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Eckhart Tolle recounts a wonderful fable in the introduction to The Power of Now.
A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap.
“I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.”
“Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.”
“Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment he saw that the box was filled with precious jewels.
Eckhart goes on to say: I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.
“But I am not a beggar,” I can hear you say.
Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.
Tolle’s poignant prologue epitomizes the distinction A Course in Miracles makes between the body and the mind. Identifying as a name and body, believing the world has the ability to bring us joy and pain, we will never find true peace. Beggars rummaging for meager scraps of solace.
But when we return awareness to the mind, we experience the astonishment of Tolle’s vagabond, meeting with what the Course describes as:
A treasure so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude (W-pI.166.5).
Learning how to shift attention from body to mind is the most enriching activity in which we might engage.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the seemingly trifling “box” we’ve been sitting on for as long as we can remember. And we’ll dig into practices for discovering the everlasting riches within. I look forward to seeing you then.