posted by Mark Scorelle to Wisdom-l
Join Eckhart Tolle for The
Power of Now and Awakening to Your Life's Purpose,
an evening to celebrate Common Ground's 25th
Anniversary. November 30, Vancouver Convention
& Exhibition Centre, 999 Canada Place.
Tickets available starting September 10 through
Tickets Tonight, www.ticketstonight.ca,
Touristinfo Centre, Plaza Level, 200 Burrard
Street or call 604-684-2787.
Joseph Roberts: Can you speak
about the challenges of finding balance in our
increasingly complex lives?
Eckhart Tolle: As I call it,
inner and outer purpose has merged. There are
many people very much into spiritual growth who
are still working in the business world and
trying to come to some arrangement in the
ego-dominated world, while at the same time
keeping alive the awakening process. That's very,
very hard to balance being involved in the
ego world and keeping alive the inner process of
To some extent, ego is still a challenge for
everybody. Of course we all have egos. But, at
least, the overall structure of what, say, people
like you do, is not to do with making money but
to explore different aspects of the awakening
JR: I haven't looked at it quite
that way. I just kind of do what I do.
ET: As I said in The Power of
Now, the word "work" is going to
disappear. Of course, then the words
"holiday" and "vacation" will
disappear, or "leisure" all this
dividing your life into segments between what you
enjoy and don't enjoy will disappear.
JR: I remember reading your
chapter on the pain body, which really jumped out
at me as such a fresh concept, in such an alive
way, that I was taken somewhere. Thank you for
opening that portal.
ET: Yes, that has been helpful
to many people, the awareness of the pain body.
JR: How do you speak about that
concept now? Has your perception changed at all?
ET: It's basically the same, but
over the years through giving talks and teaching
I've gained different perspectives on it. Some of
that is in the new book, A New Earth: Awakening
to Your Life's Purpose, where I also expand on
the concept. It's a continuous learning process,
fascinating. One is always surprised at how many
disguises the pain body and the ego have. You
never stop learning about it. Although the main
thing is to be aware of its existence within
oneself. If you're not aware of that, you cannot
be the witness when it arises, which means it
takes you over. So the main thing about the whole
pain body phenomenon is the state of awareness
that is there when it comes so you can remain as
a conscious observer.
The pain body is then no longer a huge problem
because it no longer possesses you. It only
possesses you when you're not aware of it and
when it doesn't possess you any more, it cannot
feed any more on the drama of life circumstances
or relationships. It's unlikely that one is
immediately free of it, but the main thing is
that you don't get taken over by it, that you
don't lose yourself in it completely. Then its
energy gradually diminishes. That can take some
JR: Is there an emergence or
is it more that the distractions evaporate? How
would you describe it? In your new book, I feel
like you're the modern equivalent of the
explorers that came to the new world, but an
explorer and documenter of consciousness,
discovering a new world.
ET: Yes, discovering is the
right word. It's not that you need to make a
great effort to attain it or bring it about or
acquire it. It's discovering it's already there
in you conscious awareness that's
obscured, or partially obscured, in many people.
It's a discovery of something already there.
It's like waking up after a dream, because
identification with the thinking mind and its
stories and the old emotional conditioning is
like being immersed in a kind of dream world,
which very often turns into a nightmare
acting out old conditioned patterns again and
again. The whole structure of the egoic mind is
an old dysfunction.
There's some evidence that the ego started about
6,000 years ago, but nobody can say for sure.
Before that, humans were in a state of innocence.
When we go beyond the dysfunction of the ego, we
regain our original innocence, but on a much
deeper level. This is why Jesus said unless we
become as little children we cannot enter the
kingdom of heaven.
So, returning to the original innocence, and at
the same time going much deeper into that with
full awareness that's the process. We're
coming out of thousands of years of dreadful
suffering, almost the whole of recorded history
of humanity. If you really look at it in an
unbiased way, as if you'd never seen it before,
one cannot but admit that, to a large extent, 80
to 90 percent of it is a history of pathological
insanity, the suffering that humans have created
for themselves and, of course, inflicting it upon
JR: And exporting it through
colonization to the new world.
ET: Yes, so the important part
of the awakening process is the realization of
the insanity in human history, collectively, to
this day playing itself out in world events.
Also, to be aware of the insanity within oneself
old, dysfunctional patterns that come
again and again that create suffering. So when
you see that you're insane, then you're not
completely insane. Sanity comes the moment you
realize the fact of insanity. To see insanity is
not a negative thing.
JR: At least you're out of
ET: Yes, that's why in the film
A Beautiful Mind, for example, which is about a
mathematical genius who did have a mental
dysfunction, his mind was developed in certain
areas but he was also insane. The viewer of the
film doesn't know that until a certain point when
the character realizes that many of his
experiences are delusions. At that moment, his
healing begins. He's not cured yet, but his
healing begins because he's recognized his own
insanity. That recognition can only come out of
sanity, which is the awareness of unconditioned
JR: I remember you saying before
you published your last book that the next one
would be about why there isn't peace on this
planet. Was finding a solution one of the major
intentions of A New Earth?
ET: Yes, to see the nature of
the major dysfunction. That's why I talk quite a
bit about the ego in this book. We need to
recognize the nature of the dysfunction.
Sometimes, even very great Eastern teachers
sometimes neglect that part because they're not
really touched by the magnitude of, especially,
the Western ego. So it's very important for us to
see the dysfunction so that we can recognize it
when it arises.
Part of the new book is about recognizing the
ego, which I regard as a semi-autonomous energy.
It's an energy field. Every thought you think is
an energy field. It has a form and then it
dissolves and then there is another form. The ego
itself is an energy field and it has a collective
and individual aspect. Every individual ego is
part of the collective. They're connected. Every
individual is a manifestation of the collective.
To recognize that is essential because the ego,
being a very clever entity, has many ways of
reappearing. Even if you've seen it in one
disguise, it can suddenly reappear in a new one.
You might suddenly realize your whole sense of
self, identity, is being derived from your
possessions and social position. You see that
your whole sense of identity is bound up with
that and you recognize one aspect of ego. Well,
usually it only comes to people when they suffer,
when the identification with something no longer
works. So, if someone loses their possessions,
they suffer enormously because they are losing
part of their identity. Sometimes, they suddenly
wake up to that false sense of self and decide
they don't want any of those possessions anymore,
or that job, or whatever, and they'll go to a
monastery or somewhere where they can renounce.
Fine, they do that and then we see how clever the
ego is. The ego has disappeared in that disguise.
So let's say the person has become a Buddhist
monk, but, without realizing it, they're now
identified with a mental image of themselves as
someone who's risen above their old identity, now
defining themselves as a spiritually evolved
being. He has exchanged one identity for another
with a mental image of who he is now. The ego
always works by comparing itself in a subtle way
to others. Before, you had to be superior because
of one thing; then you become superior because of
something else. Suddenly a new set of
identifications and it's so subtle; sometimes
these spiritual egos can be much more subtle than
the gross material-based egos. It's still there.
It's recognizing the ego in its many disguises.
I've met Buddhist monks who had enormous egos
without knowing it. I remember being in a
monastery afraid to approach them because they
seemed so aloof. Yet I've met other Buddhist
monks who were like little children and it was a
joy to talk to them because they'd laugh and not
take themselves seriously at all. They didn't
take the whole Buddhist thing seriously either,
yet they practised it knowing it was only a form
and they weren't identified with it.
Of course, I'm not saying everybody who becomes a
monk has ego, but the potential for ego is there
in any situation. A cyclist might have a bigger
ego than the man in the SUV, especially if he
hates the man in the SUV for polluting the planet
and thinks he's superior. If the ego cannot be
superior in any field, it will happily identify
with the image of the victim, which can give you
a very strong ego too. An equally strong ego is
someone who thinks of themselves as inferior or
badly treated by life, because, again, you have a
mental image and a story that you identify with.
It always comes down to identification with
forms, one thought form or another. So you miss
the one thing that really matters in life, which
is that there is a dimension in you beyond form.
Another way of putting it is the content in your
life. Everything is content: your job, your
nationality, your religion, your politics, your
likes and dislikes. Your whole story the
story of "Me" is content. All
the thoughts in my head are content, because it
is form. Some forms stay for years, others a few
seconds. Content draws you in. For some people,
it may be mostly material things; the whole
attention might be focused on things.
There's a dimension in us that has nothing to do
with content. Self-realization is that I am not
that. I'm not my story, not my grievances and
hang-ups, not the story of me that I'm telling
other people at parties or repeating in my head
again and again. That is only form. It's
When you see what you're not, it's already
liberating. Something inside you breathes a sigh
of relief. Then, of course, the mind begins to
ask, "What are you if you are not
that?" It wants an answer. In other words,
it wants some new form. It wants a new thought.
There must be a thought that I am. But it doesn't
work like that. That's why the great book the Tao
Te Ching starts with the line that the Tao that
can be spoken of is not the true Tao because Tao
in the ancient Chinese way of putting it
is the formless dimension. You could say
pure consciousness, but with any term we use we
have to be careful it's not mistaken for
"It." Otherwise, the mind comes in and
says, "Oh, consciousness, yes. I believe
that I'm consciousness." It's not another
belief. It's finding that spaciousness inside
yourself that's there when you let go of
identification of form.
The dimension of pure consciousness is what I
sometimes call "space consciousness,"
as opposed to "object consciousness,"
which consumes most people's attention 100
percent. One damn thing after another is what
human history is. But that's also the human mind
for many people; one problem after another, one
thing after another to occupy the attention.
Always something. Almost as if the world were
conspiring to keep me away from what truly
matters - finding myself beyond form, beyond
The Power of Now got written to say the quickest
way to enter space consciousness is the present
moment and living in alignment with the present
moment rather than against it, and that's the end
of the ego. The ego cannot tolerate the present
moment. It cannot survive when you're conscious
of, and accepting, being one with the present
moment. If you're in a state of oneness with what
is, rather than running away from it or trying to
deny it or fighting it, that's already the end of
the ego. Suddenly, inner spaciousness opens up in
which no thought is required at this moment to
judge, rather than accept, this moment.
The whole compulsion to think continuously has to
do with denial of the present moment and this
addiction to mostly useless, repetitive and
distracting thinking that humans are suffering
from. It is really intimately connected with the
continuous denial of the present moment. You're
always thinking about something else. Even if
you're thinking about the present moment, you'd
be interpreting it in terms of the past, which is
still a denial of the present.
The question is can you be in a state of
openness towards what is right now, without
imposing a mental interpretation on it, without
denying or running away from it or making the
present moment into a means to an end. The ego
mind says, "I need to get to the next
moment. This was just a stepping stone, but once
I get there I'll be okay" because the mind
is future oriented.
The simple thing is becoming one with the present
moment by no longer resisting it and by being
open to what is. Any moment starts with this
moment. There is no other. Not imposing an
interpretation on what is, letting it be.
Approaching it in a state of alert, open
attention. Whatever it is that the present moment
contains, you approach it in that state of alert
Then the greater intelligence comes into your
life immediately because you're no longer
operating from the conditioned mind. When you
open yourself up to the present moment, you also
open yourself up to the unconditioned, the far
deeper consciousness, the true intelligence. When
that comes into your life, it deals with anything
that needs to be done in this present moment. The
response comes from that deeper level of
intelligence, whatever you're doing.
That is where you bring in true intelligence.
Krishnamurti called it the awakening of
intelligence, which was also the title of one of
his books. True intelligence has nothing to do
with acquired knowledge or the ability to solve
little puzzles, like IQ tests. That's a tiny
ability, a small aspect of intelligence. I'm
sorry if I'm offending anybody whose identity is
from Mensa, but true intelligence is not that.
It's not accumulating masses of facts and then
calling yourself knowledgeable and deriving your
identity from that because you're superior in
True intelligence is not to be cunning and clever
in your business dealings. Ultimately, that's
self-defeating because you're not taking into
account the whole. You're taking into account
only self-interest. True intelligence is not to
protect your country at the expense of other
countries, because you're taking a fragment out
of the whole and neglecting the rest. It might be
clever, but it's not intelligence and cleverness
always lets you down. It's not an enlightened way
to deal with things.
So George W. Bush is clever but stupid at the
same time. Another term I have for that is
"stupid intelligence." Now with him,
you can actually see it's stupid, but for all
those people making mistakes let's say in
the current American administration, and I'm only
mentioning that because when people are in such
positions of power their mistakes have huge
repercussions, whereas a person with an ordinary
job has relatively small repercussions with
similar mistakes you don't see this
magnified version of what the ego is capable of,
whereas if you take Hitler or Stalin, you see
what the madness of the ego is capable of.
All these people have been to universities. They
have degrees. They have high degrees from good
universities. So, yes, they've developed mind
some more than others but you can
see how limited that is, completely lacking in
wisdom. It is cleverness completely devoid of any
wisdom, so cleverness is also of the ego.
"What is my advantage?" is always the
question. That is so limited, it always leads to
suffering. First you create suffering for others
and then it comes to you, always. That's the
Wisdom can only arise from the unconditioned
dimension of consciousness and you don't have to
make an enormous effort to bring that about. At
some point in the future, in some remote state,
as some Buddhists believe, "I need another
10 incarnations and then I'll be
enlightened." Some teachers might even tell
you, "You'll be enlightened in only a few
more incarnations, just wait."
There's no time to wait. There's no need to wait.
Time cannot get you to the timeless state of
consciousness, so if you're looking to the future
that sometime you'll be in that state, no you
won't. You can simply be in that state now simply
by no longer living in antagonism with the
The only difference between you and the
enlightened master is that the master lives in a
state of oneness with the present moment, in
complete inner "Yes." Nothing else. He
might be much less knowledgeable than you; he
probably is. Buddha and Jesus had much less
information than a person has today because
humans didn't know that much at the time, but it
didn't matter. Information is not what it's
The realization is that the transformation of
consciousness does not require time. Many people
get angry when I say that because they've
invested so much of themselves in a self-image as
a spiritual seeker who is going to get there one
day. They're so invested as seekers that, of
course, they can't be finders. They're seekers
and they're interested in the future more than
the present, and that's the old pattern appearing
in the new disguise the old, egoic
The new dimension of consciousness, new in the
sense that it's relatively new on this planet, is
already there. It simply requires you to be open
towards the present moment. That is the new
heaven: that the new state of consciousness is
there. I explain in A New Earth a few things
about object consciousness and space
consciousness and how to enter. But, basically,
it's so simple even a child could understand it.