A friend asked whether I had read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. She’s currently reading it herself. I said yes. She asked whether I had experienced a shift in consciousness.
The question surprised me. My first response was that I read so much stuff like Tolle’s, and material far more powerful, that there wouldn’t be a shift in consciousness from reading anything.
The question is whether there is ever a shift in consciousness. There is. There are. They include
1. The shift from confusion and disillusionment to the intuition that there is Truth.
2. The shift from the intuition of Truth to the realization that you exist and that the world exists.
3. The shift from the realization of existence to a valuing of existence such that you study your existence — your thought patterns — through spiritual practices.
4. The shift from erratic success in your practice to stability.
5. A shift from stability in practice to effortlessness with practice.
6. A shift from effortlessness to oneness, no attachment, still with practice.
7. A shift from oneness to non-separateness. All arises as mind. No one to practice. The final shift. Sciousness.
8. The world recognized as “this.”
9. Selfless service; the natural playing out of “this.” Steps 8 and 9 describe the disposition of neo-advaita.
The steps are a very abridged version of the Ten Oxherding Pictures. You could awaken directly and apparently spontaneously to any of these steps.
Some would say you experienced the previous steps in former lifetimes. That may be your understanding, but with step 7 the idea is another arising within a mind that is no one’s and gives rise to the apparent truth that there are separate minds. The perception of separate minds gives rise to confusion and disillusionment, which might lead to the first step above: the intuition of something beyond, which is known as Truth, God, Reality… .