Don't Take Your Thoughts Too Seriously
By Eckhart Tolle
people spend their entire life imprisoned within the confines of their
own thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalized
sense of self that is conditioned by the past.
In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness
far deeper than thought.
the very essence of who you are. We may call it presence, awareness,
the unconditioned consciousness.
ancient teachings, it is the Christ within, or your Buddha nature.
Finding that dimension frees you and the world from the suffering you
inflict on yourself and others when the mind-made "little me" is all
you know and runs your life.
joy, creative expansion, and lasting inner peace cannot come into your
life except through that unconditioned dimension of consciousness.
If you can recognize, even occasionally, the thoughts that go through
your mind as simply thoughts, if you can witness your own
mental-emotional reactive patterns as they happen, then that dimension
is already emerging in you as the awareness in which thoughts and
emotions happen -- the timeless inner space in which the content of
your life unfolds.
The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you
along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much.
It wants to draw your attention in completely.
Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don't take your thoughts too
How easy it is for people to become trapped in their conceptual prisons.
The human mind, in its desire to know, understand, and control,
mistakes its opinions and viewpoints for the truth. It says: this is
how it is.
have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret
"your life" or someone else's life or behavior, however you judge any
situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many possible
no more than a bundle of thoughts. But reality is one unified whole, in
which all things are interwoven, where nothing exists in and by itself.
fragments reality -- it cuts it up into conceptual bits and pieces.
The thinking mind is a useful and powerful tool, but it is also very
limiting when it takes over your life completely, when you don't
realize that it is only a small aspect of the consciousness that you
Wisdom is not a product of thought. The deep knowing that is wisdom
arises through the simple act of giving someone or something your full
is primordial intelligence, consciousness itself. It dissolves the
barriers created by conceptual thought, and with this comes the
recognition that nothing exists in and by itself.
joins the perceiver and the perceived in a unifying field of awareness.
It is the healer of separation.
Whenever you are immersed in compulsive thinking, you are avoiding what
is. You don't want to be where you are. Here, Now.
Dogmas -- religious, political, scientific -- arise out of the
erroneous belief that thought can encapsulate reality or the truth.
Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that
people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of
security and a false sense of "I know."
Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its dogmas.
It is true that every dogma crumbles sooner or later, because reality
will eventually disclose its falseness; however, unless the basic
delusion of it is seen for what it is, it will be replaced by others.
What is this basic delusion? Identification with thought.
Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.
The realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp.When
you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and
see clearly that the thinker is not who you are.
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
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.
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.
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.
Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identified with the thinking
mind. It means you don't see the other human being anymore, but only
your own concept of that human being.
reduce the aliveness of another human being to a concept is already a
form of violence.
Thinking that is not rooted in awareness becomes self-serving and
dysfunctional. Cleverness devoid of wisdom is extremely dangerous and
is the current state of most of humanity. The amplification of thought
as science and technology, although intrinsically neither good nor bad,
has also become destructive because so often the thinking out of which
it comes has no roots in awareness.
The next step in human evolution is to transcend thought. This is now
our urgent task. It doesn't mean not to think anymore, but simply not
to be completely identified with thought, possessed by thought.
Feel the energy of your inner body. Immediately mental noise slows down
or ceases. Feel it in your hands, your feet, your abdomen, your chest.
Feel the life that you are, the life that animates the body.
The body then becomes a doorway, so to speak, into a deeper sense of
aliveness underneath the fluctuating emotions and underneath your
There is an aliveness in you that you can feel with your entire Being,
not just in the head. Every cell is alive in that presence in which you
don't need to think.
in that state, if thought is required for some practical purpose, it is
there. The mind can still operate, and it operates beautifully when the
greater intelligence that you are uses it and expresses itself through
You may have overlooked that brief periods in which you are "conscious
without thought" are already occurring naturally and spontaneously in
may be engaged in some manual activity, or walking across the room, or
waiting at the airline counter, and be so completely present that the
usual mental static of thought subsides and is replaced by an aware
may find yourself looking at the sky or listening to someone without
any inner mental commentary. Your perceptions become crystal clear,
unclouded by thought.
To the mind, all this is not significant, because it has "more
important" things to think about. It is also not memorable, and that's
why you may have overlooked that it is already happening.
The truth is that it is the most significant thing that can happen to
you. It is the beginning of a shift from thinking to aware presence.
Become at ease with the state of "not knowing." This takes you beyond
mind because the mind is always trying to conclude and interpret. It is
afraid of not knowing.
when you can be at ease with not knowing, you have already gone beyond
the mind. A deeper knowing that is non-conceptual then arises out of
Artistic creation, sports, dance, teaching, counseling -- mastery in
any field of endeavor implies that the thinking mind is either no
longer involved at all or at least is taking second place.
power and intelligence greater than you and yet one with you in essence
takes over. There is no decision-making process anymore; spontaneous
right action happens, and "you" are not doing it.
Mastery of life is the opposite of control. You become aligned with the
greater consciousness. It acts, speaks, does the works.
A moment of danger can bring about a temporary cessation of the stream
of thinking and thus give you a taste of what it means to be present,
The Truth is far more all-encompassing than the mind could ever
comprehend. No thought can encapsulate the Truth. At best, it can point
example, it can say: "All things are intrinsically one."
is a pointer, not an explanation. Understanding these words means
feeling deep within you the truth to which they point.
This article was excerpted from Stillness Speaks by Eckhart
Article source: Mind Power News
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Tolle was born in Germany, where
he spent the first thirteen years of his life. After graduating from
the University of London, he was a research scholar and supervisor at
he was twenty-nine, a profound spiritual
transformation virtually dissolved his old identity and radically
changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to
understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation and marked
the beginning of an intense inward journey.
Tolle is not
aligned with any particular religion or spiritual tradition. He lives
in Vancouver, British Columbia.
To find out more, visit: eckharttolle.com
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Free podcasts of Oprah and Eckhart Tolle's A New
Earth Online Class are available at Oprah.com and Learn Out Loud
The class is a discussion of his book A New Earth:
Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.
available as an audio CD.
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