Eckhart Tolle – Lives Life at the Fullest NOW

by Mihai Vlădăreanu

He had an amazing life. He was born in Germany, lived in Spain, studied in England; he was a researcher at the Cambridge University. From the suicide obsession, depression and anxiety he reached spiritual illumination. There came a time where he was deprived of social relationships, he became homeless and jobless. He was serene to give up everything. He lived for two years homeless, in the street. He would sleep at nights on the bench in the parks, he would spend his days in greatest bliss. People wanted to know how he has reached complete peace. This is how Eckhart Tolle became one of the most known spiritual teachers, carrying his message worldwide. He is a prophet of nowadays. His knowledge has the power of the truth, the power of now.

Rishikesh, India, 2002. The hosts welcome him: „We are happy to have you here!”. Eckhart Tolle smiles as the organizers put a wreath around his neck. He carefully looks to the audience. Then he slowly removes the wreath, carefully. He puts it away, then he takes a few moments in silence, glancing at people. He starts talking:

“Today meeting is a teaching seminary, but all that we witness here is not a learning process. Words are confining, but we must assign some name to this event. Teaching here means that I bring something new to you – knowledge, information, facts or some kind of experience, emotion. But it’s nothing like this. I don’t add anything here. Every one of you already has more than enough. You have accumulated more spiritual data then Buddha had never had and you obviously have maps made up of all these knowledge. You already have wonderful indicators for the way of conscience transformation. But we are not going to use any of these here, no matter how deep they may be, even if many of them originate in this country, righteously named the cradle of spirituality.

Not that there would be any problem about such maps. They are quite beautiful. But each period creates its own indicators according to the requests of the moment. Obviously the ancient ones may operate if properly used, but they risk becoming obstacles if used incorrectly. You may have noticed my reference to ancient spiritual teachings as “maps”, “indicators”.

The essence of any path is the consciousness metamorphose

Why? What is a map in fact? A map never is the territory. The indicator does not represent the place that it points to. All teachings, whether ancient or current, point beyond. And the essence of all teachings is the possibility to transform the human consciousness; attaining a state free of any connections, of pain and inner conditionings. Teaching may show the way there. All people from ancient times, who have released themselves form conditionings, from the fake sense of being, from the fake self, would offer teachings from this modified state of consciousness. This is why such maps and indicators have great beauty and power. This is why they have fascinated and came into sight ones after the others and people began to collect them and compare them in their attempt to construe. Here we are just one step away from forgetting their destination – as some people went so deep in the form of the teaching and after a while they started to love so deep the indicator or the map that they started to identify with them…

Some others liked them so much that they started to argue with other groups who fancied other indicators, as they forgot that all of them point to the same thing. Since then man had started to bear the burden on his shoulders. This is what happens since longtime and it still goes on.

My teaching is culturally neutral, neither Buddhist, nor Christian or Hindus, but it wraps the essence of all of them. It is not rigid as it does not urge to believe in one or another. The essence of the “teaching” that brought us here – is the possibility of transforming human consciousness, your consciousness.  All languages have their limits, shape is limited, therefore these very words are just some indicators. Since all shapes have their limits, all words that I say are confining; if I say “transformation of human consciousness” this is not completely true, it is just a standpoint.

For there is no assertion to comprise all truth. An assertion may only be one of the many perspectives. It is good to know this as in this way people will not stick to one assertion, and identify themselves to one perspective, saying “this is the truth”. Transformation of human consciousness? Yes, this is a perspective that implies a metamorphose inside of you before the emergence of a new state. There is something inside of you that must be fixed, but this is not true. This would allegedly require time, but this is not true. So which is the essence of transforming consciousness that does not take time? Is this possible?” Eckhart Tolle keeps silent; moments of inner focus are lapsing.

Knowing is the only thing that counts

“This is how we reach the essence and the only reason we are here for – knowing this state of consciousness, not as a goal that must be reached sometime in the future, but as a reality available inside of you NOW. How can you know this, without making up a new belief out of this conviction? As you can adopt such a belief when you hear about a teaching claiming that you already are an illuminated being. This could grant great satisfaction to add it to the content of your mind and persuade yourself that this is the very truth, as the master told me that I’m not supposed to change anything as I already am an illuminated being”. (Audience laughs). For a while this would grant a boost to the identity created by mind, for the self-consciousness created by mind and it will make you feel very well. You have finally succeeded!”

The consciousness of the ego created by mind will try to develop, to to seize more of it. If you can get a strong faith from someone, a faith that you add to your mind content and identify yourself with you will be quite satisfied for a while.  You are great now, someone who grew up and became an illuminated being. But this is a satisfaction that cannot last and life will show you that you haven’t attained illumination yet. Then you look for the next thing that can save you, experiences, another belief, more knowledge, or genuine spiritual achievement to add in. thus you fall apart from who you already are. You keep looking to the future; sticking to different things in order to become spiritually achieved.

“Maybe you have reached at some financial status and now you want spiritual evolution. Maybe you have overcome emotional difficulties, what you really pursue is achievement. And here comes this teaching that might sound weird and says: you cannot find it in the future. But I also say that you do not believe me! If this is the situation, if you already released yourself, which is the difference between you and your master, if there is any. Who could say that the master knows this is true whereas you don’t. How does this knowledge actually appear? How does it manifest? This is quite simple. There is no question of the master knowing more than you. Some masters may know. There are others masters quite simple, without superior education. And if it comes to knowledge and information you may know thousand times more. You know many things, but they know instead the only thing that matters… (Audience laughs, Eckhart Tolle smiles)

You need no more time

“The answer is simple and I will give it right away, if you hurry back home, as I don’t want to strengthen my teaching saying that I will give it to you only in the sixth day of the week. The master is completely emerged in the present. He does not withstand from inside this moment of now. Whatever there may occur in this moment, he does not withstand. This represents the end of everything that is false inside of you. Your entire self structure depends on the inner resistance against now. The ego shaped by mind maintains it by using this resistance. The state of opposing is a state of dissatisfaction, a state of a permanent desire or fear of the mind projection called future. ”

To wish and to need time, as if this grants something to make me complete and the fear that tomorrow, one month, a year, a decade now there might occur something to deprive me of what gives me he feeling of satisfaction, these are two aspects that future implies. The growth of the human consciousness, no matter the form it would take, pursued in patterns or by means of time. This is the enormous force that removes you from the present moment, which is full of life and accomplishment, dragging you into the future.

As your search is directed to an aspect that you expect to enrich your being, the future will make you more complete. This is the truth until you think that in spiritual practice you need future. I do not state that this is fully nonsense. You do need spiritual practice… for many people spiritual practice stands for a step to a progressive development of the state of freedom. But in this development there comes a moment when you realize the deluding nature of time. You realize who you really are beyond form. There occurs self-discovery beyond mental constructions. You suddenly realize the falseness of future – from the perspective of the spiritual liberation. But before you realize this, you need spiritual practice. And this does not necessarily implies what spiritual practice is regarded as.   You need time and suffering for that. For large number of people the only spiritual practice implies suffering. These are lots of people who don’t experience any spiritual practice. To them it is suffering that makes the best spiritual master. They need it, as the two statements are synonymous.  When I say that you don’t need time, this is not true for everybody. This only works for those who are able to be attentive to the moment of NOW, who can realize its depth and its truth. And we are here to reveal the profoundness and the truth of this statement during a week, which means time.

You no longer need suffering

We are exploring here the state of consciousness that lacks any time reference. Maybe some of you don’t even like what I’m saying now, as they are identified to the time and to the ego movement in time, as it awaits satisfaction by each day. If it’s only the little ego that listens to me, it does not like my words as its existence is connected to time. It is quite easy that some of you who have never been here before to feel the urge to go away. There is nothing wrong with it. This merely means that you are not ready yet to hear the simplicity and the depth of this truth: you do not need time. There may even appear the fear to explore this statement in order to understand it. Fear. Who does actually fear? It is the limited consciousness of the ego bound to time that fears this assertion. And this is good. It means that the assertion you no longer need time does not concern you. It means you need more time. And this is good. But this also goes with suffering. The assertion “you no longer need time” is the same with “you no longer need suffering”.

This is the ultimate teaching of Buddha – the end of suffering. “You no longer need time” comprises “you no longer need suffering”. This is why the assertion might be true or false for you. This is not an assertion valid for everybody. No matter your previous spiritual practice, or teachings, or the suffering or the mixing of them all, the question is whether you have the inner ability to listen to these words, dully grasp their meaning at least. It is not about understanding, as if you start thinking about it, you shall no reach too far.
Therefore, the statement “you no longer need time” can be true or not. Such a question may not be satisfying for the mind, I may often say things that are both true and untrue. This indicator may be true or untrue for you. The mind does not like it. It says, there is something true or false. This is how things work in science, or at least that’s how it has been working so far. The question in fact is: do I need time, do we need time to attain achievement? The answer is: you need time before you realize that you don’t actually need time.

Acceptance is the perfect exercise

We are going to use these words –you no longer need time – all week long in order to deepen it, to find out what the next indicator points to. I no longer need time to be what I am , to be myself, complete. How can I know this without turning this into a new creed? How should I know it, unless I provide a new exercise to bring more time? How can you know? You can by getting into a state of acceptance – and I’m saying it even if some of you will be scared. This is the only exercise for the next week – getting into the state of acceptance.

You need no more. Should you need more, another social status, more money, more assets, more experiences, even more… spirituality that wouldn’t be the state of acceptance. If there is inside of you the need for next moment, if you have to know what comes next, and again and again… this restless look over the present moment, this look as a part of the average human consciousness does not represent the consciousness state of acceptance.

Peace melts evil in silence

The state of acceptance – this is very important, this is why I repeat it, it’s easy to forget – appears when you need no more to be complete. “More” is a frequent thing in phenomenal world – obviously you still need food, abilities, as these are daily life features, but the psychological lust for more vanishes away. When the ego want more in order to become stronger it fails the state of acceptance. You get into this state of surrender when you simply accept arms open (Eckhart Tolle opens wide his arms as if to embrace everything in front of him) the present moment, no matter its shape. This may seem an absurd spiritual exercise, at first sight, for this moment often lacks satisfactions. This is why “complete surrender to the present moment” also includes negative emotions that I feel now, maybe anxiety, wrath, anything… do you want to stay for good in this moment? No. But the way to overcome is not opposition but acceptance which gives enough peace to melt them in silence.

An article from Yoga Magazine, issue no 67

July 2008

Also available in: Română Français

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