Tolle’s Pain/Body and Liberation’s Wound/Fear-Self: A Comparison

More and more I would like the content of this blog to consist of letters written by Liberation Blog and Liberation from the Lie readers who raise important questions about what I am trying to put forth in this venue. So, if you have any questions or comments, please send them my way and I will respond to them in as comprehensive a way as I can.

Today’s question focused on a comparison between Eckhart Tolle’s pain/body discussion and mine regarding the Wound and the corresponding Fear-Selves.

The Liberation from the Lie reader writes:

HI Eric, I have almost finished the first section….Is your wound/fear-selves model equivalent to Tolle’s pain-body/ego?

My response –

Tolle’s discussion of the pain/body is related to my discussion of the fear-selves, but there are important differences. I provided a cultural and historical context for the inevitable development of fear as the primary governing principle for a civilization addicted to ambition and consumption. Thus, the discussion in Liberation is much more political than that of Tolle. But, with all due respect to Tolle, I find my own findings to be more sweeping and explanatory. Nearly every event in our personal lives and in the world can be described and understood using the terms of Liberation from the Lie. For example: They explain 9/11 and how America responded to this event. If you read the book carefully, you will see that it explains nearly every form of interpersonal conflict and conflict involving individuals, groups, and even nations.

The concept of the fear-self identified with inadequacy was developed from ideas that I first encountered as they were discussed by Stephen Wolinsky, which he derived from Indian Advaita. I linked those ideas to the concept of invalidation, which I, in part, derived from my many years of work in Navajo peacemaking. Liberation marks the unification of those two psychological traditions.

On account of our primal Wound, the very young self begins to development a contextually specific array of Fear-Selves whose purpose it is to insulate the psychological self from the pain and chaos of its underlying Wound. The identification with inadequacy was essential for the development of civilization since it became necessary to convince people of their own innate insufficiency. In this way, socialization organized itself around obedience (self invalidation) and pleasing important others. Religion, education, and labor became the vital institutions dependent on self-negation through obedience.

The process of self-negation explains nearly every personality type that exists in this world, but the very process that produces the incredible “achievements” of this world, from the fantastic improvements in health to the horrors of the Holocaust, have acted to “cover-up” the light of our Authentic Being. Thus many Eastern traditions, as well as that advocated in Liberation from the Lie, seek to lay out journey of return to this source that is our essential nature prior to its contamination by the civilizing influences of the well-intended family, schools, and the demands of the work-place. Unfortunately, many of these same traditions replicate the self-negating constructs from which they themselves emerged.

Liberation is the seeing, just like in zen, that we are NOT that struggle to be someone or something. Isn’t it interesting that nearly all of us are in a compulsive struggle to be the enlightened me we psychologically project and, at the same time, flee from the self we believe ourselves to be! This is the ultimate self-crushing dilemma.

The organization of life into discrete independent objects, including you and me, is just a convenient story told by the mind. Rather, life is dynamic and ever-changing and our reflection is in everything and everyone. The mind will want to pin everything down into a neat order – and that is, as the tao te ching says, the universe of desire. There is no doing away with that universe. But it is not the exclusive universe. That which is never-changing sees all of this and is not effected by any of it.

This is not to say that we need to become this unchanging background to existence. That is already in place. We see this unchanging field in the light that fills every aspect and element of our sensed world. It’s really more about discovering the legacy of the invalidation trauma in our immediate life. And I think this is where Tolle’s concept and mine come together. Pain and suffering is an inevitable consequence when we both strive to be someone we believe we are not AND we strive not to be someone we believe we are!

I think all of this will become a lot clearer as you continue reading. But here is where Tolle is really helpful. The mind is always a projecting a future me that will benefit from all of this. That is, exactly, the class of thinking that sustains the inadequacy belief. You would never need to invest your beliefs in a future me if you were not still placing your primary faith in an adequate self you already believe yourself to be! Life is now – end of story. It is likely to change as your understanding changes. But right now notice how your future projecting is effecting the qualitative experience of this very moment! When you really SEE that, you will be free.

That is the seeing that untangles the know.


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