Drop your reactions

THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle

Your relationships will be changed profoundly by surrender. If you can never accept what is, by implication, you will not be able to accept anybody the way they are. You will judge, criticize, label, reject or attempt to change people. Furthermore, if you continuously make the Now into a means to an end in the future, you will also make every person you encounter or relate with into a means to an end.

The relationship – the human being – is then of secondary importance to you, or of no importance at all. What you can get out of the relationship is primary, be it material gain, a sense of power, physical pleasure or some form of ego grati€cation.

Let me illustrate how surrender can work in relationships. When you become involved in an argument or some conict situation, start by observing how defensive you become as your own position is attacked, or feel the force of your own aggression as you attack the other person’s position. Observe the attachment to your views and opinions. Feel the mental-emotional energy behind your need to be right and make the other person wrong. That’s the energy of the egoic mind. You make it conscious by acknowledging it, by feeling it as fully as possible. Then one day, in the middle of an argument, you will suddenly realize that you have a choice and you may decide to drop your own reaction, just to see what happens. You surrender.

I don’t mean dropping the reaction just verbally by saying, “Okay, you are right,” with a look on your face that says, “I am above all this childish unconsciousness.” That’s just displacing the resistance to another level, with the egoic mind still in charge, claiming superiority. I am speaking of letting go of the entire mental-emotional energy €eld inside you that was €ghting for power.

The ego is cunning so you have to be very alert, present and totally honest with yourself to see whether you have truly relinquished your identi€cation with a mental position. If you suddenly feel very light, clear and deeply at peace, that is an unmistakable sign that you have truly surrendered. Then observe what happens to the other person’s mental position, as you no longer energize it through resistance. When identi€cation with mental positions is out of the way, true communication begins.

Non-resistance doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. All it means is that any “doing” becomes non-reactive. Remember the deep wisdom underlying the practice of Eastern martial arts: Don’t resist the opponent’s force. Yield to overcome.

Having said that, “doing nothing” when you are in a state of intense presence is a very powerful transformer and healer of situations and people. In Taoism, there is a term called wu wei, which is usually translated as “actionless activity” or “sitting quietly doing nothing.” In ancient China, this was regarded as one of the highest achievements or virtues. It is radically different from inactivity in the ordinary state of consciousness, or rather unconsciousness, which stems from fear, inertia or indecision. The real “doing nothing” implies inner non-resistance and intense alertness.

On the other hand, if action is required, you will respond to the situation out of your conscious presence.

The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas, in truth, resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power; the ego exists in a continuous resistance mode and plays counterfeit roles to cover up your “weakness,” which, in truth, is your power.

Until there is surrender, unconscious role-playing constitutes a large part of human interaction. In surrender, you no longer need ego defences and false masks. You become very simple, very real. “That’s dangerous,” says the ego. “You’ll get hurt. You’ll become vulnerable.” What the ego doesn’t know, of course, is that only through the letting go of resistance, through becoming “vulnerable,” can you discover your true and essential invulnerability.

Adapted from The Power of Now, copyright 1999 by Eckhart Tolle. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA, 800-972-6657 (ext. 52). Visit www.eckharttolle.com.

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