I recently heard an interview with Eckhart Tolle on the wonderful NPR program “Speaking of Faith”. Eckhart talked openly about the depression and anxiety he suffered with throughout his teens and twenties. He spoke about how, at the age of 29, in the depths of a depressive episode, he had a direct insight that opened the door for his spiritual awakening of the ground of being.
Tolle recounted his experience, "I awoke one night with this thought, I can’t live with myself any longer. And that phrase went around in my head a few times. And suddenly I was able to stand back and look at that phrase… I thought, that is strange. Who am I, and who is the self that I cannot live with anymore? Oh there must be two of me here! I didn’t get an answer to this question, but just the questioning itself stopped the stream of negative, depressive thinking…. I awoke that morning and everything seemed much more alive than it use to be. Everything was precious and alive, almost as though I was looking at it for the first time. Everything was very beautiful. I suddenly felt at peace, though I had no explanation for it.”
Though it took years for him to conceptually understand the implications of this experience, it is a fantastic example of how when we become aware of the pure awareness that continually observes the ever-changing contents of the mind, an immediate shift in chronic symptomatology can occur. For more on the conceptual aspects of "two selves" read some of my earlier posts, particularly "The sense of I".
Relaying Tolle's experience seemed very appropriate on the eve of my departure for a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I am so grateful to have this time to drop deeply into the essential nature of mind; the ground of being, Prajnaparamita.
May you enjoy these last two of weeks of summer!