The Art of Stillness and the Key to a Peaceful Mind: Wisdom from Eckhart Tolle
The only place in which you can experience the flow of life is in the now.
On a cool crisp fall evening, I walked to the library near my overpriced apartment in Washington, D.C. It was 2007 and Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now was seemingly everywhere. I stared at the blindingly bright orange cover and wondered what it was about this book that seemed to beckon my subconscious in the form of habitual reminders?
Well, this is the now, I thought. No better time to deepen my understanding of the experience of life with all of its promises and pitfalls. I became transfixed with Tolle’s analysis of consciousness, devoid of religious affiliation.
Then I read about Tolle’s experience with everlasting peace and thought, Wow, that’s what I want. How do I get there? And as I dug deeper into The Power of Now, unbeknownst to me, the spiritual awakening process was already underway. His words washed over me, bathing me in a sense of mystery, fragrant with the blossom of new beginnings: “You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are.”
It would be 10 years before I revisited Tolle’s astute assertion of what it means to be human. Then one balmy evening on a walk in the local state park, suddenly and inexplicably, the anguish that was present for much of my life gave way to a sacred sense of presence, a deep peace and serenity and complete freedom from fear. This is Nirvana, I thought as the sun continued to descend into the distant horizon. This feeling is that deep, abiding sense of peace that Tolle mentioned over a decade ago.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I am always peaceful 100-percent of the time, but usually I am, and I am eternally grateful to become increasingly more peaceful, one moment a time.
Who is Eckhart Tolle?
Eckhart Tolle is globally recognized as one of the most visionary and inspirational spiritual teachers of the century. Around the age of 29, an inner transformation profoundly shifted the course of his life. He committed the next several years to understanding, incorporating, and expanding that transformation. With his international bestsellers, The Power of Now and A New Earth, he has introduced millions to the freedom and elation of living life in the now.
At the core of his teachings lies the transformation of consciousness — a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists of transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This, he says, is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict prevalent on our planet.
Here are five wonderfully wise sayings from Eckhart Tolle, with a short synopsis:
On living in the now:
“Becoming aware of the now also means realizing that you are the now, or noticing the “observer” that witnesses life’s events with detachment, and without being possessed by them.”
Becoming the observer means being aware enough of ourselves that we can step outside of an emotionally charged situation to observe how we are reacting versus responding. It means bringing into the light of our consciousness a modicum of self-awareness that allows us to still be aware of our presence, energy, and emotions, even during a conflict.
“Fear of loss is when you identify with part of the content — with something in the external world — , and you think that if you lose it, you’ll lose part of who you are. For example, when you tell yourself that without this or that, I’m no one.”
Fear can blur our vision, blinding us to the things that happen around us, telling us that we are undeserving of life’s joys or that we are inferior. And we can fight fear with more fear, but only through examining the fear can we begin to release it and understand where it came from. No matter what we have learned from society, we are not the sum of our possessions, professions, or hidden fears. We are much more at a soul level, with the inherent dignity and inalienable rights that we share with all members of our earthly family.
“The power of consciousness flows through you, and it loves to create; simply let it flow.”
For creators everywhere, this quote is a great motivator to continually create, even if our creations never meet the public eye. Create anyway, as a way of centering the spirit. Creating is an ongoing process, perhaps never fully complete; instead, it’s a method of balancing the pure consciousness with the ever-shifting turbulence of the world.
On finding peace:
“You find the spaciousness surrounding any event simply by allowing that moment to be. Say ‘yes’ to anything that happens, instead of fighting or resisting what is. What’s the point of saying ‘no’, if it is? Simply tell yourself, ‘It is what it is.’ When you do this, you become aware of a dimension that is deeper than the event that’s taking place.”
One of the most profound pacifications is when we simply allow what exists to be, without struggle, turmoil, or fear — or if these emotions rise up, observing them from a loving place of stillness from which serenity can flow. Stillness is everywhere, and it is mainly our minds that run rampant with the potential ramifications of events.
On saying “yes” to life:
“True surrender does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in, and to do nothing about it. It doesn’t mean to stop making plans or initiating positive action. Surrender is about yielding to, rather than opposing, the flow of life.”
If we wish to experience the flow of life consciously, look to the present moment. It is not always easy, but if we want to feel more peaceful, release the need to revert to resistance as much as possible, and one day at a time, life will become richer in its transcendent nature.
When you see the inability of the external world to make you happy, and when you notice the short-lived nature of whatever forms you encounter, you’ll begin to step out of a state of unconsciousness and start to become more enlightened. The only place in which you can experience the flow of life is in the now. To surrender means to accept the present moment, unconditionally, and without reservation. It’s relinquishing any resistance to what is.
Eckhart Tolle teaches us that when we recognize the short-lived nature of whatever we encounter, paired with the inability of the world to give us peace or joy, we begin to shift from external unconsciousness to a more enlightened way of being. And the way to do this is through the now. Because life is an integrated process of monumental complexity, and to be here now is to begin the ever-cascading path to a more peaceful, aware, and alive existence.
With love and gratitude,
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Love, Justice, and Nonviolence
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.