Eckhart Answers a Question on Differences

Question: “My husband holds extremely different political views from mine.  He believes in war, guns, Fox News, and Sarah Palin.  I do not.  How do I constructively handle our differences?”

Eckhart: Viewpoints, opinions, and mental positions are all thoughts – the thought says “this is how it is”, it is some kind of judgment or perspective on things.  To be identified with a mental position is to derive your sense of self from that mental position.  It’s a substitute identity, form identity, ego – a substitute for your true identity which is formless and has nothing to do with any thought – but is consciousness itself. 

This is a good opportunity for not giving up your thoughts – you are not required to watch Fox News, but if he is there watching Fox News, and the sound is there filling the house, you can either ask him to turn it down, or close the door, or surrender to what is, or walk out, or ask him to walk out.  There are many choices, other than negativity.  The main thing is mental positions – to withdraw your identification.  You can still have your position, but there’s no ‘self’ in it anymore – it does not supply your sense of identity.  Then you can allow somebody else to have their mental position.  Perhaps you can then discover that beyond both your and your husband’s mental positions – there is something beyond, where you are not in conflict.  Beyond his thoughts and your thoughts – maybe you can find that place. 

Your first responsibility is not to identify with a position.  Everybody has to practice that one way or another.  It’s a beautiful practice.  It’s expressed in Zen.  I don’t remember who said it, some Zen master said, “Don’t seek for the truth – just cease cherishing opinions”.  And that’s enough.  Many spiritually inclined people look for the ‘truth’ – hopefully at some point within, but first it starts outside.  But don’t look for the truth, not even within, just stop cherishing opinions.  Cherishing, not having.  It doesn’t say stop having opinions, because that would be difficult – maybe a very advanced practice.  Even I have some opinions, about Fox News, and so on – but cherishing means to identify with the opinion, to be in the thought.  And then it gives you your sense of “I”.  Then anybody who has a different or conflicting position becomes a kind of enemy.  Then you’re trapped in form.  This is a very common human condition.  Most humans on the planet derive their identity from their thoughts.  So the thought is invested with self.  Maybe this is another way of speaking about the essential truth of the Buddha, who discovered that this sense of ‘self’ is an illusion.  You derive your sense of self from form – because every thought is a thought-form.  It’s an energy field.

If this were your only spiritual practice, it would be enough.  If you can try, for example, talking to the questioner, your husband can then become your spiritual teacher because he can continuously remind you not to be identified with mental positions.  Then, you don’t resist the other person’s mental position, because you don’t need to – you allow it to be.  You can even allow your own mental position to be.  If you resist someone else’s mental position, you only strengthen it.  Try arguing with him about Fox News or Sarah Palin, and you’ll see what I mean.

You may find the miracle that it can happen quite easily, that somebody’s mental position either weakens or it may even dissolve when it’s not resisted – because it needs resistance to strengthen itself, and to gain energy through fighting another.  It’s quite miraculous to see how it can happen when it’s not resisted, when it is allowed:  “I know that’s what you think, and that’s okay”.


FutureNow 17th July 2010 6:50 am

Excellent as always

kay 17th July 2010 9:57 am

Thank you for this reminder.

k 17th July 2010 9:16 pm

Some people choose to have them against us. They are right the other side is wrong. My ex-husband considered the political area to be a war zone and the anger from the different veiw points, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh etc, only stirred up strife and anger. There is a time when I finally realized that as much as I cared for my ex-husband, his view points and constant anger at the world and the political ideas of those he disagreed with was not setting an atmospher of comfort for me and I detached from this enviroment. I live alone in an RV with my dogs, presently trying to figure out where I should go next as we pull up stakes and move on. Disharmony when one partner persists in hating and being angery does not allow contentment regardless of how balanced you try to keep yourself. At some point we have to find that heart of gold to walk through life with and it may not be in a physical form that we can acctually precieve.

The Egg 17th July 2010 9:24 pm

Great article! Not coincidence that just 2 days ago I realized a mundane reason for the uprising of bull-headed opinions in our world - - - our cable news format!! The news is not reported without judgment anymore; it always involves "authorities" with conflicting views and correspondents with an opinion. You watch it and suddenly realize you have this outlandishly strong opinion on a topic that you never really had ever given a thought to before; maybe even a subject you know nothing about except what you just heard being debated. Our cable news is creating the very separateness that we are trying to rid. They may just be attempting to create more news, but we need to be careful of where it leads our minds and energy.

johneblums 18th July 2010 2:46 am

Often people's preference to different politicians or philosophies, types of music, TV's personalities or shows, as well as the cult followings of the life styles of jet-set or the infamous, is based on the universal laws of spiritual attraction, which also includes assessment of self-worth as well as actions to full-fill desires of incompleteness by external or fansiful means. People of similar spiritual vibration will attract to each other's likes or dislikes. This is how cults, religions and political parties and nations arise.

FutureNow 20th July 2010 11:45 am

I dont even have a TV anymore--do you? :)


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Author Information

Eckhart Tolle

Spiritual Teacher and author was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of twenty-nine a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey.

Books from Eckhart Tolle

Oneness With All Life Cover image
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A New Earth Cover image
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The Power of Now Cover image
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