A New Earth, Oprah & Eckhart Tolle – Comical Comparisons, Presumptions & Exaggerations of the Ego

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While watching Oprah and Eckhart Tolle’s online class reviewing chapter 2 of the book A New Earth, I was reminded of my own former discovery concerning the comical comparisons, presumptions, and exaggerations of the ego.

Oprah when talking about the ego to Eckhart said, “You also talk about renunciation of possessions will not automatically free you of the ego. There are people who have renounced all possessions, but have a bigger ego than some millionaires. So if you take away one kind of identification the ego will quickly find another. For instance, ‘I’m a more spiritual person than you are.’ We see this all the time.”

Tolle replied: “Yes.”

Oprah continued: “People use their religion to say, ‘I’m better than you are.'”

As a minister who has experienced over 50 countries and 6 continents of the world, interacting with countless religious sects and denominations, I can attest to the truthfulness of Oprah’s comment. Moreover even at home in America I have witnessed occasional pride and self-righteousness in myself spiritually and denominations collectively as they compete for notoriety and influence in society.

One experience I will be very transparent about and share, which may provide some further enlightenment and no less humor, occurred at a local church I occasionally attend. The service was prophetic and powerful as the minister spoke on some issues of the heart I personally could relate to. When the altar call was given following the sermon, I had a number of thoughts surge and circulate through my mind. Among them were:

“Don’t go forward or everybody will think you are living in sin.”

“You’re a great minister and author yourself. Why do you need to go forward and receive prayer?”

“Don’t lower your stature and risk jeopardizing your influence with the congregation by going forward.”

“What will the Pastoral staff think of you if you go forward?”

“What about your wife? You don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable.”

On and on the thoughts keep coming. My heart however was at peace and rest, all the while in touch with the Creator and urging me to go forward to receive prayer and blessing.

Therefore when the invitation was given to respond to God and pray, I got out of my aisle and proceeded to the front. Upon being the first one to arrive in front of the platform, standing in front of the entire congregation, thoughts of fear and humiliation began.

“See, I told you. You shouldn’t have come up here.”

“Now, don’t you feel stupid.”

“What an ass you’ve made of yourself now.”

To quiet my mind and soul, I then knelt down on my knees to push through the mental thought processes and allow my spirit to be preeminent. Once I had completely humbled myself to the point of getting on my knees like a little child before everyone, my mind finally shut up.

Then I felt inner tranquility, peace, and divine release. Later when the Pastor began to pray, he came over and put his hand on my head while imparting a blessing. Afterward my heart felt clean, strengthened, and empowered. I was glad I went forward, but boy was it a mental battle to do so.

I guess that is why Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, the place of the skull (Matthew 27:33). Our mind is the battleground where we must fight for our own sanity, spontaneity, and serenity to happily enjoy life experientially without forethought.

Ironically and surprisingly after being blessed from the entire spiritual struggle and surrender, upon returning to my seat within the congregation, my mind immediately began again saying:

“See, you are more spiritual than everybody else. You humbled yourself.”

“You boldly went forward, not caring what everybody else thinks.”

“God will bless you for that.”

Interestingly the ego even got a bit spiritual on me as it sought to engage me and agree with it. Undoubtedly God blesses humility, but somehow even the ego knows how to get praise from the bait of humility. I disengaged my mind and disconnected from the ego in that moment in time, choosing just to simply enjoy the presence of God and forget myself.

Another incident that further illustrates the point of the ego’s quest for domination through the use of comparison occurred when I went to the bank on my bicycle. My wife Karla and I currently share a car, not having much money financially to currently have two.

One morning when Karla was out with the car, I needed to go to the bank and make a deposit. I had one of those 0% APR checks for a limited time from a credit card company. I therefore wanting to take advantage of it, rode my bicycle to the bank and sought to deposit the check toward paying off my equity line (which at the time was around 7.4%).

Although I had a check for $14,000 to deposit, I felt a bit stupid riding through the drivethrough teller on my bicycle. Nevertheless not usually caring much what people think, I proceeded to wait in line behind the cars in front of me. The only disheartening part of the experience was the exhaust from the automobiles in front of me which made it a bit hard to breathe after a while.

During the brief wait in line, my mind and ego had ample time to go to work and comment on the entire situation.

“You look like an idiot.”

“How lame are you! You don’t even have a car.”

“You shouldn’t be in this line. You don’t even have a car. Go inside and park your bike mate.”

“Are you ever going to grow up and be a man? I mean get a car dude.”

After hearing all of this belittling and condescending talk from my ego to which I did not yield or give in, suddenly my ego took a different approach and changed the tune.

“You’re really healthy and environmentally conscious riding your bicycle to the bank, unlike these people who are burning fuel and wasting vital energy.”

“You should be commended for caring and attending to your health, instead of all of these fat, obese people who can’t ever go anywhere without their cars.”

Such is the endless chatter of the mind’s ego, which we would do well to tune out.

Eckhart rightfully said: “You could have a man driving a Rolls Royce and then on the same street a man riding a bicycle and it is quite possible …that the man on the bicycle might have a bigger ego than the man in the Rolls Royce, if he thinks of himself as spiritually superior to the man in the Rolls Royce.”

Certainly on numerous occasions I have been the poor, but spiritually enlightened and proud man with a superiority complex. Granted however to bring balance to this truth, we should think highly of ourselves and love ourselves. We cannot love others unless we first love ourselves. Because we love our neighbor as we love ourself. Nevertheless God teaches us to not think of ourselves “more highly than we ought” to think, but to think soberly (Romans 12:3).

Paradoxically we can fall off either side of the horse: thinking too highly of ourselves to the extent of entering into an egoic pride, or not thinking highly enough whereby he find ourselves trapped in the snare of insecurity and a poor self-image. The balanced approach and appropriate state of mind is to think soberly, recognizing we are made in the image of God, but not excessively exalting ourselves to the extent of becoming self-absorbed.

True humility does not think lowly of itself, as much as it doesn’t think of itself at all. This is where true life and joy is found, moving beyond oneself entirely and living joyfully.

Here is another scenario that illustrates how we can implement and employ humorous exaggeration to disarm the ego and awaken us to our tendency toward prideful self-exaltation.

One month I ministered several Sunday nights consecutively in Daytona Beach, Florida. An assistant Pastor on staff with a bit of a sense of humor greeted me during my third visit saying, “Good evening Dr. Davis.” He was humorously referencing many of the TV preachers who after they’ve written a book or two bestow on themselves the title of doctor or PhD.

I’m not all about this myself, so paid it no attention. It is however kind of funny how man’s ego will often take such titles to exalt oneself or bestow such over the top praise to another.

I always find it amusing when young guys on their bicycles show up at my house from the Mormon church seeking to proselytize me. When I go to the door in my shorts and t-shirt, being friendly I introduce myself by name. “Hi, I’m Paul. What’s your name?”

Without fail they always reply, “Elder” so and so. They are no more elder than a kid graduating from high-school. Yet their church structure thinks by bestowing some title upon them, it will increase their credibility, and sense of self importance. On the contrary I find it rather impersonal and therefore powerless.

God above became a man through Christ first and foremost to touch humanity and be personal. The more personal, relatable, and touchable you are; the more real and powerful you are. Not the other way around.

Truly God’s thoughts and ways are higher than self-centered humans who often are enamored with themselves and enraptured with their ego.

write by Wilfred

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