no apparent reason, absence of thought having caught you unawares for a moment or two. Stopping thinking isn't really so hard. It's just keeping it up for more than a second or two at a time that's the difficult bit...
Rather more troublesome is the other habit you were taught that got in the way of that connection to joy: learning not to cry if you threw your rattle away. Or if your best friend moved out of town. Or your dog got run over. Or you lost your job. Or your marriage broke down. Until eventually you were going through life carrying around a load of suppressed emotions, because somehow or other you got the idea that it wasn't OK to express your feelings any more.
And all this stuff that you are carrying about is a double whammy. First of all because it makes you unhappy and gets in the way of your present day relationships - as you may have already noticed - but also because it blocks that connection to joy, which is something which may have been less apparent.
This was something which was made very clear to me last summer. I wrote a post then about a process called the Quantum Light Breath which allowed me to release some of my suppressed emotions and seemed to open me up to what I can only describe as 'light energy', reconnecting me with that sense of joy. The impression I got was that the connection had been there all along but had been 'clogged up' with the debris of my emotions. It was literally like a dirty flue being cleared!
I have had similar - though less spectacular - experiences since then, and I have to tell you that being connected to that joy, even for brief periods, is every bit as wonderful as it sounds. That 'sun-filled room' is real, and I am sure that it is attainable by us all.
I've posted previously (here and here) about other ways to clear these suppressed emotions and I intend to post about more of them in the coming months. I have come to realize that it is vital to deal with these emotions if we're to break through to that 'sun-filled room' and start to live our lives there. The good news is that we don't have to analyze all our stuff, but we do have to face those feelings to allow them to be released.
As for stopping thinking, well joking aside, this can also be quite a task, though perhaps a rather less painful one. Meditation is useful here, as are the teachings of Eckhart Tolle - though I also suspect that as the emotions are cleared, unnecessary thought is also quietened. When there is less hurt, there is less need to go round and round in endless circles of thought.
Please note that by 'stopping thinking', it's this constant pointless mind chatter to which I'm referring, the 'what ifs' and 'if onlys' and just plain gibberish which chunders on and on in our brains for most of the time. So the brain surgeons and air traffic controllers amongst you can relax - it's still OK to think when we really need to! - but you might be surprised at what a small proportion of the thinking which most of us do that actually is.
With the New Year upon us, what I've tried to do in this post is to clarify what the shift in perspective which underpins this blog is all about and the steps we may have to take if we wish to allow it into our lives. Spiritual awakening, self realization, enlightenment, call it what you will, doesn't interest everyone, but if you feel drawn to it, or are tired of the pain which our habitual state of consciousness tends to produce - or a combination of both! - then perhaps you will start to prioritize making that change. If you choose to do so, then the road before you may be a bumpy one, but the glimpses I've had of the way ahead suggest that it will be worth it in the end. I'll place as many signposts as I am able to find on this blog, and of course there are many more to be found in other places...
The good thing is that you don't have to believe anything in particular to make this change. If you already subscribe to a belief system, that's fine. If you don't, that's fine as well. All you have to do is to clear the emotions and thoughts which get in the way of that natural connection to joy.
And, as I've mentioned before, this is not just a personal thing to help ourselves as individuals. A glance around at the state of the world is enough to show that the human race is sorely in need of a shift to a higher state of consciousness. As we make that connection to joy and start to live our lives in the 'sun-filled room' to which Eckhart Tolle refers, we will come to realize that we are not after all separate beings but an integral part of the human race, a part of the universe: that we are all in this together. As we move into 2008, that is a realization which is long overdue for us all.
Happy New Year! It looks like it might be a challenging one. May it be a time of positive transformation!
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