Summary with supplement
Meditation, philosophy, self – realization
The only function of spiritual 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 the inner depth that is also peace.
If you are looking for food for thought, you won't find it. 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.
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.
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 human kind is not to destroy itself.
The thoughts within this book don't say “look at me", but “look beyond me.”
When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Stillness is your essential nature.
The equivalent of external noise is the inner noise of thinking. The equivalent of external silence is inner stillness. You are present.
Allow nature to teach you stillness. Feeling the oneness of yourself with all things is love.
Silence is helpful, but you don’t need it in order to find stillness. Even when there is noise, you can be aware of the stillness underneath the noise, of the space in which the noise arises.
Any disturbing noise can be as helpful as silence. Acceptance also takes you into that realm of inner peace that is stillness.
True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.
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.
Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. Let stillness direct your words and actions.
Chapter 2 - Beyond the Thinking Mind
The human condition: Lost in thought.
Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the confines of their own thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalized sense of self that is conditioned by the past. There is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. Finding that dimension frees you. Love, joy, creative expansion, and lasting inner peace cannot come into your life except through that unconditioned dimension of consciousness.
Every thought pretends that it matters so much. Don’t take your thoughts too seriously. 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.
Whenever you are immersed in compulsive thinking, you are avoiding what is. You don’t want to be where you are. Here, Now. People love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of “I know.”
Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are.
Even boredom can teach you who you are and who you are not. 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.
Thinking that is not rooted in awareness becomes self-serving and dysfunctional. Cleverness devoid of wisdom is extremely dangerous and destructive. It doesn’t mean not to think anymore, but simply not to be completely identified with thought, possessed by thought.
You may find yourself looking at the sky or listening to someone without any inner mental commentary. Your perceptions become crystal clear, unclouded by thought. The truth is that it is the most significant thing that can happen to you. It is the beginning of a shift from thinking to aware presence. 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. No thought can encapsulate the Truth. At best, it can point to it.
Chapter 3 - The Egoic Self
When you think or speak about yourself, when you say, “I,” what you usually refer to is “me and my story.” This is the “I” of your likes and dislikes, fears and desires, the “I” that is never satisfied for long. It is a mind-made sense of who you are, conditioned by the past and seeking to find its fulfillment in the future. I am. This is the deeper “I” that has nothing to do with past and future.
When each thought absorbs your attention completely, it means you identify with the voice in your head. This is the ego, the mind-made “me.” When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. The egoic self is always engaged in seeking. It is seeking more of this or that to add to itself, to make itself feel more complete. This explains the ego’s compulsive preoccupation with future.
Almost every ego contains at least an element of what we might call “victim identity.” Complaining and reactivity are favorite mind patterns through which the ego strengthens itself. By doing this, you make others or a situation “wrong” and yourself “right.” In reality, of course, you are only strengthening the illusion of ego. The egoic sense of self needs conflict because its sense of a separate identity gets strengthened in fighting against this or that, and in demonstrating that this is “me” and that is not “me."
The ego’s identity depends on comparison and feeds on more. If all else fails, you can strengthen your fictitious sense of self through seeing yourself as more unfairly treated by life or more ill than someone else. So there is “me” against the “other,” “us” against “them." The ego needs to be in conflict with something or someone. You say you want happiness but are addicted to your unhappiness.
Chapter 4 - The Now
Since there is no escape from the now, why not welcome it, become friendly with it. When you make friends with the present moment, you feel at home no matter where you are. When you don't feel at home in the now, no matter where you go, you will carry unease with you. The only thing that is real, the only thing that ever is, is the Now. Find what is primary first, and make the Now into your friend, not your enemy. What is more important: the doing or the result that you want to achieve through the doing? This moment or some future moment? The future never arrives, except as the present, it is a dysfunctional way to live. Now is the only place where life can be found. When you say “yes” to what is, you become aligned with the power and intelligence of Life itself. A simple but radical spiritual practice is to accept whatever arises in the Now– within and without. No room for problem making. Just this moment as it is.
People confuse the Now with what happens in the Now, but that’s not what it is. The Now is deeper than what happens in it. It is the space in which it happens. You begin to realize how much vaster and deeper you are than your thoughts.
Your innermost sense of I Am has nothing to do with what happens in your life. Confusion, anger, depression, violence, and conflict arise when humans forget who they are.
I am not the content of my life. I am Life. I am the space in which all things happen. I am consciousness. I am the Now. I Am.
Chapter 5 - Who You Truly Are
You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realizing who you are at the deepest level. The truth is you don't have a life, you are life. Self-realization–which means knowing who you are beyond the surface self, beyond your name, your physical form, your history, your story. You cannot find yourself in the past or future. The only place where you can find yourself in the Now. If this is what you believe, it becomes true for you.
By knowing yourself as the awareness in which phenomenal existence happens, you become free of dependency on phenomena and free of self seeking in situations, places, and conditions. Things lose their heaviness, their seriousness. Playfulness comes into your life.
When you know yourself as that, then you recognize yourself in everything. It is a state of complete clarity of perception. You are no longer an entity with a heavy past.
Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be yourself more fully. All fear is the fear of losing something, being cannot be given or taken away.
Chapter 6 - Acceptance and Surrender
It has been said: wherever you go, there you are. In other words: you are here. Always. Is it so hard to accept that? “No” strengthens the ego. “Yes” weakens it. Your form identity, the ego, cannot survive surrender.
“Doing one thing at a time.” This is how one Zen Master defined the essence of Zen. Doing one thing at a time means to be total in what you do.
The world cannot give you anything of lasting value. You then continue to meet people, to be involved in experiences and activities, but without the wants and fears of the egoic self. And the miracle is that when you are no longer placing an impossible demand on it, every situation, person, place, or event becomes not only satisfying but also more harmonious, more peaceful.
When you fully accept that you don't know, you give up struggling to find answers with the limited thinking mind, and that is when a greater intelligence can operate through you.
Whatever you accept completely will take you to peace, including the acceptance that you cannot accept, that you are in resistance.
We depend on nature. We have forgotten how to be–to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: Here and Now. See how every animal and every plant is completely itself. Unlike humans, they have not split themselves in two. All things in nature are not only one with themselves but also one with the totality.
Give yourself completely to the act of listening. Beyond the sounds there is something greater: a sacredness that cannot be understood through thought. When you perceive nature only through the mind, through thinking, you cannot sense its aliveness, its beingness. The moment you become aware of a plant's emanation of stillness and peace, that plant becomes your teacher. Bring your attention to your breathing and realize that you are not doing it. It is the breath of nature. You are not separate from nature. We are all part of the One Life.
When human beings become still, they go beyond thought. There is an added dimension of knowing, of awareness, in the stillness that is beyond thought. Nature can bring you to stillness.
As long as the ego runs your life, most of your thoughts, emotions, and actions arise from desire and fear. In relationships you then either want or fear something from the other person. Attention, which is alert stillness, is the key. How wonderful to go beyond wanting and fearing in your relationships. Love does not want or fear anything.
If her past were your past, her pain your pain, her level of consciousness your level of consciousness, you would think and act exactly as she does. With this realization comes forgiveness, compassion, peace. When you receive whoever comes into the space of Now as a noble guest, when you allow each person to be as they are, they begin to change.
Knowing about and knowing are totally different modalities. One is concerned with form, the other with the formless. One operates through thought, the other through stillness.
No relationship can thrive without the sense of spaciousness that comes with stillness. Meditate or spend silent time in nature together. When going for a walk or sitting in the car or at home, become comfortable with being in stillness together. If spacious stillness is missing, the relationship will be dominated by the mind and can easily be taken over by problems and conflict.
True listening is another way of bringing stillness into the relationship. True listening goes far beyond auditory perception. It is the arising of alert attention, a space of presence in which the words are being received. And now the other person is no longer “other.” In that space, you are joined together as one awareness, one consciousness.
Human interaction can be hell. Or it can be a great spiritual practice. The outer form is a temporary reflection of what you are within, in your essence. That is why love and beauty can never leave you, although all outer forms will.
When there is self-identification with things, you don't appreciate them for what they are because you are looking for yourself in them. A moment of attention is enough. You are no longer acting out a script. You become real. Ultimately, of course, there is no other and you are always meeting yourself.
Chapter 9 - Death and the Eternal
Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life. Death isn’t to be found anywhere. There is only the metamorphosis of life forms. Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.
Death enters your life as the awareness of your own mortality. When you see and accept the impermanent nature of all life forms, a strange sense of peace comes upon you. When death is denied, life loses its depth. By lerning to die daily in this way, you open yourself to Life.
When a form that you had unconsciously identified with as part of yourself leaves you or dissolves, that can be extremely painful. It leaves a hole in the fabric of your existence. Accept that it is there. Can you face and accept that strange sense of emptiness? If you do, you may find that it is no longer a fearful place. Suddenly, there is no more fear, just peace and a knowing that “all is well” and that death is only a form dissolving. Death is not an anomaly or the most dreadful of all events as modern culture would have you believe, but the most natural thing in the world, inseparable from and just as natural as its other polarity–birth.
Chapter 10 - Suffering and the End of Suffering
This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering. See what happens when you just allow a feeling to be. Much suffering, much unhappiness arises when you take each thought that comes into your head for the truth. Situations don't make you unhappy. They may cause you physical pain, but they don't make you unhappy. Your thoughts make you unhappy. Your interpretations, the stories you tell yourself make you unhappy. “The thoughts I'm thinking right now make me unhappy.” This realization breaks you unconscious identification with those thoughts. Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now. When you go beyond the habitual naming, the power of the universe moves through you. Bring acceptance into your non-acceptance. (1)
Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle was born in
and educated at the Universities of London and . At the age of twenty-nine a
profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The
next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating, and deepening that
transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey. Later,
he began to work in Cambridge
with individuals and small groups as a counselor and spiritual teacher. Since
1995 he has lived in London . Vancouver,
Eckhart Tolle is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Power of Now (translated into 33 languages) and A New Earth, which are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time. In 2008, A New Earth became the first spiritual book to be selected for Oprah's Book Club as well as the subject of a ten-week online workshop co-taught by Eckhart and Oprah.
Eckhart's profound yet simple teachings have helped countless people throughout the world find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet. (2)
“Stillness Speaks” is a gentle journey, one that could take you to a spectacular and very special place of new awareness and deeper understanding. Yet one that leads nowhere in particular.
Tolle is very much aware that it is in the nowhere that the everywhere exists, that it is in the nothing that everything is found. This is not an easy concept for most people to grasp.
The trick with Tolle’s work is to not think about it. Most people, the author says, are lost in thought. The idea is to be out of your mind and into your experience of exactly what is happening, right here, right now.
We think of death as being the opposite of birth. Life, in its essence has no opposite. The opposite of life is non-life; just living without consciousness is opposite to living life consciously. — Neale Donald Walsch, Author of Conversations with God (4)
- Eckart Tolle “Stillness speaks”
- Official web-site of Eckhart Tolle: http://www.eckharttolle.com/home/
- Personal development, growth and relationship blog: http://thistimethisspace.com/2010/05/12/eckhart-tolle-stillness-speaks-1/