The First and Last Freedom

“Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.”

~ Eckhart Tolle (1948-present),
German-born spiritual teacher,
in Stillness Speaks


Have you ever wondered about the relative importance or unimportance of ideas? Of thoughts? The world is awash with ideas. In 2007, there were 165 million websites. Their 12 billion pages present ideas from the mundane to the sublime. There are 168 million different book titles (2009). With all this thinking, you might add your thought that our problems would be solved – or fewer in number, not growing.

Ideas rule the lives of people. What we think is right, wrong, how to live, why to live, etc. are nothing but thoughts. People dedicate their lives to their ideas. Some would even tear others limb from limb or even destroy themselves and the planet for these things called ideas! That’s how important they seem to be.

Awhile back, I was surfing through the 165 million websites, and discovered a site which called itself something equivalent to “the ultimate solution to our problems.” The site contributes a well meaning idea to our human dilemma. I wish I had recorded the name of the site, for later I would have posted the following to their site:

The problem may not be more or less of this or that, Left or Right, religious or secular, Christianity or Islam, or any other way in which you or I might conceive it. The problem may be thought itself and our relation to thought. The mind and its ideas now rule our lives, rather than we rule the mind and its contents. The mind of humanity has awoken, but its soul has yet to learn to establish a proper relation to its mind.

The problem of establishing a proper relation to the mind is experienced personally by almost everyone. Every day we confuse who we are with what we think and the stories we tell about ourselves. Psychologically, we identify ourselves with our thoughts. “I am a Liberal.” “I am Republican.” etc. No! That’s improper psychological grammar, and it’s killing us. We have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts. Moreover we are not the stories which we tell ourselves about ourselves.

As spiritual traditions uniformly suggest through their different linguistic metaphors, ultimately we establish a proper relation to the mind and its contents when we establish our identity as the Self which is the field of awareness within which your thoughts, feelings, and sensations occur. This ever-present, spontaneous awareness is the wellspring of authenticity. Establishing your identity as awareness and not its contents is the “first and last freedom” of which J. Krishnamurti and others taught. (See Authentic Presence and the Mind).

Please don’t misunderstand! I am not advocating ‘no thought’. After all, you need to know how to tie your shoe, where your house is, how to pay your bills, etc. I am suggesting a proper relation to your mind and its contents. You just don’t need to spend all of your day in the prison of thought. You can learn to rest in awareness which is the practice of presence. It’s a way of life recommended by spiritual luminaries throughout the ages.

What are the stories you tell yourself about yourself and your world? Might you and the world be other than what you think?


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