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Eckhart Tolle

Waiting with Presence*

In the old consciousness the predominant state is one of waiting for the next thing. In the new consciousness even when you are waiting somewhere, you are not really waiting, you are just being where you are. And you can use every opportunity when there is an external waiting: you are waiting at the airline counter or bus, or traffic light, at the supermarket, to meet somebody you have an appointment, somebody to arrive, so much waiting. I’ve read somewhere that an average person who learns who starts driving at the age of 20 and drives a car every day throughout their lives, how they worked that out I do not know. They spend I believe it was 4 or 5 days of their lives waiting at the red light. If you sum, added all up it is 4 or 5 days of your life you spend waiting at the red traffic light. Most people are not happy. It is just one instance of waiting. So many other occasions when you are waiting. And mostly people are not comfortable with waiting. They are getting restless, uneasy, complain, they should not be waiting. Well, maybe not, but you are waiting. Things should be different, if they people were more efficient and punctual and did their job properly and were aware of the time, but they are not.

So, whenever you are waiting see if your state of consciousness be one of being present, enjoy being where you are. Start with the supermarket. And once if you notice the shift from the restlessness, discontent and complaining, the anger even and irritation. And then say: “ Ok, is that a pleasant state, do I really want, Am I… is it possible to be here in a different way? Do I choose to be in that unpleasant state? Am I forced to be in that unpleasant state? Is somebody forcing me to be irritated? No, I am just irritated. I can’t help it, so. That is just a thought that may not be true, that I can’t help it. And then you realize that you can help it. And you simply drop your irritation and come into the present moment. Irritation is just a thought that this should not be happening. I’d rather be out of here than in here.

But you are in here. And this is just a tiny thing of course, but as we mention before, life is made up of tiny things. One tiny irritation followed up by another tiny irritation somewhere else and followed by another tiny irritation somewhere else… Every tiny irritation leaves behind something, energy and that gradually builds up and then you get more prone to irritation and not just irritation. Add up 100 little irritations and then you become potentially angry person who is just waiting for the next thing to be angry about: “Hopefully I will find something to be angry about”. So, just drop it. You drop it by realizing it is futile, you actually are creating that yourself, it serves no purpose. 

There is an underlying assumption and this is a childlike way of looking at the world or childish way at looking at the world and immature, that says: “If I get really irritated, things are going to change”. In the same way the child might say: “If I cry hard enough something will happen”. Of course in the case of child this is often the case, the parents are running. But if you are an adult and you cry hard enough, not necessarily cry as such, but metaphorically speaking, are unhappy, you believe the same thing is going to happen, but it is not. In fact people run away from you, they do not come and say: “Oh..”. You have that energy: “Get away from me”. So, practice with those little things, so that you can not only be free of irritation, but that you can be actually… use those opportunities. But you need to be present and you welcome every time you are waiting. And if you do not succeed that is ok occasionally, but you welcome every time and go: “Oh…”.

Once a small anecdote happened to me recently. I was at the supermarket waiting. And the cashier was the slowest that I’ve ever seen perhaps in my entire life. Not only that she did not know what she was doing she also engaged every customer in a long conversation. And even I who is usually ok with these things could feel a small amount of irritation creeping up. And then immediately I let it out and it went away. And then another one came, but by the time I finally reached her, the irritation fortunately was gone and I was present again. When she saw me she said: “Oh, I have been waiting to meet you all my life”. And I was glad that irritation was not there anymore. She said also that she had not been here for very long, not worked there for a long time yet, she is still learning and she had recently moved back to Canada after spending 10 years in Maui, Hawaii, where time is not so important, of course.

People have loose relationship with time, island time. So, that was an interesting encounter. So, it can happen, irritation can still arise if you do not catch it, you have to be alert to catch it before it takes you over and then realize you to not want it, what for and it is gone.

Photo from Ojas archive. © Ojas, 2017
 Photo from Ojas archive. © Ojas, 2017

Related to that is unhappiness, a lot of so called unhappiness, also a childish way of trying to change things by being as unhappy as you can about them. And the underlying, unconscious or semi-conscious assumption is if I am really unhappy, somebody, perhaps God, is going to do something about it or I am going to prove him wrong, I am going to show him how dreadful it is and then finally. This is unconscious assumption behind unhappiness, because you believe if you are habitually or frequently unhappy, you believe that there is a purpose. It is an underlying assumption, perhaps you would not verbalize it that way, but you believe it works for you. Of course, it does not. Things are going to change, you just need to be really unhappy, so that God finally, even if you do not believe in God this is still can be the mechanism underlying, unconscious assumption behind it, it is that something is going to happen. And, of course, the opposite is true, because the more unhappy you are with something, the more you stuck in the situation.


* - Excerpt from Eckhart Tolle discourse „Living A Life Of Balance“


Updated on 23-07-2017


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