When consciousness frees itself from its identification with physical and mental forms, it becomes what we may call pure or enlightened consciousness or presence. This has already happened in a few individuals. And it seems destined to happen soon on a much larger scale although there is absolutely no guarantee that it will happen. Most humans are still in the grip of the egoic mode of consciousness, identified with their mind, and runned by their mind. If they do not free themselves from their mind in time, they will be destroyed by it. They will experience increasing confusion, conflict, violence, illness, despair, madness. Egoic mind has become like a sinking ship. If you don't get off, you will go down with it. The collective egoic mind is the most dangerously insane and destructive entity ever to inhabit this planet. What do you think will happen on this planet if human consciousness remains unchanged. Already for most humans, the only respite they find from their own minds is to occasionally revert to a level of consciousness below thought. Everyone does that every night during sleep. But this also happens to some extent through sex, alcohol, and other drugs that suppress excessive mind activity. If it weren't for alcohol, tranquilizers and antidepressants, as well as the illegal drugs, which are all consumed in vast quantities, the insanity of the human mind would become even more glaringly obvious than it is already. I believe that if deprived of their drugs, a large part of the population would become a danger to themselves and others. These drugs of course merely keep you stuck in dysfunction. Their widespread use only delays the breakdown of the old egoic mind structures and the emergence of their higher consciousness. While individual users may get some relief from the daily torture inflicted by their minds, they are prevented from generating enough conscious presence to rise above thought and so find true liberation. Falling back to a level of consciousness below mind which is the pre-thinking level of some ancestors, animals and plants, is not an option of us. There is no way back. If the human race is to survive, it will have to go on to the next stage. Consciousness is evolving throughout the universe in billions of forms. So even if we didn't make it, it wouldn't matter on a cosmic scale. No gain in consciousness is ever lost so it would simply express itself through some other form. But the very fact that I am speaking here and you are listening to this is a clear sign that the new consciousness is gaining a foothold on the planet. There is nothing personal in this. I am not teaching you. You are consciousness and you are listening to yourself. There is an eastern saying "the teacher and the taught together create the teaching." In any case, the words in themselves are not important. They are not the truth. They only point to it. I speak from presence and as I speak you may be able to join me in that state. Although every word I use has a history of course and comes from the past as all language does, the words that I speak to you now are carriers of the high energy field frequency of presence quite apart from the meaning they convey as words. Silence is an even more important carry off presence. So when you listen to me speak be aware of the silence between and underneath the words. Be aware of the gaps. To listen to the silence wherever you are is an easy and direct way of becoming present. Even if there is noise, there is always some silence underneath and in between the silence. Listening to the silence immediately creates stillness inside you. Only the stillness in you can perceive the silence outside. And what is stillness other than presence consciousness freed from thought forms. Here is the living realization of what we have been talking about. Don't get attached to any one word. You can substitute Christ for presence if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God Presence or your Self as it is sometimes called in the east. The only difference between Christ and Presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not. Whereas presence refers to you awakened divinity or God essence. Many misunderstandings and false beliefs about Christ will clear if you realize that there is no past of future in Christ. To say that Christ or will be is a contradiction in terms. Jesus was. He was a man who lived 2,000 years ago and realized divine presence, His true nature. And so he said, before Abraham was, I am. He did not say I already existed before Abraham was born. That would have meant that he was still within the dimension of time and form identity. The words I am used in a sentence that starts in the past tense indicate a radical shift, a discontinuity in the temporal dimension. It is a zen like statement of great profundity. Jesus attempted to convey directly, not through discoursive thought the meaning of presence, of self realization. He had gone beyond the consciousness dimension governed by time into the realm of the timeless. The dimension of eternity had come into this world. An eternity, of course does not mean endless time, but no time. Thus the man Jesus became Christ, a vehicle for pure consciousness and what is God's self definition in the bible? Did God say I have always been and I always will be? Of course not. That would have given reality to past and future. God said I am that I am. No time here. Just presence. The second coming of Christ is the transformation of human consciousness. A shift from time to presence. From thinking to pure consciousness not t he arrival of some man or woman. If Christ were to return tomorrow in some externalized form, what could he or she possibly say to you other than this. I am the truth. I am divine presence. I am eternal life. I am within you. I am here. I am now.
Never personalize Christ. Don't make Christ into a form identity. Other tasks, divine mothers, enlightened masters, the very few that are real are not special as persons. Without a false self to defend, preserve, and feed, they are more simple, more ordinary than the ordinary man or woman. Any one with a strong ego would regard them as insignificant. Or more likely not see them at all. If you are drawn to an enlightened teacher, it is because there is already enough presence in you to recognized presence in another. There were many people who did not recognize Jesus or the buddha as there are and many have been who are drawn to false teachers. Egos are drawn to bigger egos. Darkness cannot recognize light. Only light can recognize light. So don't believe the light is recognized outside you or that it can only come through one particular form. If only your master is an incarnation of God, then who are you? Any time of exclusivity is identification with form. And identification with form means ego no matter how well disguised. Use the master's presence to reflect your own identity beyond name and form back to you and to become more intensely present yourself. You will soon realize that there's no mine or yours in presence. Presence is one. Group work can also be helpful for intensifying the light of your presence. A group of people coming together in a state of presence generates a collective energy field of great intensity. It not only raises the degree of presence of each member of the group but also helps to free the collective human consciousness from its current state of mind dominance. This will make the state of presence increasingly more accessible to individuals. However, unless at least one member of the group is already firmly established in it and thus can hold the energy frequency of that state the egoic mind can easily reassert itself and sabotage the group's endeavors. Although group work is invaluable, it is not enough and you must not come to depend on it. Nor must you come to depend on a teacher or a master except during the transitional period when you are learning the meaning and practice of presence.
Chapter 6 - The Inner Body
Question: You spoke earlier about the importance of having deep roots within or inhabiting the body. Can you explain what you meant by that?
Eckhart Tolle: The body can become a point of access into the realm of being. Let's go into that more deeply now.
Question: I'm still not quite sure if I fully understand what you mean by being.
Eckhart Tolle: Water, what do you mean by that? I don't understand it. This is what a fish would say if it had a human mind. Please stop trying to understand being. You have already had significant glimpses of being but the mind will always try to squeeze it into a little box and put a label on it. It cannot be done. It cannot become an object of knowledge. In being, subject and object merge into one. Being can be felt as the ever present I am that is beyond name and form. To feel and thus to know that you are and to abide in that deeply rooted state is enlightenment. It's the truth that Jesus said will make you free.
Question: Free from what?
Eckhart Tolle: Free from the illusion that you are nothing more than your physical body and your mind. This illusion of the self as the buddha calls it is the core error. Free from fear in its countless disguises as the inevitable consequence of that illusion. Fear that is your constant tormentor as long as you derive your sense of self only from this ephemeral and vulnerable form. And free from sin which is the suffering you unconsciously inflict on yourself and others as long as this illusory sense of self governs what you think, say and do.
Question: I don't like the word sin. It implies that I am being judged and found guilty.
Eckhart Tolle: I can understand that. Over the centuries, many erroneous views and interpretations have accumulated around words such as sin due to ignorance, misunderstanding, or desire to control. But they contain an essential core of truth. If you are unable to look beyond such interpretations and so cannot recognize the reality to which the word points, then don't use it. Don't get stuck on the level of words. A word is no more than a means to an end. It's an abstraction not unlike a signpost, it points beyond itself. The word honey isn't honey. You can study and talk about honey for as long as you like, but you won't really know it until you've tasted it. After you've tasted it, the word becomes less important to you. You won't be attached to it anymore. Similarly, you can talk and think about God continuously for the rest of your life but does that mean you know or have even glimpsed the reality to which the word points. It really is no more than an obsessive attachment to signposts. A mental idol. The reverse also applies if for whatever the reason, you disliked the word honey that might prevent you from ever tasting it. If you had a strong aversion to the word of God which is a negative form of attachment, you may be denying not only the word but also the reality to which it points. You would be cutting yourself off from the possibility of experiencing that reality. All this is of course intrinsically connected with being identified with your mind. So if a word does not work for you anymore, then drop it and replace it with one that does work. If you don't like the word sin, then call it unconsciousness or insanity. That may get you closer to the truth and the reality behind the word than a long misused word like sin. That leaves little room for guilt.
Question: I don't like those words either. They imply that there is something wrong with me. I am being judged.
Eckhart Tolle: Of course, there is something wrong with you. And you are not being judged. I don't mean to offend you personally but do you not belong to the human race that has killed over 100 million members of their own species in the 20th century alone.
Question: You mean guilt by association?
Eckhart Tolle: It is not a question of guilt. But as long as you are run by the egoic mind, you are part of the collective insanity. Perhaps you have not looked very deeply into the human condition in its state of dominance by the egoic mind. Open your eyes and see the fear, the despair, the greed and the violence that are all pervasive. See the heinous cruelty and suffering on an unimaginable scale that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other as well as on other life forms on the planet. You don't need to condemn. Just observe. That is sin. That is insanity. That is unconsciousness. Above all, don't forget to observe your own mind. Seek out the root of insanity there.
Question: You said that identification with our physical form is part of the illusion so how can the body, the physical form, bring you to a realization of being?
Eckhart Tolle: The body that you can see and touch cannot take you into being. But that visible and tangible body is only an outer shell or rather a limited and distorted perception of a deeper reality. In your natural state of connectedness with being, this deeper reality can be felt every moment as the invincible inner body. The animating presence within you. So to inhabit the body is to feel the body from within. You feel the life inside the body and thereby come to know that you are beyond the outer form. But that is only the beginning of an inward journey that would take you ever more deeply into a realm of great stillness and peace yet also of great power and vibrant life.
At first, you may only get fleeting glimpses of it. But through them, you will begin to realize that you are not just a meaningless fragment in an alien universe briefly suspended between birth and death allowed a few short-lived pleasures followed by pain and ultimate annihilation. Underneath your outer form, you are connected with something so fast, so immeasurable, and sacred that it cannot be conceived or spoken of. Yet I am speaking of it now. I am speaking of it not to give you something to believe in but to show you how you can know it for yourself. You are cut off from being as long as your mind takes up all your atttention. When this happens, and it happens continuously for most people, you are not in your body. Your mind absorbs all your consciousness and transforms it into mind stuff. You cannot stop thinking. Compulsive thinking has become a collective disease. Your whole sense of who you are is then derived from mind activity. Your identity as it is no longer rooted in being becomes a vulnerable and ever needy mental construct which creates fear as the predominant underlying emotion. The one thing that truly matters is then missing from your life. Awareness of your deeper self. Your invisible and indestructible reality. (pick up) To become conscious of being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey. It will free vast amounts of consciousness that previously had been trapped in useless and compulsive thinking. A very effective way of doing this is simply to take the focus of your attention away from thinking and direct it into the body where being can be felt in the first instance as the invisible energy field that gives life to what you perceive as the physical body. Please try it now. You may find it helpful to close your eyes for this practice. Later on when being in the body has become natural and easy this will no longer be necessary. Direct your attention into the body. Feel it from within. Is it alive? Is there life in your hands, arms, legs and feet? In your abdomen, in your chest? Can you feel the subtle energy field that pervades the entire body and gives vibrant life to every organ and every cell? Can you feel it simultaneously in all parts of the body as the single field of energy? Keep focusing on the feeling of the inner body for a few moments. Do not start to think about it. Feel it. The more attention the clearer and stronger this feeling will become. It will feel as if every cell is becoming more alive and if you have a strong visual sense, you may get an image of your body becoming luminous. Although such an image an help you temporarily, pay more attention to the feeling than to any image that may arise. Any image no matter how beautiful or powerful is already defined in form so there is less thought for penetrating more deeply.
The feeling of your inner body is formless, limitless and unfathomable. You can always go into it more deeply. If you cannot feel very much at this stage, pay attention to whatever you can feel. Perhaps there is just a slight tingling in your hands or feet. That's good enough for the moment. Just focus on the feeling. Your body is coming allive. Later we will practice some more. Please open your eyes now but keep some attention in the inner energy field of the body even as you look around the room. The inner body lies at the threshhold between your form identity and your essence identity, your true nature. Never lose touch with it.
Question: Why have most religions condemned or denied the body? It seems that spiritual seekers have always regarded the body as a hindrance or even as sinful.
Eckhart Tolle: Why have so few seekers become finders? On the level of the body, humans are very close to animals. All the basic bodily functions, pleasure pain, breathing, eating, drinking, deficating, sleeping, the drive to find a mate and procreate and of course birth and death, we share with the animals. A long time after their fall from the state of grace and oneness into illusion, humans suddenly woke up in what seemed to be an animal body and they found this very disturbing. Don't fool yourself. You are no more than an animal. This seems to be the truth that was staring them in the face. But it was too disturbing a truth to tolerate. Adam and eve saw that they were naked and they became afraid. Unconscious denial of their animal nature set in very quickly. The threat that they might be taken over by powerful instinctual drives and revert back to complete unconsciousness was indeed a very real one. Shame and taboo appeared around certain parts of the body and bodily functions especially sexual function. The light of their consciousness was not yet strong enough to make friends with their animal nature to allow it to be and even enjoy that aspect of themselves let alone to go deeply into it to find the divine hidden within it, the reality hidden behind the illusion. So they did what they had to do. They began to disassociate from their body. They now saw themselves as having a body rather than just being it. When religions arose, this disassociation became even more pronounced as the you are not your body belief. Countless people in east and west throughout the ages, have tried to find, God, salvation or enlightenment through denial of the body. This took the form of denial of sense pleasures and of sexuality in particular, fasting and other aesthetic practices. They even inflicted the pain on the body in an attempt to weaken or punish it because they regarded it as sinful. In christianity, this use to be called martyrfication of the flesh. Others tried to escape from the body by entering trance states or seeking out of the body experience. Many still do. Even the buddha is said to have practiced body denial through fasting and extreme forms of aestheticism for 6 years but they did not attain enlightenment until after he had given up this practice. The fact is that no one has ever become enlightened by denying or fighting the body. Or through an out of body experience. Although such an experience can be fascinating and can give you a glimpse of liberation from the material form, in the end, you will always have to return to the body where the essential work of transformation takes place. Transformation is through the body not away from it. This is why no true master has ever abdicated fighting or leaving the body, although their mind based followers often have. Of the ancient teachings concerning the body, only certain fragments survived such as Jesus' statement that your whole body will be filled with light. Or they survive as myths such as the belief that Jesus never relinquished his body but remained one with it and ascended into heaven with it. Almost no one to this day has understood those fragments or the hidden meaning of certain myths and the you are not your body belief has prevailed universally leading to body denial and attempts to escape from the body. Countless seekers have thus been prevented from attaining spiritual realization for themselves and becoming finders.
Question: Is it possible to recover the lost teachings on the significance of the body or to reconstruct them from the existing fragments?
Eckhart Tolle: There is no need for that.
All spiritual teachings originate from the same Source. In that sense, there is and always have been only One master who manifests in many different forms. I am that master and so are you once you are able to access the Source within. And the way to it is through the inner body although all spiritual teachings originate from the same Source once they become verbalized and written down they are obviously no more than collection of words. And a word is nothing but a signpost as we have talked about earlier. All such teachings are signposts pointing the way back to the Source. I have already spoken of the truth that is hidden within your body. But I would summarize for you again the lost teachings of the masters. So here's another signpost. Please endeavor to feel your inner body as you listen. What you perceive as a dense physical structure called the body which is subject to disease, old age and death, is not ultimately real, is not you. It is a misperception of your essential reality that is beyond birth and death and is due to the limitations of your mind which having lost touch with being creates the body as evidence of its illusory belief in separation and to justify its state of fear. But do not turn away from the body for within that symbol of impermanence, limitation and death that you perceive as the illusory creation of the mind is concealed the splendor of your essential and immortal reality. Do not turn your attention elsewhere in your search for the truth for it is nowhere else to be found but within your body. Do not fight against the body, for in doing so, you will be fighting against your own reality. You are your body. The body that you can see and touch is only a thin illusory veil. Underneath it lies the invisible inner body, the doorway into being, into life unmanifested. Through the inner body, you are inseparably connected to this unmanifested one life: birthless, deathless, eternally present. Through the inner body, you are forever one with God.
The key is to be in a state of permanent connectedness with your inner body. To feel it at all times. This will rapidly deepen and transform your life. The more consciousness you direct into the inner body, the higher its vibrational frequency becomes much like a light that grows brighter as you turn up the dimmer switch and so increase the flow of electricity. At this higher energy level, negativity cannot affect you anymore and you tend to attract new circumstances that reflect this higher frequency. If you keep your attention in the body as much as possible, you will be anchored in the now. You won't lose yourself in the external world and you won't lose yourself in your mind. Thoughts and emotions, fears and desires may still be there to some extent but they won't take you over. Please examine where your attention is at this moment. You are listening to my words. That is the focus of your attention. You are also periphally aware of your surroundings, other people and so on. Furthermore, there may be some mind activity around what you are hearing. Some mental commentary. Yet there is no need for any of this to absorb all of your attention. See if you can be in touch with your inner body at the same time. Keep some of your attention within. Don't let it all flow out. Feel your whole body from within as a single field of energy. It is almost as if you were listening with your whole body. Let this be your practice in the days and weeks to come. Do not give all your attention away to the mind and the external world. By all means, focus on what you are doing but feel the inner body at the same time whenever possible. Stay rooted within and then observe how this changes your state of consciousness and the quality of what you are doing. Whenever you are waiting, wherever it may be, use that time to feel the inner body. In this way, traffic jams and lineups become enjoyable. Instead of mentally projecting yourself away from the now, go more deeply into the now by going more deeply into t he body. The art of inner body awareness will develop into a completely new way of living, a state of permanent connectedness with being and will add a depth to your life that you have never known before. It is easy to stay present as the observer of your mind when you are deeply rooted within your body no matter what happens on the outside, nothing can ever shake you anymore unless you stay present and inhabiting your body is always an essential aspect of it, you will continue to runned by your mind. The script in your head that you learned a long time ago, the conditioning of your mind, will dictate your thinking and your behaviour. You may be with it for brief intervals but rarely for long. This is especially true when something goes wrong or there is some loss or upset, your conditioned reaction will then be involuntary, automatic and predictable fueled by the one basic emotion that underlies the mind identified state of consciousness. Fear. So when such challenges come as they always do, make it a habit to go within at once and focus as much as you can on the inner energy field of your body. This need not take long, just a few seconds. But you need to do it the moment the challenge presents itself. Any delay will allow a conditioned mental emotional reaction to arise and take you over. When you focus within and feel the inner body, you immediately become still and present as you are withdrawing consciousness from the mind. If a response is required in that situation, it will come up from this deeper level just as the sun is infinitely brighter than a candle flame, there is infinitely more intelligence in being than in your mind. As long as you are in conscious contact with your inner body, you are like a tree that is deeply rooted in the earth or like a building with a deep and solid foundation. The latter analysis is used by Jesus in the generally misunderstood parable of the two men who built a house. One man builds it on sand without a foundation and when the storms and floods come, the house is swept away. The other man digs deep until he reaches the rock then builds his house which is not swept away by the floods.
Question: I felt very uncomfortable when I tried to put my attention on the inner body. It was a feeling of agitation and some nausea so I haven't been able to experience what you are talking about.
Eckhart Tolle: What you felt were lingering emotions that you probably unaware of until you started putting some attention into the body. Unless you first give it some attention, the emotion will prevent you from gaining access to the inner body which lies at a deeper level underneath it. Attention does not mean that you start thinking about it. It means to just observe the emotion, to feel it fully and to acknowledge and accept it as it is. Some emotions are easily identified: anger, grief, fear and so on. Others may be much harder to label. They may just be feelings of vague feelings of unease, heaviness or constriction, halfway between an emotion and a physical sensation. In any case, what matters is not whether you can attach a mental label to it, but whether you can bring the feeling of it into awareness as much as possible. Attention is the key to transformation and full attention also implies acceptance. Attention is like a beam of light. The focused power of your consciousness that transmutes everything into itself. In a fully functional organism, an emotion has a very short lifespan. It is like a momentary ripple or wave on the surface of your being. When you are not in your body, however, any emotion can survive inside you for days or weeks or join with other emotions of similar frequency that have merged and become the pain body, a parasite that can live inside you for years, feed on your energy, lead to physical illness and make your life miserable. So place your attention on feeling the emotion and check whether your mind is holding onto a grievance pattern such as blame, self-pity, or resentment that is feeding the emotion. If that is the case, it means that you haven't forgiven. Nonforgiveness is often towards another person or yourself. But it may just as well be toward any situation or condition, past, present or future that your mind refuses to accept. Yes there can be nonforgiveness even with regard to the future. This is the mind's refusal to accept uncertainty, to accept that the future is ultimately beyond its control. Forgiveness is to relinquish your grievance and so to let go of grief. It happens naturally once you realize that your grievance serves no purpose except to strengthen a false sense of self. Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life. To allow life to live through you. The alternatives are pain and suffering the greatly restrictive life energy and in many cases, physical disease. The moment you truly forgive, you have reclaimed your power from the mind. Nonforgiveness is the very nature of the mind. Just as the mind made false self, the ego, cannot survive without strife and conflict. The mind cannot forgive, only you can. You become present. You enter your body. You feel the vibrant peace and stillness that eminates from being, that is why Jesus said before you enter the temple, forgive.
Question: What is the relationship between presence and the inner body?
Eckhart Tolle: Presence is pure consciousness, consciousness that has been reclaimed from the mind, from the world of form. The inner body is your link with the unmanifested and its deepest aspect is the unmanifested. The Source from which consciousness emanates as light emanates from the sun. Awareness of the inner body is consciousness remembering its own origin and returning to the Source.
Question: Is the unmanifested the same as being?
Eckhart Tolle: Yes. The word unmanifested attempts by way of negation to express that which cannot be spoken in thought or imagined. It points to what it is by saying what it is not. Being on the other hand is a positive term. Please don't get attached to either of these words or start believing in them. They are no more than signposts.
Question: You said that presence is consciousness when it has been reclaimed from the mind. Who does the reclaiming?
Eckhart Tolle: You do. But since in your essence you are consciousness, you might as well say it is an awakening of consciousness from the dream of form. This does not mean that your own form will instantly vanish in an explosion of light. You can continue in your present form yet be aware of the formless and the deathless deep within you.
Question: I must admit this is way beyond my comprehension and yet on some deeper level I seem to know what you're talking about. It's more like a feeling than anything else. Am I deceiving myself?
Eckhart Tolle: No, you're not. Feeling will get you closer to the truth of who you are than thinking. I cannot tell you anything that deep within you don't already know. When you've reached a certain state of inner connectedness, you recognize the truth when you hear it. If you haven't reached that stage yet, the practice of body awareness will bring about a deepening that is necessary. In the meantime awareness of the inner body has other benefits than the physical realm. One of them is the significant slowing down of the aging of the physical body. Whereas the outer body normally appears to grow old and wither fairly quickly, the inner body does not change with time except that you may feel it more deeply and become it more fully. If you are 20 years old now, the energy field of your inner body will feel just the same when you're 80. It will be just as vibrantly alive. As soon as your habitual state changes from being out of the body and trapped in your mind to being in the body and present in the now. Your physical body will feel clearer, lighter, more alive. As there is more consciousness in the body, its molecular structure actually becomes less dense. More consciousness means a lessening of the illusion of materiality. When you become identified more with the timeless inner body than with the outer body, when presence becomes your normal mode of conciousness and past and future no longer dominate your attention you do not accumulate time anymore in your psyche and in the cells of the body. The accumulation of time as the psychological burden of past and future greatly impairs the cell's compacity for self renewal so if you inhabit your inner body, the outer body will grow slow at a much slower rate and even if it does, your timeless essence will shine through your outer form and you will not give the appearance of an old person. Is there any scientific evidence of this? Try it out and you will be the evidence. Another benefit of this practice in the physical realm is a great strengthening of the immune system which occurs when you inhabit the body. The more consciousness you bring into the body, the stronger the immune system becomes. It is as if every cell awakens and rejoices. The body loves your attention. It is also a potent form of self-healing. Most illnesses creep in when you are not present in the body. If the master is not present in the house, all kinds of shady characters will take up residence there. When you inhabit the body, it will be hard for unwanted guests to enter. It is not only your physical immune system that becomes strengthened, your psychic immune system is greatly enhanced as well. The latter protects you from the negative mental emotional force fields of others which are highly contagious. Inhabiting the body protects you not by putting up a shield but by raising the frequency vibration of your total energy field so that anything that vibrates at a lower frequency such as fear, anger and depression and so on now exists in what is virtually a different order of reality.
It doesn't enter your field of consciousness anymore. Or if it does, you don't need to offer any resistance to it because it passes right through you. Please don't just accept or reject what I am saying. Put it to the test. There's a simple but powerful self-healing meditation that you can do whenever you need to boost your immune system. It is particularly effective if it is used when you feel the first symptoms of an illness. But it also works with illnesses that already entrenched if you use it at frequent intervals and with an intense focus. It will also counteract any disruption of your energy field by some form of negativity. However, it is not a substitute for the moment by moment practice of being in the body. Otherwise, its effect will only be temporary. Here's the meditation. When you are unoccupied for a few minutes and especiallly last thing at night before falling asleep and first thing in the morning before getting up flood your body with consciousness. Close your eyes. Lie flat on your back. Choose different parts of your body to focus your attention on briefly at first, hands, feet, arms, legs, abdomen, chest, head and so on. Feel the life energy inside those parts as intensely as you can. Stay with each part for 15 seconds or so. Then let your attention run through your body like a wave for a few times from feet to head and back again. This need only take a minute or so. After that, feel the inner body in its totality as a single field of energy. Hold that feeling for a few minutes. Be intensely present during that time. Present in every cell of your body. Don't be concerned if the mind occassionally succeeds in drawing your attention out of the body and you lose yourself in some thought. As soon as you notice that this has happened, just return your attention to the inner body.
Question: At times when my mind has been very active, it acquires such momentum that I find it impossible to take my attention away from it and feel the inner body. This happens particularly when I get into a worry or anxiety pattern. Do you have any suggestions?
Eckhart Tolle: If at any time you finding it hard to get in touch with the inner body, it is usually easier to focus on your breathing first. Conscious breathing which is a powerful meditation in its own right will gradually put you in touch with the body. Follow the breaths with your attention as it moves in and out of your body. Breathe into the body and feel your abdomen contracting and expanding slightly with each inhalation and exhalation. If you find it easy to visualize close your eyes and see yourself surrounded by light or immersed in illuminous substance, a sea of consciousness. Then breathe in that light. Feel that luminous substance filling up your body and making it luminous also. Then gradually focus more on the feeling. You're now in your body. Don't get attached to any visual image.
If you need to use your mind for a specific purpose, use it in conjunction with your inner body. Only if you are able to be conscious without thought can you use your mind creatively and the easiest way to enter that state is through your body. Whenever an answer, a solution or a creative idea is needed, stop thinking for a moment by focusing your attention on your inner energy field. Become aware of the stillness. When you resume thinking it will be fresh and creative. In any thought activity, make it a habit to go back and forth every few minutes or so between thinking and an inner kind of listening, an inner stillness. We could say don't just think with your head, think with your whole body.
When listening to another person, don't just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen. That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving the other person space, space to be. It is the most precious gift you can ever give. Most people don't know how to listen because the major part of their attention is taken up by thinking. They pay more attention to that than to what the other person is saying and none at all to what really matters. The being of the other person underneath the words and the mind. Of course, you cannot feel someone else's being except through your own. This is the beginning of the realization of oneness which is Love. At the deepest level of your being, you are one with all that is. Most human relationships consist mainly of minds interacting with each other, not of human beings communicating, being in communion. No relationship can thrive in that way and that is why there is so much conflict in relationships. When the mind is running your life, conflict, strife and problems are inevitable. Being in touch with your inner body creates a clear space of no mind within which the relationship can flower.
Chapter 7 - Portals into the unmanifested.
Question: I can feel the energy inside my body especially in my arms and legs but I can't seem to go more deeply as you suggested earlier.
Eckhart Tolle: Make it into a meditation. It needn't take long. Ten to fifteen minutes of clock time should be sufficient. Make sure at first there are no external distractions such as telephones or people who are likely to interrupt you. Sit on a chair but don't lean back. Keep the spine erect. Doing so will help you stay alert. Alternatively, choose your own favorite position for meditation. Make sure the body is relaxed. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Feel yourself breathing into the lower abdomen as it were. Observe how it contracts and expands slightly with each in and out breath. Then become aware of the entire inner energy field of the body. Don't think about it. Feel it. By doing this, you reclaim unconsciousness from the mind. If you find it helpful, use the light visualization I described earlier. When you can feel the inner body clearly as a single field of energy, let go if possible of any visual image and focus exclusively on the feeling. If you can, also drop any mental image you may still have of the physical body. All that is left then is an all encompassing sense of presence of beingness and the inner body is felt to be without a boundary. Then take your attention even more deeply into that feeling. Become one with it. Merge with the energy field so that there is no longer a perceived duality of the observer and the observed, of you and your body. The distinction between inner and outer also dissolves now so that is no inner body anymore. By going deeply into the body, you have transcended the body. Stay within this realm of pure being for as long as you feel comfortable. Then become aware again of the physical body, your breathing and physical senses and open your eyes. Look at your surroundings for a few minutes in a meditative way. That is without labeling them mentallly and continue to feel the inner body as you continue to do so.
Having access to that formless realm is truly liberating. It frees you from bondage to form and identification with form. It is life in its undifferentiated state prior to its fragmentation into multiplicity. We may call it the unmanifested, the invisible source of all things, the being within all being. It is a realm of deep stillness and peace, but also of joy and intense aliveness. Whenever you are present, you become transparent to some extent to the light, the pure consciousness that emanates from this source. You also realize that the light is not separate from who you are but constitutes your very essence.
Question: Is the unmanifested in the east what is called chi, a kind of universal life energy?
Eckhart Tolle: No, it isn't. The unmanifested is the source of chi. Chi is the inner energy of your body. It is the bridge between the outer you and the source. It lies halfway between the manifested, the world of form and the unmanifested. Chi can be likened to the river on energy stream. If you take the focus of your consciousness deeply into your inner body, you are tracing the cause of this river back to its source. Chi is movement. The unmanifested is stillness. When you reach a point of absolute stillness which is nevertheless vibrant with life, you have gone beyond the inner body and beyond chi to the source itself, the unmanifested. Chi is the link between the unmanifested and the physical universe. So if you take your attention deeply into the inner body, you may reach this point, this singularity where the world dissolves into the unmanifested, and the unmanifested takes on form as the energy stream of chi which then becomes the world. This is the point of birth and death. When your consciousness is directed outward, mind and world arise. When it is directed inward, it realizes its own source and returns home into the unmanifested. Then when your consciousness comes back to the manifested world, you reassume the form identity that you temporarily relinquished. You have a name, a past, a life situation, a future. But in one essential respect, you are not the same person you were before. You will have glimpsed a reality within yourself that is not of this world. Although it isn't separate from it just as it isn't separate from you. Now let your spiritual practice be this. As you go about your life, don't give 100 percent of your attention into the external world and into the external mind. Keep some within. I have spoken about this already. Feel the inner body even engaged in every day activities. Especially when engaged in relationships or when you're relating with nature. Feel the stillness deep inside it. Keep the portal open. It is quite possible to become conscious of the unmanifested throughout your life. You feel it as a deep sense of peace somewhere in the background, a stillness that never leaves you no matter what happens out here. You become a bridge between the unmanifested and the manifested, between God and the world. This is the state of connectedness with the source that we call enlightenment. Don't get the impression that the unmanifested is separate from the manifested. How could it be. It is the life within every form, the inner essence of all that exists. It pervades this world. Let me explain. You take a journey into the unmanifested every night when you enter the phase of deep dreamless sleep. You merge with the source. You draw from it the vital energy that sustains you for a while when you return to the manifested. The world of separate forms. This energy is much more vital than food. Man does not live by bread alone. But in dreamless sleep, you don't go into it consciously although the bodily functions are still operating, you no longer exist in that state. Can you imagine what it would be like to go into a dreamless sleep with full consciousness. It is impossible to imagine it because that state has no content. The unmanifested does not liberate you until you enter it consciously. That's why Jesus did not say that the truth will make you free but rather that you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. This is not a conceptual truth. It is a truth of eternal life beyond form which is known directly or not at all. But don't attempt to stay conscious in dreamless sleep. It is highly unlikely that you will succeed. At most, you may remain conscious during the dream phase, but not beyond that. This is called lucid dreaming which may be interesting and fascinating but it is not liberating. So use your inner body as a portal through which you enter the unmanifested and keep that portal open so that you stay connected with the source at all times. It makes no difference as far as the inner body is concerned whether your outer physical body is old or young, frail or strong, the inner body is timeless. If you are not yet able to feel the inner body, use one of the other portals, although ultimately they are all one. Some I have spoken about at length already. But I will mention them again briefly here. The now can be seen as the main portal. It is an essential aspect of every other portal including the inner body. You cannot be in your body without intentionally present in the now. Time and the manifested are inextricably linked as are the timeless now and the unmanifested. When you dissolve psychological time through intense present moment awareness, you become conscious of the unmanifested both directly and indirectly. Directly, you feel it as the presence of your radiance and power of conscious presence. No content, just presence. Indirectly, you are aware of the unmanifested in and through the sensory realm. In other words, you feel the God essence in every creature, every flower, every stone. And you realize all that is is holy. This is why Jesus speaking entirely from his essence or Christ identity says in the Gospel of Thomas: split a piece of wood, I am there. Lift up a stone, and you will find me there. Another portal to the unmanifested is created through the cessation of thinking. This can start with a very simple thing such as taking one conscious breath or looking in a state of intense alertness at a flower so that there is no mental commentary running at the same time. There are many ways to create a gap in the incessant stream of thought. This is what meditation is all about. Thought is part of the realm of the manifested. Continuous mind activity keeps you imprisoned in the world of form and becomes an opaque screen which prevents you from becoming conscious of the unmanifested. Conscious of the formless and timeless God essence in yourself and in all things and all creatures. When you are intensely present, you don't need to be concerned about the cessation of thinking of course because the mind then stops automatically. That's why I said the now is an essential aspect of every other portal. Surrender, the letting go of mental emotional resistance to what is also becomes a portal into the unmanifested. The reason for this is simple. Inner resistance cuts you off from other people, from yourself, from the world around you. It strengthens the sense of separateness from which the ego depends for its survival. The stronger the feeling of separateness, the more you are bound to the manifested, the world of separate forms. The more you are bound to the world of form, the harder and more impenetrable your form identity becomes. The portal is closed and you are cut off from the inner dimension, the dimension of depth. In the state of surrender, your form identity softens and you become somewhat transparent as it were, so the unmanifested can shine through you. It's up to you to open a portal in your life that gives you conscious access to the unmanifested. Getting in touch with the enegy field of the inner body, being intensely present, disidentify with the mind, surrender to what is. These are all portals you can use, but you only need use one.
Question: Surely love must be one of those portals?
Eckhart Tolle: No, it isn't. As soon as one of the portals is open, love is present in you as the feeling realization of oneness. Love isn't a portal. It's what comes through the portal into this world. As long as you are completely trapped in your form identity, there can be no love. Your task is not to search for love, but to find a portal through which love can enter.
Question: Are there any other portals apart from those you just mentioned?
Eckhart Tolle: Yes, there are. The unmanifested is not separate from the manifested. It pervades this world, but it so well disguised, that almost everybody misses it completely. If you know where to look, you will find it everywhere. A portal opens up every moment. Do you hear that dog barking in the distance? Or that car passing by? Listen carefully. Can you feel the presence of the unmanifested in that? You can't. Look for it in the silence out of which the sounds come and into which they return. Pay more attention to the silence than to the sounds. Paying attention to outer silence creates an inner silence, the mind becomes still, a portal is opening up. Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence and during its lifespan is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be. It is an intrinsic and unmanifested part of every sound, every musical note, every song, every word. The unmanifested is present in this world as silence. This is why it has been said that nothing in this world is so like God as silence. All you have to do is pay attention to it. Even during a conversation, become conscious of the gaps between words, the brief silent intervals between sentences. As you do that, the dimension of stillness grows within you. You cannot pay attention to silence without simultaneously becoming still within. Silence without; stillness within. You have entered the unmanifested. Just as no sound can exist without silence. Nothing can exist without no thing without the empty space that enables it to be. Every physical object or body has come out of nothing, is surrounded by nothing and will eventuallly return to nothing. Not only that, but even inside every physical body, there is far more nothing than something. Physicists tell us that the solidity of matter is an illusion. Even seemingly solid matter your physical body is nearly 100 percent empty space. So vast are the difference between atoms compared to their size. What is more, even inside every atom there is mostly empty space, what is left is more like a vibrational frequency than particles of solid matter. More like a musical note. Buddhists have known that for over 2,500 years. Form is emptiness; Emptiness is form; States the heart sutra one of the better known buddists texts. The essence of all things is emptiness. The unmanifested is not only present in this world as silence, it also pervades the entire physical universe as space from within and without. This is just as easily to miss as silence. Everybody pays attention to the things in space. But who pays attention to space itself?
Question: You seem to be implying that emptiness or nothing is not just nothing that there is some mysterious quality to it. What is this nothing?
Eckhart Tolle: You cannot ask such a question. Your mind is trying to make nothing into something. The moment you make it into something, you've missed it. Nothing, space, is the appearance of the unmanifested as an externalized phenomenon in a sense perceived world. That's about as much as one can say about it. Even that is a kind of paradox. It cannot become an object of knowledge. You can't do a PHd on nothing. When scientists study space, they usually make it into something and thereby miss its essence entirely. Not surprisingly, the latest theory is that space isn't empty at all. That it is filled with some substance. Once you have a theory, it is not too hard to find evidence to substantiate it. At least until some other theory comes along. Nothing can only become a portal to the unmanifested for you if you don't try to grasp or understand it.