‘Knowing and thinking are two different things’
By Jim Hawes
Three spiritual thinkers — Eckhart Tolle, Bill Samuel and Russel Williams — provide some of the most profound methods of a practical or living spirituality.
Eckhart Tolle’s books “Power of Now” and “A New Earth” can be summarized by what he calls a very alert watchfulness or observing of one’s thoughts.
One’s ego (conditioned mind) is always attempting to ensnare you into fear, anger, judgments or anxiety. But, when you catch or observe one of these negative thoughts, at that very moment you are in what Tolle calls the sacred present or now. It can be called a blessingness that is occurring each and every moment. He suggests that we bring an inner yes to the form the now takes, and that very form becomes a doorway into the formless or Consciousness.
Tolle clarifies how this can be a practical application in one’s life. “Become friendly toward it (the present moment), welcome it no matter in what disguise it comes, and soon you will see the results. Life becomes friendly toward you; people become helpful; circumstances cooperative… .This is the end of the ego.”
Another enlightened thinker, Russel Williams, published his first and only book at the age of 94: “Not I, Not Other Than I: The Life and Teachings of Russel Williams.”
Orphaned early, he dropped out of school at age 11 and underwent a spiritual awakening at age 29. His spirituality poured forth when he spent a couple of years working for a circus where his primary job was the training of horses. As he concentrated on the horses, he noticed and realized he was not thinking any more.
He said, “My mind had gone quiet. I realized that knowing and thinking are two different things and that you could know or be conscious without thinking.” He began to do things spontaneously, which meant to live in each moment. He realized that he was doing a mindfulness meditation — in effect he was in this meditative state about 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
Williams went on to say that he felt that he saw the true nature of the horses. He was aware that all things are one. “This oneness was in everything I looked at — the trees, my body, and my normal sense of self had disappeared. No more anger, no frustrations — just a sense of peace.”
A third spiritual thinker and the only truly enlightened person that I have actually met and talked to was Alabama philosopher Bill Samuel. When he died several years ago, he left a treasure chest of spiritual insights from his books, “A Guide to Awareness and Tranquility” and (his profound last book) “The Child Within Us Lives.” His practical insight is that when we allow ourselves to be the Child, that is being very conscious and as alert as Jesus was as an infant of seven days.
In conclusion, different words for this mysterious essence: Now, Peace, the Child, Awareness, Love, or what William James calls the Atmospheric Presence. Meditating, mindfulness, books, seminars and videos are all helpful pointers. But, fundamentally, it is about being intensely focused each and every now!
Jim Hawes is a retired elementary and middle school teacher from Rogue River school district. Balboa Press published his first book, “Ageless Child,” in 2011. Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org).