"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eckhart Tolle Part I: Ego, Silence, Being and Enlightenment

Enlightened spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle,
best-selling author of "The Power of Now"
and "The New Earth: Awakening to Your
Life's Purpose

In an uncut three-part interview, best-selling author and enlightened spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, a German-born modern-day mystic who lives in Vancouver, sat down with the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Sandra Abrams to discuss internal silence and being, the nature of the ego and his own enlightenment experience, as detailed in his books "The Power of Now" and "The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose."

"Most people have a voice in their head which is the usual thought processes that they are usually identified with," says Tolle. "So for most people that is their basic reality, that 'voice in the head'. And, they are so identified with these continually arising thought processes," he notes, "that they don't even know that they are identified with every thought that comes to them. They don't know that there is a 'voice in the head' because they are the 'voice in the head.'"

"To find that there is another dimension inside you," says Tolle, "where this mental noise is not operating for a while, that is like finding a depth inside yourself that perhaps you didn't know was there. And that," he notes, "essentially is a spiritual dimension. So it is really about finding that dimension in yourself where the continual mental noise for a while subsides".

"There is still an awareness of noises that you hear," he explains, "or your eyes may be open (and) you may be looking at things, but you are not labeling the noises that you hear. You are not interpreting them. You know they are there," he observes, "but you are not labeling them. The compulsive labeling that most people live with subsides for a while, and that is a tremendous liberation."

"Everybody has time for a moment of space," Tolle observes, "and it could start with taking a single thing, like taking one conscious in-and-out breath occasionally while you are waiting at the bus stop or at the traffic light, or while you are going up and down in the elevator."

"Instead of mentally projecting yourself forward to the next thing you have to do, that you are going to, or that you haven't done, why not take a moment," he asks, "when you are simply conscious of your breath?"

"Breathing in, the breath is always there, so you just put some attention on that. One conscious in-breath, feel the air going into the body, and one conscious out-breath.  During that space you have taken attention away from 'the voice in the head,'" Tolle notes, "and a little bit of space has opened up inside you. In that little space," he observes, "you feel a bit more alive. There is a certain aliveness and power in that space. Its not just nothingness; there is a power in there."

"Just to experience that you are not your thoughts" is a liberating experience that not many people find Tolle observes. "You are the awareness behind your thoughts. And to know that, you have to find that little spot inside you. In the silence."

Tollle concludes Part I of his CBC interview by talking about the dysfunction of the ego and the role it has played in human history, particularly recent human history.

"The ego is a mind-made sense of self," he explains. "The ego has a certain structure to it, (and) it needs certain things to survive.  It needs to emphasize the 'otherness' of others. It needs to judge people. It needs to immediately conceptualize and define a person that you meet. Immediately you will find judgment arising, and comparison arising. The image of who I am, (and) how does that compare to the other person. Inferiority? Superiority?" These are the ordinary functions of the ego, of which far too many people are wholly unaware, he explains.

"So there is a basic dysfunction built into the structure of the ego that works both on a personal level and on a collective level," Tolle says. And, it appears to be profoundly deep-seated and anti-social in its nature.

"There is this built in tendency to make the 'others' into enemies," he notes. "Why is that? Because the ego needs to emphasize the 'otherness.' By creating enemies outside, you have a stronger sense of who you are. But it is a false sense of who you are," he notes, pointing to the senseless wars of the 20th century.

"There is a very strong element of dysfunction in the human mind. And, really, this is what we are addressing when we become more conscious of compulsive thinking, and (when) we become conscious that we have been deriving our sense of self from what we have been telling ourselves in our minds of who we are."

"Then suddenly," says Tolle, "we see this operating in ourselves; we see this unconscious process . . . and by seeing it another dimensions has arisen. It is a profound "Awareness"" or Presence," as he calls it.

See: Eckhart Tolle Part II: Fear and Awakening

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