Eckhart Tolle on Signs You Are Awakening (video)
Eckhart Tolle is a famous spiritual teacher who has written many books on the subject of spiritual awakening. In this talk, he discusses the concept of spiritual awakening and how it can be recognized. He also talks about the chatter of the mind and how to deal with it.
Most of the time, we’re not even aware of what’s going on in our heads. Our thoughts come and go without any intervention from us, but we tend to identify with them as “me.”
Transcript of video:
For many, the beginning of spiritual awakening is to realize that there is this stream of continuous commentary in their minds and that is to think, oh, that’s interesting. That’s a thought, of course, but before the thought that’s interesting, the recognition, it’s a voice in the head.
And the recognition is not the voice in the head, although you might say it after the recognition. But in the moment of recognizing there’s a voice in the head, that’s not a thought. The recognition of thought is not a thought.
The recognition of thought comes through awareness or presence. And awareness or presence is the higher consciousness, the arising new consciousness. Wow, so that is really the meaning of spiritual awakening.
By the way, in this first half of our gathering I will be talking more about it. In the second half, we will do more experiential. But even while I talk about it here, I would hope that if it works for you, there’s already also an experiential realization of what it is I’m talking about.
So there’s the voice in the head and people say things like, I think. They don’t think because thinking is not a voluntary action for them. So it’s a delusion to even say I think. You don’t think, you are being thought by thought.
You are created by thought, that energy field. It’s amazing. So the master said, “How can I teach you zen?” And he say first, empty your cup. Now that’s a huge demand. If I’m full of clutter, mental clutter, how am I going to empty my cup? I would immediately be enlightened if I could empty my cup.
But the teaching points to something. It points to the word empty and that’s interesting, that is an important word in Buddhism and I don’t think it’s a good translation. Who first came up with it, I don’t know.
In the 19th century, the Europeans started to translate ancient text from Sanskrit and one person came up with the translation probably of the Sanskrit term sunyata and translated it as emptiness. That doesn’t sound so nice.
It sounds like something missing or something like that. So I have an alternative translation for the Buddhist term emptiness. So that empty is an important word. So remember, the zen master said, “How can I teach you zen unless you first empty your cup?” Empty.
Emptiness, my alternative translation for that is spaciousness. Spaciousness is a dimension of consciousness in you. And that is what we could call the spiritual dimension of consciousness, the deeper or the higher consciousness, just words, doesn’t matter.
And that is in every human, it’s there. Many don’t know that it’s there because the clutter is so dense that they have no realization of the underlying spaciousness and that is why I say in millions of humans that is still a dormant faculty so to speak.
So the most important realization in your life much more important than what you have achieved on the level of the world, whether your life in worldly terms is regarded as a huge success or a dismal failure or for most of you probably something in between.
That’s normal. Sometimes you fail, sometimes you succeed and then you move from gaining, losing, high, low, up and down. That’s the identity for most. So the clutter of your mind is there but there are moments in your life when you become aware of something spacious underneath it.
But you may not call it that. You may not call it anything. It may arise, for example, in, oh, I forgot, in many humans who may never have heard of anything spiritual, they’re out there, they don’t know that the little bit of that is in them, but they don’t know it, little glances come occasionally into their lives of that dimension.
It’s not enough to actually say that the spiritual dimension has awakened in them, but little flashes come up now and then into their lives. And that is enough, those little flashes from that dimension come into their lives and that is enough to keep many people sane.
And those flashes can come when they’re, you might think when you go out into nature and you see something extraordinarily beautiful like a sunset, for a moment you go, ah, or the vastness of the ocean or the sky or the elements, the wind, the storm, and for a moment you go ah, and it’s a moment of intense aliveness and you feel, and then you may remember that moment a little later and that was such a beautiful moment.
Why was it? Yes, maybe what you perceived was beautiful but you felt something in that moment. You felt a heightened sense of aliveness and a deep peace and connectedness with being so to speak. Why? Because that moment of sense perception of something vast or beautiful freed you for a moment from the incessant stream of thinking.
So the incessant stream of thinking, let’s say you see this vast, this incredible sunset or whatever and for a moment, you give it your complete attention and for a moment you’re not thinking about yourself, your problems, your problematic life history or your even more problematic future.
Actually, you’re not thinking about anything. For a moment, the stream of thinking subsides and it goes chew, ah. And that is without knowing it, you have a little flash has come up from that dimension.
And then the next moment, it may come a few days later again when you look into the eyes of a baby one year old, maybe just in the street or in a cafe and the baby looks at you and the baby’s one year old and the eyes are like the baby’s.
(audience laughing) And you know instinctively that the baby’s not thinking about you because thinking hasn’t started yet. The words have not accumulated yet. The thoughts haven’t started yet. And yet there’s a consciousness there and you can see very clearly there’s an intense consciousness that’s looking through those eyes at you without judging you in any way.
And in that moment for just a few seconds, you feel so good and you think aw. Why do you feel so good? Because at that moment, the baby liberated you from your stream of thinking and again, a little bit of spaciousness opened up inside you.
So for those few seconds when you looked into the eyes of the baby, you were not thinking and the baby wasn’t thinking. So through the baby, you are able to be in that dimension and it felt so good. Spontaneously they can arise.
They’re not recognized by people as ultimately spiritual but they are. And so many people, there are millions of people who experience those things briefly, but that’s enough to give you a sense still of life is worth living.
And then there are others who are so burdened by their minds, they cannot even communicate with a baby. They cannot even perceive the beauty of nature anymore because their mind is so noisy that they never, there’s a total veil.
So they don’t look at the baby like, they look at the baby, oh that’s a nice baby. They don’t really see the baby. Immediately it’s labeled. (water streaming)