As part of The Chopra Center’s “Seduction of Spirit” retreat at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., on April 24, 2013, EckhartTolleTV hosted a live-streaming event called “A Conversation with Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle.”
Both authors discussed consciousness, the present moment, discovering silence and more to an audience of more than 1,400 locally in California, and thousands more over the Internet.
Eckhart Tolle took the stage first and asked everyone to join him in the present moment rather than be absorbed by their thinking, which by itself is a shift in consciousness, he explained. An easy way to enter the present moment is through sense perceptions – noticing whatever a person can see and hear at the moment. A huge amount of our attention is “continuously absorbed by thinking,” and much of what we think is not relevant to anything important, and is negative, said Tolle.
“Every thought has a seductive quality, and it wants to draw you in,” he said. “But if you follow each thought you are at the mercy of what is in your mind.”
Living this way, consciousness is actually being absorbed by the mind. All the things that make life worth living – beauty and joy – actually involve less thinking.
“For joy to come into your life – a moment of joy – you might not realize it, but at that moment there is a space that opens up inside you where you are not thinking,” Tolle explained. “To recognize beauty anywhere, the thinking mind needs to subside and a little bit of space opens up … you might not recognize it, but you are not thinking. If you are thinking, you are not really seeing it. To really see it, there has to be a moment of alert presence where thinking subsides.”
This moment or gap in thinking is the presence or consciousness that resides within us all. This is the space that does not judge another human being, and where we can feel empathy and compassion, said Tolle. However, many people are so trapped by their minds, they live in a “totally conceptualized universe where every human being they meet, they judge, and they take entire groups of humans and judge them – they dehumanize them – and this is how violence can happen,” he said.
Most people identify themselves based on images and thoughts in their mind, which have been taken from what they are told by others – their mother, father, siblings, environment and culture. They take this self-image on as their “story,” and it becomes the foundation for their sense of identity.
They often believe in order to feel better about themselves and their place in the world, they need to collect more possessions, or find the right relationship. They believe these things will bring them peace and happiness, but it is never enough.
“We are never satisfied for long and always things will go wrong,” Tolle said. You will never be satisfied for very long if you don’t know who you are and you try to enhance the mind-made sense of self.”
By identifying with the mind, we are only focusing on half of who we are – they physical and physiological form. “That is how most people live their lives, and they don’t know what they are missing,” Tolle told the audience.
While those who find themselves on a spiritual path understand there is a state of enlightenment, they often mistake it for something that needs to be reached or achieved. The truth is, this state, which Tolle called “the transcendent dimension” is who we really are and is always present. The reason people don’t recognize its presence is because they are tied up in the movement of thought and emotions in the mind.
‘Those things absorb your attention, and there is something very vital that you overlook, and that is something that without which you couldn’t even think. There would be no thought, and there would be no emotions. That something is presence – the formless presence of consciousness itself, which is always there if you stop thinking for three seconds,” Tolle explained.
While meditation helps us get there, we can be aware of this state at any moment. This is our other half known as inner presence, he said. Using the room where the event was taking place as an analogy, he compared the people and the furniture or chairs to the thoughts in our mind, and the space holding the people and furniture as the essence representing consciousness.
“Without the space, the room means nothing. It couldn’t even exist,” he said explaining the same is true within us. “There is a spaciousness within you that is continuously missed because you are so interested in the furniture in your head.”
Humanity is beginning to enter into an evolutionary shift where thinking is transcended, said Tolle. We are moving away from identifying ourselves as a thought-based entity and moving toward recognizing ourselves as presence-based entities.
“If you derive your sense of identity from the presence within you, and more and more you become comfortable with spaces of not thinking, you can walk from one building to another, or from the building to your car and just be in the state of alert presence. You see beauty everywhere, and you don’t need to label anything.”
One of the great spiritual practices is the practice of not labeling anything and not interpreting what we perceive. This can be done anywhere, said Tolle, recommending we try it the next time we find ourselves waiting at a checkout, traffic light or airport.
“Instead of waiting, invite the state of alertness in and realize there is nothing wrong with waiting. You either stand, sit or lie somewhere. Does it really matter where you stand, sit or lie?” he asked the audience. “You can use your waiting periods – instead of complaining – to just be present. Enter the field of presence that you are and at that moment you become a spiritual master.”