“Until my 30th year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life.
One night not long after my 29th birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been … everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world.
“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. … I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake.
I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside.
Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.
I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside my window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond.
Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like… Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.
That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world. For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss..
I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts … that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.
I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind …
A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity.
I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.
But even the most beautiful experiences come and go.
More fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then … Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: “I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?”
And I would say: “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise.”
That answer later grew into the book that you are holding in your hands.
-The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
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