“You cannot transcend what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.” - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
I recently discovered the posting from MonkMojo called The Tony Robbins vs Eckhart Tolle Debate in which he shows Tony Robbins shouting “Feel my Personal Power” opposed to Eckhart Tolle answering calmly with “I am rubber and you are glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” …
While this is kinda funny, it brings a typical debate to the surface: Do we become happy by fulfilling our deepest dreams and by being the best version of us we can? Or do we just have to awaken to our true self and see that all craving is ego-land and won’t make us happy in the end? It is the debate between Mind-based Power vs. Spiritual Power, between success-oriented doing vs. calm but conscious being. In the example above: Anthony Robbins standing for the former while Eckhart Tolle is representing the latter. It is the debate between an educated and maybe ego-influenced mind and the self-less spirit. At least, it seems so on the surface.
The relationship between mind and spirit
Anthony Robbins as well as Eckhart Tolle had both a good influence on me. Tony developed my energy-level, my goal-achieving ability and my time-management. Eckhart triggered awakening experiences in me. With his unique ability to talk about something that cannot be explained, only experienced, he opened up a whole new perspective to live for me (See my very personal review of The Power Of Now or read the first chapter of The Power of Now).
When I experienced this shift in consciousness, with the blissful state and the quiet mind along came also the seemingly conflict between mind and spirit. On the Eckhart Tolle Community-Board I discussed the topic of Spirituality and Drive to large extent. The issue for me was, if all we need to do is being in the Now and awakening to our true essence and see that there are no problems and we are already 100% complete, then where the heck do I get my motivation from? ;)
The passion to create and to enjoy life, to be of service to others and to grow does not go away. It gets another, very clear and improved reference point. By silencing the mind and raising awareness, I finally became able to use the mind more efficiently. I still want to create my vision and still love to see it unfold. But with a much more clearer and “softer” drive that is more aligned with the nature of everything that is.
In the forum I finally concluded : “… it seems now that drive and awakening are two completely different topics, as long as you don’t seek yourself through the drive. But if I’m aware of my true essence, I am just that. The drive to create and to enjoy this, to put my full heart into it and give my all to what I envision has nothing to do with it, as long as I am aware that I don’t find myself in it. But I can stretch myself, enrich my experience, have excitement and great social moments.”
So, there is really no debate between mind and spirit.
The level of awareness seems to be the most important thing to raise and to maintain. Everything becomes much more clearer then. I see it as the mind is the tool we can use. And we can use it to the max! Improve it, train it, learn and apply. But what is using it, is the spirit. The Spirit is the master of the mind. Not the other way around, which would lead to egoic and unconscious behavior.
So most of what Eckhart Tolle is teaching is to raise the level of awareness and to get experiential knowledge of the present moment (the Now). While also spiritually influenced, Tony Robbins is teaching how to use the mind (and the body) to the maximum degree. Both mind and spirit, or if we include the body all three have their place. The important part is who is influencing who. While “Mind over Matter” is the expression of mind is the master of the body, I say that spirit is the master over the mind – at least this is where humans are evolving to.
The nearly forced awakening experience Jill Bolt Taylor had in her stroke of insight also suggests, that the spiritual state in the Now (of which Eckhart Tolle speaks) is located in the right, while the logical and thinking mind is located in the left hemisphere of the brain. Meditation programs such as Holosync by Centerpointe’s Bill Harris are aiming at improving the communication between both hemispheres .
How to create harmony between mind and spirit
Genpo Roshi has developed an interesting way to integrate all parts of the human being to the finally “Integrated free functioning human being”. This slightly over-complicated term means nothing else than bringing mind and spirit together. He called it the human being, where the “human side” is the everyday mind and the “being side” is the Power of Now , the spirit.
The following triangle illustrates this:
This really seems to be the ultimate goal right now, at least for me. Being aware and using the mind as a tool, and that in the best way possible. Seeing it this way, where is the debate between Tony and Eckhart now? :)