Well I hope I haven’t scared some of you off with the exposed workings of my inner brain those last few posts. Thanks to you dear souls who supported that, it truly means a lot and I am genuinely grateful to you. I do love stream-of-consciousness texts — both reading them and writing them.
So… I’ve completed one of the items on my 2019 goals list (only half of number 1, and the easiest one at that!) — and I copy it here as a gift to you all.
I’d promised to transcribe this video I’d seen some time ago, in which Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose) talks about alcohol with respect to the process of awakening/awareness. The video is embedded on Eckhart’s own website, and I highly recommend watching it yourself, since Eckhart is a great speaker — quite magical and endearing, and a lot of fun to see and hear.
This below-transcribed seven-minute video is part of a longer video (which I haven’t seen), accessible to members of Eckhart’s program only. I’m sure the program (currently listed at the very reasonable price of ‘Free Trial for 10 days then $19.95 per month’) is excellent, but I’ve banned myself from signing up for more courses/memberships until I have current classes completed, so my surety is faith-based only. :))
So here, as previously mentioned, is my transcription of the video: What do you believe about the effects of drink? (Awaken to a Life of Purpose and Presence / On Drinking Alcohol by Eckart Tolle) as found at: https://www.eckharttollenow.com/new-home-video/?shortcode=0gq8fj
[Eckhart speaking, video clip starts in the middle of a sentence:]
“…but even if that’s not the case with you… if ‘presence’ is arising in you, you get, even…let’s say you over-indulge once a week, in alcohol, that can represent a significant set-back, in the arising consciousness. So you have to be very careful there, and if you know yourself and you know that you cannot stop yourself once you’ve had one or two drinks, then it would be better not to drink at all.
“Once presence becomes your normal state, you don’t need to be concerned anymore about drink. You may or may not have drink occasionally… And even if you were drunk, awareness would then still be there; once you are established in presence, the awareness would still be there. I know that if I drank a whole bottle of wine — well, some people do that — some people drink a whole bottle of wine every day [chuckles] — not that I could ever do that — if I drank a whole bottle of wine I would probably collapse. But until I collapsed the awareness would be totally there.
“Ram Dass — famous story, had a guru in India, and Ram Dass of course was into LSD — heavily into LSD; and he gave his guru, euhm, what do they call it — hits, pills, whatever [Eckhart smiles; audience chuckles] — he gave his guru two or three — normally you take *one,* — he gave him three, or something like that; and the guru says, ‘Oh, I’ll have another’ — [Ram Dass] gave him four, and then ‘Give me another,’ [Ram Dass] gave him five, and the guru put them in his mouth, and then Ram Dass sat there waiting for something to happen, and nothing happened. The guru sat there for a few hours, and Ram Dass was disappointed — and also very impressed… on the one hand disappointed because nothing happened but very impressed *because* nothing happened. ‘Wow, he took all that and — ?’
“I [Eckhart] believe that the guru did see or experience strange things but he didn’t show it externally because it did not affect his awareness. So his awareness — his witnessing awareness — was always there. So he didn’t act on anything, that he—perhaps visions, or whatever, he saw; the awareness remained undiminished, and in the meantime, he experienced strange things — heightened sense perceptions, visions, whatever — it makes no difference; when the awareness is there, it makes little difference whether you see an actual person, or have a vision; it’s just things that appear in the space of awareness. So the guru knew that, and the guru was — dwelled — it *was* the awareness, and so it didn’t matter what he saw, it was just another spectacle to him.
“Nobody said that but I know that’s what he experienced – I took it once. So, that’s all… awareness was not touched by that. Now, probably if he had taken ten or something I don’t know what — he might have collapsed; but even then, awareness — was there. So that’s the… sometimes people are surprised when they see that I occasionally have a glass of wine; [they] say, ‘So you drink alcohol?’ Well if my state of consciousness is so fragile that I can’t even have a glass of wine, then what’s the use of awakening?’ [laughs, and audience laughs].
“But if you have an addictive pull towards alcohol, and *presence* is arising in you, and you’re pulled towards awakening, *then* it is very important to refrain completely. If that is one of the main areas that makes you unconscious, in life—the addiction to alcohol — then you cannot continue to have occasional drinks, because as you know, when you have that addiction, an occasional drink is always more than an occasional drink.
“Because the moment you have the first drink, already awareness diminishes; the second drink, diminishes even more, the third drink, it’s gone completely. So if that is your problem, then it is of absolute importance *never* to touch it. Otherwise you’ll be going up the escalator…and then it takes you down again. You, it’s like… No. I don’t think this analogy doesn’t work [laughs].
“You would continuously fall back, so this is what I mean — you continuously fall — you make a bit of progress, you go to a retreat, you come to a talk, you practice in daily life, wonderful; a few days later you go to a bar, ‘Okay, I’m just going to have one drink; just one, because it makes me feel — I deserve a treat; I’ve had a rough day [takes an imaginary sip of a drink and gulps it down] …Okay just one more [drinks again from the imaginary glass]…ah, feels so good. Third one can’t do any harm, can it? Alright I’m losing it already so I might as well. This is the last time I’ll do it.’ Again, and again, and again.
“And then the next day you wake up [makes a tired, haggard, heavy-lidded face], [you are] totally in your mind; body feels sick — totally in your mind; and you have to start all over again. [Sighs. Then smiles.] So don’t do it.”
[End of video clip: 07:09]
Link to the source video, once again: EckhartTolleNow.com
Transcription process notes: This was a manual, “sensitive” transcription made without special tools (other than audio screen for watching video, Internet access and text document). I normally type about 55-65 WPM, but without foot pedal or other pause-facilitator I had to stop often to rewind the video. Time taken, including proofreading, punctuation decisions and making minor edits for clarity: 1h15m. At first I put in timestamps but I removed them here for smoother readability.
After copying that transcription here to WordPress, I also found this video on YouTube, which gives an account of Eckhart’s drinking wine, and decided to transcribe it as well, allowing my obsession to lead the way down my own path of wellbriety:
“Gautam Sachdeva, author of The Buddha’s Sword, reminisces about memorable moments spent with the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle.”
0:500-06:46 [Gautam Sachdeva speaking] “…but coming back to Eckhart, I even remember one incident at Vancouver, when we had dinner and red wine was served. This was in the early days, you know, when I didn’t know Eckhart much at all, and he had his glass of wine, and he took a sip — like we all take the first sip, you know, very gently, and tast[ing] the wine, and put[ting] it down. And then the man went around serving wine to everyone else, and he then came back to us, put some more wine in. And then I saw Eckhart picking up the glass again, and going through the same gentle and slow ritual [makes motion of swirling the glass]. And I thought, you know, like, this is not his first sip, because I just saw that ten minutes back or five minutes back; you know? So I looked at him, I said “Eckhart, just to clarify, you know the way you approach this sip of wine is incredible to see [laughs], but I think I saw it before; was it a déjà vu or what?” and he said, “No, it is my second sip, but it’s as if it’s my first.” And then he burst out laughing, you know [laughs]. And it was so true! So what I liked is when you can see the teaching being lived. Whoever it is, you see? When anyone is living their teaching, that is a sign of authenticity. Then you know it’s no longer theory. So with Eckhart, I mean, what stays with me the most is the times when there was not much speaking at all.”
Link to Gautam Sachdeva’s website, which contains links to his beautiful-looking books, including The Buddha’s Sword, and Explosion of Love: https://gautamsachdeva.com/
That’s it for now, friends!
Hope you enjoyed this, and that it entertained/educated/inspired you in some way. Thanks very much for keeping me honest/accountable. :)) Would love to read your thoughts/feelings/discussions in the comments.
njl @ bloomwords.com
Image: Wine glass empty; making space for presence/awareness. Photo by rawpixel.com via Pexels