“I certainly do not think. Hence, I hear the words that come out of my mouth at the same time as you hear them. This means that there is nobody teaching anybody here.”
This is what Eckhart Tolle says to his audience in one of his retreats. It is funny when you hear it the first time. Here is a great spiritual teacher, and he is saying, ‘I have no idea what is going to come out of my mouth.’
Isn’t that scary? Imagine going to a meeting and not being prepared – the agony of not knowing what you are going to say next. How will you prove you are smart unless you can give a more intelligent answer or retort in a conversation.
Eckhart’s answer to this is – If he is still, and indeed present then a better quality answer will arise. He has a strong belief that words will arise when he needs. Most importantly, he is not uncomfortable with silence. What does he mean by being present?
We have two modes of operation – a) thinker and b) observer. For most of us, we are so engrossed in the thinker that we never observe. And if you are always in that mode then you are not truly present to what you are hearing/seeing/feeling – hence it will be a reaction and a lower quality one.
But if you are in the observing mode of operation, then you are in tune with the reality as it is. You hear the words, listen to the sounds, see without any interpretation or labels. As an observer, you are positioned to take the right action if any is needed, and it will be of a higher quality.
How will this play out in real life?
- You are with a group of friends talking about guys. Your friend comments that the guy likes X person. You also like the same guy.
- THINKER: Man! I knew it, X is annoying why cannot she keep away that guy. She is much prettier and thinner – I stand no chance.
- OBSERVER: She said, ‘Guy likes X.’
- You are talking to somebody at the office. She is going on and on about how exciting her new role is. She just got a promotion, is expanding her team by 50%. She got a full-time admin.
- THINKER: She is so lucky! Nothing ever works out for me. Why don’t I get promoted? Maybe I am not good enough. Will I ever succeed in life?
- OBSERVER: She is telling me she has got a promotion, is expanding her team.
NOTE: As a thinker, you can think positive thoughts as well, but regardless you are creating a story in your head.
Can you see how as a thinker, your actions will be driven by baseless (unreal) thoughts or stories? And as an observer, there is no need to do anything – listen to the words and let them pass.
This practice is not easy because if we identify with the observer, thinker feels threatened, and he comes up with ‘Important’ thoughts.
REMEMBER: Nothing matters absolutely – all thoughts are a bunch of letters put together. They arise and always pass away.