There are a number of passages in the Bible that I would like to have permanently branded on my brain, or my heart, preferably both.
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1 is near the top of my list of biblical passages I would like to drill into my being.
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
You might think of this as the Eckhart Tolle passage of the Bible. Eckhart Tolle makes a distinction in life between what he calls “form ” and “formless”. He suggests that much of the pain we experience in our lives comes from our attachment to form and our lack of awareness of the formless dimension of life.
Paul calls these two realities the “outer nature” and the “inner nature”. Earlier in 2 Corinthians 4:7 he calls them the “clay jar” and the “treasure” contained within the “clay jar”.
It is important, thinking about these two realities to make sure we do not put them in opposition to one another. Without the “clay jar” the “treasure” could not manifest in the physical realm. Without the “treasure”, the “clay jar” is just an empty pot, something vastly less than it was created to be.
Our “outer nature” and our “inner nature” are two different dimensions of being, two complementary realms of existence. Both are necessary as long as we live in this physical realm.
The problem is we tend to place more emphasis on the “outer nature” than the “inner”. The “outer nature” is so much more easily apprehended. The “outer nature” of life can be perceived by anyone. This is the realm in which we see, touch, taste, hear, and smell.
Because we are so conscious of it, the “outer” dimension of existence can be utterly overwhelming. It is tempting to locate our sense of identity in this “outer nature”, becoming obsessed with the surface details of our lives, our thoughts and our feelings.
When we attempt to solidify our sense of identity in the “clay jar” we always feel vulnerable, uncertain, and fearful. “Clay jars” are fragile. It is the “treasure” within the jar that is strong and “eternal”. As long as we stay connected to the “treasure” we know that there is a dimension of being in which we are not vulnerable, in which we are eternally strong and whole.
“What can be seen” is intended to be a portal to that which “cannot be seen”. When we stop at “what can be seen” we are focusing our attention and our energies on that which is “wasting away.” When we concentrate our energies on that which is “temporary”, our lives are beset by “slight and momentary afflictions”.
Paul wants to point us to the freedom of living in a “building from God not made with hands”. He wants us to discover that there is a transcendent realm that exists beyond time, beyond the ups and downs of which this “earthly tent” is the constant victim. He is pointing us to the possibility of a life lived beyond the likes and dislikes that hold us in their grasp when we are focused primarily with the “clay jars” that contain the deep “treasure” of God’s presence.
The challenge of life is to sit lightly to the “clay jars”. They exist to carry “treasure”. When we rest in the “treasure” we find within ourselves an “eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.” We are filled with the fullness and glory of God. There is nothing that can take from us the reality of that abiding presence. The jar is “being destroyed”. The reality of our true nature can never be destroyed. It only makes sense in this life to sit lightly to that which “is being destroyed” and attend to that which is “eternal”.
Eckhart Tolle from The Power of Now
Suffering is due to identification with form. 164, 164
One of the most powerful spiritual practices is to meditate deeply on the mortality of physical forms, including your own. This is called: die before you die. 165
On the level of form, you share mortality and the precariousness of existence. On the level of Being, you share eternal, radiant life. 166
Ekchart Tolle from New Earth
Ego is a conglomeration of recurring thought forms and conditioned mental-emotional patterns that are invested with a sense of I, a sense of self. Ego arises when your sense of Beingness, of “I Am,” which is formless consciousness, gets missed up with form. 54
Why fear? Because the ego arises by identification with form, and deep down it knows that no forms are permanent, that they are all fleeting. So there is always a sense of insecurity around the ego even if on the outside it appears confident. 80
In the stillness of Presence, you can sense the formless essence in yourself and in the other as one. Knowing the oneness of yourself and the other is true love, true care, true compassion. 177
When you are seemingly diminished in some way and remain in absolute nonreaction, not just externally but also internally, you realize that nothing real has been diminished, that through becoming “less,” you become more. When you no longer defend or attempt to strengthen the form of yourself, you step out of identification with form, with mental self-image. Through becoming less (in the ego’s perception), you in fact undergo an expansion and make room for Being to come forward. 215
The twofold reality of the universe, which consists of things and space – thingness and no-thingness – is also your own. A sane, balanced, and fruitful human life is a dance between the two dimensions that make up reality: form and space. Most people are so identified with the dimension of form, with sense perception, thoughts, and emotion, that the vital hidden half is missing from their lives. Their identification with form keeps them trapped in ego. 219, 220