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Eckhart Tolle: Living a Life of Presence Conference

Huntington Beach, CA 11/8/18, First talk given by Eckhart Tolle:

Disclaimer: These are the notes I typed up right after hearing the talk and before I could forget the content. I have not had time to re-read or edit these notes, however, I feel an urgency to publish them in the blog – probably because I fear that I will never have the time to polish them in the future. Although the notes are a rough draft, they contain the messages which I believe are important to pass on.

There is a duality of the “self” or the “I.” The first ‘self’ is the one that we identify with conceptually and within our thought process. The other ‘self’, which Tolle refers to as the Self with the capital S, is the part that has transcended thought and has become aware of the deeper Self.

Think of this analogy used by Tolle.

There is a ripple on the surface of the ocean. This ripple becomes aware that it exists on the surface of the water, but only understand the surface. It understand that there are other ripples on the surface of the water as well. The ripple only knows what it is; a small ripple. It begins to become unsatisfied with it’s minuscule existence and wonders why it’s there. It begins to compete with the other surface ripples for space, or form, or other attributes. It may become more than a ripple, and even form into a gigantic wave, but it is still only aware of the surface. It may be satisfied for a moment that it is a gigantic wave, but then it begins to compete with other gigantic waves in the same way it had competed with the ripples before, and may even have ‘bigger’ problems than it had before when it was just a small ripple. It also knows, that ultimately, regardless of its shape or size or position, it only exists for a short amount of time and it will soon cease to exist. This is not a very fulfilling or satisfying existence, and the ripple may even become depressed or anxious.

Something happens, and either through a self-transformation, or through the influence of another ripple, our Ripple becomes aware of the depth and the vastness of the ocean. The horizontal, two dimensional existence transcends into a three dimensional one which involves the horizontal surface of the ocean as well as the vertical depth of the ocean. The ripple becomes Aware that it is a part of something much more vast and deep than it initially thought it was. The ripple is a small and temporary manifestation of the vast and boundless ocean that it is a part of.

A human being is like this Ripple. The horizontal, surface being the what Tolle calls the historical person. The person who has a past, knows what he looks like, what he likes and dislikes, etc. This history, through the person’s ability to think and conceive, has allowed the person to conceive an identity for himself. The Ego identifies with this conceptual self. This is the surface “I” or the ‘self’ with the small s. The other part of this person, the Self, is then the part that is a manifestation of the much larger Collective Consciousness. This Self is aware of its essence as being a part of something much more deep and vast that that of the small self. While the self is bogged down with every day problems that are involved with the ego, the Self has the ability to surrender to what is, to become aware of his essence, and to transcend into the higher dimension of being. In short, the ‘self’ is the person, while the ‘Self’ is the Being.

The ego, which identifies with the conceptual ‘self’ formed by thought, is the source of much wrongdoing and suffering in the world; both on a personal level, and a societal level.

On a personal level, the ego identifies itself by separating itself from the others. It looks for differences between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ people in an attempt to strengthen its own identity and its concept of itself. In doing so, the ego fails to recognize that the essence of the Self and the essence of the Other are both the same, and instead focuses on how to be ‘better’ than the other person. This brings on anger and hate, as the ego seeks to establish superiority to others in an attempt to inflate itself. This process becomes addictive for the ego, as the sense of satisfaction that comes with superiority is minimal and transient, so the ego continues to seek more ways to establish superiority. It’s similar to the ripple that became a gigantic wave, only to find that it still remained unfulfilled and problematic. Thought is the tool for the ego to continue this addictive process of comparison, competition, anger, and hatred. Without thought, ego would not be able to accomplish these tasks. On a societal level, the ego encourages us to join groups that are like us, and to fight groups that perceived to be different or ‘other’ than use.

This is how the formation of thought in humans is both a gift as well as a problem. Think of a dog, for example. As the dog has not reached the evolution of thought, and is unable to conceive itself, it does not have an ego. As a result, a dog is not self-conscious or engaged in self-hate. It does not have self-image issues and does not agonize over aging, and the loss of abilities that are inevitable with the process of aging. The dog is happy to just exist. Humans on the other hand, have developed the conceptual self that struggles with self-identity and engages in the ego.

Once a human can quiet the thought, and transcend beyond the ego self, then he can begin to recognize his own essence and that of the ‘other.’ In this state, the person can still continue to have differing thoughts with the other person, but can connect with him on a much deeper level of being. In this state of Being, the Self can surrender to the present moment and to what is, and to take suffering and problems as a manifestation of what is, and to not lose touch with the deeper essence of himself.

Suffering, although difficult to live through, can in itself be a catalyst to transcendence to a higher self. Through suffering, the thought may become exhausted and the ego silenced for long enough to allow the deeper Self, or the essence of Being to surface. Life without suffering is impossible. Just because there is suffering in our lives, however, it does not mean that life is problematic. If we can become aware of the fact that our existence in the current form is a manifestation of a much higher consciousness, then suffering, and even death, can be experienced differently. We realize that we are a temporary manifestation of a repeated consciousness that continues to manifest in countless forms.

Think about the Cross in Christianity. The Cross was an instrument of torture and death; of ultimate suffering. Yet, the Cross was also an instrument of transcendence to a higher level of Being, and has become a powerful symbol of connecting with the divine essence. The Cross also symbolizes the horizontal, surface space (the Ripple) in conjunction with the vertical, deeper space (the Ocean).

Our ultimate goal, is to become aware of the self and the Self, and to integrate both into a single Being manifested in our present life form. To do so, we need to learn to be still, to silence the thought, and to learn to let go of the dysfunctional and problematic ego, and to surrender to the present moment. Practice stillness and presence in everything you do.

Sayeh Beheshti, M.D.