OPRAH: All right, but then how do we plan for the future? We're all told that we should do that, not be passive about it.
ECKHART: Yes, and by planning for the future, you won't need to lose yourself in the future. The question is, are you using time on a practical level, or are you losing yourself in the future? If you think that when you take a vacation, or find the ideal partner, or get a better job or a nicer place to live or whatever it is, then you will finally be happy, that's when you lose yourself in the future. It's a continuous mental projection away from the now. That's the difference between clock time, which has its place in this world, and psychological time, which is the continuous obsession with the past and the future. There needs to be a balance between dealing with things in this world, which involves time and thinking, and not being trapped here. There is a deeper dimension in you that is outside that stream of time and thinking, and that's the inner stillness, peace, a deep, vibrant sense of aliveness. You're very passionate about life in that state.
OPRAH: Wow. That's what we're looking for here! The Power of Now is one of the most enlightening books I've ever had the privilege to read. Why did you feel the need to write a follow-up, Stillness Speaks?
ECKHART: The teaching evolved in the years after the book came out; I had some new perspectives on the basic truth. Also, there was more to be said about that which blocks the new consciousness in most of us; one way to describe it is the human ego.
OPRAH: This is my favorite thing to talk about. How does the ego block consciousness?
ECKHART: Well, first we need to see clearly what the ego is. It's not just being selfish or arrogant or thinking yourself superior; ego is identification with the stream of thinking. The beginning of ego is described in the Old Testament with the famous story of the apple: Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge, and they lost that state that is externalized in the Bible and called Paradise; they lost a deeper state of connectedness. I don't think it was as immediate as it's described in the Bible. To me, that story is about the rise of the ability to think, to make judgments: This is good, this is bad. And I believe it took a long, long time of increased thinking until people reached a point where they derived their entire sense of who they are from the stream of thinking, the mind-made entity composed of memories, past conditioning, and mental concepts. This is the ego that people identify with.
OPRAH: Your latest book, A New Earth, was my most recent book club pick and the subject of my first-ever Webcast course on oprah.com. In it you write that the ego is no more than identification with forms-physical forms, thought forms, emotional forms-and that if evil has any reality, this is also its definition: complete identification with form.
ECKHART: That's right.
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