The following is an in depth analysis and exploration of the material found in Chapter Six of Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose from his class with Oprah. It dives into more detail to understand the pain-body, and specifically what triggers it. There is also an emphasis on the challenges of relationships with regards to the pain-body, and how to overcome them.
In this webcast the focus was on delving deeper into what triggers the pain-body and how to use those triggers to awaken to a higher sense of awareness. In every situation where we feel there is a problem or a challenge there is actually an opportunity for growth – that is how I see this chapter. We vibrate at different levels of energy and it is in this chapter that Eckhart states we have the power and potential to transform the energy that is trapped in the pain-body into presence. The first step is simply to acknowledge that you do have a pain-body, hence become aware of it.
Eckhart went on to explain that we need not fear or suppress the pain-body or view it as a negative entity. The reason for this is that we can all use our pain-bodies to heighten our awareness. Suppressing the pain-body would be giving in to our conditioned cultural response of immediate suppression of anything that is uncomfortable. To elevate ourselves to the next level of consciousness, we need to learn to accept inner discomfort, not run away from it.
To this introductory explanation, Oprah posed a great question “Why would I want to accept it?” After all, none of us actually want pain. Eckhart responded that by medicating anything, you are not really taking the pain or the symptoms away, you are simply suppressing them. If on the other hand you bring acceptance, you start to become aware of the situation and hence regain control over it, instead of it having control over you. Eckhart also defined stress again, saying that if you want something different from what it is – this is stress. The best way to deal with any kind of pain is to allow oneself to feel it, accept it and choose to do something about it.
In this process, naturally emotion will rise into the mind and you may start to experience negative thoughts. During those times it is again important to be present to it and aware of the difference between EMOTION and EMOTIONAL THINKING. Being unaware of this may change your proactive self-talk to become talk of the pain-body. This occurs as the pain-bodies constantly and unconsciously seeks more pain. Eckhart used the example of Christopher Reeve also and what happened to him after his accident. Eckhart stated that in an interview, Reeve explained that he was always present when riding horses and the instant he lost his presence, he got thrown off the horse. After the accident, Reeve however did not identify with it, rather he accepted it and hence grew and awakened as a result of the accident.
The first question of the night came from a man who explained that when he and his wife have a disagreement, days later she will bring it up again and wants to establish a clear cut definition of who is right and who is wrong. Hence he wanted to know, how this pattern be broken.
Eckhart’s response included the following advice on how the break the repeated pattern that does not seem to be serving both parties:
- First, one needs to see their own role that they play during disagreements
- In any disagreement, one also needs to assess how they feed into the drama
The caller mentioned that when he does not play into the drama, this seems to fuel his wife’s anger even more. Eckhart responded saying that:
- If the other person is more fueled up by our behavior in a disagreement, we must have or be portraying our own mental position on the issue, or else there would be no issue
- Most important in any disagreement is not to become identified with one’s own mental position, as whatever we identify with becomes EGO
- It is also important to look for clues when the pain-body will be active or starts to become active
- Never make it about the other person in the form of any negative attack
- Self-righteousness may contribute to the drama as it gives one a feeling of superiority
- Therefore ALERTNESS and VIGILENCE is important on our parts and to be the STILLNESS and PEACE we desire
Violence Done By Good People
Oprah and Eckhart then went on to explain the idea of who really suffers when violent acts are committed. Many times Eckhart stated, we believe that the villain does not suffer. On the contrary the villain does suffer the consequences of their actions in one way or another. When people make others suffer, they in turn end up suffering themselves. This is due to the fact Eckhart explains, that they did something in the “unconsciousness” that they later feel in their “consciousness”. Our goal therefore is to evolve into conscious beings – in which state we would not be committing acts that bring others and ourselves suffering.
Having experienced suffering as a victim or villain, gives you an opportunity to wake up as Eckhart explains in this chapter on page 164, in the section entitled “Presence”. Oprah however said to Eckhart that many people are suffering and not awakening. Eckhart responded that the entire universe is going into the direction of awakening now. If humanity does not embrace the awakening, it will simply not make it. I completely agree with this statement as our unconscious states will lead to more suffering in the forms of poverty, wars and global disasters, just to name a few. Eckhart’s final thought on this was that ultimately if humanity did not make it, it would not be the greatest tragedy, as there is no death. We would simply manifest at different levels in a different space, as I also believe. But the awakening is happening right now!
Losing the World As You Know It
Another question came from a young woman asking about the ego. She stated that if we get rid of the ego – you will lose the world as you know it and so how can we overcome this? She gave examples of not being able to be understood by her friends or friends expecting us to act a certain way.
Eckhart incorporated the following response on how to move beyond these thoughts:
- First, we need to realize that these are thoughts that arise in our mind
- What we are saying is not necessarily true, because if we shed the ego, we become more intensely alive and live in the present moment and hence the world becomes a more vibrant space
- When a person becomes more present, usually they can draw in others with them through inspiration
- Our old conditioning drains us of power, for example the idea that you are competing with someone else for looks, status, power, etc. drains you
To this response, Oprah added that when we start becoming more awakened and present we may need to let go of old friends.
This may seem sad, but in reality it is not. Remember we are dynamic beings that are constantly undergoing change. We meet new people constantly and share our presence with them accordingly as it serves us and them. But there do come moments in friendships, romantic relationships and even in family relationships that call for a change, a letting go. Just think, if you insist on interacting with that person and you two do not see eye to eye, how does that serve either of you? In our human nature we are going to do one or both of two things:
1. Try to change each other to match our personal views
2. Judge and label the other person as they do not reflect our own thinking and hence they must be “wrong” in some way
By letting go, we are not acting selfishly; on the contrary we are acting selflessly to allow ourselves and the other person to be who they want to be. Think of how much more peace there would be in our world, if both parties had the awareness to peacefully walk away when their interaction was no longer serving them. What happens now instead, a lot of the time, is our egos try to hold on to the other person for better or for worse and there is a high degree of offense, instead of acceptance, if the other person should choose to walk away.
Oprah then directed the discussion onto pain-body triggers and asked Eckhart “What is the best way to stop ourselves from going into or acting out of the pain-body?”
Eckhart responded that the key idea is to catch it early, not in the middle of a full blown argument. A minor thing can often cause a big, negative effect. Then after the situation has blown over, we can realize the kind of situation that triggers our pain-body. Therefore in those situations we can make an effort through awareness to bring some stillness within. Eckhart also pointed out, that so many of us today are so out of touch with ourselves. At all times we need to be the awareness in the background. The pain-body cannot control your thoughts; therefore it cannot control your behavior either.
In understanding the pain-body and its triggers better we must also remember not to suppress or resist our pain-body, as that will only make it persist in our life. We can simply contain it there through our presence, and this way it cannot renew itself. Therefore the pain-body will subside, but only until a better opportunity arises and that is why we need to get to know, pay attention and be aware at all times of our pain-body and its triggers. It is in the present moment that we can avoid the suffering associated with what it brings, as the pain-body is the emotional aspect of the ego.
Wanting Peace vs. Living out Peace
Another woman called in with the following query: she said that she constantly attracts people who are negative and hence her whole life is a constant fight. She stated that she only wants peace, so what is the matter and why is this happening?
Eckhart expressed the following in his answer to her question:
- In a situation like this, we must first become much more aware of the inner state we are actually in
- We cannot attract “negative” unless we are “negative” inside (hint just think of the Law of Attraction)
- We need to consider two things about ourselves: 1) The Emotional Aspect of what we feel and 2) The Mental Aspect of what we think
- We need to constantly monitor of what is my inner state at any moment, especially when not challenged (ex. How do I view the world, etc.)
- It is always more important to focus on what the internal situation is then the external
- We also need to be aware of what kinds of thoughts is my mind producing
- It is impossible to be a peaceful person and have people pick fights with you
- There must be something else within us that we are not aware of if we are attracting to ourselves results that do not seem to coincide with what we want
- Therefore we must constantly keep asking ourselves “what is going on inside of me?”
Oprah finished with referencing the chapter and stating that on page 162, Eckhart talks about the fact that there is an energy that is within each person and emanates from them. With words come roles people play and therefore we lose sight of the inner energy fields. Hence animals and little kids can sense our inner energy fields better than we can. Through our words and self-talk, we become blinded. I am sure any of us can relate to this situation if we have ever been around babies or pets. Do you still think it is a coincidence why babies or pets prefer some people in the room more than others, and even avoid or show great distress in the presence of some people altogether?
True Love vs. Ego Love
A woman from Dubai then called in with the following question: Should I continue being there for a person with a dense pain-body? Is it worth it to wait for this person, in hopes that they will come around and pursue a committed romantic relationship?
Eckhart asked if this woman truly loved this man, to which she replied yes. He then continued that if we truly love another then we recognize the essence of that person.
With true love, you don’t love the person, but the God in the other person. True love is internal.
With ego love, you love the idea of that person, what they say, what they do, etc. Ego love is external.
Ultimately we have to be honest with ourselves and the other person by talking to them openly about what we want and what they want. It does not matter what outside sources tell you, you have to make the decision for yourself.
So ultimately my take on this is that it is not about waiting or not waiting for the other person, but about asking ourselves how do we love that other person. If we truly love them, then we love them unconditionally, just as they are and we do not need anything more from them. However if our love for them comes from ego love, then we will always want the other to change to fit our model of a partner, relationship, etc.
Passion of Christ
Oprah then answered a few questions from Victoria and George who were on a previous show of hers a few days ago, during which she found out that they are also students of A New Earth.
The first question came from George when he asked about the traditional crucifix showing a “bloody Christ” and why that was so. He said that since the ego loves suffering and with reference to the writings of the New Testament describing Jesus’ death, was the Passion of Christ just an ego trip?
Eckhart responded that he would not say that the ego loves pain, but rather that the pain-body loves pain. Ego unfortunately often produces the worst, even though it seems to want the best. Therefore no, the suffering of Christ was not an “ego trip”.
Eckhart explained that once when he walked into a church and saw Jesus on a cross, he saw this image as if for the first time. He thought what would an outsider from another planet think? The thought that crossed his mind is that it is very odd that there is a suffering human on a torture symbol. It is a total limitation. To Eckhart, Jesus on the cross represents humanity and something part of the human condition. Eckhart emphasized that Jesus did not choose this but stated “not my will, but thy will be done”. And through this surrender, Jesus went to the depth and total acceptance of suffering. Therefore the torture symbol of the cross also represents the divine.
In every human being life, there will be some suffering. Hence we can look at it as we each have our own cross to bear. Therefore to avoid suffering a complete alignment is needed, no inner resistance. At that moment the ego dies and the divine comes through. For us therefore the lesson for today is that in the moment the very worst thing happens to you, if you surrender, you awaken. This can be called conscious suffering and behind every suffering there is grace.
Passing the Pain-Body to the Unborn Child
The following question was posed by Victoria and she asked if it is possible that a pregnant woman can pass her pain-body to her unborn child?
Eckhart’s response was as follows:
- Yes, it is possible and the pain-body is actually passed from generation to generation
- Therefore whatever the pregnant mother experiences, the baby experiences
- The pain-body is very, very old and hence we can also inherit the pain-body of our nation, religion, race, etc.
- However, having said that, the past has no power over the present moment
- Therefore one does not need years or generations to get rid of the pain-body, it only takes a moment of awareness to see it for what it is
- We are also today breaking generations of pain-bodies at once
Negative Effects on Children from Toxic Environments
Oprah then drew the attention to page 170 of the chapter where Eckhart talks about how toxic the suppressed pain-bodies are. An example that was brought up was what effect arguing has on children when done in their presence. Eckhart stated that indeed this sort of behavior is toxic to children as it creates and reinforces their pain-bodies.
Eckhart used his own story as an example saying that both his parents had heavy pain-bodies. He inherited their pain-bodies and developed his own through the home situation, his school situation as he did not like to study what he did not enjoy, etc. Therefore it is not uncommon for children from households of pain to grow up really “messed up”.
On this topic a woman called in and asked a question of how she can help her daughter overcome a situation of neglect by her father. She explained that her daughter wants to please people and will even try to “buy” friendship.
Eckhart’s response was that:
- First, it is necessary to explain to the child that it is impossible and not necessary to be liked by everybody
- In fact the more successful one becomes, the more people dislike you
- If the child gets taken over by a pain-body episode, you need to talk to them and question what the child felt, so that the child begins to put attention on their own emotions
- By talking and acknowledging these types of behaviors, one can increase the awareness of the child
- Gradually therefore, from an early age the child can learn quickly and become aware of the self
Oprah added that it might also be a good idea to expose the child to situations of poverty, especially for other children so they will feel and see that their situation is not that bad. This can instill a sense of gratitude as they now can see that others are much worse off.
To conclude the topic of the pain-body Eckhart stressed that to break free of the pain-body depends on how long we identify with it and on the depth of the pain-body. The more you are present, the faster if dissipates. It is therefore not the pain-body itself, but the identifying with it that causes us pain and suffering as explained on page 183 in A New Earth.
Remember the past has no power over the present moment. Therefore bring yourself to the present moment and be still. This is the only thing that can free you from the pain-body. Hence, knowing needs to come from accepting.
Oprah then ended on a light note saying that one of the viewers asked “Is Eckhart perfect?”
To this Eckhart responded that “No, I am not perfect, but I am whole and aligned.” He shared that this is where he rests and where his inspiration arises from; he does not look for perfection because that would be terribly frustrating. He said that yes he too can also feel anger like the type he experienced once in the presence of a mistreatment of an animal. But generally speaking, little things do not upset him. He gave the example of road rage and how he never understood it in other people. Road rage is an egoic phenomenon as people regard it as some kind of personal insult and it is very easy to see how dysfunction arises out of it. There is no need for us to personalize it and hence no need to react. Finally, Eckhart also mentioned that he does enjoy “nice” things but he is not attached to them. It is great that they are there, but it is also okay if they are gone.