***image1***I blame everything on Eckhart Tolle, it is as simple as that. As I read the “Power of Now” about a year ago, some vague urging in me began to awaken and stir. The effect of that disturbance has grown, in increments, cycles and waves. It continues to be felt to this day. Much is changing. If I had not encountered him, perhaps I would still be working at AT&T.
It was a chance encounter but I was ready for it. I knew nothing about Eckhart or his book, which had been a gift to my wife. It lay there on the night stand unopened and I had a look. The things he was referring to were not unfamiliar…duality/non-duality, on having thoughts/ not being thoughts, the illusion of past and future. I had read about these things before. But this was quite different; there was something here way beyond the words.
Somehow, I got what he was pointing to, I could taste it. For the first time, out of choice, I could observe the difference between myself and my thoughts. Being in the present was no longer merely conceptual; it began to be an accessible experience. I could sense how the past and future were mind-created fictions. Sometimes I could see through the illusion, as if a fog were actually clearing from my field of vision and the world itself was revealed anew, the same place but fresh, beautiful and more vibrant. To be sure, I was still beset by my personal contradictions and shortcomings, but a window had opened, there was something new in the air.
Upon finishing the book, I immediately reread it. More of it made sense, now on a deeper level. I could not articulate what was opening up but it felt right. Whatever Eckhart had, I wanted some of that too. I believe his teaching is compelling to me and others not just because of the clarity and depth of his communication but because he embodies the message.
***image2***Whatever the stuff is, the knowledge, he transmits it. When you hear him speak, it is often the moments of silence and stillness that are the most profound. Reading him for the first time and listening to him talk is simply unlike listening to anyone else. Yes, there is a great power and wisdom conveyed with subtlety (and disarming humor). But most importantly, there is the place from which the words spring; that place which is known and we can point to but only clumsily define in words, as I am trying to do here.
So, I read the book yet again. By this time, a group of us who were drawn to his teaching began to meet regularly. This was the beginning of an important unfolding process. These meetings helped to ground me in this new place and to keep the window open, indeed to open it wider.
I also began to acquire the ability to express what I was feeling. The meetings themselves were often extraordinary. After watching a 90 minute video of Eckhart, we would meditate and then talk together. By the end of an evening, during the discussion, we often felt so connected to each other because of Eckhart’s teaching that in our sharing, a new thing spontaneously began to happen; people would allow stillness to emerge. What I mean is that a comment would not necessarily be followed by a response, sometimes there was no compulsion to speak at all and, for intervals, people could rest comfortably together in silence. This was something different than I had ever encountered and it was rich, intimate and nourishing.
As the circle grew, it was a revelation to realize the number of people who were being nurtured by what Eckhart had to say. Further, through that circle, the entire realm of spiritual pursuits began to open up to me. People came to the meetings with a wide variety of spiritual interests, experiences, teachers and practices and I began to see how all things are parts of the whole, how all roads lead to the center within.
I realized what a rich subculture existed all around me and began to explore. As I sampled physics, metaphysics, myth, psychology and spirituality, so much now made sense. Great thinkers and writers were often referring to the same thing, that thing-that how do you express the inexpressible- the Unmanifest, the Ground of Being, the Implicate Order, and at some point their thinking dovetailed into a unity of understanding. I met many new people and babbled to all, as I still do. I did not necessarily know where I was going but it felt good so I kept moving forward.
One of the practical challenges I was facing was in my work. I was at AT&T selling network services to businesses. I had been struggling for a long time with the need to change but I was scared. Reading “The Power of Now” simply accelerated and concentrated my process. It became increasing clear that my occupation and my preoccupations were pulling me in quite different directions.
***image3***I wanted to do work that was in essence, truthful, that expressed something of the inner life I was experiencing. As I as learned to listen and trust my inner promptings, I came to realize that I could find work that was aligned with who I was, that it would take commitment to uncover the precise nature of that work and that it would take courage to follow these deep instincts toward change. It was a great relief when all this grew to critical mass. I had to go forward, I couldn’t stay; I assumed the risk and left the safe harbor of my job. At that point, I only knew in which quadrant of the compass I was sailing. I did not know where I would make land.
And that is the journey I am now on. As I “go confidently forward in the direction of my dreams” my horizons broaden and my understanding grows. I continue to be excited by the vision of wholeness and integration I experience-everything connects. I am better able to create the life I love, that is to create it as it is, and I am on the way to creating the work I love.
Coaches, teachers and guides, who previously I would have overlooked, enter the field of possibilities and provide valuable assistance. I have increased my ability to trust and listen and have been rewarded with tangible results. This unfolding process is self-renewing and provides me with great knowledge and insight. Most importantly, it has brought me to my teacher, the one who was stirred by Eckhart Tolle’s message. That teacher is myself.
Tim Shea is a facilitator for an Eckhart Tolle group in New York City. He arranges group sessions and has access to much of Tolle’s works and materials to be shared with those interested. Tim Shea can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on Eckhart Tolle and his work, please visit www.eckharttolle.com