The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Within You – Eckhart Tolle Retreat Day 2
Looking up ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you’ on Google I find mainly quotes saying ‘the kingdom of God is within you’. Eckhart Tolle hardly ever mentions the word God. He may speak of God often but prefers to use other words, other ‘pointers’ such as consciousness and spaciousness. The word is only a pointer. But the pointer is often mistaken for that what it is pointing at. The pointer God by many has been mistaken for what it is pointing at. What is that? It cannot be named. Each word is too limiting to describe what the word God is pointing at.
The words ‘the kingdom of God is within you’, or ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you’ were first spoken ages ago. At that time they were pointers to something that is impossible to describe with words. Yet words are what humans use to communicate. So Eckhart is using words too to point in the direction of that what cannot be described.
The proportion of the sky
In the first session of Day 2 of our retreat in Coolum Tolle contemporises Jesus’s words from nearly two thousand years ago. ‘The kingdom of heaven’ back then was a way to describe ‘the proportion of the sky’. These words point at another pointer: spaciousness – pointing at yet another pointer: consciousness.
Consciousness is within you. God is within you. ‘As above, so below’. We don’t have to look outside to find what we can find within. When we rest in stillness; when we simply Are, we will find that the pointer isn’t pointing to a place very far away or very hard to achieve: we Are the pointer; we Are the word, and we all point to the same source: That which is like the sun – we originate from there, like rays from the sun. We are all different expressions of the same source of consciousness.
All these words are just pointers. The essence is never in the word itself. Don’t mistake the pointer for what it is pointing at.
Pointers can form an analogy, like the following:
You are like the sky; your thoughts are like clouds, coming and going. Freedom (another great pointer) lies in the stillness between the thoughts. Eckhart says: ‘Look for the gaps in between the thoughts, like you find blue sky in between the clouds.’
The purpose of life
The next thing Eckhart talks about in this session is something I figured out by myself a while ago and have described in my book The Master’s Compass. I call it The Cross of Purpose. Eckhart explains that the purpose in life is to find balance between the doing (or becoming), and the being.
Chopping wood and carrying water
The second session this day is about ‘being in doing’. Tolle was folding his clothes before coming to the pavillion where the sessions are being held. He shares with us how he was enjoying this folding of the clothes – how he was fully present in this simple act. He quotes an old expression used in monasteries when he talks about how we can all be fully present in our daily duties like doing dishes, ironing shirts, standing in line in the supermarket: ‘chopping wood and carrying water’.
We must be fully present too in seemingly unimportant activities. Therein lies the best practice to being in the now. You don’t have to sit still to meditate. We can meditate in action and be conscious and awake always. That is what awakening is about. Enlightenment is in the smallest things. Don’t think: ‘Now I’m so enlightened I don’t have to bother about these insignificant ordinary things anymore’. On the contrary: find the extra-ordinary in the ordinary!
Eckhart gives us an assignment: practice being in the now, wherever you do whatever, with whomever. Whether you are having breakfast, lunch or dinner at the resort, chat with other people, swim in the spa or brush your teeth. ‘Chopping wood and carrying water’. Be conscious; be present always, with awareness, alert and awake, everywhere and in all circumstances. (I still find this quite hard although I’m getting better at it. See my blog post Being In The Now – Eckhart Tolle Retreat 1)
‘Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever.’
Miriam van Keulen