“The quest to discover the meaning of life, transcend illusion, and unravel the mysteries of enduring love and happiness perplexes people today, as it has throughout history,” writes Eric Ehrke.
In his new book, The Promise of Wholeness: Cultivating Inner Peace, Mindfulness, and Love in a Divided World Ehrke dives deep into this quest to reveal powerful insights, meditations, and strategies to bring ancient wisdom to modern life in ways that bring lasting peace and well-being.
We are not separate in our lives or our souls. Mankind is united both in a basic goodness and in a loving divine presence who is always among us.
However, this belief does not unite us. Ehrke writes, “Survival, power, and control preoccupies the mind of ancient man and still dominate the worldview of many cultures today.”
Words like unity, oneness, and higher power have become overused and poorly understood versions of the concept of oneness. A better word, Ehrke tells us, is “Henosis.”
Henosis is a condition of unity and a universal human goal. “When love is mirrored to humans, illusions release and people return to wholeness,” writes Ehrke.
What we often fail to understand is that both pleasure and pain reveal the way to Henosis. As the allegory of the cave alludes to, we are born shackled to belief systems — societal, religious, and personal models. Enlightenment only occurs when we free ourselves from these illusions.
Ehrke writes, “If we remain solely concerned with safety and security and never have an independent thought, we risk becoming imprisoned by illusion and therefore suffering.”
Through maturation, we come to see our illusions, realize our potential, and solidify our beliefs in ways that make us incorruptible.
This ability to remain incorruptible to illusion, Ehrke tells us, is a “massively important skill to master.”
What illusion and pain do offer is the ability to explore our sense of love, and in the best circumstances, expand it.
Ehrke writes, “Suffering can either cause us to recycle our illusions or speed up our emotional maturation process. Becoming aware of our primary love templates and victim/perpetrator paradigms will liberate us from suffering and help us discover what love is.”
Yet in modern society, victim status has almost become a badge of honor from which compassion is demanded, and defended. The result, however, is not self-growth, oneness, or inner peace.
“Spin campaigns to change world opinion and right wrongs often feel like strength, but often effectively shield the martyr from self-driven dark retaliatory impulses,” writes Ehrke.
While conflict can inspire anger, hate, and the desire for the sympathy and compassion of others, it can also be a reminder to develop more self-love. When we deepen the ability to experience joy, happiness, and love, and practice forgiveness, patience, and the absence of shame, not just does our inner world improve, but our outer world does as well.
Ehrke offers a meditation: “A vital goal of being human is to master earthly forms of love. Honoring, nurturing, and truly respecting myself gives me the muscles to love my neighbor and eventually all of creation.”
What we do passes on to others and just as hate and anger can spread, so too can love, acceptance, and equanimity.
Ehrke writes, “A tipping point may occur when a substantial percentage of humanity reaches a state of equanimity. Perhaps then we will stop throwing that cumbersome victim/perpetrator ball back and forth.”
By understanding that no one is to blame for our angst, we come to realize that wholeness and equanimity exist within us.
Here again, Ehrke offers a meditation: “My desire to dedicate my life to become loving and mindful calms the emotions within me, creates a deep presence within my heart, and invites my soul to shine.”
While trauma, stress, and lack of emotional maturity can cause us to react impulsively, facing adversity fully can liberate us from suffering. Ehrke quotes the Chinese philosopher Laozi, “A great nation is like a great man: when he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it. He considers those who point out his faults his most benevolent teachers. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.”
We always have the ability to choose. We can choose to find meaning in suffering, lessons embedded in illusion, goodness within others, and wholeness, equanimity, and Henosis within ourselves.
We will all encounter challenges in our lives, and yet by employing the timeless principles of ancient philosophy Ehrke presents, we can develop effective strategies to face challenges, counter divisiveness, and realize that everything we need to become whole has always existed within us.
The Promise of Wholeness: Cultivating Inner Peace, Mindfulness, and Love in a Divided World
Rowman & Littlefield, February 2019
Hardcover, 377 Pages