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Is Chogyan Trungpa's instructions on mind-watching in conflict with Eckhart Tolle's?
Question: The question that I have for you today comes from the teachings of two different teachers. I am not sure if what they have to say agrees or conflicts with one another. Can you shed some light on it?
The first one is from “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” by Chogyan Trungpa. In a Q&A session, the question was this: "Is self remembering or observing oneself incongruent with giving in and being here?" The answer: "Self remembering is quite a dangerous technique...It could involve watching yourself and your actions like a hungry cat watching mice, or else it could be an intelligent gesture of being where you are. The whole point is that, if you have any idea of relationship—I am experiencing this, I am doing this—then 'I' and 'this' are very strong personalities, equally. Somehow there will be a conflict between 'I' and 'this'. It is rather like saying that 'this' is the mother and 'I' is the father. With two such polar extremes involved you are bound to give birth to something. So the whole idea is to let 'this' not be there, and then 'I ' will not be there... you must take away the watcher, the observer of the two extremes. Once the watcher is removed the whole structure falls apart...One does not really need the watcher or observer at all."
The other teaching is from Eckhart Tolle's “The Power of Now,” where he talks about freeing yourself from your mind. "You can free yourself from your mind...Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns...This is what I mean by 'watching the thinker' which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence...You'll soon realize: there is the voice and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I AM realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind." Are they in agreement?
Answer: Thanks for writing and taking note of the subtleties of our mind-watching practice. It is a Joy to come to the Core of awareness by practicing the Presence!
The self-remembering mentioned in the first quote is the process of watching situations or sets of events from the perspective of the ego, and that is why the teacher used the term "dangerous." This perspective of illusion seems to give birth to more illusions—or the multiplication of illusion, and the "relationship" between illusions. Divine Self-remembering involves ego self-forgetting or self-disappearing. Once the personal "watching" disappears, 'the whole structure falls apart.' The ego's structure always involves both personalities and specific circumstances, subjects and objects. The first teacher uses the terms "I" and "this" to represent two things that seem to be in "relationship." The ego is the "observer of the two extremes" that the first teacher mentions, yet the ego has vanished in the "witnessing presence" or "I AM realization" that the second teacher mentions. Both teachers are pointing out the necessity of attentiveness to the impersonal Perspective which transcends the personal. They are describing the same practice.
As you practice "watching the thinker," there is no distinction made between the thinker and the thoughts. The ego mind is the belief that subjects or persons have thinking ability and that objects and events exist in and of themselves apart from the "thinker." “Watching the thinker” instead sees the whole as whole, and there are no subject/object, perceiver/perceived distinctions in the Witness Perspective. The Witness Perspective sees a forgiven world, the whole tapestry, and this is the step before total Divine Self-remembering Which involves the remembrance of Abstract Light or Being. The Witness Perspective is what I make reference to to when I use the term "mind watching."
The teaching of practicing the Presence—or mind watching—is truly a very simple teaching. It has been covered over with the seeming complexities of the ego and ego resistance. As described above, self-remembering is ego and Divine Self-remembering is Spirit. Memory is a neutral ability. The ego attempts to use memory to recall the past and maintain a separate sense of self. The Spirit uses memory to attend to or awaken to the Now. Now is the gateway to Eternity, and Eternity transcends the concept of memory entirely.
Happy Present Moment Holy One! I love You forever just as You are!!! David