And yes there is a difference.
In the words of Eckhart Tolle:
Spirituality is not religion. You can be spiritual and not have a religious context. The opposite is true too: You can be very religious with no spiritual dimension, just doctrine.
I align myself to Tolle’s belief. I am a “Spiritual” person, not “Religious”.
Last Saturday, my therapist suggested I read Eckhart Tolle’s book: The Power of Now. I am ashamed to admit I have not yet begun to read this book. However, I have been on Tolle’s website reading through some of the free content. Today I read an interview by Oprah Winfrey and I would like to share a few excerpts from that interview with you in this post. You may read the full interview here and I highly recommend you do read it because it chock full of powerful messages.
OPRAH: You’ve often characterized thinking as a terrible affliction, even a disease, that is the greatest barrier to the power of now. But isn’t to think to be human? Isn’t that how we differ from other animals?
ECKHART: Yes, and thinking can be a powerful and wonderful tool. It only becomes an affliction if we derive our sense of who we are from this dream of thought. In that case, you’re continuously telling yourself what I call “the story of me.” For many people, it’s an unhappy story, so they’re always dwelling on the past. That’s a dysfunctional and unhappy state.
OPRAH: We live in a world where most people believe they are their story. “I was born in this family, this is where I was raised, these are the things that happened to me, and this is what I did.” If you are not your story, then who are you?
ECKHART: That’s a very good question. You cannot deny, of course, that these events exist; one’s personal history has its place, and it needs to be honored. It’s not problematic unless you become totally lost in that dimension. How do you experience your past? As memories. And what are memories? Thoughts in your head. If you’re totally identified with these thoughts in your head, then you’re trapped in your past history. So, is that all there is to who you are? Or are you more than your personal history? When you step out of identification with that and realize for the first time that you’re actually the presence behind thinking, then you’re able to use thought when it’s helpful and necessary. But you are no longer possessed by the thinking mind, which then becomes a helpful, useful servant. If you never go beyond the thinking mind and there is no sense of space, it creates continuous conflict in relationships.
OPRAH: The Power of Now has saved me many, many times. As a matter of fact, this has been one of the most hectic days. I just got back from Africa. I’m sleep deprived, and I woke up this morning thinking, Oh my God, I’m going to be so stressed. But I let that go and just thought, I will be present now. I taped four television shows today, and I was very excited about being able to talk to you, but I kept saying to myself, Don’t think about how many other things you have to do. Just be present now. And that is what has gotten me to the end of the day, in this moment.
ECKHART: That’s a continuous refocusing on what really matters—what matters most in anybody’s life, which is the present moment. People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.
OPRAH: But that’s what throws me: In The Power of Now, you say there’s no past. There has to be a past, because there are all of our memories, all these ways we defined ourselves.
ECKHART: Nobody can argue with the fact that there is such a thing as time. We used time to meet here—otherwise it would have been difficult.
OPRAH: Right. We agreed on this time, and we are here, because this is now.
ECKHART: Yes. So time is something that we cannot do without. We could even say time is what dominates this entire life that we experience here, the surface level of reality. It’s completely dominated by time, which is the past and future in the continuous stream. People look to time in expectation that it will eventually make them happy, but you cannot find true happiness by looking toward the future. It’s been said there are two ways of being unhappy: One is not getting what you want, and the other is getting what you want. If you think this, that, or the other thing is going to make you happy, when you get what you wanted, you will again be focusing on the next moment—never being in this moment, which is all we have.
OPRAH: That’s another thing that changed me when I read The Power of Now: You wrote that all of our stress is based on thinking about what happened in the past or what should be happening in the future, and that, no matter what crisis is going on in your life, if you’re able to take a deep breath and look at what is happening now, in this moment, you’re okay.
ECKHART: That’s right. Many people identify their sense of self with the problems they have, or think they have. As a reality test, I ask people, “What problem do you have at this moment? Not in an hour or tomorrow, but what problem do you have now?” Sometimes, they’ll suddenly wake up when they hear that question, because they realize that at that moment, they don’t have a problem.
Wow, right? Powerful stuff.
Now I would like to finish this post with a quote from a book I read last year entitled: Eat, Pray, Love
Groceries, you need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever. ~ Eat, Pray, Love