“Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.”― Eckhart Tolle
Now that spring has sprung, sort of, I try to walk every day. It helps to clear my head and to center. It’s been a long COVID winter in more ways than one. Spring feels like hope is around the corner, normalcy is being restored, or at least some form of it anyway.
I have gotten into Eckhart Tolle lately. I listen to him while I walk. It’s not that he says anything different from other spiritual teachers I am fond of – it’s more that he seems practical, grounded, unspiritually spiritual if you will. I would call myself unspiritually spiritual, too. When I think about spiritual people, I envision them dressed in flowing saffron robes, surrounded by light as they expound on the mysteries of the universe. Me? I wear sweats as often as possible, and I doubt anyone sees a halo of light surrounding me. Quite the opposite, I’m sure. But, I am spiritual in an unspiritual way.
Yesterday, as I was walking and listening to Eckhart, he was talking about mindfulness, although he calls it being present. Same thing. We need to learn to be present in every moment – it doesn’t come naturally. We are constantly thinking, the cacophony of the world, and our own thoughts constantly buzzing in our heads. We don’t ever stop thinking unless we practice silencing our thoughts. He did a little exercise and asked that those listening stop thinking between when he said, “now” and “now” – spaced several seconds apart. Try it. It’s much harder than you realize. I was able to stop thinking on command. When I started thinking again, I realized I do this on a somewhat regular basis – mostly when I am walking. A lot of times when I am out walking by myself or with my Yorkie walking companion, Tasia, I don’t think about anything. I simply listen to the sounds of the world, to the sounds of creation as it goes about living life. Instead of thinking about what I am hearing, I am soaking it in, absorbing it, experiencing it. When we are thinking we are automatically categorizing what we are experiencing, making judgments about it, rolling things around in our heads trying to make sense of everything. When we are present, in other words, when we are experiencing something without thoughts attached, we can truly experience life for what it is, not what we would like it to be. And, in this state of consciousness is where I find God. God cannot be found in a building, a book, in memorized prayers, or rituals. God is – and when we quiet our minds, when we stop thinking, we find God in the present moment. God is present and lives in the present – not in the past or the future, although God was with us in the past when it was the present, and will be with us in the future when it is the present.
When Moses asked God who he should say sent him when he stood before the Egyptian Pharoah, God told Moses to say “I AM”. As the story goes, Moses was able to perform great miracles in front of the Pharaoh to demonstrate God was with him. I AM is a profound statement. I AM is the present tense of the so-called ‘be’ verbs. I AM – not I was or I will be, but I AM.
Moses experienced God outside of himself through the burning bush, but God was also within Moses – the I AM of Moses. Through God within, Moses was able to demonstrate the power of God to the Egyptian Pharaoh, the presence of God, and the present God. God is within all of us, present within all of us. When we quiet the noise in our minds, we will experience the presence of God, the present God…..