In his bestsellers, renowned spiritual author Eckhart Tolle tells us we carry a “pain-body”—a concept closely resembling ideas in Maurice Nicoll’s earlier writing.

“The past is living in us.”[1] We store our past emotional suffering in our “time-body.”[2] When we marry someone, we marry their time-body too, and all the negativity it carries.[3] Only by living “more consciously now[4] can one’s negative time-body be cleansed, when “the light of consciousness” shines into it.[5]

I’m not citing Eckhart Tolle here, but Maurice Nicoll. Namely, his Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky published around 70 years ago. Nicoll was teaching an esoteric system known as The Fourth Way, but these ideas were unconventional to it.

If you’re familiar with Eckhart Tolle though, you could be forgiven for thinking I was describing his work. In his bestsellers The Power of Now and A New Earth, Tolle mirrors these and closely-related ideas, to a remarkable degree, when he writes of a “pain-body.” Both this and the time body are described as living psychic bodies storing our emotional anguish and “living past”. Some pain-body characteristics are also reminiscent of “the negative part of the emotional centre”—a Fourth Way concept Nicoll elaborated too. This and the pain-body are both psychic contaminations said to create and feed on negative emotions.

Below, similar statements by each author are compared side-by-side in two column tables. The tables sum-up my comparative analysis discussed in “Eckhart Tolle’s Pain-Body: A Deep Dive into its Hidden History.” That article also looked at Barry Long’s significant influence on Tolle’s pain-body concept; here I’m just compiling Nicoll-Tolle correspondences on this topic. I hope that more can be said about Long-Tolle commonalities in the future.

While Tolle’s similarities to both Nicoll and Long are substantial, you wouldn’t know it from reading him; neither one is ever mentioned in his books.

This is my fifth such overview of Nicoll-Tolle similarities: view more comparisons like this on other topics here.  As before, I’ve bolded and underlined text in places to emphasise commonalities, but italics in quotations are original to the source material.

The pain-body, time-body and the “living past” within

Maurice Nicoll Eckhart Tolle
‘The whole time-body is a living thing[6] and through it we are ‘connected with . . . a living past.’[7]The past is living in us[8] The pain-body is ‘very-much-alive,’[9] and is an ‘energy-form that lives.’[10] ‘It is the living past in you.’[11]
Whatever you think, feel and do ‘will all remain in the Time-Body. . . . All the past is there and living.’[12] ‘Your Time-body . . . [can be] full of negative emotions.’[13] ‘The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion . . . form an energy field that lives in . . . your body. . . . This . . . old . . . emotion . . . is the pain-body.’[14]
‘[A] mass of useless suffering [is] stored up in our Time-Body.’[15] ‘This accumulated pain is a negative energy field. . . . It’s the emotional pain-body.’[16]
‘When two people marry they do not only marry their physical bodies but they marry their Time-bodies.’[17] ‘You don’t just marry your wife or husband, you also marry her or his pain-body.’[18]
‘A person may look wonderful but has a negative Time-body and as a result [a] marriage will not be so beautiful as romance paints it.’[19] ‘In intimate relationships, pain-bodies . . .  often . . .  lie low until you start living together. . . . It would perhaps be wise to choose someone whose pain-body is not excessively dense.’[20]
‘If your Time-body is full of … [grievances] it is in a bad state…. A [negative] Time-body is a bad kind of Time-body to have.’[21] ‘In some [the pain-body] is heavier, more dense than in others. Some . . . seem to carry an enormous amount of unhappiness within them.’[22]
‘Now to transform the Time-body, if it is negative, you must work on yourself now and stop now this facile mechanical way of taking everything that happens to you.’[23] ‘Instead of “being” the pain-body . . . be the knowing that watches the emotional pain . . . thus accessing the power of the Now and initiating the transmutation of the pain.’[24] [25]
‘Your conscious effort . . . will also transform the past [in you]. . . . By working on yourself more consciously now through observing when you take situations in life negatively, you can alter not only the future but the past. . . . You can alter your Time-body . . . by noticing and not agreeing with how you mechanically take events now.’[26] ‘The beginning of freedom from the pain-body lies . . . in your ability to stay present enough, alert enough, to notice the pain-body in yourself as a heavy influx of negative emotion when it becomes active. When it is recognized, it can no longer pretend to be you and live and renew itself through you.’[27]
‘Now this light of consciousness is shed also into the past, into the time-body . . . [according to] what we are conscious of now [that] we can see as having acted on us [before] in the past.’[28] The pain-body . . . is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. . . . If you don’t bring the light of your consciousness into the pain, you will be forced to relive it again and again.’[29]
‘Remember that every stage of slightly increased consciousness begins to alter us and the past. The past is living in us…. Whatever you do now alters the past, as well as the future.’[30] ‘There is no need to investigate the unconscious past in you except as it manifests at this moment. . . . Access the power of Now. That is the key.’[31]
‘Whatever new insight you gain now will give you an insight into your past and change it. Consciousness is the force that changes us.’[32] ‘If you can be present enough to watch all those things [in the present] . . . then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence.’[33]

Similarities explained

In his commentaries, Nicoll tells us we all have a “time-body” whereas Tolle, in his bestselling books The Power of Now and A New Earth, says almost everyone has a “pain-body.”

As I’ve discussed before, Nicoll took on the concept of the time-body from Ouspensky, but he developed it further, giving it psychological explanations more relevant to the practical inner work taught in the Fourth Way. It’s these aspects that bear such a striking similarity to Tolle’s concept of the pain-body.

These are not your typical run-of-the-mill spiritual ideas. While many spiritual teachings deal with reducing negativity in some respect, the time-body and pain-body are distinct, well-developed concepts with quite specific matching features. While they are not exactly equivalent, and have some key differences, what is remarkable is how closely they correlate in some very particular ways.

These similarities include:

  • We have a time/pain body that’s invisible to our senses and alive
  • Through these bodies, the past is living in us
  • Negative emotional states and our psychological pain and suffering, remains stored in them
  • In some people these bodies are more negative or dense due to how much negativity/emotional pain they contain
  • When we get married, we also marry our spouses time/pain body
  • Marriage will be unhappy if our spouse’s time/pain body is very negative/dense
  • You can transform/transmute this body through being is a more conscious state “now.”
  • Both emphasise the word “now” in this respect: Nicoll italicises; Tolle capitalises it.
  • To break free of old negativity carried within, one must begin to consciously observe and stop identifying with negativity arising in the present/now so the light of consciousness can shine into the time/pain body, initiating change
  • The power/force of consciousness/presence is what changes/dissolves the emotional past in you.

Notice how Nicoll and Tolle correlate closely on a number of distinctive ideas. Both essentially tell us we have living psychic bodies storing our past pain and that the past living in us. There are similar points and expressions about marriage, the present/now, and how “the light of consciousness” brings transformation to the time/pain body and the living past in us.

Note that the light of consciousness, which both mention, is an important, recurring theme in their work—a distinct correlation in its own right—for which I’ve compiled comparisons here.

If these similarities are all a coincidence, then it surely is quite an extraordinary one.

However, one key difference is that to Tolle, the pain-body is itself composed of negativity. It is unnecessary and should ideally be dissolved entirely, he says. This is not so with the time-body: Nicoll speaks more of cleansing it of negativity.

However, here Tolle’s pain-body intersects with another concept Nicoll elaborates: the negative part of the emotional centre which, like the pain-body, only produces negativity and can be removed. This is the subject of the next comparisons.

The negative psychic infection within: The Pain-body and Negative Emotional Part

Unlike the time-body, the negative part of the emotional centre is described as an unnatural element in our psyche which serves only to express and feed upon negative emotion. It can and should ideally be removed entirely, Nicoll tells us. Tolle’s pain-body shares these characteristics. The tables featured below compare them on different facets of these concepts.

Development and growth

Maurice Nicoll Eckhart Tolle
Since we are born amongst sleeping [unconscious] people, all deeply under the power of negative emotions, we acquire in a short time a negative part of the Emotional Centre. . .  a marvellous inner source of negative emotions and general unhappiness.’[34] ‘The pain-body is there because of certain things that happened in the past,’[35] including ‘emotional pain suffered in one’s own past.’[36]  ‘This includes the pain you suffered as a child, caused by the unconsciousness of the world into which you were born.’[37]
‘We become infected by negative emotions. We inhale the atmosphere of those around us from birth. . . . So . . .  we have formed in us . . . the negative part of Emotional Centre.’[38] ‘Psychic toxicity is absorbed by the children and contributes to the development of their own pain-body.’[39]
‘The infection of negative emotions . . . introduces itself gradually into a growing child’ as ‘the negative feelings of its elders gradually communicate themselves to the child.’[40] ‘We [soon] acquire . . . a negative part of the Emotional Centre, which increases more and more.’[41] Babies ‘can sense the emanation of their mother’s and father’s negative emotion, and it causes . . . their pain-body to grow already by absorbing [negative] energy from the parents’ pain-bodies. Whatever the case may be, as the baby’s physical body grows, so does the pain-body.’[42]
‘The child . . . gradually begins to feel what [negative emotions] represent. . . . The child begins to shew negative emotions and to sulk and brood and nag and feel sorry for itself and so on.’[43] ‘Children’s pain-bodies sometimes manifest as moodiness or withdrawal. The child becomes sullen, refuses to interact, and may sit in a corner’ or has ‘weeping fits or temper tantrums.’[44]
‘[These] negative emotions are acquired from the example of our parents, teachers, and all those we are brought up amongst.’[45] ‘The child may . . . have taken on [emotional] pain from his or her parents’ pain-bodies, and so the parents may see in the child a reflection of what is also in them.’[46]
‘The continual expression of negative emotions . . . will produce in people a continual growth of the negative part of the Emotional Centre.’[47] ‘[The pain-body] consists not just of childhood pain, but also painful emotions that were added to it later in adolescence and during your adult life.’[48]
‘Most people are simply swamped by everything that happens to them, and so the negative part of Emotional Centre grows and grows until one is really in a very bad state.’[49] ‘Once the pain body has taken you over, you want more [emotional] pain. . . . [Unconsciously] your thinking and behavior are designed to keep the pain going.’[50]

Similarities explained

In this table, I’ve compared what Nicoll and Tolle say about how the negative emotional part or pain-body grows and develops from childhood. The commonalities include:

  • These aspects exist, at least in part, due to the negativity/emotional pain encountered and experienced as a child
  • Children psychologically take in the negativity from those around them
  • The negative emotional part/pain-body grows as it takes in this negativity
  • As these aspects grow, the child may start to express more negative emotions and moodiness
  • Children can acquire particular negative emotions from their parents
  • The more negative emotions we have and express, the more the negative emotional part/pain-body increases or grows, and this process continues throughout life.
  • These psychic aspects are typically well-developed, perpetuating states of negativity/emotional pain in most people.

We can see, from these comparisons, that the negative part of the emotional centre and the pain-body are said to grow and develop in children in quite similar ways. Both take in negativity from their surroundings and grow as they do, and can absorb and exhibit particular negative emotions taken on from one’s parents.

One point of difference, however, is that Tolle tells us we are all born with an emotional pain-body inherited from “the collective pain-body of humanity”[51] which “is probably encoded within every human’s DNA.”[52] Yet an individual’s personal pain-body is still shaped and grows according to their particular life experiences nonetheless.[53]

Nicoll, however, says we are born without a negative part in the emotional centre (although instincts are innate and distinct from this) and this part only forms due to the environmental and social influences we’re exposed to. However, he also claims our time-body recurs from life to life and carries our negative emotional past; so, if this remains untransformed, one will presumably attract repeat conditions in the next life, resulting in a negative emotional part the same as before, according to this view. Nicoll maintains that consciously changing the time-body now changes the nature of one’s next life in recurrence—otherwise we’re stuck in a repetitive loop.[54]

Despite these differences, both authors view negative emotions and states as unnatural or unnecessary, and so see the pain-body or negative emotional part, which can only express these emotions, as unnecessary too. As we’ll see further down, they offer similar advice on how to be rid of these aspects.

I should add that they both differentiate negative emotions, such as fear created by worrying, from natural instincts—like fear in response to real physical danger. For an overview of their commonalities on the topic of negative states more broadly, see my previous article here.

Creates and feeds on negativity

Maurice Nicoll Eckhart Tolle
Negative emotions result ‘whenever [the] acquired negative part of the Emotional Centre is active.’[55] You can ‘notice the pain-body in yourself as a heavy influx of negative emotion when it becomes active.’[56]
‘The negative part of the Emotional Centre is the seat of negative emotion’;[57] it’s the ‘inner source of negative emotions and general unhappiness.’[58] It gives rise to: ‘violence and destruction,’[59]hatred and . . . depression,’[60]self-pity, various kinds of persisting resentment,’[61] ‘fear,’[62] ‘suspicion,’[63] and various ‘evil and negative emotions.’[64] ‘Any sign of unhappiness[65] in yourself, in whatever form . . . may be the . . . pain-body.’[66] It can give rise to: ‘anger, destructiveness, hatred . . . violence,’[67]self-pity, or resentment,’[68] ‘a desire to hurt, rage, depression[69] or any ‘heavy . . . negative emotion.’[70]
‘The negative side of the Emotional Centre . . . asks for food to continue being negative’[71] and ‘becomes stored with energy.’[72] ‘The pain-body . . . periodically needs to feed—to take in new energy . . . to replenish itself’[73]
‘The negative part of Emotional Centre grows on what it feeds on and if you allow it to feed on negative things, it will grow and grow.’[74] ‘Any emotionally painful experience can be used as food by the pain-body. . . . [It] seeks emotional negativity.’[75]
‘Negative literature and films of crime, violence, hatred, etc., if identified with, all feed the negative part of Emotional Centre and store it with energy.’[76] ‘The pain-body can . . . feed on films in which violence is portrayed as normal or even desirable human behaviour.’[77]
‘This [negative emotional part] then becomes stored with energy and will discharge itself on anyone from a trifling cause . . . over nothing. . . . Negative thoughts . . . increase the material for making negative emotions, which sooner or later will . . . rush forth and attack someone.’[78] ‘It may get triggered by an event at any time. The pain-body . . . can use the most insignificant event as a trigger, [such as] something somebody says or does, or even a thought.’[79] ‘Even . . . an innocent remark . . . can activate it.’[80] ‘You [then] want to inflict pain . . . suffer pain, or both.’[81]
‘Continually making accounts against others stores up big material for the manufacture of negative emotions which if they cannot attack others [will] attack oneself.’[82] ‘Some [pain-bodies] will attack people around you or close you, while others may attack you, their host.’[83]
‘All negative emotions desire to hurt, and at the bottom of them are unlimited forms of violence.’[84] ‘Some [pain-bodies] are physically violent; many more are emotionally violent.’[85] ‘They feed on violence, whether emotional or physical.’[86]
‘This [negative] part of Emotional Centre has to be starved, because it is like a disease in the Emotional Centre.’[87] If that [pain-body] sounds to you like a psychic parasite, you are right. That’s exactly what it is.[88]

Similarities explained

In the previous section we looked at how the negative emotional part or pain-body grow and develop; here we look at how Nicoll and Tolle describe them functioning.

In either case, these components are said to:

  • Produce negative emotion when they are active
  • Give rise to many forms of unhappiness, such as hatred, violence, destructiveness, depression, self-pity, resentment etc.
  • Feed upon, and take in energy from, any emotional negativity, which actively they seek out
  • Feed on emotions provoked by watching violent films
  • Have the tendency to erupt in response to minor events, or even one’s own thoughts.
  • Seek to emotionally attack others or even oneself
  • Give rise to or be underlied by violence
  • Be a psychological disease/parasite

So not only do these psychic components develop comparably: they function very similarly too. Both give rise to various kinds of negative emotions when active, feed upon negative emotional energy—including from violent films—are easily provoked, and may attack others or oneself. They are respectively described as a disease or parasite.

We’ll look a bit more into how thoughts are said to activate the negative emotional part or pain-body in the next section.

Connection to negative thinking and ego

Maurice Nicoll Eckhart Tolle
‘Remember that [a negative] thought can be observed and not allowed to infect the Emotional Centre. But if it is identified with, it will rouse the negative part of Emotional Centre with all its endless miseries.’[89] ‘Anything can trigger [the pain-body] . . . even a thought.’[90] There’s a ‘vicious circle between unexamined thoughts and emotions.’[91] ‘[The pain-body] thrives on negative thinking. . . . [It] is an addiction to unhappiness.’[92]
‘Have you studied how many incoming impressions—namely, what people say to you, how they look at you, how they behave towards you—fall on False Personality and therefore on the negative part of Emotional Centre?’[93] ‘Ordinary unconsciousness turns into the pain of deep unconsciousness . . . when things “go wrong,” when the ego is threatened. . . . This . . . brings up intense negativity . . . [which] often means that the pain-body has been triggered.’[94]
‘The uncontrolled [mental] working of [negative] imagination[95] can feed negative emotions strongly. That is why they go on and on. You can always tell if you have . . . if you can listen to your inner state.’[96] ‘And you are totally identified with whatever the voice [in your head] says, believe all its distorted thoughts. . . . And to the pain-body, pain is pleasure. It eagerly devours every negative thought.’[97]
‘When a man is in a negative state the negative part of his Emotional Centre induces a current of lies that flows through his Intellectual Centre.’[98] ‘[Negative] 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.’[99]
‘Imagination working in negative states keeps them going. . . . You know one definition of negative emotion is that it is self-running. . . . It goes by itself. It may go on all your life and its fuel is the imagination.’[100] An emotion can survive inside you for days or weeks. . . . So place your attention on feeling the [negative] emotion, and check whether your mind is holding on to a grievance pattern such as blame, self-pity, or resentment that is feeding the emotion.
‘People imagine . . . that when they are alone or no one is looking, they can indulge in as many negative thoughts as they like. In this way they increase the material for making negative emotions.’[101] ‘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 . . . [as] a wave of emotion invade[s] your mind.’[102]
‘This will give rise to endless inner talking in myself—a sort of inner muttering and complaining and brooding, that will go on and on by itself, for the sign of the negative part of Emotional Centre working is that it all goes on and on by itself—a sort of perpetual secret grievance that may spread over and darken all one’s inner life.’[103] ‘It is not so much that you cannot stop your train of negative thoughts, but that you don’t want to. 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.’

Similarities explained

Both Nicoll and Tolle similarly describe how the negative emotional part or pain-body respectively, and the emotions they produce and express, are closely associated with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts and emotions can both instigate the other, creating a feedback loop keeping the activities of negative emotional part or pain-body going.

They describe in comparable ways how the negative emotional part or pain-body:

  • Can be activated by any negative thought that is identified with or not consciously examined.
  • Is connected to our false sense of self. It can thus be triggered if we perceive things through our false personality/ego or feel this has been offended or threatened
  • Can take control of our minds and induce streams of negative thoughts, and:
    • If we identify with these, they will in turn sustain the underlying negative emotion, keeping it going
    • This process can happen even when alone, with no external prompts
    • When the negative emotional part/pain-body is controlling our thinking, our inner thought monologue—which they respectively call “inner talking” or “the voice”—becomes intensely negative and incessant.

Next, we’ll look at how to break free from these negative psychic components, according to the authors.

Becoming free of it

Maurice Nicoll Eckhart Tolle
‘The Work says that to reach a higher level of Being there must be no negative emotions and that the negative part of the Emotional Centre must be destroyed in us.’[104] ‘Love cannot flourish unless you are permanently free of mind identification and your presence is intense enough to have dissolved the pain-body.’[105]
‘The memory of the negative part of Emotional Centre, is not altered so easily. . . . When you think a thing is real, is actual, naturally you cannot alter it.’[106] ‘The pain-body is there because of certain things that happened in the past. It is the living past in you, and if you identify with it, you identify with the past.’[107]
‘We have such long strings of unpleasant memories harboured there, that we take as real, as actual, and, in fact, as our past.’[108] ‘A grievance is a strong negative emotion connected to an event in the sometimes distant past that is being kept alive by compulsive thinking.’[109]
‘So it is difficult to alter the memories belonging to the negative part of Emotional Centre. But once we begin to doubt their truthfulness . . . then of course it is possible to separate from them. . . . One gets free from one of the many chains anchoring us to what we have hitherto insisted is ourselves, and defended so uselessly with a useless expenditure of energy that could go toward a new edition of oneself, a new view of oneself, a new person. These chains, however, are very powerful.’[110] ‘You may encounter intense inner resistance to disidentifying from your pain . . . particularly if you have lived closely identified with your emotional pain-body . . . and the whole or a large part of your sense of self is invested in it. . . . In that case, unconscious fear of losing your identity will create strong resistance to any disidentification. In other words, you would rather be in pain—be the pain-body—than take a leap into the unknown and risk losing the familiar unhappy self.’[111]
‘This [inner separation] is a fortunate moment. One, so to speak, discards the past as one imagined it to be, and steps right into the present with a certain delight [and] freedom.’[112] ‘So once you recognize the root of unconsciousness as identification with the mind, which of course includes the emotions, you step out of it. You become present.[113]
‘Only the intake of the Work—only the breathing in of another set of influences—can begin to dissolve [these emotional chains to the past].’[114] Real transformation . . . depends upon whether you can become present enough to dissolve the past by accessing the power of the Now.’[115]
‘You cannot alter your negative emotions without seeing them by observing and you cannot change them save by not identifying with them.’[116] ‘To disidentify from the pain-body is to bring [conscious] presence into the [emotional] pain and thus transmute it.’[117]
‘If you practise non-identifying with negative emotions, not going with them, not enjoying them, although they are still there, something in you has become gradually separated from them. . . . This separated thing in you is pure—i.e. nothing to do with False Personality. Then Emotional Centre will begin to be changed in you owing to this separating, and it will be touched with a finer inner taste before which earthly negative emotions retreat completely.’[118] ‘Stay present enough, alert enough, to notice the pain-body in yourself as a heavy influx of negative emotion. . . . When it is recognized, it can no longer pretend to be you. . . . Your conscious Presence . . . breaks the identification with the pain-body. . . . The pain-body in most cases does not dissolve immediately, but once you have severed the link between it and your thinking, the pain-body begins to lose energy. Your thinking ceases to be clouded by emotion.’[119]

Similarities explained

Nicoll and Tolle respectively explain that the negative emotional part or pain-body can, and ideally should, be destroyed or dissolved in us. This will lead to a much better inner state, free from negative emotions and psychological bondage to our past psychological sufferings.

They essentially make the following concurring points about how to become free of the negative emotional part of pain-body:

  • It must be destroyed/dissolved to reach our utmost state of consciousness/love
  • We cannot be free of it if we continue identifying with the negative emotional memories/past it carries
  • We find it difficult to let go of these unpleasant memories/grievances about the past because our false sense of self is deeply entwined with them
  • It is necessary to see and separate/disidentify from these
  • If we do this, we can step out of our negative emotional past and into the present
  • This act of conscious recognition and disidentification begins to dissolve this negative aspect in us, and change us
  • As we stop identifying with negative emotions, our emotional centre/ pain-body is transformed and diminishes, and negative emotions decrease

Essentially, the method to break free from the pain body involves consciously observing and ceasing to identify with its activities—whether negative thoughts, emotions or grievances—in the present moment. This is one of the key applications for the practice of self-observation they teach.

You can view side-by-side comparisons of their similar, but more general, statements about self-observation and overcoming psychological identification, in a previous article in this series here.

Concluding comments

These comparisons show that Eckhart Tolle’s pain-body concept corresponds closely with many aspects found in Maurice Nicoll’s work, both conceptually and descriptively. These are quite distinctive ideas that I’ve compared, and, not surprisingly, they correlate in distinctive ways too.

To summarise, Nicoll’s time-body and Tolle’s pain-body are similarly-phrased compound words referring to psychic bodies we possess that store up our past emotional pain or suffering. Both are said to be alive and to contain our “living past.” They can be more or less negative/dense according to how much negativity or emotional pain they carry. Both tell us that when we get married, we also marry our spouse’s time or pain body respectively, and it won’t go well if their body is particularly negative or dense. Both stress the importance of being conscious of negative emotions now, to transform these psychic bodies and alter the negative past in us through “the light of consciousness.”

The negative part of the emotional centre, a Fourth Way concept Nicoll also discusses extensively, finds much in common with Tolle’s later pain-body concept too. These components are respectively described as a psychic disease or parasite, expressing all kinds of negative emotions whenever they’re activated, and feeding on negative emotional energy to our detriment.

These aspects are said to grow and develop in us from childhood by taking in the negativity from those around us, including negative emotions passed on from one’s parents.  They are strong and well-developed in most people. As such, they can be activated easily —even something minor may set them off. A negative thought can trigger them, or, alternatively, they may produce streams of negative thoughts to keep negative emotions going. When active they may emotionally attack others or even oneself, Nicoll and Tolle both point out. They can lead to physical violence too, which both associate with negative emotions.

Unlike the time-body, which can be cleansed of negativity, the negative emotional part, Nicoll explains, is an unnecessary psychic accessory serving only to produce negativity. It can and ideally should be removed entirely, much like Tolle’s pain-body. The method to do so, in either case, involves consciously observing and ceasing to identify with its psychological manifestations in the present moment, which weakens it and reduces our negativity. The same process also changes the negative living past carried within us—which is stored in the time-body according to Nicoll.

I’d already shown, in a previous article, how Nicoll and Tolle correlate a great deal in describing the topic of negative emotions. Here, I’ve shown they also have very similar ideas about their inner workings—namely, how they are produced and stored within us via specific psychic components. It’s remarkable how closely they correspond on these idiosyncratic ideas. Not only are their concepts generally analogous, but there are similar distinct examples, points, and phrases in their discussions.

Of course, Tolle also corresponds extremely closely with Barry Long on this, whose lectures Tolle attended in London before his own teaching career began.[120] As mentioned in the introduction, I’ve written about these similarities extensively in a previous article.

Ultimately, I believe Eckhart Tolle was heavily influenced by both Maurice Nicoll and Barry Long when it comes to his concept and teachings about a pain-body (although their influence does not end there).

It is important to keep in mind that the pain-body is not a typical or widely-discussed spiritual idea—like inner peace for example, where similarities are bound to exist. But it is clearly not a new or original idea either. There is very little Tolle tells us about the pain-body that cannot be found expressed in some equivalent way by Nicoll or Long when they discuss comparable concepts with different names in earlier works.

I think Nicoll and Long are obvious and important influences on Tolle, and, given the evidence for this, it is odd that they’re never mentioned in his books. The pain-body, after all, is one of Tolle’s few signature ideas, and he doesn’t just refrain from giving acknowledgement—he seems to suggest he discovered it outright.[121] I personally believe Tolle ought to have clearly acknowledged his influences.

More comparisons will be coming.


Notes and references

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