Eckhart Tolle on The Pain Body...or, How to Fight Your Inner Vampire

Photo By Samet Kilic via 

 Recently I've become fascinated by Eckhart Tolle's concept of the "pain body".

The "pain body" is one of the best analogies for our inner critics that I've ever run across. You could even call them our inner vampires, if you like ... what with it being Halloween season and all.

Here's what Mr. Tolle has to say about the pain body:

The pain-body awakens from its dormancy when it gets hungry, when it is time to replenish itself. Alternatively, it may get triggered by an event at any time. The pain-body that is ready to feed can use the most insignificant event as a trigger, something somebody says or does, or even a thought. If you live alone or there is nobody around at the time, the pain-body will feed on your thoughts.
Suddenly, your thinking becomes deeply negative. You were most likely unaware that just prior to the influx of negative thinking a wave of emotion invaded your mind—as a dark and heavy mood, as anxiety or fiery anger. All thought is energy and the pain-body is now feeding on the energy of your thoughts. But it cannot feed on any thought. You don’t need to be particularly sensitive to notice that a positive thought has a totally different feeling-tone than a negative one. It is the same energy, but it vibrates at a different frequency. A happy, positive thought is indigestible to the pain-body. It can only feed on negative thoughts because only those thoughts are compatible with its own energy field.
Emotion from the pain-body quickly gains control of your thinking, and once your mind has been taken over by the pain-body, your thinking becomes negative. The voice in your head will be telling sad, anxious, or angry stories about yourself or your life, about other people, about past, future, or imaginary events. The voice will be blaming, accusing, complaining, imagining. And you are totally identified with whatever the voice says, believe all its distorted thoughts. At that point, the addiction to unhappiness has set in.
It is not so much that you cannot stop your train of negative thoughts, but that you don’t want to. This is because the pain-body at that time is living through you, pretending to be you. And to the pain-body, pain is pleasure. It eagerly devours every negative thought. In fact, the usual voice in your head has now become the voice of the pain-body. It has taken over the internal dialogue. A vicious circle becomes established between the pain-body and your thinking. Every thought feeds the pain-body and in turn the pain-body generates more thoughts. At some point, after a few hours or even a few days, it has replenished itself and returns to its dormant stage, leaving behind a depleted organism and a body that is much more susceptible to illness. 
If that sounds to you like a psychic parasite, you are right. That’s exactly what it is.

Sounds pretty vampire-like, huh? Except that instead of biting our necks and feasting on our blood, our pain bodies use memories and negative voices to torture us so they can feast on our pain.

For instance, the time in high school that you said to your boyfriend "I want to go to bed with you" in front of your parents? That's an hors d'oeuvre.

When you look in the mirror at your rolls of fat with disgust -- soup and salad course.

The memory of the time you hit your kids or ran over your dog -- yep, that's a main course.

The affair that your wife had that destroyed your marriage ... the hell you put your family through when you were an addict ... those are the nukes. Your inner vampire pulls those out for special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

But here's the thing...

The minute that you become aware of your inner vampire, it already has less power over you. You could even give it a name. I've named mine Bruce. (No offense to Mr. Willis.)

Now you can be curious about it. You can photograph it. You can study it. You can figure out which instrument of torture it uses for which course.

The more you learn about your inner vampire, the less power it has over you. You can watch out for those negative voices and go, "Oh, it's Bruce up to his old tricks again. Let's see what he's got up his sleeve this time."

You are now OBSERVING the pain. You are no longer BEING the pain.

And after awhile, it'll start to get pretty boring.

Then your inner vampire will have to go somewhere else to feed...

...because vampires can't digest boredom.


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  1. "The me I see is the me I be."
    Good stuff - as usual

  2. Thanks, John. I'm really enjoying Mr. Tolle a lot -- very inspiring! Thanks for dropping by. :-)


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