“So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence – your deeper self – behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subside, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.”– Freeing Yourself from Your Mind, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle 1999), p15-6
“Your mind is an instrument, a tool. It is there to be used for a specific task, and when the task is completed, you lay it down. As it is, I would say about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true. It cause a serious leakage of vital energy.” – Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle 1999), p18
“Enlightenment means rising above thought, not falling back to a level below thought, the level of an animal or a plant. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there is stillness. When you use your mind, and particularly when a creative solution is needed, you oscillate every few minutes or so between thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind. No-mind is consciousness without thought. Only in that way is it possible to think creatively, because only in that way does thought have any real power. Thought alone, when it is no longer connected with the much vaster realm of consciousness, quickly becomes barren, insane, destructive.” – Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle 1999), p19
“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in Eckhart Tolle’s mind, right before his awakening. Asking himself what a peculiar thought it was, he started contemplating. “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that I cannot live with. … Maybe only one of them is real.” 1
As Eckhart Tolle experienced an awakening out of his deep (psychological and emotional) suffering, I believe, the realization that you are not or more than your mind can change your perspective on yourself, and hence the quality of your life.
This profound book, that had a huge impact on me, provides an insight on who we are and what are our challenges as humanity that are mostly residing in a mind-identified ego state, and guides us to recognize who we are (as it already was, it is, and is to be) and how to reach a new level of consciousness by means of meditation and other methods.
What’s particular about this book (to be used as a good reference to complement Ray Dalio’s Principles to be understood in a spiritual sense) is that it discusses about how and why we can get over our mind-identified ego state in order to rise and evolve as an individual and humanity as collective at the same time.
Also, in my opinion, the book is relevant for my Mind Series which aims to develop ourselves into a better version by going within and harnessing our mind in matters of achieving our desires in our life, which is exactly what the book is doing and which is exactly what Principles is showing as a practical example.
By recognizing that we are more than our mind and, therefore, that our ‘mind’ (our thought, emotion and their unconscious reaction patterns) is not a master but a servant and a tool we use, I believe we can raise our level of consciousness and reaching back to our essence – Being – that vibrates at a higher level of frequency.
Stillness. Peace. If we can be present by going deeply into the Now, even when the whole world is spinning around, I believe we are doing a great job and can even have a positive influence to the majority in our world. Also, a clear and sharp mind with keen intelligence and creativity will be obtained as a bonus that comes naturally with our new state of consciousness then.
Below are key points of Eckhart Tolle’s discussion that I’ve summarized in a few phrases. I believe these understandings are something meditators gain and practice on, and so why we observe similar concepts as a few key principles highlighted by Ray Dalio.
- Definition of Mind
- Thinking and Consciousness
- Mind-Identified False Self – the Ego
- Watcher of the Thought: A New Dimension of Consciousness
- Being: The State of Pure Consciousness
- Watching an Emotion
- Pain from Mind-Identified Egoic State of Consciousness
- The Power of Now
- Higher Perspective: There Is Peace Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness
- Mind Energy versus Spiritual Energy
- The Meaning of Surrender
1. Definition of Mind
Mind used by Tolle is not just thought. It includes our emotions as well as all unconscious mental-emotional reactive patterns. 2
2. Thinking and Consciousness
Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought. 3
3. Mind-Identified False Self – the Ego
We are identified with our mind, which means that we derive our sense of self from the content and activity of our mind. As we grow up, we form a mental image of who we are, based on our personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking.
The term ego means different things to different people, but Tolle defines it as a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. 4
He sees our age is characterized by ‘the predominance of mind’ but it is no more than a stage in the evolution of consciousness. We need to go on to the next stage now as a matter of urgency; otherwise, we will be destroyed by the mind, which has grown into a monster. 5
4. Watcher of the Thought: A New Dimension of Consciousness
Ego is a false self created by “unconscious” identification with the mind.
The term “unconscious” here means to be identified with some mental or emotional pattern. It implies a complete absence of the watcher. 6
Observe the thought. Become a witness of the thought. There is a new dimension of consciousness – a conscious presence that listens to the thought. When we feel this deeper self behind or underneath the thought, then the thought loses its power over us and quickly subside, because we are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is how we free ourselves from our mind. 7
5. Being: The State of Pure Consciousness
When a thought subsides, we experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of “no-mind.” When these gaps occur, we feel a certain stillness and peace inside us. This is the beginning of our natural state of felt oneness with Being, which is usually obscured by the mind. In this state of inner connectedness, we are much more alert, more awake than in the mind-identified state. We are fully present. It also raises the vibrational frequency of the energy field that gives life to the physical body. 8
As we go more deeply into this realm of no-mind, as it is sometimes called in the East, we realize the state of pure consciousness. And yet this is not a selfish but a selfless state. It takes us beyond what we previously thought of as “our self.” That presence is essentially us and at the same time inconceivably greater than us.
In creating a gap in the mind stream, instead of “watching the thinker,” we can also simply direct the focus of our attention into the Now. Just become intensely conscious of the present moment. In this way we draw consciousness away from our mind activity and create a gap of no-mind in which we are highly alert and aware but not thinking. This is the essence of meditation. 9
6. Watching an Emotion
Emotions arise at the place where mind and body meet. It is the body’s reaction to our mind – or a reflection of our mind in the body. 10
The more we are identified with our thinking, our likes and dislikes, judgments and interpretations, which is to say the less present we are as the watching consciousness, the stronger the emotional energy charge will be, whether we are aware of it or not. If we really want to know our mind, the body will always give us a truthful reflection.
To watch an emotion in this way is basically the same as listening to or watching a thought, which is described earlier. The only difference is that, while a thought is in our head, an emotion has a strong physical component and so is primarily felt in the body. We can then allow the emotion to be there without being controlled by it. We no longer are the emotion; we are the watcher, the observing presence. If we practice this, all that is unconscious in us will be brought into the light of consciousness. 11
7. Pain from Mind-Identified Egoic State of Consciousness
Pain, primarily of emotional pain, is inevitable as long as we are identified with our mind, which is to say as long as we are unconscious.
Resentment, hatred, self-pity, guilt, anger, depression, jealousy, and so on, even the slightest irritation, are all forms of pain. And every pleasure or emotional high contains within itself the seed of pain: its inseparable opposite, which will manifest in time. … Seen from a higher perspective, both the negative and the positive polarities are faces of the same coin, are both part of the underlying pain that is inseparable from the mind-identified egoic state of consciousness. 12
Being part of the dualistic mind, emotions are subject to the law of opposites. This simply means that we cannot have good without bad. So in the unenlightened, mind-identified condition, what is sometimes wrongly called joy is the usually short-lived pleasure side of the continually alternating pain/pleasure cycle. Many “love” relationships, after the initial euphoria has passed, actually oscillate between “love” and hate, attraction and attack.
Love, joy, and peace, on the other hand, are deep states of Being or rather three aspects of the state of inner connectedness with Being. As such, they have no opposites. This is because they arise from beyond the mind. Whereas pleasure is always derived from something outside us, joy arises from within. 13
8. The Power of Now: To Step out of Time-Bound Mind
Time and mind are inseparable. Remove time from the mind and it stops – unless we choose to use it. To be identified with our mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live exclusively through memory and anticipation. 14
Identification with the mind gives it more energy; observation of the mind withdraws energy from it. Identification with the mind creates more time; observation of the mind opens up the dimension of the timeless. The energy that is withdrawn from the mind turns into presence. Once we can feel what it means to be present, it becomes much easier to simply choose to step out of the time dimension whenever time is not needed for practical purpose and move more deeply into the Now. This does not impair our ability to use time – past or future – when we need to refer to it for practical matters. Nor does it impair our ability to use our mind. In fact, it enhances it. When we do use our mind, it will be sharper, more focused. 15
9. Higher Perspective: Rising Beyond Mind
What is positive and what is negative? Do we have the total picture? There have been many people for whom limitation, failure, loss, illness, or pain in whatever form turned out to be their greatest teacher. It taught them to let go of false self-images and superficial ego-dictated goals and desires. It gave them depth, humility, and compassion. It made them more real.
Whenever anything negative happens to us, there is a deep lesson concealed within it, although we may not see it at the time. Even a brief illness or an accident can show us what is real and unreal in our life, what ultimately matters and what doesn’t. Seen from a higher perspective, conditions are always positive. To be more precise: they are neither positive nor negative. They are as they are. And when we live in complete acceptance of what is – which is the only sane way to live – there is no “good” or “bad” in our life anymore. There is only a higher good – which includes the “bad.” Seen from the perspective of the mind, however, there is good-bad, like-dislike, love-hate. 16
10. Mind Energy versus Spiritual Energy
Not until we surrender – to completely accept what is – does it become a living reality in our life. When we do, the energy that we emanate and which then runs our life is of a much higher vibrational frequency than the mind energy that still runs our world.
It is the mind energy that created the existing social, political, and economic structures of our civilization, and which also continuously perpetuates itself through our educational systems and the media.
Through surrender, spiritual energy comes into this world. It creates no suffering for ourselves, for other humans, or any other life form on the planet. Unlike mind energy, it does not pollute the earth, and it is not subject to the law of polarities, which dictates that nothing can exist without its opposite, that there can be no good without bad.
Those who run on mind energy, which is still the vast majority of the Earth’s population, remain unaware of the existence of spiritual energy. It belongs to a different order of reality and will create a different world when a sufficient number of humans enter the surrendered state and so become totally free of negativity. If the earth to survive, this will be the energy of those who inhabit it. 17
11. The Meaning of Surrender
What is surrender? It’s relinquishment of resistance.
Since resistance is inseparable from the mind, surrender is the end of the mind as our master, the impostor pretending to be “I,” the false god. All judgment and all negativity dissolve.
The realm of Being, which had been obscured by the mind, then opens up. Suddenly, a great stillness arises within us, an unfathomable sense of peace. And within that peace, there is great joy. And within that joy, there is love. And at the innermost core, there is the sacred, the immeasurable, That which cannot be named. 18
- (p1) INTRODUCTION
- (p21) Emotion: The Body’s Reaction to Your Mind, Chapter 1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND
- (p19) Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND
- (p18) Ibid
- (p19) Ibid
- (p33) Past Pain: Dissolving The Pain-Body, Chapter 2. CONSCIOUSNESS: THE WAY OUT OF PAIN
- (p15-6) Freeing Yourself from Your Mind, Chapter 1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND
- (p16) Ibid
- (p17) Ibid
- (p20) Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND
- (p22) Emotion: The Body’s Reaction to Your Mind, Chapter 1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND
- (p26) Ibid
- (p24) Ibid
- (p40) End the Delusion of Time CHAPTER 3. MOVING DEEPLY INTO THE NOW
- (p46) Accessing the Power of the Now CHAPTER 3. MOVING DEEPLY INTO THE NOW
- (p148) The Higher Good Beyond Good and Bad, CHAPTER 9. BEYOND HAPPINESS AND UNHAPPINESS THERE IS PEACE
- (p177) From Mind Energy to Spiritual Energy, CHAPTER 10. THE MEANING OF SURRENDER
- (p187) The Way of the Cross, CHAPTER 10. THE MEANING OF SURRENDER