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Confidence and The Source of True Satisfaction: Eckhart Tolle (Transcript)

Eckhart Tolle

Full text of The Power of Now author Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring talk on Confidence and The Source of True Satisfaction.


Eckhart Tolle – Author

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke briefly at a conference in San Francisco. A big conference, close to 10,000 people. Annual conference. Mostly for business people.

But always towards the very end, they have a spiritual person — which is better than no spiritual person.

And then the organizer invited a small group of people who spoke at the conference and some who attended the conference to his home for dinner. A small group meaning 150. And he organized even some entertainment. The main person providing the entertainment is a kind of yogi/ magician? Nobody knows exactly what? Whether he’s more for yogi or more for a magician? Or whether is it a combination? Or whether everything is just tricks?

Anyway this person, the main entertainment of the evening, when people had eaten in the garden, they had erected a tent, a big tent, enough for 450 people. In the middle of the area, there was a raised pedestal and on it was a gigantic water tank — glass, transparent — with a few fishes swimming in it.

And then it was announced that this man would now come and get into this tank and hold his breath for seven minutes. And that’s what happened. He came still wearing a few clothes. And he climbed up, submerged himself in the tank and of course everybody could see him, he was floating in there, and there was a countdown and for seven minutes.

While he was in there, he looked at everybody from inside the tank like a fish would look at you but completely under still. And he managed to hold his breath for seven minutes, and then finally he came out.

And then after he had recovered from that ordeal, the organizer wanted me to meet him. So there were a few people standing around and he was there. And one of the people standing around – ‘So can you do that?’ he asked me.

And I said, ‘I don’t think I can but I can stop thinking for seven minutes!’

The man who had been in the tank said, ‘It’s very much like that!’ He meant, I suppose being in the tank and he probably meant when he’s in the tank that he’s not thinking. Because if he were thinking he wouldn’t last for 7 minutes — presuming that it’s not a trick. We don’t know. But it didn’t seem to be a trick he was just in there holding his breath.

So I mention this story, because I want to emphasize again this afternoon the main point of why we’re here. And that is to fully realize that there are two dimensions, so to speak, to who you are: The one that is defined in form which includes the physical form and the psychological form and the thinking entity.

So your consciousness has the two dimensions. There is an intermediate area but we don’t need to go there.

  • There’s the conscious dimension of thinking and that creates your conventional sense of identity.
  • And there is the deeper space where there is a vast consciousness that is not defined in form.

So there’s the two of you – the known, the person and the unknown, the undefined. Or as the Buddha called it the unmanifested/ the unborn/ the uncreated.’

And the Buddha added this is one of the sutras in my free translation. He said “There is the unborn, the unmanifested, the uncreated; if there were not (Sorry, the sutras are a little bit repetitive) if there were not the unborn, the unmanifested, the uncreated, there would be no escape from the born, the manifested and the created.”

And I’m adding in my free translation… ‘And you would be completely stuck in it and with it.’

So there is a dimension in every human that is far deeper than what you conventionally consider – is the ‘I’. So you cannot say there is a ‘I’ that is defined through thought and there is a deeper ‘I’ that is not defined.

And the purpose of your existence really is… in evolutionary terms is to find that deeper being, the undefined, the unknown, and bring that into this dimension and into your life.

You all have made the discovery already that you don’t need to think continuously, and that your deeper sense of who you are does not depend on what your mind is saying about who you are. There is a more immediate, much more real sense of ‘I’, than you could ever find through thinking about who you are.

So to access the unmanifested, the unborn, the uncreated, if you want to use those words, you have to find within yourself the space of no thought which is always there. It’s just covered up by continuous thought. Doesn’t have to be. So gradually you find that the unknown ‘You’ comes through more and more.

First you have to become comfortable. I mentioned it briefly the other day. First you need to become comfortable when you enter that space with not knowing anything. Because that is the… you’re accessing the unknown, the undefined — which is primordial intelligence itself. Not intelligence it has become thought. That’s the only thing you can measure to a limited degree. But there’s primordial intelligence.

In order to access that you have to give up — not completely because it’s still there — but your reliance, exclusive reliance and main reliance on accumulated knowledge and on thinking. If you don’t give up your reliance on conditioned knowledge and thinking, you can never go beyond. So you would be very limited — not be creative and ultimately not wise.

You can have a highly developed mind, but lacking in wisdom. And to have a highly developed mind and lacking in wisdom as an underlying guiding force, and that comes from the deeper level, to have that highly developed mind — whether it’s a person or a society or culture — is a dangerous thing. Because that mind can create havoc for yourself and to others. The more developed it is, the more destructive it potentially is also.

So you find that often with people who — some people who run countries, of course, they have a university degree —  and they — well not all, but some might be considered intelligent in conventional terms, and yet very often their actions are actually very unintelligent. They don’t take into account the totality of the situation, the deeper implications of their actions.

So they are not, whatever they say or do, is not connected to the realm of wisdom. Don’t need to mention any names, but look at any politician that comes to mind. Look at the past 20 years. Some may come to mind. Such lack of wisdom. Quite amazing!

And then you have the highly developed industry that creates dreadful weapons of destruction. And these people who make these, they’re all intelligent, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do that.

But how can you build an atom bomb without intelligence? It requires highly intelligent people.

So wisdom. Intelligence needs to be guided by something deeper and that deeper then needs to… can actually use the mind, the human mind as an instrument for its expression.

So again, in order to get to that place — which is not a place it’s just a deeper dimension to ‘who you are’ — you need to give up that reliance, that unconscious belief that you continuously need to think to work things out. Because otherwise things will get out of control.

So every moment you need to have some kind of conclusion about this — ‘What’s happening at this moment?’ – you immediately have some kind of opinion, and conclusion and call it something. And often at school, that quick comeback is often encouraged. Some people who are… when the teacher asks questions, the one who can give the quickest answer is usually considered the best.

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