Above Thought, Below Thought – Eckhart Tolle Retreat Day 3

It is Day 3 of the retreat. It is impossible to write down everything Eckhart Tolle tells us. In six months time the recordings of the sessions will all be available on the Eckhart Tolle TV-website. Here I try at least to capture some of what he says. It makes me understand things better. But the question is: will I understand things better when I have gone over it with my mind more? Or have I understood everything perfectly well without having consciously thought about it? It seems a paradox: to be conscious seems to ask for consciously going over what Eckhart says, yet using the mind too much may result in the opposite … Let’s also just be conscious of that possibility, and let’s stay present, alert and awake.

Today, among many things, Tolle says: ‘Sense yourself as the presence while you look.’ It is the same as ‘being in the doing’. Eckhart uses many different pointers to point in the direction of the very same ‘is-ness’ or ‘beingness’, consciousness and spaciousness, or, ultimately, God.

To sense oneself as the presence while one looks, can feel magical. When I sense myself as the presence while I look at something, I sense that I am that what I am looking at. I remain me, of course, but I seem to expand and include that what I am looking at. This can be an object or a person. It is this sense of ‘I am that thing or that person’ that lets me experience oneness with all-that-is. It feels very peaceful and wonderful. There is no resistance in that feeling – only acceptance and appreciation.

This lovely sensation is called by Eckhart ‘to be above thought’. You have transcended thought. The realm of the mind is ‘below’. We have transcended human conditioning. Separation has disappeared to make place for oneness. It feels like ‘home’, like our origin, source: the light rays have remembered that they come from the same sun, like separate fingers come from the same hand.

Many people at times like to find a sensation like this in drinking or using drugs. It may seem alike, but a drunken state of mind, or a drugged experience, is not the same. Tolle explains how we go ‘below thought’ when we use alcohol or drugs, much like going to the plant-like realm: there is no consciousness. Oblivion may feel wonderful for a while because thought is no longer bothering us, but it isn’t a conscious choice – we are still dependent on an external remedy. It is the clarity of consciousness that we need to enter that heavenly, spacious feeling of oneness and peace with all is-ness. Drugs may give the illusion of the experience but that’s what it is: an illusion.

While we are experiencing that heavenly feeling we simultaneously want to be, like Eckhart calls it, deeply rooted in being, like a flower or a tree. And in that lies the difference between a conscious is-ness and an artificial or illusionary is-ness: in the first you are rooted in being: you connect heaven and earth, so to say, where in the latter you are drifting or floating on is-ness, not connecting heaven and earth at all. That’s why after having become sober, you seem to fall, and reality is suddenly not that heavenly. When you go above thought while being deeply rooted in being, reality IS. You don’t fall when it is over. It is never over. It IS – conscious, alert and awake.

Eckhart suggests we spend some time with a flower or a tree – it can be of much help.

‘Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever.’

Miriam van Keulen

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