Chapter 6 by Eckhart Tolle
Whenever you are able, have a “look” inside yourself to
see whether you are unconsciously creating conflict between the inner
and the outer, between your external circumstances at that moment
- where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing - and your
thoughts and feelings. Can you feel how painful it is to internally
stand in opposition to what is?
When you recognize this, you also realize that you are now free
to give up this futile conflict, this inner state of war.
How often each day, if you were to verbalize your inner reality
at that moment, would you have to say, “I don't want to be
where I am?” What does it feel like when you don't want to
be where you are - the traffic jam, your place of work, the airport
lounge, the people you are with?
It is true, of course, that some places are good places to walk
out of - and sometimes that may well be the most appropriate thing
for you to do. In many cases, however, walking out is not an option.
In all those cases, the “I don't want to be here” is
not only useless but also dysfunctional. It makes you and others
It has been said: wherever you go, there you are. In other words:
you are here. Always. Is it so hard to accept that?
Do you really need to mentally label every sense perception and
experience? Do you really need to have a reactive like/dislike relationship
with life where you are in almost continuous conflict with situations
and people? Or is that just a deep-seated mental habit that can
be broken? Not by doing anything, but by allowing this moment to
be as it is.
The habitual and reactive “no” strengthens the ego.
“Yes” weakens it. Your form identity, the ego, cannot
“I have so much to do.” Yes, but what is the quality
of your doing? Driving to work, speaking to clients, working on
the computer, running errands, dealing with the countless things
that make up your daily life - how total are you in what you do?
Is your doing surrendered or non-surrendered? This is what determines
your success in life, not how much effort you make. Effort implies
stress and strain, needing to reach a certain point in the future
or accomplish a certain result.
Can you detect even the slightest element within yourself of not
wanting to be doing what you are doing? That is a denial of life,
and so a truly successful outcome is not possible.
If you can detect this within yourself, can you also drop it and
be total in what you do?
“Doing one thing at a time” is how one Zen Master defined
the essence of Zen.
Doing one thing at a time means to be total in what you do, to
give it your complete attention. This is surrendered action - empowered
Your acceptance of what is takes you to a deeper level where your
inner state as well as your sense of self no longer depend on the
mind's judgments of “good” or “bad.”
When you say “yes” to the “isness” of life,
when you accept this moment as it is, you can feel a sense of spaciousness
within you that is deeply peaceful.
On the surface, you may still be happy when it's sunny and not
so happy when it's rainy; you may be happy at winning a million
dollars and un-happy at losing all your possessions. Neither happiness
nor unhappiness, however, go all that deep anymore. They are ripples
on the surface of your Being. The background peace within you remains
undisturbed regardless of the nature of the outside condition.
The “yes” to what is reveals a dimension of depth
within you that is dependent neither on external conditions nor
on the internal conditions of constantly fluctuating thoughts and
Surrender becomes so much easier when you realize the fleeting
nature of all experiences and that the world cannot give you anything
of lasting value. You then continue to meet people, to be involved
in experiences and activities, but without the wants and fears of
the egoic self. That is to say, you no longer demand that a situation,
person, place, or event should satisfy you or make you happy. Its
passing and imperfect nature is allowed to be.
And the miracle is that when you are no longer placing an impossible
demand on it, every situation, person, place, or event becomes not
only satisfying but also more harmonious, more peaceful.
When you completely accept this moment, when you no longer argue
with what is, the compulsion to think lessens and is replaced by
an alert stillness. You are fully conscious, yet the mind is not
labeling this moment in any way. This state of inner nonresistance
opens you to the unconditioned consciousness that is infinitely
greater than the human mind. This vast intelligence can then express
itself through you and assist you, both from within and from without.
That is why, by letting go of inner resistance, you often find circumstances
change for the better.
Am I saying, “Enjoy this moment. Be happy?” No.
Allow the “suchness” of this moment. That's enough.
Surrender is surrender to this moment, not to a story through which
you interpret this moment and then try to resign yourself to it.
For instance, you may have a disability and can't walk anymore.
The condition is as it is.
Perhaps your mind is now creating a story that says, “This
is what my life has come to. I have ended up in a wheelchair. Life
has treated me harshly and unfairly. I don't deserve this.”
Can you accept the isness of this moment and not confuse it with
a story the mind has created around it?
Surrender comes when you no longer ask, “Why is this happening
Even within the seemingly most unacceptable and painful situation
is concealed a deeper good, and within every disaster is contained
the seed of grace.
Throughout history, there have been women and men who, in the face
of great loss, illness, imprisonment, or impending death, accepted
the seemingly unacceptable and thus found “the peace that
passeth all understanding.”
Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of grace
in this world.
There are situations where all answers and explanations fail. Life
does not make sense anymore. Or someone in distress comes to you
for help, and you don't know what to do or say.
When you fully accept that you don't know, you give up struggling
to find answers with the limited thinking mind, and that is when
a greater intelligence can operate through you. And even thought
can then benefit from that, since the greater intelligence can flow
into it and inspire it.
Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming
comfortable with not knowing.
Do you know of someone whose main function in life seems to be
to make themselves and others miserable, to spread unhappiness?
Forgive them, for they too are part of the awakening of humanity.
The role they play represents an intensification of the nightmare
of egoic consciousness, the state of non-surrender. There is nothing
personal in all this. It is not who they are.
Surrender, one could say, is the inner transition from resistance
to acceptance, from “no” to “yes.” When
you surrender, your sense of self shifts from being identified with
a reaction or mental judgment to being the space around the reaction
or judgment. It is a shift from identification with form - the thought
or the emotion - to being and recognizing yourself as that which
has no form - spacious awareness.
Whatever you accept completely will take you to peace, including
the acceptance that you cannot accept, that you are in resistance.
Leave Life alone. Let it be.