As part of The Chopra Center’s “Seduction of Spirit” retreat at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., on April 24, 2013, EckhartTolleTV hosted a live-streaming event called “A Conversation with Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle.”
Both authors discussed consciousness, the present moment, discovering silence and more to an audience of more than 1,400 locally in California, and thousands more over the Internet.
Eckhart Tolle took the stage first and asked everyone to join him in the present moment rather than be absorbed by their thinking, which by itself is a shift in consciousness, he explained. An easy way to enter the present moment is through sense perceptions – noticing whatever a person can see and hear at the moment. A huge amount of our attention is “continuously absorbed by thinking,” and much of what we think is not relevant to anything important, and is negative, said Tolle.
“Every thought has a seductive quality, and it wants to draw you in,” he said. “But if you follow each thought you are at the mercy of what is in your mind.”
Living this way, consciousness is actually being absorbed by the mind. All the things that make life worth living – beauty and joy – actually involve less thinking.
“For joy to come into your life – a moment of joy – you might not realize it, but at that moment there is a space that opens up inside you where you are not thinking,” Tolle explained. “To recognize beauty anywhere, the thinking mind needs to subside and a little bit of space opens up … you might not recognize it, but you are not thinking. If you are thinking, you are not really seeing it. To really see it, there has to be a moment of alert presence where thinking subsides.”
This moment or gap in thinking is the presence or consciousness that resides within us all. This is the space that does not judge another human being, and where we can feel empathy and compassion, said Tolle. However, many people are so trapped by their minds, they live in a “totally conceptualized universe where every human being they meet, they judge, and they take entire groups of humans and judge them – they dehumanize them – and this is how violence can happen,” he said.
Most people identify themselves based on images and thoughts in their mind, which have been taken from what they are told by others – their mother, father, siblings, environment and culture. They take this self-image on as their “story,” and it becomes the foundation for their sense of identity.
They often believe in order to feel better about themselves and their place in the world, they need to collect more possessions, or find the right relationship. They believe these things will bring them peace and happiness, but it is never enough.
“We are never satisfied for long and always things will go wrong,” Tolle said. You will never be satisfied for very long if you don’t know who you are and you try to enhance the mind-made sense of self.”
By identifying with the mind, we are only focusing on half of who we are – they physical and physiological form. “That is how most people live their lives, and they don’t know what they are missing,” Tolle told the audience.
While those who find themselves on a spiritual path understand there is a state of enlightenment, they often mistake it for something that needs to be reached or achieved. The truth is, this state, which Tolle called “the transcendent dimension” is who we really are and is always present. The reason people don’t recognize its presence is because they are tied up in the movement of thought and emotions in the mind.
‘Those things absorb your attention, and there is something very vital that you overlook, and that is something that without which you couldn’t even think. There would be no thought, and there would be no emotions. That something is presence – the formless presence of consciousness itself, which is always there if you stop thinking for three seconds,” Tolle explained.
While meditation helps us get there, we can be aware of this state at any moment. This is our other half known as inner presence, he said. Using the room where the event was taking place as an analogy, he compared the people and the furniture or chairs to the thoughts in our mind, and the space holding the people and furniture as the essence representing consciousness.
“Without the space, the room means nothing. It couldn’t even exist,” he said explaining the same is true within us. “There is a spaciousness within you that is continuously missed because you are so interested in the furniture in your head.”
Humanity is beginning to enter into an evolutionary shift where thinking is transcended, said Tolle. We are moving away from identifying ourselves as a thought-based entity and moving toward recognizing ourselves as presence-based entities.
“If you derive your sense of identity from the presence within you, and more and more you become comfortable with spaces of not thinking, you can walk from one building to another, or from the building to your car and just be in the state of alert presence. You see beauty everywhere, and you don’t need to label anything.”
One of the great spiritual practices is the practice of not labeling anything and not interpreting what we perceive. This can be done anywhere, said Tolle, recommending we try it the next time we find ourselves waiting at a checkout, traffic light or airport.
“Instead of waiting, invite the state of alertness in and realize there is nothing wrong with waiting. You either stand, sit or lie somewhere. Does it really matter where you stand, sit or lie?” he asked the audience. “You can use your waiting periods – instead of complaining – to just be present. Enter the field of presence that you are and at that moment you become a spiritual master.”
Who is Looking?
Following Tolle, Chopra took the stage and immediately picked up where he left off. “Right at this moment, as you are about to listen to me, just turn your attention to who is listening. You are looking at me. Turn your attention to who is looking. That is you. That has always existed,” he said to the audience.
That consciousness or “the one who is listening” has been with us all along, and is essentially timeless, he explained. “Time is just the movement of thought that creates a subject and object split. Transcendence is simply going beyond the subject object split – which is an artificial split, and the cause of every single problem that we know.”
Coming from the Vedanta tradition, known as Hindu philosophy, Chopra spoke of the five kleshas known as the cause of suffering. These are:
1. Not knowing who you are
2. The addiction and craving for permanence in a world that is inherently impermanent
3. The fear of impermanence
4.. Identifying with your self-image – all the labels, evaluations, judgments, ideas and concepts collected since birth – instead of your true self
5. The fear of death, which is also the fear of the unknown.
In the real world – the world of consciousness – there are not objects, said Chopra. Objects exist through perception. Another way of putting it is to say, “there are no nouns, only verbs,” he explained. “The universe is a verb. It’s an activity. It never stops.”
All suffering comes from nouns – or things – that don’t really exist, he told the audience. When looking at the five kleshas, or causes of suffering, all of them are contained in the first one – not knowing who we really are, which is essentially consciousness.
“You can’t find this presence by looking for it because it’s the one that is looking. You can’t find consciousness by looking for it because consciousness is the one that is looking,” Chopra explained.
Quoting Rumi, he said “who am I in the middle of all this though traffic.” He explained many of us identify with the traffic instead of the presence around it. We are always looking outside of ourselves for happiness – be it the right person, the right job, winning the lottery, perfect health – and all of this is thought.
“Before the thought arises you are already happy and after the though subsides you are exactly where you started from,” he noted. “Happiness or joy is the starting point, and it’s also the ending point.”
Chopra spoke about an acronym SIFT created by Dan Siegel, which stands for Sensation, Image, Feeling and Thought. These things occur within consciousness, but consciousness is always present with them.
“People ask where do I go when I die? Let me ask you a question,” he said to a person in the audience. “What did you have for lunch today?” The answer was a salad, and Chopra explained the memory came back to her through SIFT, an image, a feeling or a thought. “Where was that image before I asked you the question?”
He said traditional neuroscientists would say the image was in the brain, but they can’t answer where memory is stored at the cellular level. “Do you think if I went into your brain I could see that picture?” he asked the audience member. “So where do we go when we die? We go where the salad was before I asked you the question,” he joked. “We don’t go anywhere because we are there all the time.”
What we call the physical world – the one we experience with our five senses – is awareness within awareness, he said. If we could anchor ourselves in the “space” that Tolle spoke about prior, we can find a new and more joyful experience open to us.
“It’s your ticket to freedom,” said Chopra. “Why? Because it’s the you that never dies.”
Chopra shared an experience he had at a retreat in Thailand two years ago in a monastery. Everyone there shaved their heads and eyebrows, went begging for food and shared one meal a day. The remainder of the time was spent in silence and “observing impermanence.”
“It had a dramatic effect on all of us because it threw us into presence,” he told the audience. “When we were leaving, the senior Abbott left us with two things, and I want to leave you with them.”
1.There are no boundaries in the universe. Every boundary is conceptual. In reality there are no boundaries. We create them, just like we create longitude and latitude for convenience.
2. The present moment is the only moment that never ends. Situations and circumstances around the present moment will change, but the moment won’t change because it’s timeless. It’s transcendent. It’s eternal.
“The most important moment of your life is now. The most important person in your life is the one you are with now, and the most important activity in your life is the one you are involved with now,” said Chopra. “If you do that, the unknown will become known to you. The unknown is actually known only in the present moment. Death happens only in time. Only that which is born dies; that which is never born cannot die.”
Source: Elevated Existence Magazine