are you?" "Just great. Couldn't be better."
many cases, happiness is a role people play, and behind
the smiling facade, there is a great deal of pain.
Depression, breakdowns, and overreactions are common
when unhappiness is covered up behind a smiling exterior
and brilliant white teeth, when there is denial, sometimes
even to one's self, that there is much unhappiness.
fine" is a role the ego plays more commonly in
America than in certain other countries where being
and looking miserable is almost the norm and therefore
more socially acceptable. It is probably an exaggeration,
but I am told that in the capital of one Nordic country
you run the risk of being arrested for drunken behavior
if you smile at strangers in the street.
there is unhappiness in you, first you need to acknowledge
that it is there. But don't say, "I'm unhappy."
Unhappiness has nothing to do with who you are. Say:
"There is unhappiness in me." Then investigate
it. A situation you find yourself in may have something
to do with it. Action may be required to change the
situation or remove yourself from it. If there is
nothing you can do, face what is and say, "Well,
right now, this is how it is. I can either accept
it, or make myself miserable." The primary cause
of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts
aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them
from the situation, which is always neutral, which
always is as it is. There is the situation or the
facts, and there are my thoughts about it. Instead
of making up stories, stay with the facts. For example,
"I am ruined" is a story. It limits you
and prevents you from taking effective action. "I
have fifty cents left in my bank account" is
a fact. Facing facts is always empowering. Be aware
that what you think, to a large extent, creates the
emotions you feel. See the link between your thinking
and your emotions. Rather than being your thoughts
and emotions, be the awareness behind them.
seek happiness. If you seek it, you won't find it,
because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness
is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable
now, by facing what is rather than making up stories
about it. Unhappiness covers up your natural state
of well-being and inner peace, the source of true
creates separation, and separation creates suffering.
The ego is therefore clearly pathological. Apart from
the obvious ones such as anger, hatred, and so on,
there are other more subtle forms of negativity that
are so common they are usually not recognized as such,
for example, impatience, irritation, nervousness,
and being "fed up." They constitute the
background unhappiness that is many people's predominant
inner state. You need to be extremely alert and absolutely
present to be able to detect them. Whenever you do,
it is a moment of awakening, of disidentification
from the mind.
one of the most common negative states that is easily
overlooked, precisely because it is so common, so
normal. You may be familiar with it. Do
you often experience a feeling of discontent that
could best be described as a kind of background resentment?
be either specific or nonspecific. Many people spend
a large part of their lives in that state. They are
so identified with it that they cannot stand back
and see it. Underlying that feeling are certain unconsciously
held beliefs, that is to say, thoughts. You think
these thoughts in the same way that you dream your
dreams when you are asleep. In other words, you don't
know you are thinking those thoughts, just as the
dreamer doesn't know he is dreaming.
some of the most common unconscious thoughts that
feed the feeling of discontent or background resentment.
I have stripped away the content from those thoughts
so that the bare structure remains. They become more
clearly visible that way. Whenever there is unhappiness
in the background of your life (or even in the foreground),
you can see which of these thoughts applies and fill
in your own content according to your personal situation:
"There is something
that needs to happen in my life before I can be at
peace (happy, fulfilled, etc.). And I resent that
it hasn't happened yet. Maybe my resentment will finally
make it happen."
happened in the past that should not have happened,
and I resent that. If that hadn't happened, I would
be at peace now."
is happening now that should not be happening, and it
is preventing me from being at peace now."
unconscious beliefs are directed toward a person and
so "happening" becomes "doing":
should do this or that so that I can be at peace. And
I resent that you haven't done it yet. Maybe my resentment
will make you do it."
you (or I) did, said, or failed to do in the past
is preventing me from being at peace now."
What you are doing or failing to do now is preventing
me from being at peace."
Secret of Happiness
the above are assumptions, unexamined thoughts that
are confused with reality. They are stories the ego
creates to convince you that you cannot be at peace
now or cannot be fully yourself now. Being at peace
and being who you are, that is, being yourself, are
one. The ego says: Maybe at some point in the future,
I can be at peace -- if this, that, or the other happens,
or I obtain this or become that. Or it says: I can
never be at at peace because of something that happened
in the past. Listen to people's stories and they could
all be entitled "Why I Cannot Be at Peace Now."
The ego doesn't know that your only opportunity for
being at peace is now. Or maybe it does know, and
it is afraid that you may find this out. Peace, after
all, is the end of the ego.
to be at peace now?
peace with the present moment. The present moment
is the field on which the game of life happens. It
cannot happen anywhere else. Once you have made peace
with the present moment, see what happens, what you
can do or choose to do, or rather what life does through
you. There are three words that convey the secret
of the art of living, the secret of all success and
happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being
one with Now. You then realize that you don't live
your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer,
and you are the dance.
ego loves its resentment of reality.
reality? Whatever is. Buddha called it tatata -- the
suchness of life, which is no more than the suchness
of this moment. Opposition toward that suchness is
one of the main features of the ego. It creates the
negativity that the ego thrives on, the unhappiness
that it loves. In this way, you make yourself and
others suffer and don't even know that you are doing
it, don't know that you are creating hell on earth.
To create suffering without recognizing it -- this
is the essence of unconscious living; this is being
totally in the grip of the ego. The extent of the
ego's inability to recognize itself and see what it
is doing is staggering and unbelievable. It will do
exactly what it condemns others for and not see it.
When it is pointed out, it will use angry denial,
clever arguments, and self-justifications to distort
the facts. People do it, corporations do it, governments
do it. When all else fails, the ego will resort to
shouting or even to physical violence. Send in the
marines. We can now understand the deep wisdom in
Jesus' words on the cross: "Forgive them for
they know not what they do."
the misery that has afflicted the human condition
for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself
and take responsibility for your inner state at any
given moment. That means now. Ask yourself,
there negativity in me at this moment?"
alert, attentive to your thoughts as well as your
emotions. Watch out for the low-level unhappiness
in whatever form that I mentioned earlier, such as
discontent, nervousness, being "fed up,"
and so on. Watch out for thoughts that appear to justify
or explain this unhappiness but in reality cause it.
The moment you become aware of a negative state within
yourself, it does not mean you have failed. It
means that you have succeeded.
awareness happens, there is identification with inner
states, and such identification is ego. With awareness
comes disidentification from thoughts, emotions, and
reactions. This is not to be confused with denial.
The thoughts, emotions, or reactions are recognized,
and in the moment of recognizing, disidentification
happens automatically. Your sense of self, of who
you are, then undergoes a shift: Before you were the
thoughts, emotions, and reactions; now you are the
awareness, the conscious Presence that witnesses those
day I will be free of the ego." Who is talking?
The ego. To become free of the ego is not really a
big job but a very small one. All you need to do is
be aware of your thoughts and emotions -- as they
happen. This is not really a "doing," but
an alert "seeing." In that sense, it is
true that there is nothing you can do to become free
of the ego. When that shift happens, which is the
shift from thinking to awareness, an intelligence
far greater than the ego's cleverness begins to operate
in your life.
and even thoughts become depersonalized through awareness.
Their impersonal nature is recognized. There is no
longer a self in them. They are just human emotions,
human thoughts. Your entire personal history, which
is ultimately no more than a story, a bundle of thoughts
and emotions, becomes of secondary importance and
no longer occupies the forefront of your consciousness.
It no longer forms the basis for your sense of identity.
You are the light of Presence, the awareness that
is prior to and deeper than any thoughts and emotions.
New Earth by Eckhart
his insightful look into humanity's ego-based thinking,
Eckhart Tolle provides practical teachings for waking
up to a new, enlightened mind-set. This involves a radical
inner leap of consciousness from the current identification
with our ego to an entirely new way of thinking about
who we are.