Eckhart and his dog Maya - from http://www.jdlejeune.com/wp/category/eckhart-tolle/

Eckhart Tolle ended each of the two live sessions I attended this weekend by ringing Tibetan Tingsha bells.  He described the moment where the sound dissolves into silence as “delicious.”  After the sound is gone, what remains is attention, awareness, presence.  The bells are a fitting metaphor for the center of all his teaching: to dissolve with attention into the present moment – the “isness” of life.

It will take me a few posts to do justice to the experience of being with Eckhart live, and even then it will probably just scratch the surface.  Not the least of that experience was the opportunity to ask Eckhart a direct question (and get an answer) and hearing a story about a young woman who, when faced with the most extreme form of physical suffering and abuse imaginable, transmuted that suffering into gratitude and grace.

But first, let’s begin with what I hinted at in this week’s Gratitude Sunday post: that being with Eckhart in person is even more powerful than reading the books, listening to the CDs or watching the DVDs, even though all of those had already had a profound impact on me.  The best way to describe it is with an analogy.

You cannot learn to ride a bike intellectually.  You can only learn to ride a bike by riding a bike.  You can listen to someone explain the mechanics or demonstrate how to ride.  You can allow someone to help you balance by holding the seat steady or giving you a quick push to get the momentum going.  Ultimately though, you must let go of the guidance and pedal the bike.  Eventually, you gain balance, you ride, and what is necessary to ride a bike is imprinted in your muscles and your brain.  After you learn, you no longer think about riding – you just ride.  The effort and the strain is left behind.

Being in a room with Eckhart is like being swaddled in warm, downy blankets.  A sense of peace pervades everything.  In this environment, I experienced my first moment of true stillness – that is, alert presence without thought.  Eckhart stopped lecturing and asked us for stillness.  To be conscious, but also alert.  To have awareness without thought.  To just be.  We held stillness and silence for several minutes.  My own moment lasted only a second.  Maybe even less than that before thought came back in.  But boy did that moment glisten.  Only now do I truly understand the peace that comes from presence without thought.  I understand because I have lived it; I have felt it.  I know not through the mind, but through the experience.  Now if I am ever blessed with another one of those moments in my life, I will recognize it by feel.

For me, that was the big difference between reading the words and being in his presence.  Others might find their way there through the written words.  Maybe I would have too eventually, but sitting in that room surely expedited the experience for me.  I know that I may never achieve that kind of peace again, but I am exceedingly grateful to have had that single moment.

Another benefit of attending a live event with Eckhart is to witness his funny side.  In fact, he is very witty and extremely playful.  I expected someone much more serious based upon his books.  I’ll leave you with this:

Airline ticket to Vancouver: 25,000 Mileage Plus Points

Hotel for 2 nights in Vancouver: 15,000 Starwood Rewards Points

Taxi from hotel to lecture venue: $20

Cost of pre-lecture lunch: $12

Listening to Eckhart Tolle sing, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”: PRICELESS

More to come as the week progresses…

Categories: Spirituality, Travel · Tags: , , , ,

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3 Comments

  1. Oh that must have been amazing! I’m so glad you’re blogging about the experience. Loved the bike analogy, too.

  2. I loved Eckhart Tolle’s books. They really made a profound impact on me. What a treat to see him live!

  3. I’m so glad you guys are enjoying the Eckhart posts. There will be a couple more coming, including what happened when I got to ask him a direct question!

    Then I’ll be able to start blogging more about writing again. It’s taken a back seat to summer but now that the kids are back in school, I’ve fired up that burner again.

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