Eckhart Tolle's Stillness Speaks (and Shri Mataji's Thoughtless Awareness)"can be seen as a revival for the present age of the oldest form of recorded spiritual teachings"
Introduction (from the book):
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.
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.
The mind exists in a state of"not enough“And so is always greedy for more. When you are identified 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 satisfied.
When you feel bored, you can satisfy the mind's hunger by picking up a magazine, making a phone call, switching on the TV, surfing 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 first, but as the sense of inner space grows, the feeling of boredom will begin to diminish in intensity and significance. 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.
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 (The Pearl of Great Price).”That is a pointer, not an explanation. Understanding these words means feeling deep within you the truth to which they point.
When each thought absorbs your attention completely, it means you identify with the voice in your head. Thought then becomes invested with a sense of self. This is the ego, a mind-made"me.”That mentally constructed self feels incomplete and precarious. That's why fearing and wanting are its predominant emotions and motivating forces.
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. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is not the voice — the thinker — but the one who is aware of it.
Knowing yourself as the awareness behind the voice is freedom.
On the surface it seems that the present moment is only one of many, many moments. Each day of your life appears to consists of thousands of moments where different things happen. Yet if you look more deeply, is there not only one moment, ever? Is life ever not“This moment?”
This one moment — Now — the only thing you can never escape from, the one constant factor in your life. No matter what happens, no matter how much your life changes, one thing is certain: it's always Now.
Since there is no escape from the Now, why not welcome it, become friendly with it?
Many things in your life matter, but only one thing matters absolutely.
It matters whether you succeed or fail in the eyes of the world. It matters whether you are healthy or not healthy, whether you are educated or not educated. It matter whether you are rich or poor — it certainly makes a difference in your life. Yes, all these things matter, relatively speaking, but they don't matter absolutely.
There is something that matters more than any of those things and that is finding the essence of who you are beyond that short-lived entity, that short-lived personalized sense of self.
For most things in life, you need time: to learn a new skill, build a house, become an expert, make a cup of tea... .Time is useless, however, for the most essential thing in life, the one thing that really matters: 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 is in the Now.
Spiritual seekers look for self-realization or enlightenment in the future. To be a seeker implies that you need the future. If this is what you believe, it becomes true for you: you will need time until you realize that you don't need time to be who you are.
Most people's lives are run by desire and fear.
Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be yourself more fully. All fear is the fear of losing something and thereby becoming diminished and being less.
These two movements obscure the fact that Being cannot be given or taken away. Being in its fullness is already within you, Now.
Whenever you are able, have a"look“Inside yourself to see whether you are unconsciously creating conflict between the inner and the outer, between your external circumstances at that moment — where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing — and your thoughts and feelings. Can you feel how painful it is to internally stand in opposition to what is?
When you recognize this, you also realize that you are now free to give up this futile conflict, this inner state of war.
Most human interactions are confined to the exchange of words — the realm of thought. It is essential to bring some stillness, particularly into your close relationships.
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. Stillness cannot and need not be created. Just be receptive to the stillness that is already there, but is usually obscured by mental noise.
If spacious stillness is missing, the relationship will be dominated by the mind and can easily be taken over by problems and conflict. If stillness is there, it can contain anything.
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.
What you want from them may be pleasure or material gain, recognition, praise or attention, or a strengthening of your sense of self through comparison and through establishing that you are, have, or know more than they. What you fear is that the opposite may be the case, and they may diminish your sense of self in some way.
When you make the present moment the focal point of your attention — instead of using it as a means to an end — you go beyond the ego and beyond the unconscious compulsion to use people as a means to an end, the end being self-enhancement at the cost of others. When you give your fullest attention to whoever you are interacting with, you take past and future out of the relationship, except for practical matters. When you are fully present with everyone you meet, you relinquish the conceptual identity you made for them — your interpretation of who they are and what they did in the past — and are able to interact without the egoic movements of desire and fear. 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.
To know another human being in their essence, you don't really need to know anything about them — their past, their history, their story. We confuse knowing about with a deeper knowing that is non- conceptual. 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.
Knowing about is helpful for practical purposes. On that level, we cannot do without it. When it is the predominant modality in relationships, however, it becomes very limiting, even destructive. Thoughts and concepts create an artificial barrier, a separation between human beings. Your interactions are then not rooted in Being, but become mind-based. Without the conceptual barriers, love is naturally present in all human interactions.
True listening is another way of bringing stillness into the relationship. When you truly listen to someone, the dimension of stillness arises and becomes an essential part of the relationship. But true listening is a rare skill. Usually, the greater part of a person's attention is taken up by their thinking. At best, they may be evaluating your words or preparing the next thing to say. Or they may not be listening at all, lost in their own thoughts.
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. The words now become secondary. They may be meaningful or they may not make sense. Far more important than what you are listening to is the act of listening itself, the space of conscious presence that arises as you listen. That space is a unifying field of awareness in which you meet the other person without the separative barriers created by conceptual thinking. And now the other person is no longer"other.”In that space, you are joined together as one awareness, one consciousness.
When you look upon another human being and feel great love toward them, or when you contemplate beauty in nature and something within you responds deeply to it, close your eyes for a moment and feel the essence of that love or that beauty within you, inseparable from who you are, your true nature. 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.
True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment.
This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering. Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no.
If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion. You would not be reading this now. Suffering cracks open the shell of ego, and then comes a point when it has served its purpose.
Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.
Once again Eckhart Tolle brings us a gift of enlightenment that speaks to our soul. I read this book from cover to cover, enthralled by the simplicity of the messages and their important application to my life. What I love about this book is how wonderful it is to go back to and re-read even a simple sentence, and how much of a difference that sentence makes when our ego has us caught in appearances, rather than in simply Being.
Thank you Eckhart Tolle for adding much needed Light to our world. This book is a classic, a wonderful contribution, and will certainly raise the peacefulness within the consciousness of humanity for all who are wise to take in the messages you brought us. Highly recommended.
—- Barbara Rose, author of If God Was Like Man
As an author in this same genre, I really appreciate the courage it took for Eckhart Tolle to write this. However, I do believe that only those who have come to the point in their spiritual practice where they are working at humbling themselves and opening to the more vast reality that is beyond thinking and conceptualizing will appreciate it. Globally speaking, this is a pretty small audience. Mr. Tolle had to have known that many, who are still seeking philosophical or psychological entertainment as a means to enlightenment, simply wouldn't understand this work. He had to have known that writing in this way wouldn't/couldn't be as popular as his first book. And yet it seems he followed his heart to produce the work that he felt he needed to produce. This has been inspirational for me. Reviews here on Amazon seem to hold considerable sway over potential readers - but I wouldn't let the negative reviews here deter you from exploring this work. I would encourage anyone who feels drawn to go deeper from where The Power of Now was able to take you, to really open your heart and follow Eckhart's recommendations for slowing digesting the words he's presented here. Let them sink in deep. I've received precious gifts from this book and believe with all my heart that others can and will as well.
—Shannon Duncan, Author of Present Moment Awareness
This is another great gift from the delightful Mr. Tolle, a soul who has done the nearly impossible: achieved stillness in a human incarnation.
I have called the Power of Now the best self-help book ever and have listened to it over a hundred times. I always hear something new because my ego feels threatened and doesn't want me to learn this stuff.
My ego almost fooled me once again when I first listened to Stillness Speaks. It said to me"Eckhart is just rehashing stuff in aphorisms.” But soon I found that there is much richness and wisdom to be mined here and if I can just take the principles to heart and start practicing them I might very well achieve inner peace in this lifetime. The deeper truth about this work is that it is divinely inspired and is of incredible depth and value.
What we do with this priceless gift is up to us.—Michael Indgin
If you are new to Eckhart Tolle, I would suggest 'The Power of Now' and the wonderful 'Realizing the Power of Now' as introductions to this amazing material.
Personally, after studying Mr Tolle's work for several years I got to a point where no more explanation was really necessary. I think he would say that it's essentially a simple message, but it can be difficult for it to get through our years of habitual and continual mental chatter.
Once you finally find that quiet place, a wonderful little handbook of 'signposts' like 'Stillness Speaks' is really all you need to help get back in that quiet place when you lose it.
I highly recommend this book to those who have experienced for themselves the stillness that Eckhart tries to help us find in ourselves.
Great stuff!—an amazon.com reviewer
Life is full of contradictions. I prefer to refer to them as"divine dichotomies.”A divine dichotomy is when two apparently contradictory truths exist simultaneously in the same space. For instance, the idea that stillness speaks.
Everyone who has done any kind of contemplative work in her or his life is aware of this dichotomy. From stillness can come the loudest voice, the grandest message, the greatest wisdom.
Now comes a book that is not a book, to express and demonstrate this dichotomy fully and wonderfully. Its title is (aha!) Stillness Speaks, and its author, Eckhart Tolle, is the person who gave us The Power of Now. I call this“A book that is not a book"because this is not a tome that takes us from one place and drops us off in another. It is not a story with a beginning and an end, nor is it a treatise with an outline and a pathway of logic that takes us from here to there.
Stillness Speaks (New World Library, $17.) is nothing more — and nothing less — than a series of thoughts. These are ideas that have occurred to Tolle. I suspect these ideas have occurred to many people. For most of us, however, these wonderful wisdoms passed through our minds and kept on going. Tolle remained still enough to notice them. He recorded them in his moments of clarity. And he has placed them in print.
But a word here, please. Do not expect this book to track with any kind of logic. Its purpose, as I alluded to before, is not to take you to any place, to convince you of any idea, or to show you anything in particular. Its purpose is simply to allow you to be with the wisdom and the insight, and then to allow you to see for yourself where — if anywhere — that takes you.
“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,” Tolle writes in his introduction.”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.”
And so, 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. It becomes easier through visiting these entries, placed under headings such as"Beyond the Thinking Mind,” “Who You Truly Are,” “Acceptance and Surrender,” “Relationships,” “Suffering and the End of Suffering.”
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.
This is what we are invited to do with the material in Stillness Speaks. If we think about it, if we begin to analyze it, if we start to argue with it or try to"figure it out,” we'll become lost in thought. No one gets anywhere trying to figure out a sunrise. A sunrise is something you just be with. And you get from it whatever you get from it. If you try to analyze a sunrise, the experience the sunrise has for you will go away.
Stillness Speaks feels to me like a sunrise of the soul. Thinking about it, analyzing it, will make it go away. Even writing this review of it has been difficult for me, because the more I say about it, the less I say about it. So I'm going to stop trying to talk about what's in it, and talk just a bit more about what experience it produced in me.
Excitement, again, about Life.
Sureness, and a sense of having something confirmed that I felt I knew, deep within me.
And, not the least of my feelings, gratitude. Tolle has given me a peek into his mind, and thus into my own. His words reminded me about the sacred place that exists between us, where we mix our being and share our common essence and produce our collective experience. His"book that isn't“Allowed me to venture forth more solidly, more confidently, and more joyously to play my individuated role in our co- created reality. Stillness Speaks has enriched my life.
— Neale Donald Walsch, Author of Conversations with God
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