One of the remarkable things about Eckhart’s teachings is that each time I listen to a talk, whether I have heard it several times or for the first time, there is a freshness. There is a vibrant aliveness behind the words that brings my awareness back to the present moment.
I was reminded of this recently when I watched one of Eckhart’s video downloads entitled Bringing Stillness into Everyday Life, a talk he gave in 2004. Bringing Stillness into Everyday Life begins with Eckhart informing the audience that there won’t be anything interesting or entertaining happening during their time together. He asks, “if we aren’t here to be entertained… why are we here?” After a long pause he answers, “you are here to try out a different level of consciousness from the usual one. This talk is not to fill the mind with more stuff, pseudo-knowledge, information or content.” Eckhart points out that most people are lost in the content of their lives, which he refers to as one’s “life situation.” The content consists of our personal history, thoughts and our emotions about the thoughts, which in turn generates more thoughts. Eckhart explains that carrying our content is dreadful burden.The content creates a pseudo-identity that we identify with our entire lives, if we don’t become aware of the deeper dimension within ourselves. Unconsciously, we cling to this false identity that has been formed through our mental conditioning. Our minds tell us this pseudo-identity is who we are.
Eckhart’s teachings remind us that on a deeper level this is not who we are. Content comes and goes, and if we only look at the content in our lives, we will never be fulfilled. The ego is a bottomless pit that can never be satisfied, always looking for more in hopes that by adding more we’ll attain a feeling of happiness and safety. Of course, this is only a fabrication of the ego to maintain the status quo.
We are living with what Eckhart refers to as “a noise machine in our heads.” Every thought demands our attention, pretending to be more important than the next one; generating an anxiety that contributes to poor health and prematurely ages us.
So how can we undo the thousands of years of mental conditioning? With a slight smile Eckhart demystifies the ego when he explains that, “the mind wants a recipe for how to become free of your mind.” To be free of thousands of years of mental conditioning does not require time, or the future. At this moment, we have the choice to step out of thought, and allow an alert presence to emerge within. When we become self-aware and accept the moment in whatever form it takes, we are internally aligned with the now; this is the state of inner peace. As always, Eckhart’s teachings illuminate an essential truth: there is nothing but the present moment, past and future do not exist.