A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Distinguishing interpretation from actuality

               The drawing is either two faces or a candlestick, depending on how we look at it.

     Yesterday I sat in a room with a few hundred other people as Eckhart Tolle intertwined his fingers and said something like this, "Often people think that their interpretation of an event and the event itself are the same thing.  There is no such thing as a dreadful event.  All events are neutral.  'Dreadful' is an interpretation that is added to the event."  Eckhart disentangled his fingers, saying, "Waking up is when we see that the interpretation is not reality."  Eckhart held out one hand to represent the world of the mind, with its interpretations, judgments, opinions, and painful stories.  The other hand represented actuality, the event without any overlay of thought.  Presence is awareness freed from identification with mental forms.  It is who we are beneath our stories of who we are.

     Eckhart was talking with a woman with health problems who had lost her job.  "There are no dreadful events," he reiterated.  "There are only events, which can be challenging.  Challenges are real.  Problems exist only in the mind."   Eckhart's comments to this woman may sound unsympathetic, but they were the opposite. "Freedom is not dependent on pleasant conditions but on clear seeing," he said, and the woman looked as if a load had been lifted off her shoulders.

     For decades one of my worst fears has been the possibility of becoming obese, as obesity runs in my family.  Eckhart also pointed out that what we fear, we tend to attract into our lives.  When my husband and I became engaged to be married seventeen years ago, I said to him, "Promise me that you will divorce me if I ever get fat."  He smiled and replied, "Okay, I promise."

     Around the time I turned forty I went through four pregnancies in six years (three Cesarian sections and one miscarriage).  Gradually my fear of gaining weight became reality.  My sweet husband has also put on a few pounds, and thankfully he broke his promise to divorce me if I gained weight.  For years now, every day there is the relentless march of shameful thoughts in my mind for being overweight.  Every day there is a ready-made excuse to complain and hate myself and obsess over myself, etc.

     Can I distinguish between the interpretation and the actuality?  The actuality is the body weight.  According to a medical definition, I am overweight.  This actuality is neutral.  Further actualities are that I am physically fit, I am pain-free, and I enjoy walking.  I have a higher risk for weight-related health problems and I would like to lose weight.  None of these actualities produces suffering.

     The suffering comes in from the agony of thoughts of embarrassment, shame, unworthiness, and separation from others.  The suffering comes from the judgments, "This shouldn't be.  Things should be different.  I am a failure." etc.

     I am learning to distinguish reality (body weight) from the mental interpretations (this is a problem, this is unacceptable, this makes me miserable).  I am beginning to feel more at peace in my body right now just as it is.  I am in fact grateful for this body with its capacities of sight, hearing, taste, touch. I am grateful for the unfathomable mystery of this body that has been the doorway into this world for the three human beings I love most-  Chris, Mary, and Jack.

     Problems disappear when they are seen to be nothing more than mind-waves.  The actuality remains, but it is what it is, and it is non-problematic.  Even when the mind-waves reappear (habitual thoughts pop up again and again) they can be seen as innocent mind-waves rather than as a source of distress.

     This is similar to the shift that can occur when looking at a picture such as the one above; nothing actually changes, but there is a transformation in perception-  where there had been two faces there is now only a candlestick.  Actuality bathed in transparent awareness free of judgments emanates the peace that passes understanding.

(Addendum: Please see comment # 7 on this post for information about a subsequent talk where Eckhart speaks of dreadful events in the world.)



Colleen Loehr said...

I was having a little trouble with blog settings today and inadvertently deleted a comment that someone had posted that I had not read. I don't know who posted the comment, but I apologize for this error and hope you will re-post your comment. Thanks, Colleen

Alton said...

"Often people think that their interpretation of an event and the event itself are the same thing."

With myself I not only interpret events, I imagine events as if they are really going to occur.
What a waste of precious attention and a diversion of who I am into who I believe I am.
At least I now know, because of my sage teachers, that what appears on the consciousness screen cannot be me, or the rather the stable me. My meditation practice got a lot simpler the last week.
I only have to do one task. I notice when the attention is on thoughts and not on the space between the thoughts.
When the attention is on the space between the thoughts, I am no longer Alton the person who experiences
existential discontentment, or as some teachers characterize it, Suffering. When the attention is caught up with thinking,
I notice that and redirect it again and again to the space.

Colleen, I was hoping that you shared with us about your retreat.


Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
Thank you for your comments, and I'm glad to hear that your meditation practice has gotten simpler. It's wonderful to be aware of space. Eckhart spoke about how much intelligence there is in this thought-free awareness. The existential discontentment or suffering is in no way suppressed or avoided, it's just that your attention is no longer glued to it. Your awareness softens and opens to notice the space between thoughts that had previously been unnoticed and considered insignificant. But this "least thing" of open space turns out to be a treasure. Eckhart spoke about this too, saying the least shall be most and the last shall be first.

I appreciate your comments Alton.
Mahalo, Colleen

Alton said...

I appreciate your blog Colleen.

During the first part of todays retreat I noticed that what I thought was space was filled with concepts. That is not the Real space. The last part of the day the thoughts got a lot quieter and I had some peace like a person on Valium.


Susannah said...

That is so true - "Often people think that their interpretation of an event and the event itself are the same thing. There is no such thing as a dreadful event. All events are neutral. 'Dreadful' is an interpretation that is added to the event."

Events just are, it is our interpretation of an event that causes the issues. People can get into a loop of looking at things in a certain way - looking for problems, or looking for beauty - both habits. ;-)

A shift in perception can be life changing - it literally changes what we thought 'reality' was.

Most people have things that press their buttons and cause reactions, so it is the response to the situation rather than the situation that causes the issues.

I am 'obese' and have been for most of my adult life. I am also a vital, attractive woman who feels good about her body and feels at home and beautiful in my skin. I haven't written a negative story around it.

But my 'thing' was always losing my teeth! :-) My Grandmother had hers removed at an early age due to a genetical predisposition to gum disease, my father suffered from it too - AND I have issues with my gums - eek! ;-)

It is such a gift when we are able to separate the reality from the story - one that I am so thank full for.

Another lovely post Colleen, thank you for sharing Eckharts wisdom. :-)

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
I'm glad your meditation is going well and that you had a sense of the space in which thoughts occur. To sense the space around thoughts is to not be totally caught up in the thoughts, which is freedom from the mind. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Susannah,
Thanks for your great comments and for sharing some of your own experience.

The mind is a filter, like rose-tinted glasses, that colors everything we see, often without our realizing this. I was often at war with the rose-tinted appearances (so to speak), trying to get them to appear differently while I continued to look through the same mind, the same filter of "rose-tinted glasses." After I posted this blog entry I read pages 114-115 in A New Earth, where Eckhart describes this process very clearly. Fighting appearances is an exhausting approach that ultimately fails when we're stuck in the same mind-structures. Stepping outside of identification with thought, taking off the rose-tinted glasses of our concepts, is the nonviolent approach that is effective.

Incidentally, I am listening to Eckhart give a series of talks, and the day after I quoted Eckhart as saying, "There are no dreadful events.", he spoke at some length about all the "dreadful events" in the world, such as violence and starvation. "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," wrote Emerson, and I was not bothered by the seeming inconsistency of Eckhart saying "There are no dreadful events." and "There are many dreadful events in the world today." From a conventional view point there are many horrific conditions that people on the planet are enduring, and this need not be denied or belittled. When I am less hypnotized by my own supposed "problems", energy is freed to make a positive difference in the world.

It's always a joy to read your comments Susannah, thank you so much! Colleen

Anonymous said...

I think that is among the so much vital info for me.
And i am glad reading your article. However want to statement on some common things,
The website taste is great, the articles is truly great : D.

Good process, cheers
Check out my blog post ; MCA

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about west seattle aquarium
supplies. Regards

Feel free to visit my homepage saltwater coral

Anonymous said...

Hi there, of course this piece of writing is really nice and I have
learned lot of things from it regarding blogging.

Have a look at my website :: aquarium supplies

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the recommendation. Will try it out.

My page - las vegas country club instructors

Anonymous said...

Just wish to say your article is as astounding. The clearness for your post is simply nice and that i
can assume you are knowledgeable on this subject. Well along
with your permission allow me to snatch your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
Thank you 1,000,000 and please carry on the gratifying work.

Feel free to visit my web-site; jeff symmonds golf school

Anonymous said...

I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information.
Your article has really peaked my interest.
I am going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once
a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

Also visit my page :: www.cubestat.com

Anonymous said...

I have been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.

It's pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.

Here is my web site; Sushi Bar

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to find out what blog system you're working with?
I'm having some minor security problems with my latest blog and I'd like to find something more risk-free.
Do you have any solutions?

Look into my homepage Athletic training Interview questions
My webpage :: lower back ache during early pregnancy

Anonymous said...

Tremendous issues here. I am very happy to see
your post. Thanks so much and I'm having a look forward to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

my web-site; leg pain cushion

Anonymous said...

I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get setup? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
I'm not very internet smart so I'm not 100% positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it

my web blog - chiropractor-orlando.com

Anonymous said...

Nice blog right here! Also your website loads up very fast!
What host are you using? Can I get your associate link in your host?
I desire my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

my web site :: rhomboid pain for months

Anonymous said...

I hardly comment, but after reading through a few of the comments on this page "Distinguishing interpretation from actuality".
I do have a few questions for you if you
do not mind. Could it be only me or do a few of these comments appear as if they are written by brain dead folks?
:-P And, if you are writing at other sites, I would like to
follow everything fresh you have to post. Would you post a list
of all of all your social networking pages like your twitter feed,
Facebook page or linkedin profile?

Also visit my homepage Golf bag organizer storage

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you have got
right here on this post. I am coming back to your blog for more soon.

My web site; chiropractic terms back

Anonymous said...

Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog
and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I
achievement you access consistently rapidly.

Also visit my website - flowers delivered

Anonymous said...

An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your web site.

Visit my webpage: St Cloud Floral

Anonymous said...

Thankfulness to my father who shared with me on the
topic of this webpage, this website is really awesome.

Feel free to visit my homepage ... restaurant to let london

Anonymous said...

What's up, just wanted to mention, I loved this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!

Here is my web blog - acute lower back pain treatment

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I discovered your website by way of Google at the same time as searching for a comparable
matter, your web site got here up, it seems to be great. I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Hello there, just become aware of your weblog thru Google, and found that it is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I'll be grateful for those who continue this in future.
Numerous other folks can be benefited from your writing.

my web blog; Chiropractor

Anonymous said...

Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this
post i thought i could also create comment due to this good

Here is my site LED Lighting

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using
for this site? I'm getting tired of Wordpress because I've had problems with hackers and I'm looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

Feel free to surf to my web site Orlando Sushi

Anonymous said...

Attractive рогtіon of сontеnt.
I juѕt ѕtumbled upοn уour site and in accession caρital to
saу that I get in faсt еnϳoyeԁ account
уour weblοg posts. Αny wау I'll be subscribing for your feeds or even I achievement you access constantly fast.

my web page: diamondlinks review

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us more about this? I'd like to find out some additional information.

Look into my weblog ... golf carts prices south africa

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I absolutely love this website. Stick with it!

Also visit my site: callaway golf apparel perry ellis

Anonymous said...

I always emailed this website post page to all my associates, because if like to read it next my friends will

my homepage: junior golf schools in arizona

Anonymous said...

When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me
when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a
comment is added I receive four emails with the same
comment. Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
Many thanks!

Feel free to visit my web page: rtp homes remodeling & home improvement

Anonymous said...

Hello, Neat post. There is a problem together with your website in web explorer,
could check this? IE still is the market leader
and a large component to people will miss your magnificent writing because of this problem.

Here is my blog post ... Mens Golf Gloves

Anonymous said...

Hello friends, fastidious paragraph and good arguments
commented here, I am actually enjoying by these.

Take a look at my webpage - athletic trainer certification california (Www.Hotfrog.com)


'Sailor' Bob Adamson (2) "character" (1) "me" (1) A.H. Almass (1) abandonment (1) abundance (1) addictions (1) Adyashanti (1) Ajahn Sumedho (1) Alan Watts (2) Albert Einstein (1) alchemy (1) alienation (3) alignment (2) aliveness (1) allowing (1) anatta (1) anger (1) Annette Nibley (1) Anthony de Mello (1) anxiety (1) apathy (1) apology (1) arguing (1) argument (1) Aristotle (1) Arjun Ardagh (1) Ashtavakra Gita (1) attention (4) Authentic Heart (1) authenticity (1) Awakening Joy (1) awareness (13) awareness aware of itself (1) Babies- the film (1) Background Field (1) being (14) belief (1) belonging (1) blame (1) blogosphere (2) boredom (1) breathing (3) Buddha (2) Buddhism (1) burdens (1) busy day (1) Byron Katie (1) Challenge Day for Teens (1) Chameli Ardagh (2) Chinese proverb (1) clarity (1) clutter (1) complaining (2) conflict (2) confusion (2) consciousness (4) consent (1) control (1) criticism (1) cup (1) current (1) Cynthia Bourgeault (1) David Carse (1) David Foster Wallace (1) David Lipsky (1) David Loy (1) death (3) deeper self (1) depression (1) discontent (1) documentary (1) doer (1) Dr. Patricia Gerbarg (1) Dr. Richard Brown (1) Dr. Vijai Shankar (1) drama (1) dream (1) e.e. cummings (1) ease (1) Echart Tolle (1) Eckhart Tolle (22) effortless (1) effortlessness (2) ego (8) emotions (1) emptiness (3) energy (1) equanimity (1) essence (1) Everyday Enlightenment by Sally Bongers (1) experiments (1) expression (1) Facebook (1) family (1) fear (3) feelings (6) fire (1) form (1) Franklin Merrell-Wolff (1) freedom (3) Gabriel Rosenstock (1) good (1) gratitude (1) guilt (2) happiness (3) harmony (1) heart (1) Heart Sutra (1) hero (1) home (1) honesty (2) Huang Po (1) Hubert Benoit (1) Huffington Post (1) I am (1) identity (1) impermanence (1) inauthenticity (1) insanity (1) insignificance (1) integrity (1) internet (1) Jack Kornfield (1) Jack Loehr (1) James Baraz (1) Jan Frazier (3) Jane Hooper (1) Jean Klein (1) Jeff Foster (2) John Wheeler (2) Joseph Campbell (1) joy (2) judging (1) Karate Kid movie (1) kindness (1) koans (1) liberation (1) life (10) life flow (1) life situation (1) light (2) looking (1) love (2) Magritte (1) Marcel Proust (1) Mark Matousek (1) marriage (1) Mary Oliver (3) meaning (2) meditation (2) Mick Jagger (1) mind (8) mirror (1) moods (1) Mooji (1) motivation (1) Mukti (1) my son Christopher (2) naming (1) Naomi Shihab Nye (1) narcissism (1) Nathan Gill (1) nature (1) Never Not Here (1) New York Times article (1) Nisargadatta (3) no-thing (1) no-thought (1) not knowing (1) noticing (2) obesity (1) oneness (1) openness (1) pain (4) paradox (2) paranoia (1) Paul Hedderman (1) Pavel Somov (1) peace (2) Pema Chodron (1) planet (1) play (1) poem (1) poetry (1) pointers (1) power (1) presence (4) present moment (1) pretending (1) problems (4) procrastination (1) projection (1) psychiatry (2) qigong (1) quietness (1) quotes (1) R.S. Thomas (1) Ralph Waldo Emerson (3) Ramana Maharshi (2) Raphael Stoneman (1) reading (1) reality (5) relationships (1) relaxation (1) release (1) repression (1) resistance (1) respect (1) rest (1) ripples on the surface of Being (1) Robert Adams (1) rocks (1) Rodney Stevens (1) Roger Housden (2) Rumi (1) sadness (1) Sailor Bob Adamson (1) samsara (1) Sara Exley (1) Scott Kiloby (1) searching (1) seeing (1) seeking (2) self (2) self-compassion (1) self-indulgence (1) separation (2) Sharon Ebert (1) silence (3) sound (1) Source (2) space (1) specialness (1) spirituality (1) Stephan Bodian (1) Steve Carrell (1) story (4) straw-into-gold (1) Stuart Schwartz (3) suchness (1) suffering (7) suicide (1) surrender (1) Tao Te Ching (1) the two dimensions (1) Thich Nhat Hanh (1) thinking (1) Thomas Keating (1) Thomas Merton (1) thought (5) Tim Freke (1) time (1) Tony Parsons (1) transformation (2) trees (2) true nature (5) true self (1) Trungpa Rinpoche (1) trust (1) trying (1) unconsciousness (1) Unmani (1) Vicki Woodyard (1) wealth (1) Weird Al Yankovic (1) well that never runs dry (1) well-being (1) William Blake (1) Wizard of Oz (1) work (1) writing (1) You Tube (1)


Translate blog posts

Google-Translate-Chinese (Simplified) BETA Google-Translate-English to French Google-Translate-English to German Google-Translate-English to Italian Google-Translate-English to Japanese BETA Google-Translate-English to Korean BETA Google-Translate-English to Russian BETA Google-Translate-English to Spanish
Powered by
Grab this Widget

About Me

My photo
Greetings and welcome to this blog.

My Kids

My Kids
Mary (14), Chris (15), Jack (9)







Greg and Colleen

Greg and Colleen

Cluster Map

Networked Blogs

View My Stats