Beauty Arises in the Stillness of Your Presence
Excerpt from Practising The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Presence is needed to become aware of the beauty, the majesty, the sacredness of nature. Have you ever gazed up into the infinity of space on a clear night, awestruck by the absolute stillness and inconceivable vastness of it? Have you listened, truly listened, to the sound of a mountain stream in the forest? Or to the song of a blackbird at dusk on a quiet summer evening?
To become aware of such things, the mind needs to be still. You have to put down for a moment your personal baggage of problems, of past and future, as well as all your knowledge; otherwise, you will see but not see, hear but not hear. Your total presence is required.
BEYOND THE BEAUTY OF EXTERNAL FORMS, there is more here: something that cannot be named, something ineffable, some deep, inner, holy essence. Whenever and wherever there is beauty, this inner essence shines through somehow. It only reveals itself to you when you are present.
Could it be that this nameless essence and your presence are one and the same?
Would it be there without your presence?
Go deeply into it. Find out for yourself
REALISING PURE CONSCIOUSNESS
Whenever you watch the mind, you withdraw consciousness from mind forms, which then becomes what we call the watcher or the witness. Consequently, the, watcher -- pure consciousness beyond form -- becomes stronger, and the mental formations become weaker.
When we talk about watching the mind, we are personalising an event that is truly of cosmic significance: Through you, consciousness is awakening out of its dream of identification with form and withdrawing from form. This foreshadows, but is already part of, an event that is probably still in the distant future as far as chronological time is concerned. The event is called -- the end of the world.
TO STAY PRESENT IN EVERYDAY LIFE, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself; otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river.
It means to inhabit your body fully. To always have some of your attention in the inner energy field of your body. To feel the body from within, so to speak. Body awareness keeps you present. It anchors you in the Now.
The body that you can see and touch cannot take you into Being. But that visible and tangible body is only an outer shell, or rather a limited and distorted perception of a deeper reality. In your natural state of connectedness with Being, this deeper reality can be felt every moment as the invisible inner body, the animating presence within you. So to "inhabit the body' is to feel the body from within, to feel the life inside the body and thereby come to know that you are beyond the outer form.
You are cut off from Being as long as your mind takes up all your attention. When this happens -- and it happens continuously for most people - you are not in your body. The mind absorbs all your consciousness and transforms it into mind stuff. You cannot stop thinking.
To become conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey. It will free vast amounts of consciousness that previously had been trapped in useless and compulsive thinking. A very effective way of doing this is simply to take the focus of your attention away from thinking and direct it into the body, where Being can be felt in the first instance as the invisible energy field that gives life to what you perceive as the physical body.
CONNECTING WITH THE INNER BODY
Please try it now. You may find it helpful to close your eyes for this practice. Later on, when "being in the body" has become natural and easy, this will no longer be necessary.
DIRECT YOUR ATTENTION INTO THE BODY. Feel it from within. Is it alive? Is there life in your hands, arms, legs, and feet -- in your abdomen, your chest?
Can you feel the subtle energy field that pervades the entire body and gives vibrant life to every organ and every cell? Can you feel it simultaneously in all parts of the body as a single field of energy?
Keep focusing on the feeling of your inner body for a few moments. Do not start to think about it. Feel it.
The more attention you give it, the clearer and stronger this feeling will become. It will feel as if every cell is becoming more alive, and if you have a strong visual sense, you may get an image of your body becoming luminous. Although such an image can help you temporarily, pay more attention to the feeling than to any image that may arise. An image, no matter how beautiful or powerful, is already defined in form, so there is less scope for penetrating more deeply.
GOING DEEPLY INTO THE BODY
To go even more deeply into the body, try the following meditation. Ten to fifteen minutes of clock time should be sufficient.
MAKE SURE FIRST THAT THERE ARE NO EXTERNAL DISTRACTIONS such as telephones or people who are likely to interrupt you. Sit on a chair, but don't lean back. Keep the spine erect. Doing so will help you to stay alert. Alternatively, choose your own favourite position for meditation.
Make sure the body is relaxed. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Feel yourself breathing into the lower abdomen, as it were. Observe how it expands and contracts slightly with each in and out breath.
Then become aware of the entire inner energy field of the body. Don't think about it -- feel it. By doing this, you reclaim consciousness from the mind. If you find it helpful, use the "light" visualisation I just described.
When you can feel the inner body clearly as a single field of energy, let go, if possible, of any visual image and focus exclusively on the feeling. If you can, also drop any mental image you may still have of the physical body. All that is left then is an all-encompassing sense of presence or "beingness," and the inner body is felt to be without a boundary.
Then take your attention even more deeply into that feeling. Become one with it. Merge with the energy field, so that there is no longer a perceived duality of the observer and the observed, of you and your body. The distinction between inner and outer also dissolves now, so there is no inner body anymore. By going deeply into the body, you have transcended the body.
Stay in this realm of pure Being for as long as feels comfortable; then become aware again of the physical body, your breathing and physical senses, and open your eyes. Look at your surroundings for a few minutes in a meditative way -- that is, without labelling them mentally -- and continue to feel the inner body as you do so.
Having access to that formless realm is truly liberating. It frees you from bondage to form and identification with form. We may call it the Unmanifested, the invisible Source of all things, the Being within all beings. It is a realm of deep stillness and peace, but also of joy and intense aliveness. Whenever you are present, you become "transparent" to some extent to the light, the pure consciousness that emanates from this Source. You also realise that the light is not separate from who you are but constitutes your very essence.
When your consciousness is directed outward, mind and world arise. When it is directed inward, it realises its own Source and returns home into the Unmanifested.
Then, when your consciousness comes back to the manifested world, you reassume the form identity that you temporarily relinquished. You have a name, a past, a life situation, a future. But in one essential respect, you are not the same person you were before: You will have glimpsed a reality within yourself that is not "of this world," although it isn't separate from it, just as it isn't separate from you. Now let your spiritual practice be this:
AS YOU GO ABOUT YOUR LIFE, don't give 100 percent of your attention to the external world and to your mind. Keep some within.
Feel the inner body even when engaged in everyday activities, especially when engaged in relationships or when you are relating with nature. Feel the stillness deep inside it. Keep the portal open.
It is quite possible to be conscious of the Unmanifested throughout your life. You feel it as a deep sense of peace somewhere in the background, a stillness that never leaves you, no matter what happens out here. You become a bridge between the Unmanifested and the manifested, between God and the world.
This is the state of connectedness with the Source that we call enlightenment.