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I have spent my life trying on a variety of spiritual traditions in search of the right fit, though no single tradition in all its elements has ever rang true enough for me to wholly embrace. A spiritual grazer of sorts, I'd consider everything offered, help myself to what nourished me, then move along. While the Buddhist teachings have always held the strongest draw for me, as with many other spiritual traditions I've explored, I would always reach the point in my practice where I felt mired in what felt like unnecessary complexity. Either that or it would become apparent to me that the teacher had not sufficiently overcome egoic issues to aptly guide me in overcoming my own. That's why I still have to laugh when I consider that the purest spiritual truth I've ever discovered came to me by way of a talk show host, a mega pop culture icon named Oprah. And it happened at a time in my life where the urge to move forward in my search was particularly intense. I don't recall how I ended up on the Oprah Web site that day -- I believe I was researching a story I was working on (I'm a writer and editor) and found myself staring at an advertisement for something called "A New Earth." So, Oprah is pushing environmentalism, I thought. Good for her. My curiosity was piqued and I clicked the mouse. It's funny how such a small act can turn out to be a life-changing one. From the moment I first read and subsequently heard Eckhart Tolle's teachings, I experienced something I thought I'd either never experience or would eventually experience years down the road -- core spiritual truths stripped down to their simplest form, conveyed in simple language, offered freely -- no allegiance required; no "God club" to join. More importantly, these truths put into practice have transformed my life. I've experienced more peace, more joy, more acceptance in my life through the miracle of a few simple, conscious breaths, than through all the complicated yoga poses, costly retreats, time-consuming meditation efforts and church services I've ever attempted. Through the recognition of myself as witness to my mind, I've found that what I was seeking so desperately was something I've always known but forgotten. It was like awakening from a self-induced amnesia. Though I sense that even Tolle's teachings can never reach the full depths of spiritual truth, this is the best damn launching toward it that I've ever experienced. My belief about my true purpose has shifted and after long years of wandering and wondering, I am here now. And that happened in the blink of an eye, really -- the moment the truth of what Tolle said revealed itself to me, that was it. I shifted direction, and the path was so much clearer. And the shift has had physical ramifications, as well. I realized recently that since that shift occurred, I have not been physically ill for a single minute. I lost the extra weight I was carrying, my stress has gone. The financial problems, work problems, relationship problems that once filled my mind and drove me to near madness -- well, they just aren't there anymore. Nothing changed outwardly -- I still earn the same paycheck, work the same job, have the same partner. The alleviation of self-imposed suffering was always just a shift in thought away. I have quit resisting my life and through acceptance of what is, have discovered satisfaction and peace in all aspects of my life, including the very ones I fought tooth and nail to remove myself from just months earlier. I'm noticing the wonderfully rich natural environment around me and seem to have more time than ever to spend in the peace and beauty of nature, often sharing it with my precious grandson -- that's a far cry from the frantic, frazzled "Granny" he had just months ago!
The most profound spiritual truth wasn't something far away, afterall, something unattainable, hidden or available to just a privileged few. It was always right inside. I just needed to hear the softly spoken, well chosen, simple words of Tolle to point the way to myself through presence. I had to be still to know ...