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  • Ahmad Alam

An Introduction to Eckhart Tolle's Teachings

After reading Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now", "A New Earth: Awakening Your Life's Purpose" and other books, I was literally mesmerized with the way he addressed human consciousness. Never before has someone talked about the present moment like Tolle did. From duality to the pain body, Tolle touched upon the core issues involving the conscious mind. He also elaborated effectively the important practice of surrendering to what is and emphasized the fallacy that most people fall trap into by thinking that they are their thoughts. Another noteworthy phenomenon that Tolle introduces us to is that of object consciousness versus space consciousness - our constant addiction to objects as opposed to entering the spatial domain. This leads to his assertion that there's lot more doing in the world than being. The pre-eminent spiritual leader of our times further shows us how to enter the state of the Now through various channels like breathing, focusing on one's inner body energy and sensory perception.

Tolle brilliantly gives an example of how when he was in his late twenties, one night he woke up feeling overwhelmed with deep sorrow and depression and told himself that he couldn't live with himself anymore. That triggered the start of a seismic shift in consciousness that made him realize it just wasn't possible for him not able to live with himself - who is the I and who is myself that I can't live with he kept asking. Obviously there was just one person - one real and one in the mind. This is called duality and it leads to making constant comparison and labeling of not only oneself but also situations, emotions and objects. Why give any label at all. When we go to see nature the best thing is not to try hard to find out what the names of different trees and plants are but rather appreciate them there being fully present. One should always avoid having a relationship with oneself. The little me, according to Tolle, is when all is said and done remains little me as every object, including a thought, falls prey to the law of impermanence.

There is this almost constant unease that humans carry with themselves almost their entire lives. As Tolle describes this pain-body is being collected in the reservoir of our minds pretty much since the day we are born. Most of the time it's dormant with a slight irritation but sometimes it can wake up to be a monster as well. People who kill have their pain-body at the most heightened state. The pain-body can have a devastating effect as a collective state of all humans.

Surrendering to what is is another powerful teaching of Tolle. He also encourages everyone to just allow the moment to be - that means everything and everyone within that moment should also be allowed to be. Just allowing the moment to be there is no resistance whatsoever to what is and only in that state can one's doing be the most effective. Relationships are a great tool in gauging one's degree of presence. Tolle jokingly brings this example quite often in his talks that someone once told him if they thought they were very enlightened they should go and spend a week with their parents.

Most people literally believe that they are their thoughts. They always bring their personal story and life situation into the mix - hence missing out a vast part of who they actually are. Tolle's assertion that our mind is just a ripple in the ocean of consciousness should really bring home the truth that we should always strive to rise above thoughts. Consciousness is where creativity flourishes. Tolle talks about how Einstein didn't come up with the theory of relativity with his mind and thoughts only. Instead he had to delve into his consciousness to come up with such a high degree of creativity. The same is true for Beethoven - his magical Ninth Symphony is a masterpiece that came to him as part of his creative genius that was cultivated in his consciousness.

The author explores the unrelenting addiction of most people with objects. A thought is an object according to Tolle. Most people fail to see that thinking is the biggest addiction there is. Instead of reaching a place of no thought we always fall prey to endless pattern of conditioned thinking. Tolle explains how when we learn not to think we can actually improve the quality of our thinking process. In fact he gives example of how in Greece the Oracle of Delphi had asked people there who the wisest man was and Socrates answered he was because he was the only person who knew that he knew nothing. It's pointed out that if a person starts with not knowing in the beginning, he or she can actually be in a better position in the end. Starting with no per-conceived notion with a clear mind has many advantages - the most important one being creativity.

As far as the exit gates (as Tolle likes to call them) to the Now are concerned, the first obvious way is to follow one's breathing and inner body field's energy. One may start with fingers first and then move to other body parts - just focusing on them and just feeling their energy. Another way is to become aware of one's surroundings - like observing all the things in a room, seeing objects and people, hearing all sounds and also silence between sounds. Another effective way to visit the Now is to follow one's thoughts and stop the constant stream of thinking by just following our thoughts without labeling, judging or comparing them in any way. Over ninety percent of our thought patterns are useless and repetitive anyway.

Personally, every chance I get I listen to Eckhart Tolle on Youtube. His teachings have inspired me to the point where I've been not only practicing but also preaching to my friends and family for quite a few years now. But as Tolle reminds us time and again that just by staying in the Now one starts teaching others.

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