Mar 29, 10 | | 13,212 views | 2 Comments

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house-of-williams-0-5-ct-five-stone-princess-cut-diamond-ring-in-18-carat-white-goldWhen I was seeing people as a counselor and spiritual teacher, I would visit a woman twice a week whose body was riddled with cancer. She was a schoolteacher in her mid-forties and had been given no more than a few months to live by her doctors. Sometimes a few words were spoken during those visits, but mostly we would sit together in silence, and as we did, she had her first glimpses of the stillness within herself that she never knew existed during her busy life as a schoolteacher.

One day, however, I arrived to find her in a state of great distress and anger. “What happened?” I asked. Her diamond ring, of great monetary as well as sentimental value, had disappeared, and she said she was sure it had been stolen by the woman who came to look after her for a few hours every day. she said she didn’t understand how anybody could be so callous and heartless as to do this to her. She asked me whether she should confront the woman or whether it would be better to call the police immediately. I said I couldn’t tell her what to do, but asked her to find out how important a ring or anything else was at this point in her life. “You don’t understand,” she said. “This was my grandmother’s ring. I used to wear it every day until I got ill and my hands became too swollen. It’s more than just a ring to me. How can I not be upset?”

The quickness of her response and the anger and defensiveness in her voice were indication that she had not yet become present enough to look within and to disentangle her reaction from the event and observe them both. Her anger and defensiveness were signs that the ego was still speaking through her. I said, “I am going to ask you a few questions, but instead of answering them now, see if you can find the answers within you. I will pause briefly after each question. When an answer comes, it may not necessarily come in the form of words.” She said she was ready to listen. I asked: “Do you realize that you will have to let go of the ring at some point, perhaps quite soon? How much more time do you need before you will be ready to let go of it? Will you become less when you let go of it? Has who you are become diminished by the loss?” There were a few minutes of silence after the last question.

When she started speaking again, there was a smile on her face, and she seemed at peace. “The last question made me realize something important. First I went to my mind for an answer and my mind said, “Yes, of course you have been diminished.’ Then I asked myself the question again, ‘Has who I am become diminished?’ This time I tried to feel rather than think the answer. And suddenly I could feel my I Am-ness. I have never felt that before. If I can feel the I Am so strongly, then who I am hasn’t been diminished at all. I can still feel it now, something peaceful but very alive.”

“That is the joy of Being,” I said. “You can only feel it when you get out of your head. Being must be felt. It can’t be thought. The ego doesn’t know about it because thought is what it consists of. The ring was really in your head as a thought that you confused with the sense of I Am. You thought the I Am or a part of it was in the ring.

“Whatever the ego seeks and gets attached to are substitutes for the Being that it cannot feel. You can value and care for things, but whenever you get attached to them, you will know it’s the ego. And you are never really attached to a thing but to a thought that has ‘I,’ ‘me,’ or ‘mine’ in it. Whenever you completely accept a loss, you go beyond ego, and who you are, the I Am which is consciousness itself, emerges.”

She said, “Now I understand something Jesus said that never made much sense to me before: ‘If someone takes your shirt, let him have your coat as well.’ ”

“That’s right,” I said. “It doesn’t mean you should never lock your door. All it means is that sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

In the last few weeks of her life as her body became weaker, she became more and more radiant, as if light were shining through her. She gave many of her possessions away, some to the woman she thought had stolen the ring, and with each thing she gave away, her joy deepened. When her mother called me to let me know she had passed away, she also mentioned that after her death they found her ring in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Did the woman return the ring, or had it been there all the time? Nobody will ever know. One thing we do know: Life will give you whatever experience is more helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.

Is it wrong then to be proud of one’s possession or to feel resentful toward people who have more than you? Not at all. That sense of pride, of needing to start out, the apparent enhancement of one’s self through “more than” and diminishment through “less than” is neither right nor wrong – it is the ego. The ego isn’t wrong; it’s just unconscious. When you observe the ego in yourself, you are beginning to go beyond it. Don’t take the ego too seriously. When you detect egoic behavior in yourself, smile. At times you may even laugh. How could humanity have been taken in by this for so long? Above all, know that the ego isn’t personal. It isn’t who you are. If you consider the ego to be your personal problem, that’s just more ego.

Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Comments (2)


  1. I enjoy reading Eckhart Tolle’s writing alot!!! This is very true: “the power of now=Being.” We have to live in the present (THE NOW) and be conscious of the NOW. I think in this world, so many people are attached to titles, group names, positions, organizations, material, man-made items because we were taught to…to identify with the object due to our ego not being able to surpass such layers of darkness…..the ego demands for “you vs us” rather than a concept “we.” Really in the end, minh cung phai tro ve cat bui ma thoi, and all that is left, is our soul to hopefully unite with CaoDai and our positive contribution to this temporary world.

  2. That Muoi says:

    Great insights Kim-Khanh. I do enjoy Tolle’s writing as well. His writing is simple and the messages are easy to understand.

    “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is.” (E.Tolle – A New Earth…)

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