(Originally Posted on WordPress, October 3, 2008)
This is interesting. After just a few days I’ve started to notice something.
There was always a reactivity about me. I was always good in arguments. I used to see flaws in other people's thoughts, in their ideas. I'd take people down, be the clever one. It was like crack to me. I could hardly resist the urge to explain or expound.
There’s something about me now. It’s hard to describe. It’s the ‘presence’ that Tolle’s talking about, but there’s a difference to it. anyone can experience that. Just pick up a copy of Power Of Now - you’ll know what I’m talking about before you get to page 5.
It’s like a deep undercurrent of chill that flows through everything I do. And here’s the thing - I have no control over it. It’s interesting, because it’s not like “I am really chilled out” as such. It’s like this project is building up an inertia of something inside me.
I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe this properly, I haven’t experienced this before. Here’s what I reckon might be happening.
Initially, when you engage with the work of Eckhart Tolle it’s fun to play around with all the little tools he gives you that give you glimpses of presence.
My favourite was always listening to silence. It sounds like the kind of thing a hippie would do, and of course that is true, but it’s like a route to immediately experiencing the vastness of being, the dimension of the sacred, God, the Holy Spirit - whatever you want to call it.
Briefly, you know how words on a page are little black squiggles surrounded by a vast emptiness (relatively speaking) of whiteness? Well all the noises you are hearing right now, from cars on the road outside to thrash metal music exist in silence. Silence isn’t just the absense of noise - it’s the backdrop to noise which allows you to hear noise clearly.
Listen to it. Take a few breaths and listen to the vast empty silence that lies beneath the noise you hear.
Cool, huh? Yeah, it’s interesting. Just one of Eckhart’s little gateways, things you can do to experience presence rapidly.
(btw - if that meant nothing to you, don’t worry about it. Start reading A New Earth or something, you’ll get it soon enough)
They’re really important, these little gateways he has and I think are one of the key things that separates him from other spiritual teachers. He can prove to you that he’s not just talking mumbo-jumbo. You can experience the truth of what he’s talking about immediately and directly.
However - at the end of the day all I was ever able to do with that stuff was get me a glimpse. I could hold myself in the place of ’stillness’ as he calls it, and it was cool.
But it was like the stillness was still at the disposal of my darker self. I’d use it, then congratulate myself for being such a good ‘Zen’ person or whatever. The point is I could never sustain the deep level of presence.
I could have potentially got better at it (which is a very dodgy way of putting it Zen-wise) but I’d always just forget. Life is very distracting and pulls at the attention in a million different ways. And it always, in my experience, finds a way of getting under your skin in the end.
Whether it’s through a girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife, job, argument, friendship, vendetta - something will pull your eyes off the ‘Now’ in the end. And suck you in and down and away.
That’s a pretty dark way of looking at it, I realise. But it’s been my experience on a personal level. I’m probably a special case (basket case) in certain ways, probably more volatile than average… but that’s what seems to happen.
Hey - don’t let this discourage you if you’re having personal success, BTW. I’m just doing my experiment and it’s only been going a few days. I don’t know if what I’m doing is better or worse than any other approach - but we’ll all find out in the end.
But anyway, I digress. The point is that the presence was like something I could ‘do’. I could ‘turn it on’ and revel in it if I wanted to. I could understand it and articulate it, and analyze and number crunch - but of course in the end I’d always sink back beneath the waves of mental noise, slipping back into the pettiness and banality of regrets, judgements and pipe dreams.
Something different is arising in me. It’s made of the same stuff as the presence I felt before - the main difference is that it’s a lot more robust. I’m becoming extremely hard to shake, or to get an emotional reaction out of.
Of course, everything’s relative. There are a lot of people who I’m certain have never heard the name Eckhart Tolle and are a lot more chilled than I am now. But compared to the rawness, rage and reactivity that used to blast through me I’m like a totally different person.
And it’s interesting, because it’s not like I’m less interesting, driven or passionate than I was. If anything the opposite is true. There’s a clarity that surrounds me that wasn’t there before that means I see everything - both internally and externally - with a deep purity (I know this isn’t a great description, I’m doing my best) that I’ve never really seen before. It’s cool. Really cool.
It’s like I’m building up a big-ass chunk of Zen inside me. A mass of presence. And this presence doesn’t go away when I get distracted, when I get pissed off or annoyed. It’s always there, rooting me. Grounding me.
And so you know, yes my mind often throws up belief systems surrounding what I’m doing. Labels, judgements, mini-ideologies from every angle you can conceive. I can only assume that there are several bubbling beneath the surface that I have no idea about. Conceptual maps, ideas, judgements, moral extremes - all that jazz.
But here’s the thing, and I mentioned this before. That shit happens anyway. Certainly it happens to me, and has been happening to me since I can remember.
The mass of presence - that’s new though. Haven’t had that before. Groovy.
I suppose that if I were to be wildly optimistic what I would hope for from these 1000 days is that the presence will build to a critical mass and trigger the kind of conceptual-identity-dissolution that Tolle himself experienced.
It’ll probably just give me a slight German accent.
Only time will tell…