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Dustin LindenSmith

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Eckhart Tolle on the Middle East conflict

Via Mark Otter's Issue #3031 of the Nonduality Highlights, the following excerpt comes from this 2003 interview with Tolle by a New York-based writer and musician named Josh Max. In it, Tolle encapsulates my own thinking about the Middle East. Personally, I believe that this conflict is in place to serve as a reminder to the rest of us what happens when two sides are too tightly identified with a single point of view; namely, their own. This conflict reminds us of the value of stepping outside of our own narrative to rise above our own positions. The Middle East reminds us that ordinary conflicts in our own lives can be resolved simply by ceasing our own identification with our own own petty thoughts and opinions.

And now, Eckhart Tolle's explanation:
We can see, for example, what's happening in the Middle East with the eternal insane conflict between Israel and Palestine. We can see how each faction is totally convinced that their mental position is the correct one. Each faction sees itself as the victim of the other. There was a writer I read last year who said each side cannot recognize any narrative other than their own; that's also true. Narrative means the story through which you interpret reality.

People have collective stories which are mental perspectives and mental positions. Of course, when they explain it to you, it sounds absolutely right. Then you go to the other story, and they explain it to you, and that sounds absolutely right. Both are so entrenched in their narrative, their mental positions and their identifications with mental positions that they cannot see anything else. That really symbolizes the very thing that lies at the core of human dysfunction.

There you see it expressed collectively. An inability to hold truth in your consciousness. To rise above polarities, and say, here's this perspective which is ours, and I can also see the other perspective which is yours. If both could do that---even if one party could do that---there would be an end to the madness. It only gets perpetuated by two. You can see the same in personal relationships, you can see the same in marriages that exist in a state of warfare. Both are entrenched. There is this ongoing need to be right. What that really ultimately means is they are identified with the thinking. They have not stepped out of the structure of thought---their mental position, their thought position. The way out of the madness is to recognize thought as just thought. To see your own stream of thinking, to see that no thought can encapsulate the entire truth in any situation. You have to step out of thought to see that. To become the awareness outside of thought. Some people are driven out of thought out of suffering, others can step out of thought because they see that thought is dysfunctional. So we see then that terrorists that inflict suffering on innocent people, kills thousands, blows himself up---how is it that he cannot see what he is doing?

He cannot see because he has reduced other human beings around him to a mental concept. He puts a mental label on other human beings or groups of humans or whatever he calls them---infidels, evil. Once you have conceptualized another human being, covering up their essential aliveness, you also do it to yourself. You become identified with your own self concepts of who you are, because you are right, you are the believer, you are in possession of the truth. You can then inflict acts of violence on other humans without feeling anymore because you've already desensitized yourself, you've deadened their aliveness. So violence becomes very easy when you only operate from the level of thought. Thought plus very destructive emotion that accompanies those destructive thought patterns. That's what drives the terrorist. He truly, as Jesus puts it on the cross, "They know not what they do."

In spiritual terms, they are completely unconscious. Unconscious means identified totally with thought. You reduce reality to a conceptual reality. A lot of violence arises in that way.

Terrorists are not the only ones who are unconscious. The United States manufactures an enormous amount of totally senseless weaponry. Biological, chemical. They manufacture the most fiendish weapons---if they ever used them it would be hell on earth. Why are they working on this? They are intelligent scientists, thousands of them, the Government sponsors itself sponsors it. What is the purpose in creating such weapons if the use of such weapons would create hell on earth? Haven't they got enough weapons already? So it applies; "they know not what they do." You can see human unconsciousness in so many forms. You can see it very clearly in the terrorists. Sometimes it's easier to see the madness in others---but we also have to see it in ourselves.

(x-posted to nonduality)

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willowing December 31st, 2007
eckhart is my new all time heroe. i'm reading the power of now, NOW! :-) this is interesting. i like that he also engages in more public debate, didn't know that.

willowing December 31st, 2007
hero, rather

hee!

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