A few years ago I was on spiritual retreat in New Mexico and one day, while sitting, reading, up on a mesa overlooking a valley, I suddenly heard a thunderous roaring sound and I looked up. Across the valley a billowing cloud of dust was rising high up into the air as an enormous landslide cascaded down the side of the mesa across the valley.
I was in awe. This geological formation had stood there for millions of years, and here I was witnessing it as it began to reshape itself.
As if that wasn’t incredible enough, the book I was reading was Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.
And if all of that wasn’t incredible enough, after the dust from the landslide settled and I continued my reading, I turned the page and found that the next section of the book was headed: “All Structures Are Unstable.”
Since the Universe was making the point so dramatically, let me share some of what Tolle says in that section of A New Earth. He writes, “Whatever behavior the ego manifests, the hidden motivating force is always the same: the need to stand out, be special, be in control; the need for power, for attention, for more. And, of course, the need to feel a sense of separation, that is to say, the need for opposition, enemies.” (p.79-80).
He goes on to say, “The underlying emotion that governs all the activity of the ego is fear. The fear of being nobody, the fear of nonexistence, the fear of death.” The ego’s insecurity, he explains, is the consequence of the ego’s identification with form, which, deep down, it knows is always fleeting.
The ego believes itself to be a separate entity unto itself, and these days as I witness our collapsing economies and political systems, what I see is the global collapse of the ego illusion. We are coming out of our ego dream, realizing that none of us is a distinct, isolated being. We are completely interwoven with everything that is: the rainforests in South America, the protestors in the streets of Syria, the honeybees pollinating the foods we eat.
We have been living in a contrived structure, one built upon the ego’s worldview that believes that one part of the whole can thrive even if all the other parts suffer. This is the worldview that is collapsing before our very eyes and, terrifying as it may seem, it is good news because it is making way for something new, a world built not upon the ego’s drives, desires, and fears but upon, dare I say it, love.
Love is the understanding and experience of connection, and even as our global ego-based structures are collapsing, many of us are falling in love with this beautiful, exquisite world, dedicating ourselves as never before to honor the truth of our interconnectedness to one another, to the Earth and to the generations to come.
How long the collapse of these ego-based structures takes and how much suffering will result will be determined to a large degree by how much we try to bolster and hold onto the structures that are no longer serving us. The sooner we let go of what has been the sooner we can join hands to bring help forth what is emerging.
Many years ago I underwent a dramatic collapse myself of an old worldview, and the tremors that caused it were due in large part to the sort of synchronicity I experienced there in the desert reading a book, the contents of which were being mirrored by the external world. The ego can’t take too much of that and still hold onto the idea of separateness.
The collapse of the ego-illusion and its structures (mental and manifested) is not an easy process, but it is a necessary one for our species to undergo as we move back into alignment with the Earth and with our true selves. My excitement for humankind as we enter into this time of ego collapse is that we will discover our own infinite nature and we will see that we are not, and never have been, alone.
Here is how Tolle closed his section on the instability of all structures: “Once you realize and accept that all structures (forms) are unstable, even the seemingly solid material ones, peace arises within you. This is because the recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to the dimension of the formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it ‘eternal life.'”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Plume, 2005.