Eckhart Tolle, the well known author of “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now”, has been the catalyst who, without knowing me personally at all, has been the one that changed everything.
I somehow figured out in the year 2001 that I was always in either the past or the future, and wasn’t really very much in the present at all. Because that didn’t seem like a good thing, I set out in my usual way to figure things out and I searched “living in the present” at amazon.com. Up came “The Power of Now” along with a selection of other books. I ordered two other books too, not knowing, but don’t even know what those books were now. I was so taken with “The Power of Now” that I’m not sure I ever read them.
“The Power of Now” seemed so clearly to be coming from the same source that I was experiencing as the source of my personal guidance, which I understood intellectually to be my own Self, but which I was yet unable to experience as such. To have a book so clearly coming from that source was absolutely riveting.
I tried to register for a retreat with Eckhart Tolle in October of 2002 but it was already full with a huge waiting list in February when I tried to register. By some stroke of luck, by August I was given a space and was pleased yet also I remember being kind of confused. I couldn’t understand why I was going, because I thought he had already said it all in a book, so why was I going? What more could I possibly be expecting?
When it came time to go to the retreat, I mostly remember just sitting there with a great big silly grin on my face, totally being delighted by Eckhart’s way of being with us. There were 450 of us in the big hall at Omega Institute, and it was just a matter of sitting there and listening to Eckhart for five days. In between his talks I was just very quiet. Somehow between the beginning and the end of that retreat, something irrevocably changed for me. I was immersed in bliss, and knew that everything that I had ever wanted as a spiritual seeker had now arrived, and there was nowhere else to go. Somehow it seemed that Eckhart Tolle had handed it all to me on a silver platter.
My old life ceased operating the way it had before, but there was a long way to go to learn how to live from this new place. All sense of need or lack was gone and everything not only appeared to be perfect as it was, radiating with love and life, but that also pervaded me and made it so that any personal problems appeared to have vanished.
Of course, Eckhart Tolle knew nothing of this because he personally hadn’t done anything, although it took a while for that to sink in. It was the awakeness (the One life) that was speaking through him that somehow woke me up. He is such a clear, clear channel. I owe him an infinite debt just for being so clear, and for being there at the right time for me. It felt so incredibly grateful to Eckhart but even at the same time I could see that it wasn’t him. It is the awakeness that I owe (call it God if you will, the Self with a capital S, or Life with a capital L). The awakeness that took him, took me also.
It has been over five years since this happened and it has not faded or wavered at all. All that changes is how much of a commotion the “me” is making at any given time, which may or may not be obscuring the perfect unity underneath. The underlying foundation never wavers at all, but steadies whatever is happening in my personal life. And when I give it the space, it lives life through me, as me.
by Alice Gardner, author of “Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice” (now available from Clearsight)