Stillness Speaks

Stillness Speaks

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by Eckhart Tolle
     
 

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Eckhart Tolle illuminates the fundamental facets of his teachings, drawing from all spiritual traditions, to provide inspiring and practical insights into living in the Now.See more details below

Overview

Eckhart Tolle illuminates the fundamental facets of his teachings, drawing from all spiritual traditions, to provide inspiring and practical insights into living in the Now.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Some readers of this slim follow-up to the bestselling The Power of Now may be alarmed that the seemingly wise and gentle Tolle writes in the introduction that his new work "can be seen as a revival for the present age of the oldest form of recorded spiritual teachings: the sutras of ancient India." Tolle explains that the Vedas and Upanishads, as well as the words of the Buddha, the parables of Jesus and the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching can be thought of as sutras in the sense that they share a brevity that "does not engage the thinking mind more than is necessary." Like those great sacred works, Tolle continues, his writings come from inner stillness. "Unlike those ancient sutras, however, they don't belong to any one religion or spiritual tradition, but are immediately accessible to the whole of humanity." Repeating what has become a familiar if no less ominous note in contemporary spiritual life, he adds that this unprecedented accessibility is due to the urgent need for humanity to wake up if we are not to destroy ourselves. It is the stillness that is our common Being-which is the formless container for what is happening in the now-"that will save and transform the world." In the brief chapters that follow, Tolle describes stillness with eloquent economy. Beautiful stand-alone paragraphs offer insight into the defensive nature of the ego versus what he sees as our true being, the attentive, receptive mind behind thought, the spaciousness and peace that blossoms inside when we accept what is, including death. "Your unhappiness ultimately arises not from the circumstances of your life but from the conditioning of your mind." No one will doubt that Tolle has freed himself from nagging thoughts and fears. But the rest of us? (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Tolle expands on the living-in-the-moment philosophy espoused in his earlier, popular The Power of Now. His method seeks simplicity (too often confused with simplemindedness) by stripping down thoughts and deliberately seeking the titular stillness. This is anything but simpleminded; tuning into silence in this way helps readers achieve inner peace, but to do so requires unlearning and deconstructing lifetimes of patterns and structure. More Sun Tzu than Dr. Phil, this is intended as a tool to help revise one's philosophy of life rather than as a practical method. Though short, the book packs considerable wisdom in its observations, e.g., that "the Truth is far more all-encompassing than the mind could ever comprehend" or that there is a "deeper `I' that has nothing to do with past and future." Motivated, future-thinking readers looking for a challenge will love it; those seeking bang will be bored and frustrated. Given Tolle's popularity, all but the smallest libraries will need to order at least one copy. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781577313427
Publisher:
New World Library
Publication date:
10/05/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
184
Sales rank:
51,823
File size:
1 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Silence & Stillness

Stillness is your essential nature. What is stillness? The inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts. Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world.

When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.

Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.

Stillness is your essential nature. What is stillness? The inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts. Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world.

You are that awareness, disguised as a person.

The equivalent of external noise is the inner noise of thinking. The equivalent of external silence is inner stillness.

Whenever there is some silence around you - listen to it. That means just notice it. Pay attention to it. Listening to silence awakens the dimension of stillness within yourself, because it is only through stillness that you can be aware of silence.

See that in the moment of noticing the silence around you, you are not thinking. You are aware, but not thinking.

When you become aware of silence, immediately there is that state of inner still alertness. You are present. You have stepped out of thousands of years of collective human conditioning.

Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.

When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness, you become still yourself. You connect with it at a very deep level. You feel a oneness with whatever you perceive in and through stillness. Feeling the oneness of yourself with all things is true love.

Silence is helpful, but you don't need it in order to ?nd stillness. Even when there is noise, you can be aware of the stillness underneath the noise, of the space in which the noise arises. That is the inner space of pure awareness, consciousness itself.

You can become aware of awareness as the background to all your sense perceptions, all your thinking. Becoming aware of awareness is the arising of inner stillness.

Any disturbing noise can be as helpful as silence. How? By dropping your inner resistance to the noise, by allowing it to be as it is, this acceptance also takes you into that realm of inner peace that is stillness.

Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is - no matter what form it takes - you are still, you are at peace.

Pay attention to the gap - the gap between two thoughts, the brief, silent space between words in a conversation, between the notes of a piano or flute, or the gap between the in-breath and out-breath.

When you pay attention to those gaps, awareness of "something" becomes - just awareness. The formless dimension of pure consciousness arises from within you and replaces identi?cation with form.

True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.

Is stillness just the absence of noise and content? No, it is intelligence itself - the underlying consciousness out of which every form is born. And how could that be separate from who you are? The form that you think you are came out of that and is being sustained by it.

It is the essence of all galaxies and blades of grass; of all flowers, trees, birds, and all other forms.

Stillness is the only thing in this world that has no form. But then, it is not really a thing, and it is not of this world.

When you look at a tree or a human being in stillness, who is looking? Something deeper than the person. Consciousness is looking at its creation.

In the Bible, it says that God created the world and saw that it was good. That is what you see when you look from stillness without thought.

Do you need more knowledge? Is more information going to save the world, or faster computers, more scienti?c or intellectual analysis? Is it not wisdom that humanity needs most at this time?

But what is wisdom and where is it to be found? Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.

Chapter 2: Beyond the Thinking Mind

Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the con?nes of their own thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalized sense of self that is conditioned by the past.

In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. We may call it presence, awareness, the unconditioned consciousness. In the ancient teachings, it is the Christ within, or your Buddha nature.

Finding that dimension frees you and the world from the suffering you inflict on yourself and others when the mind-made "little me" is all you know and runs your life. Love, joy, creative expansion, and lasting inner peace cannot come into your life except through that unconditioned dimension of consciousness.

If you can recognize, even occasionally, the thoughts that go through your mind as simply thoughts, if you can witness your own mental-emotional reactive patterns as they happen, then that dimension is already emerging in you as the awareness in which thoughts and emotions happen - the timeless inner space in which the content of your life unfolds.

The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.

Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don't take your thoughts too seriously.

How easy it is for people to become trapped in their conceptual prisons.

The human mind, in its desire to know, understand, and control, mistakes its opinions and viewpoints for the truth. It says: this is how it is. You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret "your life" or someone else's life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many possible perspectives. It is no more than a bundle of thoughts. But reality is one uni?ed whole, in which all things are interwoven, where nothing exists in and by itself. Thinking fragments reality - it cuts it up into conceptual bits and pieces.

The thinking mind is a useful and powerful tool, but it is also very limiting when it takes over your life completely, when you don't realize that it is only a small aspect of the consciousness that you are.

Wisdom is not a product of thought. The deep knowing that is wisdom arises through the simple act of giving someone or something your full attention. Attention is primordial intelligence, consciousness itself. It dissolves the barriers created by conceptual thought, and with this comes the recognition that nothing exists in and by itself. It joins the perceiver and the perceived in a unifying ?eld of awareness. It is the healer of separation.

Whenever you are immersed in compulsive thinking, you are avoiding what is. You don't want to be where you are. Here, Now.

Dogmas - religious, political, scienti?c - arise out of the erroneous belief that thought can encapsulate reality or the truth. Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of "I know."

Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its dogmas. It is true that every dogma crumbles sooner or later, because reality will eventually disclose its falseness; however, unless the basic delusion of it is seen for what it is, it will be replaced by others.

What is this basic delusion? Identi?cation with thought.

Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.

The realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are.

The mind exists in a state of "not enough" and so is always greedy for more. When you are identi?ed with mind, you get bored and restless very easily. Boredom means the mind is hungry for more stimulus, more food for thought, and its hunger is not being satis?ed.

When you feel bored, you can satisfy the mind's hunger by picking up a magazine, making a phone call, switching on the TV, sur?ng the web, going shopping, or - and this is not uncommon - transferring the mental sense of lack and its need for more to the body and satisfy it briefly by ingesting more food.

Or you can stay bored and restless and observe what it feels like to be bored and restless. As you bring awareness to the feeling, there is suddenly some space and stillness around it, as it were. A little at ?rst, but as the sense of inner space grows, the feeling of boredom will begin to diminish in intensity and signi?cance. So even boredom can teach you who you are and who you are not.

You discover that a "bored person" is not who you are. Boredom is simply a conditioned energy movement within you. Neither are you an angry, sad, or fearful person. Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not "yours," not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go.

Nothing that comes and goes is you.

"I am bored." Who knows this?

"I am angry, sad, afraid." Who knows this?

You are the knowing, not the condition that is known.

Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identi?ed with the thinking mind. It means you don't see the other human being anymore, but only your own concept of that human being. To reduce the aliveness of another human being to a concept is already a form of violence.

Thinking that is not rooted in awareness becomes self-serving and dysfunctional. Cleverness devoid of wisdom is extremely dangerous and destructive. That is the current state of most of humanity. The ampli?cation of thought as science and technology, although intrinsically neither good nor bad, has also become destructive because so often the thinking out of which it comes has no roots in awareness.

The next step in human evolution is to transcend thought. This is now our urgent task. It doesn't mean not to think anymore, but simply not to be completely identi?ed with thought, possessed by thought.

Feel the energy of your inner body. Immediately mental noise slows down or ceases. Feel it in your hands, your feet, your abdomen, your chest. Feel the life that you are, the life that animates the body.

The body then becomes a doorway, so to speak, into a deeper sense of aliveness underneath the fluctuating emotions and underneath your thinking.

There is an aliveness in you that you can feel with your entire Being, not just in the head. Every cell is alive in that presence in which you don't need to think. Yet, in that state, if thought is required for some practical purpose, it is there. The mind can still operate, and it operates beautifully when the greater intelligence that you are uses it and expresses itself through it.

You may have overlooked that brief periods in which you are "conscious without thought" are already occurring naturally and spontaneously in your life. You may be engaged in some manual activity, or walking across the room, or waiting at the airline counter, and be so completely present that the usual mental static of thought subsides and is replaced by an aware presence. Or you may ?nd yourself looking at the sky or listening to someone without any inner mental commentary. Your perceptions become crystal clear, unclouded by thought.

To the mind, all this is not signi?cant, because it has "more important" things to think about. It is also not memorable, and that's why you may have overlooked that it is already happening.

The truth is that it is the most signi?cant thing that can happen to you. It is the beginning of a shift from thinking to aware presence.

Become at ease with the state of "not knowing." This takes you beyond mind because the mind is always trying to conclude and interpret. It is afraid of not knowing. So, when you can be at ease with not knowing, you have already gone beyond the mind. A deeper knowing that is non-conceptual then arises out of that state.

Artistic creation, sports, dance, teaching, counseling - mastery in any ?eld of endeavor implies that the thinking mind is either no longer in-volved at all or at least is taking second place. A power and intelligence greater than you and yet one with you in essence takes over. There is no decision-making process anymore; spontaneous right action happens, and "you" are not doing it. Mastery of life is the opposite of control. You become aligned with the greater consciousness. It acts, speaks, does the works.

A moment of danger can bring about a temporary cessation of the stream of thinking and thus give you a taste of what it means to be present, alert, aware.

The Truth is far more all-encompassing than the mind could ever comprehend. No thought can encapsulate the Truth. At best, it can point to it. For example, it can say: "All things are intrinsically one." That is a pointer, not an explanation. Understanding these words means feeling deep within you the truth to which they point.

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