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My Four Days With Eckhart Tolle

I was first introduced to Eckhart Tolle‘s teachings many years ago, while wandering through a bookstore on Michigan Ave. in Chicago. His book called to me, as books often do. Eckhart TolleStanding by itself on an empty display table across the crowded store was a lone copy of A New Earth. I had no idea who the author was, or what the book was about, but I was magnetically drawn to it. I said to my husband, “There’s something in this book I need to read.”

It didn’t take me long to figure out what it was. Eckhart Tolle’s message is simple in theory: All power resides in the present moment because it is the only moment that exists. The state of your consciousness determines your reality; simply put… Your inner determines the outer. There is a transformation happening in human consciousness and Tolle’s teachings support us in shifting from an ego-based state of consciousness toward an awakening of self-remembrance of our essence.

So now, I am at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and Tolle, best-selling author of The Power of Now and guest on Oprah’s Soul Series, is speaking to 600 people for four days about what it means to in the present moment.

“You are the universe, you aren’t in the universe,” he says quietly. His ingenious ability to communicate his own experience of a radical inner transformation as well as his teachings is both inspiring and insightful. He exudes a childlike delight while speaking about the shenanigans of the mind. There is light-heartedness in his manner, his humor evident while he explains: Our negative thoughts are harmful to our well-being, and can become like a living entity within us. He refers to them as “gremlins,” not the cute, fuzzy ones like Gizmo, but the scary gremlins after they get wet.

The gremlins — our negative self-talk — want to keep our attention focused on our so-called problems, to keep us in a state of continually trying to fix them or ourselves. One of my favorite Eckhart-isms is, “You are not a problem that needs solving.”

Be here now. Sounds easy, right? And yet, it is putting the theory into practice that presents the challenge. Our culture is wired to keep us on the horizontal dimension of the past and future. Tolle points out: So much of the time, we are projecting ourselves into the past or the future. We are either looking into the future for the promise of fulfillment, or dreading what may or may not happen. In the reverse we are peering over our shoulder at the past, either regretting what happened or longing for our glory days. Regardless of whether we are thinking about the past or the future, we are losing our power to a non-existent phantom. All power resides in the now.

He speaks about how the mind is always looking for what’s next, thereby reducing the present moment into a means to an end, with every moment serving the next moment. Our mind tells us something is wrong or missing in our lives, or we are not enough, this moment is not enough. As a result, these constant voices in our heads keep us running from this to that…on a search for an illusory sense of fulfillment and happiness. It’s the “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome. But, “when” never comes.

During a question-and answer-session, a man asks Tolle about attaining goals in relation to being in the present moment. His answer resonates throughout the audience. He says it’s fine to have goals but realize that you will not be any happier when you achieve your goal than you are in this moment. The circumstances of our lives are constantly changing, and if we depend on our external circumstances to give us inner peace, joy and love, we will be prisoners to the situations, people and things that come in and out of our lives. Trying to control our external world is both, exhausting and futile.

At the end of my four days I am filled with immense gratitude for the gift of being in the presence of Eckhart Tolle and in the energy of the participants here — and for that bright, white, “ah-ha” moment when I hear these words: “Accept each moment as if you had chosen it. Surrender to what is, instead of wishing it were different or fighting the moment.” I think about the times when I perceived a situation as unacceptable, and uselessly resisted the moment. I realize now, that’s how I create my own suffering, by refusing to accept what is.


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