Eckard Tolle on Observation

Eckard Tolle presents us with multiple descriptions of the spiritual practice of disidentifying our being from the dictatorship of thinking.

There is a state of being where we are entirely identifying with what we think is going on inside and around us. We are one with the streams of thoughts that live in us.

Thinking happens in words, but it is actually also present in a state of not-thought out thoughts. That is, we are judging and interpretating situations into whole inner stories without thinking these stories out to the end.

These are “background stories” we tell ourselves, that can only come to full consciousness, when we spell out in words what the stories are.

There is another state of being that we can access, when we intently stop our habit of thinking and interpreting and turn our attention to the pure sensory input we receive. A simple example is meditation with focus on breathing. When we turn our attention to our breathing and try to concentrate on it, be strive to maintain our focus of attention on one possible point – breathing and some sensation that is connected to it.

We can follow the sensation of the flow of air we sense in our nose, as air flows in and out. We can focus our attention on the sensation in the chest, as the volume of air in our body changes and creates different kinds of feelings there. We can focus our attention on the diaphragm, as it moves in our lower belly with the breathing. As we focus there and try to maintain our focus there, inevitable and most likely after a very short while, we will be carried away by a thought that arises.

Our habit of thinking is very strong and so common, that we may take a while to notice that our attention has been recaptured into thinking and following an internal story that happens in our thoughts. While we are meditation, we may get a clue that reminds us of our intention to sit with our breathing sensations and we can come back to these sensations, gently saying to ourselves: “Come back.”

With experience we start to recognize faster that we have been recaptured by our thinking mind and come back faster to just sit with our body.

In this sense we have then become familiar with two different states of being.

One is just “being with” whatever is present in our sensory input. This is an awakened state of mind. It is called enlightenment. We can just observe our sensory input without judging, without even naming it.

There are different levels of difficulty, according to which sense we are focusing on in meditation. If we are simply trying to practice being there for all of our being, it is as if we are compassionate and aware with our whole being. That awareness is something that touches our deepest being, something that is utterly beyond any words, a pure being of innocence.

awareness without interpretation