church buildingWhen we read that over 70% of Americans are unhappy with the direction their country is going, we may think that this unhappiness arises from the pain body. Much of it does, but not all unhappiness comes from the pain body. A substantial amount of your unhappiness comes from the lack of Presence — living outside of the Present Moment, when you are not in alignment with the Now.

There is such a thing as old emotional pain living inside you. It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a “painbody,” an energy entity consisting of old emotion.

It lives in human beings, and it is the emotional aspect of egoic consciousness. When the ego is amplified by the emotion of the painbody, the ego has enormous strength still — particularly at those times. It requires very great presence so that you can be there as the space also for your painbody, when it arises.
Source: Huffington Post – Living in Presence With Your Emotional Pain Body, by Eckhart Tolle on Amazon

There are many indicators of this misalignment. One is when your experience of unhappiness is disproportionate to your situation or circumstances. It is an overreaction to the situation or circumstance. This is one of the easiest ways to recognize your lack of presence, even though everyone around you will have seen it before you did. You don’t know you’re not being present because you have become identified with the reactivity, which blinds you to your lack of Presence, your misalignment with the Now. Your friends and family can easily see your identification when insignificant things or events cause you intense unhappiness.

Psychology tells us that these overreactions are, of course, the stimulation of old wounded feelings that are brought back to life, amplifying the structures of the ego. Remember that the pain body and ego are closely related. Because of the triggering, you hugely distort the importance of the particular event that is bringing on the intense unhappiness. When you are not present, you are continuously looking at the current situation with the eyes of your emotional past. What you are currently experiencing is not part of the situation that upsets you. Unfortunately, reactions, overreactions and all negative emotions are what the pain body receives its nourishment from.

When this is going on, you are not perceiving reality accurately. Instead, you are seeing the world through a heavily distorted story that traps your access to objective reality and makes you miserable. So the next time you believe your life is “going in the wrong direction”,
do a little inquiry to find out if your unhappiness is a movie or dream conspiracy of your pain body and ego to trap you in your own private hell. The Present Moment is always waiting to bring you back to the truth.

Thoughts on Eckhart Tolle’s teachings

I eagerly consumed the two Eckhart Tolle books The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, and later, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, and I considered both to be influential and transformative on a personal level — particularly, the latter. I have not posted many reviews on Amazon, but I made sure to leave positive comments about A New Earth; I even bestowed what I’d consider the ultimate praise for such a book when I referred to A New Earth as enlightenment in a book, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek (since, after all, true enlightenment cannot come from a book).

Although I got quite a bit out of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, at the time I wrote off some of the material, believing it to be too "New Agey" for my personal tastes – including Tolle’s discussion about things like the pain body.

I am not inclined to give serious thought to "New Age-sounding" topics such as dream interpretation, crystal healing, chakras, energy fields, and so on — much less discuss such topics seriously with conservative friends. So, taking the basic advice below, I now interpret Tolle’s pain body simply as negativity. In doing so, I no longer ignore Tolle’s suggestions and teachings involving the pain body; I interpret them in a way that makes sense to me, without changing the essential meaning of the teaching. As a result, I can learn a vast array of previously unfamiliar teachings and apply them to my daily life.

This discussion is continued in the post Conservative religious attitudes toward modern spiritual teachings.


The content in the first section of this post which is not enclosed within blockquotes is quoted from Unhappiness.

Resources: Eckart Tolle on unhappiness