This is a short clip (4 minutes) of Eckhart Tolle that I really love. When he introduces the concept that the most important thing about a room is the space to contain the room, that really set off fireworks in my head. It’s an incredibly powerful observation. This short clip, entitled “Space, Awareness, Consciousness” is extracted from a full 90 minute conversation with Bradley Horowitz at Google entitled “Living with Meaning, Purpose and Wisdom in the Digital Age” from 2012.
You can watch the 4 minute clip right here or read the full transcript below.
Full Transcript – Space, Awareness, Consciousness
Sense perceptions, thoughts, emotions – put them together, mix them up – that’s my life. Ok. So, that applies to everybody. The particular mixture differs from person to person, what exactly goes into the sense perceptions, and the thoughts and the emotions, varies slightly from person to person, but basically that’s the mixture. Now the question is – you can’t escape that of course that’s normal life – is there anything else? Sense perceptions, thoughts, emotions – ok, let’s see – there must be something else because, how do I know there are sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions? Is the ability to recognise, to have a sense perception based on thinking? No. Because to have a sense perception, you don’t really need to think , you can just look and see. So, what else is there, and this is a key thing, there is something else apart from sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions which is – we could call it an awareness that there is a sense perception, there is an emotion, there is a thought. We could call that pure consciousness. Otherwise, how could you have a sense perception? So there is something there that enables sense perceptions to be there, that enables the thought to be there, that enables an emotion to be there. And that is the thing that in most humans is hidden, in other words, they don’t know it’s there. Because that is presence, which we could also call consciousness, which we could also call awareness. And that is the spiritual dimension, and that is awakening once you realise that that is there. We could also describe that as the space for all those other things.
So let’s compare this room to your consciousness, and then we say, ok, there’s the furniture in the room, there’s the bodies in the room, and there are the lights in this room. Those things are in this room, so, if I asked you to describe the room, you’d probably describe in terms of the furniture in it, the walls, the ceiling, whatever you see. When you describe that room you miss the most essential thing about this room. Because it’s so obvious – that you miss it – which is the space that really is the essence of this room – [it] isn’t the walls or the ceiling or the floor, the furniture or the bodies in this room – the essence of this room is the space in this room. But space is not something tangible that you can you can say “ah, there it is” – where? And the same thing applies to inside, the space of consciousness is the very thing that enables everything else to be. But it’s very much like the fish in the water that says “why are you always talking about water? – you haven’t shown it too me yet” – says one fish to the other – the other fish is the spiritual teacher [laughter] – “what water are you talking about, where, what water?” – and of course, it’s everywhere, it’s inside you, it’s outside you. But the amazing thing is that you can be aware of it, but not as an object, but as the awareness itself. Ah! I got it now, I got it. But you can’t say what it is.