There is a book I always seem to turn to when times are getting hard. It is my only saviour that manages to keep me from falling into the mist of insanity, for I know I am a susceptible character to its grasps. Just like many of us, sometimes our minds can be our own worst enemy. This book is always in my handbag, ready to be pulled out when thoughts take over.
Eckhart Tolle’s words transformed my thinking, to the point where I believe thinking is no longer essential. His main aim is to levitate the chains of the past and the future that obstruct you from being present, because after all, that is all that exists, the present moment. When you realise this, you gain inner peace.
The book is laid out in question-and-answer format, a collection of questions asked by individuals from seminars, meditation classes, and counselling sessions, which I believe is a successful way in understanding the nature of his words. As I read the book, his methods and knowledge seemed to evaporate any negative thought that was clouding my mind, even if I hadn’t yet grasped its meaning, peace overtook me immediately. Even the title of the first chapter impacted me, “You are not your mind” but that’s exactly what you think you are. You think the thoughts you possess are what contribute to your personality when really it is just a false projection of the ego, latching onto imaginary scenarios, trying survive through what Tolle calls ‘psychological time’. When really the only time we all have is right now.
There are many different chapters dedicated to the process of spiritual enlightenment. Each one digs deeper into the method needed to achieve this state. At first I found it quite difficult seeing as I was basically trying to break a habit of a life time, it was hard to know what to expect and if what he was describing was in fact what I was experiencing. However as I got further into the book each chapter I found myself nodding along and agreeing with what was being said.
I specifically took an interest in the ‘Enlightened Relationships’ chapter, as relationships are a central focus in our everyday lives. We are a species that has to react with many different characters on a daily basis and we currently live in an era where romantic relationships are a crucial contribution to what we believe makes up our happiness. This is why some of us put all our time and energies into this area rather than focusing on ourselves.
The eradication of the ego is an essential stage in gaining spiritual enlightenment as without the knowledge of how it operates, you are potentially letting it win. Many of us (me included) feel that the problems we experience are fundamental to our sense of self, ultimately prolonging the problems we have as we cannot bear the thought of letting go of something that aids who we are. When you realise the intention of the ego, its needs and what it thrives off, you can begin to free yourself from the very same chains.
Overall I believe this book has provided me with a new outlook on life. I cannot say that I live my life as extreme as the author, in a constant state of peace. Nor do I feel I want to, but reading his words has enabled me to take a step back from situations and watch them for what they are and not for what my mind perceives them to be; which is usually extreme and completely wrong!
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately… you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you.”