“My teacher, Eckhart Tolle, gave me nothing. This may sound disrespectful, but it is in fact the greatest testament to the authenticity of his teaching.”
GUEST COLUMN: KAREN McPHEE — Although it took me ten years to fully realize this truth, I can honestly say that my teacher, Eckhart Tolle, gave me nothing. This may sound disrespectful, but it is in fact the greatest testament to the authenticity of his teaching.
On the day that we met, he said quite plainly: “You have it already.”
I have to confess, I really didn’t hear it. I wasn’t able to fully grasp that truth at the time. It is only in retrospect that it is clear. It has become known, not conceptually, but experientially.
I still spent years believing Tolle had it (not I). Or that he had more of it.
There seemed to be plenty of evidence to support this idea. What I know now: that was my experience because I believed it to be so.
Unexamined, thought is the very definition of ignorance (in this case, ignorance of one’s true nature).
The mind cannot accurately report on matters spiritual. I vividly recall the moment when this became known to me (by the grace of God in the form of my teacher).
I was volunteering as Eckhart’s assistant, and we had a scheduled meeting. I didn’t go. I was in the thick of some conditioned-pattern which was consuming me, and I reasoned that I didn’t want to impose my conditioning on him.
He phoned me and asked: why was I not attending the meeting?
I said: “I can’t come over. I’m trapped in the mind and am completely unconscious.”
His response was rather surprising — he laughed.
The very fabric of reality
Then he said something which I have never forgotten and which has become integrated into the fabric of my being.
He said: “The mind does not know how present you are.”
In that moment, the truth of this was seen, was recognized, was realized.
By believing the mind’s interpretation, the reality of the ever-present awareness was overlooked.
All the while, the awake awareness that I am was quietly watching this whole drama unfold.
My teacher’s response is such a profound truth, and represents a complete shift in consciousness.
It is “THE” shift according to many teachers and teachings. It is a shift away from living-in, believing-in, the content that populates the mind.
It is a shift into the awareness that quietly watches the mind.
This is often referred to as the Self. In my experience, these profound awakenings/realizations happen outside of time (in the eternal now). They are always present and available. They are timeless.
My end, your end, our end . . . to suffering
How is this helpful?
The recognition that the mind cannot accurately report on the truth of your experience has a huge impact on one’s experience. It ultimately represents the end of suffering.
So in the tradition of all great teachings, I now offer to you what my teacher offered to me.
I can tell you with utter certainty that you have “it” already. Whatever it is that you are seeking is already within. Furthermore, it can ONLY be found within.
If you don’t yet know this, you will continue seeking it externally.
And that is perfect. This seeking mechanism is actually intelligent. It cannot be fooled.
It will not rest until you discover the genuine truth. Like doubt, seeking is a great ally. Let it stimulate the investigation/discovery that ends all seeking. That is its purpose.
Time is not required.
In fact, realization happens outside of time. It is timeless. It happens in the eternal now.
What takes time, or unfolds through time, is the embodying of the realized truth.
No one can convince you of this, which is very good news. If you can be convinced, you are not standing on solid ground. The only way to make this realization your own is to directly investigate the truth of your experience. This means to suspend concepts and examine what is real.
So in this moment, I invite you to end all seeking by directly encountering the ever-present reality of your true nature. You already are what you are.
You already are where all seeking and practices could ultimately take you. To know this, all that is required it to simply look into the reality of your own existence here and now. It’s undeniable; you exist.
Stand firm on the ground of that indisputable truth. All thoughts, ideas and concepts about your nature arise and subside in the unchanging constancy of your being-ness. This recognition is freedom itself.
Eckhart Tolle invited Karen to teach on his behalf in 1999. Since that time she has inspired and guided many people both through group and private sessions. She has a very down-to-earth approach to spirituality. Visit Karen’s website for more content, including free audio downloads.
Long before Karen McPhee contributed to Soul’s Code, we recognized her in The New Female Mystics
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