Stillness Speaks

Stillness Speaks

by Eckhart Tolle

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781577314004
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 08/26/2003
Pages: 129
Sales rank: 83,398
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Eckhart Tolle was born in Germany and graduated from the University of London. When not traveling and lecturing, he lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Hometown:

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Date of Birth:

February 16, 1948

Place of Birth:

Lünen, Germany

Education:

University of London; Cambridge University

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction9
Chapter 1Silence & Stillness19
Chapter 2Beyond the Thinking Mind29
Chapter 3The Egoic Self47
Chapter 4The Now63
Chapter 5Who You Truly Are75
Chapter 6Acceptance & Surrender89
Chapter 7Nature105
Chapter 8Relationships119
Chapter 9Death & the Eternal137
Chapter 10Suffering & the End of Suffering155
About the Author171

Introduction

INTRODUCTION

You may look upon this book as your spiritual teacher. A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being. The spiritual teacher is there to uncover and reveal to you that dimension of inner depth that is also peace.

If you come to a spiritual teacher -- or this book - looking for stimulating ideas, theories, beliefs, intellectual discussions, then you will be disappointed. In other words: if you are looking for food for thought, you won't find it, and you will miss the very essence of the teaching, the essence of this book, which is not in the words but within yourself. It is good to remember that, to feel that, as you read. The words are no more than signposts. That to which they point is not to be found within the realm of thought, but a dimension within yourself that is deeper and infinitely vaster than thought. A vibrantly alive peace is one of the characteristics of that dimension, so whenever you feel inner peace arising as you read, the book is doing its work and fulfilling its function as your teacher: it is reminding you of who you are and pointing the way back home.

This is not a book to be read from cover to cover and then put away. Live with it, pick it up frequently, and more importantly, put it down frequently, or spend more time holding it than reading it. Many readers will feel naturally inclined to stop reading after each entry, to pause, reflect, become still. It is always more helpful and more important to stop reading than to continue reading. Allow the book to do its work, to awaken you from the old grooves of your repetitive and conditioned thinking.

The form of this book can be seen as a revival for the present age of the oldest form of recorded spiritual teachings: the sutras of ancient India. Sutras are powerful pointers to the truth in the form of aphorisms or short sayings, with little conceptual elaboration. The Vedas and Upanishads are the early sacred teachings recorded in the form of sutras, as are the words of the Buddha. The sayings and parables of Jesus, too, when taken out of their narrative context, could be regarded as sutras, as well as the profound teachings contained in the Tao Te Ching, the ancient Chinese book of wisdom. The advantage of the sutra form lies in its brevity. It does not engage the thinking mind more than is necessary. What it doesn't say - but only points to - is more important than what it says. The sutra-like character of the writings in this book is particularly marked in Chapter One (Silence & Stillness), which contains only the briefest of entries. This chapter already contains the essence of the entire book and may be all that some readers require. The other chapters are there for those who need a few more "signposts".

Just as the ancient sutras, the writings contained within this book are sacred and have come out of a state of consciousness we may call 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. There is also an added sense of urgency here. The transformation of human consciousness is no longer a luxury, so to speak, available only to a few isolated individuals, but a necessity if humankind is not to destroy itself. At the present time, the dysfunction of the old consciousness and the arising of the new are both accelerating. Paradoxically, things are getting worse and better at the same time, although the "worse" is more apparent because it makes so much noise.

This book, of course, uses words which in the act of reading become thoughts in your mind. But those are not ordinary thoughts -- repetitive, noisy, self-serving, clamoring for attention. Just like every true spiritual teacher, just like the ancient sutras, the thoughts within this book don't say: "Look at me", but "Look beyond me." Because the thoughts came out of stillness, they have power - the power to take you back into the same stillness from which they arose. That stillness is also inner peace, and that stillness and peace is the essence of your Being. It is the stillness that will save and transform the world.

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Stillness Speaks 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great read this perceivably powerless short read is. Not only impacting on the mind, body and spirit, but an easy read for all. With that said, it might be recommended to read one of Tolle's other works before reading this, as possibly the meaning will be glossed over to those unfamiliar with spirituality. Thank you Eckhart Tolle!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After slowly, considerately reading The Power Of Now, I picked up Stillness Speaks expecting to read it the same way gleaning wisdom and knowledge. I soon put it down somewhat disappointed. A year or so later, my friend gave it to me on CD. Suddenly, I understood the simplicity of this book's transformative properties. This is not a book to glean knowledge. It is a window to finding essence, peace and the center of being. I hope the reader that rates this one star picks up the CD. Although, if he or she lives in my area, he or she will have to special order it, as I purchase every available copy I find to give away to friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this very small book are a variety of short phrases, grouped according to various categories. You read the phrases and just let them sink in, see how they feel, listen for what they say. I loved reading this book more than a couple of times and got a lot out of it on every occasion. I noticed that on some days, certain sections were more inviting and more informative than on other days. Quite an interesting and impressive book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...and that's if you never heard of him. I love Eckhart because of books like this that bring you one step closer to who you are truly meant to be. I'd also like to thank whoever recommended "When God Stopped Keeping Score," another great book, which takes an eye opening look at forgiveness. Given the chance, it will change your life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned of Eckhart Tolle through my Pastor. He was reading and teaching from The Power of Now. It was different and one must have an Open mind to grasp what is being said. One must chew, swallow, digest and ponder on the words. Put the book down and come back later. I have been more interested in Who I Am for years, so Tolle's books has been a great resource for me. I could not find the answers in others, but some people were great sign post for me. Excellent read and I highly recommend this book to those in search of "self-realization." Also, that there is no other existence but THE NOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
True to his word, Eckhart Tolle doesn't give us much 'mind stuff' in his follow-up to The Power of Now. This book will be disappointing to people who want the entertainment of reading about enlightenment, but aren't ready to experience it. If you've embraced The Power of Now, however, this book will awaken you gently and surely to Being...which will just as gently and surely enlighten your life. A wonderful and beautiful treasure of a book!
Anonymous 12 months ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! This book taught me more about who I am. I love the title and the book! I recommend it to any one who is trying to better themselves in a real way.
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This book completely changed my life around...Thank you for your wisdom Eckhart...This book saved my life seriously.
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Wait! Why r u giving this to me? Why me?
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Svenguru More than 1 year ago
Great read.
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