The Goddess

I’m in the home stretch of reading The Power of Now; I’ve got about 60 pages left.  I thought I would get through the whole book without another post until the end, but for this last chapter, I just have to.

In this chapter, Tolle writes about relationships, zoning in on love relationships, as he calls them.  This was of most interest to me because I’m in a serious relationship.  My boyfriend and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary last weekend and in attempt to ease his stress and help him be the best version of himself, I try to sprinkle these bits of spiritual fairy dust on him as often as possible.

However, as I read, I initially took issue with his constantly referring to relationships as man and woman.  I mean, at one point, I felt quite uncomfortable and wanted to scream into the pages that a relationship, not only does not have to be between a man and woman, but between people who don’t identify with any gender, or with both!  So I was getting a little perturbed.  And then I remembered what Tolle said about words: “A word is no more than a means to an end.  It is an abstraction.  Not unlike a signpost, it points beyond itself.”  So I came to realize that it is possible that Tolle was merely discussing man and woman, not as a human with a penis and a human with a vagina, but a human with a predominately masculine energy and a human with a predominately feminine energy.

This rationale works up until a certain point, when Tolle begins to discuss the “collective female pain-body” which is only relevant to those who are anatomically female.  He explains:
This consists of accumulated pain suffered by women partly through male subjugation of the female, through slavery, exploitation, rape, childbirth, child loss, and so on over thousands of years.  

Of course, I read with a resounding “PREACH!” buzzing between my ears. And Tolle goes on to discuss menstruation – the ultimate collective female pain-body, in my opinion.  I won’t get into detail because I don’t want to give away all of the good stuff, but I will say that I am, for one, extremely happy about a male speaking on menstruation with thought and consideration.  Of course, he would; he’s Eckhart Tolle, but it has been rare in my personal experience for me to witness a male have an objective point of view, and some profound input, spiritual teacher, or not!

So after I complete this section of the chapter, feeling like a Goddess and looking forward to turning my next period into “radiant consciousness”, (though I am a bit skeptical and even wrote in my book “We’ll see about that!”) I had reached for my little book mark, when the word “gay” caught my eye.  Finally!  I put my bookmark down and read because I had been so turned off by his reference to relationships as “man and woman” that I was extremely curious to know how Tolle approached being gay, and shocker: done so without judgement.  Thank goodness!  I think I have been so used to religion excluding people that even though Tolle doesn’t speak for a specific religion, I still expected it and I am glad that I was wrong.

That’s my two to four cents on that.  I have a lot of love for this book and it has been doing a lot for me over the last few days as I’ve plowed through it.  I am already formulating a plot for my last post on this book that will likely be tomorrow!

Into the Wormhole?

I’m more than a quarter of the way through The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and I have overcome the frustration that I wrote about in my previous post and I’m hooked.  At times, I do, however feel like I am in an episode of that show that Morgan Freeman hosts called Into the Wormhole where they discuss time and space and parallel universes.  There are so many things that Tolle writes about that I connect with personally.  One thing that I want to address is mental illness and how Tolle ties time and the mind to those things.  He explains:

“It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person’s own worst enemy.  Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy.  It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease.”

This struck me, of course.  As I read, there are many passages that I feel addressed depression, emotional pain, anxiety, fear, in a very relatable way.  But I am torn.  On the one hand, it makes sense to me now and there are things that I know that I’ll take from this book that will better me.  But on the other hand, I used to be very, very sick.  No amount of meditation or focusing on the Now would have helped me.  Nothing would have saved me except for seeking help from professionals, which is what I did.  I think it is a bit utopian to believe that focusing on the present will help cure mental illness in any capacity.  Meditation won’t rid a cancer-ridden body of it’s disease, why would it balance the chemicals in a mental ill person’s brains?  Don’t get me wrong, I know that it can help but I don’t think it is the answer.  If it were that easy, I would have saved myself a lot of time and money in doctors’ visits and bills.  I think that this book and what Tolle has to say makes sense for me now, for the current state of my health, but it would not have helped me 3 or 4 or 5 years ago.

On another note, there are many, many questions that I have that come up as I read, but before I get to write them down and work them out, I just read on and Tolle answers them.  So I’ll keep reading and report back when I’ve completed the book; shouldn’t be long now!

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart…”

Last night, I jumped on the Eckhard Tolle bandwagon, a bit late in the game, and started reading The Power of Now.  My first impression was that the language was so flouncy and fluffy with all the Being and the Enlightenment.  Didn’t this guy just write in the Introduction not to pay attention to the words but to what’s behind the words?  Meanwhile, I felt like I couldn’t even get through the first two pages.  So I was instantly frustrated.  Leave it to me to read a book in hopes of enlightenment and spiritual growth and then get pissed off two pages in.  But then I had a thought: I read A Clockwork Orange and not only was I able to read and understand it, I was actually able to speak that twisted language to a friend of mine who was reading it at the same time!  So I calmed down and just kept reading.

In the Intro, Tolle writes:

“…this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy.  What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form.”

If you know me, you know that I worship Sylvia Plath (and if you don’t know now you know..I also really love Biggie so there’s that).  Naturally, at this point I’ve begun to recite the famous line from The Bell Jar to myself and reveling in the words of my Queen until I caught myself and returned my attention to the book.  This all happened on page 5, so I’d already passed the frustration phase and was really trying to give Tolle a shot and Sylvia helped me with that, as she has helped me with so many other things.  I really started to get it, at this point.

 

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This morning, I picked up the  book again and found it much easier to read and to understand, as well as much easier to look past the actually physical words on the page and to discover the meaning behind them.  So as I was reading, I was underlining and underlining because I was really relating to what Tolle was saying about the mind and how we don’t use our mind, our mind uses us.  I have struggled with anxiety since I was 14 and all the times that I tried to overcome an anxiety attack or just even get some sleep I told myself: just stop thinking, stop thinking, stop thinking.  I’ve gotten better with it, but I’ve always felt that my mind was my worst enemy.  I could so easily talk myself out of doing something that I know is good for me, or doing something that I know I’m good at; my mind is a plethora of self-doubt at all times.  This really stuck out to me:

“Even if the voice is relevant to the situation at hand, it will interpret it in terms of the past.  This is because the voice belongs to your conditioned mind, which is the result of all your past history as well as of the collective cultural mind-set you inherited.  So you see and judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted view of it.  It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person’s own worst enemy.  Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continually attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy.  It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease.”

And with that, I am having a total Oprah-Ah-Ha moment.  Here’s to learning how to tell my mind to SHUT THE HELL UP AND LET ME LIVE, GIRL! 

 

This is like poetry

I really loved Americanah in a way that I haven’t loved since reading This is How You Lose Her and that’s saying a lot because I sort of live and breathe for the words of Junot Diaz. I wish I had done this bit-by-bit the way that I plan to do future posts as I read, but I couldn’t miss an opportunity to write about the experience of reading this book. I also thought it would be proper to start out this little venture in homage to Ifemulu, The Blogger, probably one of my favorite female characters of all time.

For those of you who don’t know, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a perfect human. Okay, but for real, she is an outstanding author and if you’re a person, you need to read Americanah or at least spend 30 minutes and 15 seconds watching her TED Talk (http://youtu.be/hg3umXU_qWc) and educate yourself about what life is. And if you love Beyonce`, Adichie is the voice on “Flawless” so thank you, Queen Bey, for putting her name in the mouths of so many who didn’t know that they needed her.

I read Americanah differently than I’ve read any other book. I felt as if I were reading it at arm’s length, even though I made so many notes and underlined so many sentences and mentally said “Yaaaaas, Ifemulu, yaaaaas” so many times to myself. But I felt like a visitor in this book, like I had no right to these characters and I was truly an observer. I owe that partly to the way that Adichie writes that makes you really feel that these are real people and you are just invited to see snip its in their lives, but mostly to the subject of race in this book. I had no ownership of the conversations about race in this book. I was merely an observer, and most importantly, a student. I had no experiences to compare to the ones that Ifemulu wrote about in her blog or any right to a “mmhmm” as I read about Obinze’s time in England. I have lived in and visited other countries, but I’ve never been an immigrant. I have also, obviously, never had to be on the receiving end of racism and ignorance. So this was not a book in which I could relate to any character, save for when Ifem and Obinze discussed their love of books. But that’s about it. It was not my job to judge these characters or to even have my own thoughts about race, this was their experience and I gladly assumed the role of student.

I have so much I’d like to say about this book, but I also want to keep so much of it to myself because it was just so damn good and I’m not sharing. But if anyone asks me for a book suggestion, even if no one asks me, I have to say READ AMERICANAH! There are many, many people out there who could benefit from being a student of Adichie and I’m glad to say that I have learned from her.

Lightbulb

I wish I had thought to do this sooner. Nine out of ten times, when I tell someone that I love to write, they say to me “Why don’t you start a blog?!” – as if I had never thought of that, as if no one has ever said that to me before. I don’t mean to be snide, I know you all mean well. I never blogged because I’m one of those people who has too many thoughts. To organize them is the challenge, not to write.

Tonight, I was lying in bed finishing up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, reading each word the way a someone who has been starving consumes food, eagerly without taking a second to breathe because I’ll surely never have anything this good in front of me again. And ever the hopeless romantic, I had to, just had to know if Ifemulu and Obinze wound up together in the end which is part of the reason that I devoured that baby like the last piece of chocolate cake. So I was lying in bed with the book in one hand and my pen in the other because I can’t read a book without a pen to underline and write notes in. No, I’m not currently in school or taking notes for a class, but I’m an avid close reader. So I had the thought to write about the things I think and notes I take when I underline something in a book – not a book review because who am I to review a book? I’m merely a reader/fanatic, but there is so much more to a book than what you read.

I believe that you truly have to be immeshed with the words, squeeze in between the letters and be among the print to understand what the author is trying to say. I don’t read for entertainment; though I’m guilty of reading 50 Shades of Grey (had to!), I read as if my life depended on it. Maybe it’s because I wish I were a writer. I know that any time that I ever put a pen to paper it was born out of the need to pull something out of me that I could no longer keep in, like those clowns who pull the never-ending handkerchief out of their mouth but in a more sanitary way. So when I read a book, I know that this author didn’t wake up one day and decide to write a book. He or she had to have been tortured in some way, hurt, bent, broken, scratched, dinged up – no one writes for fun, we write to heal. Whether the writing is funny, happy, sad, we all know it comes from a darker place or else we wouldn’t need to put it down on paper; we would just swallow it. Words are our ointment the way a comic’s jokes are his/her salve for wounds (i.e. Robin Williams </3). I feel that it is my duty as a reader to understand what is in front of me, to become ensconced in the ink on the page and maybe if I write about that, it will do some small justice to the masterpiece and its creator.

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