On meeting Eckhart Tolle in Aussie
March 21, 2009
(March 20-22 @ Sunshine Coast)
It’s my first full day at Eckhart Tolle’s The Joy of Being retreat. The hall is huge and full. There must have been 700+ people over this weekend. The weather here has been very humid, wet and unpredictable – just like a rain forrest. Eckhart started this morning’s session by saying how we should embrace every present moment of now. Not going below our thinking, not going above our thinking. Taking the weather for example (sychronicity really brought us a downpour at the time Tolle talked about this). Instead of wishing this retreat could be more ideal if the sun was shining where we could go for a tan in between breaks or whinning about how perfect it would be if the rain had stopped, we should embrace everything that is given to us in any given moment.
Back to our example, we could sit quietly and be with the rain, listen to the sound it makes; no thoughts or judgements in our minds. It is in this moment of stillness where we are connected to our present moment. As we fully embrace this silence, magical things start to unfold. Feelings of irritation, anger, frustration, dissatisfaction drawn from the future dissipate almost instantaneously. Feelings of peacefulness and contentment arise fully. In this space, we are truly connected to the NOW.
Eckhart also said a couple of things that stayed with me. He said when he comes out on stage he has no idea what he is going to say or teach. He just stays open to the moment and lets whatever arises come through. As simple as this sounds, it is not easy and takes practice. I am finding this to be true more and more as I explore writing, teaching and doing healing work. I think this ability to stay open is the essence of presence, flow and creativity. Eckhart said that when he gives a talk, he is a spiritual teacher, and when he walks off stage he is no longer a spiritual teacher, he’s Eckhart. I love this. The ego is always trying to constellate around a self-generated identity. “I’m an investment banker.” “I’m an artist.” I’m a this or a that. And when we are no longer associated with this identity, we are so called “lost”. It’s a trap!
Eckhart also encouraged us all that when we return to our rooms in the evening, that we do not go back into our habitual patterns and learn to sit with silence. He talked about human being using habitual habits and avoid being still. So I thought, no problem. The TV in my room doesn’t work anyway, so I will try to be in silence. When I got back to the room, without even thinking, I walked over to my computer and switched it on. There it goes, my way of escaping silence. It is very true! Most of us when we are up against silence, we subconsciously turn to do things like listening to iPod, chat online with friends, reply emails, walk around the house, read or nap. Anything except doing completely nothing at all. How many of us can honestly sit still and enjoy the moment? Probably not that many and it takes a lot of effort.
In summary, Eckhart’s teachings today showed us how to accept and allow those negative thoughts and feelings. Simplified it is like this:
- Recognize your senses: “I feel a negative emotion. I am aware of the negative emotion.”
- Connect with the NOW: Through a method that works for you - such as counting your heartbeat or follow your breaths
- Accept and be with it: ”I accept that I am experiencing a feeling of negativity and will fully embrace it”.
- Watch your thoughts and feelings. Dont’ engage!
Once you are not thinking about the past or the future, you are in the present moment. And there should be almost no thoughts!
I should head back to my practice of being in the NOW. Before I go, I want to leave you with a profound Sufi proverb that Tolle shared with us today. Read it a few times and let it vibrate in your body.
“When the heart weeps at what it has lost, the spirit laughs at what it has found.”