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256 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2014
I might have disagreed with the conclusion reached by people of faith, but at least that part of their brain was functioning. Every week, they had a set time to consider their place in the universe, to step out of the matrix and achieve some perspective. If you’re never looking up, I now realized, you’re always just looking around.Of course this presumes that everyone who is looking up is seeking something celestial and not doing so merely to fit in with the pack, or being distracted by a passing drone. Still, my cynicism notwithstanding, the man has a way with words. And that makes this a very easy book to read. He is a charming guide on this search for a better way and you will meet some familiar names and learn of some others who should be.
It was a little embarrassing to be reading a self-help writer and thinking, This guy gets me. But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head—the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember—was kind of an asshole.He finds elements of Deepak Chopra illuminating as well, but with reservations.
Chopra was definitely more fun to hang out with than Tolle—I preferred Deepak’s rascally What Makes Sammy Run? style to the German’s otherworldly diffidence—but I left the experience more confused, not less. Eckhart was befuddling because, while I believed he was sincere, I couldn’t tell if he was sane. With Deepak it was the opposite; I believed he was sane, but I couldn’t tell if he was sincere.What he arrives at is meditation. In particular a state called “mindfulness”, in which one observes the thoughts and feelings that are occurring, but at a remove, so that one can respond without relying on immediate, visceral and ego-driven reactions. There are different forms of meditation, but he finds one that does the trick for him. And puts it into practice. How he goes about this is sometimes LOL funny, particularly when we are privy to the snarky ramblings of his ego while he is attempting to not lose his mind during a lengthy meditation retreat.
"After months of swimming against the riptide of bathos and bullshit peddled by the self-help subculture, it was phenomenally refreshing to see the ego depicted with wry wit."
"With the Klonopin on board you could have marched an army of crazed chimps armed with nunchucks and ninja stars into my apartment and I would have remained calm."
"The real mindfuck, though, was this: almost as soon as he said something brilliant, he would say something else that was totally ridiculous"
"Failure to recognize thoughts for what they are -- quantum bursts of psychic energy that exist solely in your head -- is primordial human error"