Who is God?
There is an eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. Many people use the word God to describe it; I often call it Being. The word Being explains nothing, but nor does God. Being, however, has the advantage that it is an open concept. It does not reduce the infinite invisible to a finite entity. It is impossible to form a mental image of it. Nobody can claim exclusive possession of Being. It is your presence, and it is immediately accessible to you as the feeling of your own presence. So it is only a small step from the word Being to the experience of Being.
To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of 'feeling-realisation' is enlightenment. The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater than you. It is finding your true nature beyond name and form.
The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Conflicts within and without become the norm.
The greatest obstacle to experiencing the reality of your connectedness is identification with your mind, which causes thought to become compulsive. Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don't realise this because almost everybody is suffering from it.
Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments, and definitions that blocks all true relationship. It comes between you and yourself, between you and your fellow man and woman, between you and nature, between you and God. It is this screen of thought that creates the illusion of separateness, the illusion that there is you and a totally separate 'other'. You then forget the essential fact that, underneath the level of physical appearances and separate forms, you are one with all that is.
The beginning of freedom is the realisation that you are not the possessing entity - the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.
You then begin to realise that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realise that all the things that truly matter - beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace - arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.
The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old audiotapes that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years.
This is what I mean by 'watching the thinker,' which is another way of saying: Listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence. When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door.
As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence - your deeper self - behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energising the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.
When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream - a gap of 'no-mind.' At first, the gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness inside you. With practice, the stillness will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being. Eckhart Tolle is the author of The Power of Now