May 23rd, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

…the only prior time I’ve mentioned Paris Hilton. It was a brief aside, pondering whether Hilton would have grown up to be a classier person if Elizabeth Taylor had remained part of the family.

Now, it turns out, Hilton and I have read the same book! (Or at least we’ve both been seen in public with the same book.)

In a papparazi shot earlier this week, a pre-jail Hilton was photographed carrying (1) a Bible and (2) the self-help tome The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle, 59, was born in Germany under the name Ulrich Tolle, and now lives in Vancouver. He apparently changed his first name in honor of 13th-century German mystic Johannes “Meister” Echkhart.

Tolle has written four books and released dozens of audio books and lectures, all of which are narrated in a very calming, softly accented voice. He borrows ideas from a lot of Eastern and Western sources, but his central thesis is a simple one.

Many modern humans, Tolle asserts, are crippled by their own “mental noise,” or obsessive-compulsive thoughts. Regrets about the past, worries about the future, self-condemnations about one’s physical appearance or social status–they’re all symptoms of the mental noise. The noise, in turn, is tied into the “pain body,” a mental state in which all someone can feel is pain (physical, mental, emotional), and all someone wants to do is to spread that pain to others.

Tolle’s prescription: Become aware of the true self behind the false identity of your thinking mind. Become more acutely aware of your body and of the world surrounding you. Accept the present moment. Learn to live in the stillness. Develop an awareness that goes beyond the “egoic mind.”

Some of you are already scoffing that you never perceived Paris Hilton as much of a left-brain thinker.

But a mental-noise victim doesn’t have to be a tech nerd, a video-game geek, or even a language nut such as myself.

Let’s armchair-analyze our poor little rich girl here.

If she’s like some ultra-fashion-conscious women, she’d be prone to constant fretting about every minute aspect of the way she looks.

If she’s like some professional “celebrities,” she’d be constantly calculating how best to keep her name and image in the public eye, even if it’s in the form of a self-deprecating “dumb blonde” role on a staged reality show.

And if she’s like some Hollywood types, she’d search for an apparently simple short cut to spiritual growth, preferably one that didn’t expect her to renounce her material wealth.

But Tolle’s path isn’t as easy as he initially makes it out to be. It requires one to give up things more valuable to a celebrity than money. It requires one to give up one’s ego, one’s fully-constructed but false sense of self.

It’s giving up everything that makes someone a professional “celebrity.” And if Hilton’s ready to do that, more power to her.

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