Today I came across this article while on Facebook. Eckhart Tolle may very well be a name you’ve heard before, he’s a prolific and accomplished author and spiritual teacher. Many or most of the ideas in this article may very well be familiar concepts to you, I believe many of these beliefs have become part of a sort of widespread wisdom.
I was familiar with many of Tolle’s declarations presented in this article, but not all of them, and I thought all of his quotes were said so beautifully and simply. There’s no verbosity or confusion, each idea is presented in its simplest form, making them easily understood, with a very calming effect.
Granted, I found this article at a moment when I needed to be reminded of many of these things (see no. 4), but I believe anyone could benefit from reminding themselves of these centering thoughts at any moment. Whether you’re going through a rough time and need to be reminded of your strength and what you are working towards, or you’re feeling perfectly on top of everything and want to remind yourself of the beliefs that help you maintain that feeling of balance, it’s worth the reminder every so often.
I struggle with almost everything listed in this article, but there’s one dichotomy that struck me while reading. So many of these ideas come back to the present. Being present in every given moment as it happens, accepting things as they are, and somehow successfully finding peace from within, regardless of what is happening without. No. 24: “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality is without.”
And yet, we cannot go through life without being affected by our surroundings, by events in our lives, by the people we interact with. There are many times we find ourselves in unhealthy or unhappy “secondary realities” that we must take action against, even if we’ve somehow managed to maintain our peace within. No. 23: “Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least, you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”
And then there’s No. 21: “Is there a difference between happiness and inner peace? Yes. Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not.”
So – does this mean that it is possible to simultaneously experience inner peace and unhappiness? But doesn’t no. 24 indicate that true peace within, your “primary reality”, would trump any unhappiness without? And if that were the case, where would be the impetus to take any action against unhappy scenarios in your “secondary reality”?
I thought about this for a little while, and came to realize that there’s actually no dichotomy at all in these three concepts. Yes, I believe it is possible at times to experience both inner peace and unhappiness. But if your peace within is truly intact, outside unhappiness will not bring you down. You won’t feel despair or hopelessness, because you will recognize that the conditions you perceive as negative will change, either on their own or through your will. You will have learned that this too, shall pass. And just like you recognize the fleeting nature of these outside conditions, you will be reminded that the peace that comes from within is permanent. So in this sense, yes, your inner peace will trump any outside unhappiness. But this is not to say you should not or could not take action to change any of these external conditions. The peace you carry with you in your primary, internal reality will give you the wherewithal and awareness to pinpoint the exact conditions causing your happiness. Next, it will give you the discipline, strength, and calmness you will need to implement any necessary changes.
As I am reminded over and over and over, the truths and solutions we seek come back to the necessity of finding balance. Balance comes from that inner peace, and inner peace cannot be possible without a constant dialogue with your true self, and becoming 100% acquainted with who that person is on any given day with unconditional love for the self.
As I said, this is nothing new. It only seems new to the individual as they are awakened to it as they begin their journey. And the individuals who bravely set out on this journey are wandering down many unknown paths, navigating through the best and worst parts of themselves. But they are not lost. Indeed, it would seem to be quite the opposite. Happy travels.
Photo Credit: Dan Whittaker