Eckhart Tolle is a world renowned spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and A New Earth. He has been featured frequently on Oprah Winfrey, who discovered his first book in 2000. Eckhart is a modern day Buddha (although he would likely humbly refute this claim).
Eckhart’s teachings boil down to six key principles and I’m listing them here in ascending order of importance:
- Non-identification with form
- Dissolving the ego
- Dissolving the pain body
- Accepting the present circumstances
- Living in the present moment
- Becoming conscious
Let’s briefly examine these principles beginning with the most important … becoming conscious.
Becoming conscious, according to Eckhart, is our primary life purpose. It is the number one reason we’re here … which I know is shocking, given that most people think our primary purpose is to get rich. Becoming conscious is what I like to refer as ‘understanding who we really are and why we’re really here on the planet’ … it’s knowing that we are more than just human beings living a random existence. Rather, it is knowing that we are spiritual beings, living in oneness with all that exists. It is also knowing that there is a God (higher intelligence) and that this God (intelligence or energy) is a part of everything that exists … it is the flow of life!
When you understand and accept the principle of becoming conscious, you can clearly see the potential for ending suffering.
Living in the present moment is exactly what it implies. It means getting out of your head (thoughts … which are mostly negative anyway) and living in the now. Living in the now means no longer fretting about the past or worrying about the future and simply living in and enjoying the present moment. You can do this by totally focusing your attention on what you are doing, focusing on your breath or just looking around and listening and observing. When you live in the present moment, you feel euphoric and you don’t accumulate any new emotional pain.!
Accepting your present circumstances is a surefire way to eliminate stress. Eckhart says that unhappiness occurs when we want the present circumstances to be something other than what they are. This doesn’t mean giving in to the present situation. You can resolve and take steps to change it. But you don’t have to worry about it or stress over it. You can even accept how you feel about a situation. If you are feeling frustrated about something, rather than get angry with yourself, accept that you feel frustrated. This acceptance will help the feelings dissolve.
Dissolving the pain body means first, knowing that we each have unresolved emotional pain from our past experiences, recognizing when the pain body is being triggered by present events or circumstances and using specific techniques to release the unresolved emotions. The most effective way to do this is through dialogue … by virtually talking to the pain body. You can also use a prayer or mantra, or you can simply scream into a pillow until you feel better. Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is another way to diffuse emotional pain.
Dissolving the ego is another important step. The ego is our conditioned and dysfunctional negative thoughts. It is not to be confused with Freud’s version of the ego. Freud theorized that the id, ego and super ego are the three parts of the human psyche. The best way to dissolve the ego (Tolle’s version) is to acknowledge its existence and live in the present moment. In other words, stop thinking!
Non-identification with form is the final peace of the puzzle. Identification with form occurs when we become too attached to or identified with the idea of our body, our thoughts and emotions, our possessions (think of hoarding), our experiences and accomplishments, our wealth, our relationships and our roles. None of these things are who we truly are and none of them are coming with us when we leave this planet. And yet the idea of losing them can cause us great stress to the point where people will take their own lives when they lose something they identify with very strongly. We stop identifying with form when we become conscious.
This blog really only scratches the surface of these principles (I think it’s best to keep blogs short) and if you really want to immerse yourself in it, I urge you to read the books or check out the plethora of Eckhart Tolle videos on Youtube. I would even recommend my own book, The History Teacher (seriously, this is not a cheap sales pitch).
Understanding and adopting these principles will bring peace of mind, joyful living and love into your life, regardless of your present situation. They certainly have helped me. What is more, they will help you feel good about yourself, and this is essential for good health and happiness.
Have an awesomely conscious day!