Best Spirituality Book for Depression: Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
Like all of Tolle’s writings, this book reads like a collection of short meditations. Not those corny ones, though. Real ones, that feel real and really get into you.
Can this book help me overcome depression?
Does it address depression specifically?
Just a bit. But meditation and inner stillness change your mind and thus deals directly with depression.
What does it say that can help?
Be still, says Tolle. Be the Buddha. Practice doing so till it gets wired into your brain.
- The egoic self is always engaged in seeking. It is seeking more of this or that to add to itself, to make itself feel more complete. This explains the ego’s compulsive preoccupation with future.
- What are the stories, the fictions from which you derive your sense of self?
- Set goals, but know that the arriving is not all that important. When anything arises out of presence, it means this moment is not a means to an end: the doing is fulfilling in itself every moment. You are no longer reducing the Now to a means to an end, which is the egoic consciousness.
- “No self. No problem,” said the Buddhist Master when asked to explain the deeper meaning of Buddhism.
- Stillness is your essential nature.
- The equivalent of external noise is the inner noise of thinking. The equivalent of external silence is inner stillness. Whenever there is some silence around you — listen to it. That means just notice it.
- When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness, you become still yourself.
- Even when there is noise, you can be aware of the stillness underneath the noise, of the space in which the noise arises. That is the inner space of pure awareness, consciousness itself.
- Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is — no matter what form it takes — you are still, you are at peace.
- True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.
- Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.
- The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters.
- Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don’t take your thoughts too seriously.
- Whenever you are immersed in compulsive thinking, you are avoiding what is. You don’t want to be where you are. Here, Now.
- What is this basic delusion? Identification with thought.
- Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.
On present moment awareness:
- To have your attention in the Now is not a denial of what is needed in your life. It is recognizing what is primary. Then you can deal with what is secondary with great ease. It is not saying, “I’m not dealing with things anymore because there is only the Now.” No. Find what is primary first, and make the Now into your friend, not your enemy. Acknowledge it, honor it. When the Now is the foundation and primary focus of your life, then your life unfolds with ease.
- I am not my thoughts, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences. I am not the content of my life. I am Life. I am the space in which all things happen. I am consciousness. I am the Now. I Am.
- Most people’s lives are run by desire and fear. Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be yourself more fully. All fear is the fear of losing something and thereby becoming diminished and being less.
- Do you really need to mentally label every sense perception and experience? Do you really need to have a reactive like/dislike relationship with life where you are in almost continuous conflict with situations and people? Or is that just a deep-seated mental habit that can be broken? Not by doing anything, but by allowing this moment to be as it is.
- Can you detect even the slightest element within yourself of not wanting to be doing what you are doing? That is a denial of life, and so a truly successful outcome is not possible.
- When you say “yes” to the “isness” of life, when you accept this moment as it is, you can feel a sense of spaciousness within you that is deeply peaceful. On the surface, you may still be happy when it’s sunny and not so happy when it’s rainy; you may be happy at winning a million dollars and unhappy at losing all your possessions. Neither happiness nor unhappiness, however, go all that deep anymore. They are ripples on the surface of your Being. The background peace within you remains undisturbed regardless of the nature of the outside condition.
- Am I saying, “Enjoy this moment. Be happy”? No. Allow the “suchness” of this moment. That’s enough.
On suffering and surrender:
- Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion. You would not be reading this now. Suffering cracks open the shell of ego, and then comes a point when it has served its purpose. Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.
- There are many subtle and not so subtle forms of suffering that are so “normal” they are usually not recognized as suffering and may even feel satisfying to the ego — irritation, impatience, anger, having an issue with something or someone, resentment, complaining.
Accept that I’m agitated and angry? Accept that I cannot accept? Yes. Bring acceptance into your nonacceptance. Bring surrender into your nonsurrender. Then see what happens.
Chronic physical pain is one of the harshest teachers you can have. “Resistance is futile” is its teaching. Nothing could be more normal than an unwillingness to suffer. Yet if you can let go of that unwillingness, and instead allow the pain to be there, you may notice a subtle inner separation from the pain, a space between you and the pain, as it were. This means to suffer consciously, willingly. When you suffer consciously, physical pain can quickly burn up the ego in you, since ego consists largely of resistance. The same is true of extreme physical disability. You “offer up your suffering to God” is another way of saying this.
You don’t need to be a Christian to understand the deep universal truth that is contained in symbolic form in the image of the cross. The cross is a torture instrument. It stands for the most extreme suffering, limitation, and helplessness a human being can encounter. Then suddenly that human being surrenders, suffers willingly, consciously, expressed through the words, “Not my will but Thy will be done.” At that moment, the cross, the torture instrument, shows its hidden face: it is also a sacred symbol, a symbol for the divine. That which seemed to deny the existence of any transcendental dimension to life, through surrender becomes an opening into that dimension.
- Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.
- Leave Life alone. Let it be.
And a few more quotes:
- What can you learn from this? Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.
- Feel the energy of your inner body. Immediately mental noise slows down or ceases. Feel it in your hands, your feet, your abdomen, your chest. Feel the life that you are, the life that animates the body.
- Whenever you meet anyone, no matter how briefly, do you acknowledge their being by giving them your full attention? Or are you reducing them to a means to an end, a mere function or role? What is the quality of your relationship with the cashier at the supermarket, the parking attendant, the repairman, the “customer”? A moment of attention is enough. As you look at them or listen to them, there is an alert stillness — perhaps only two or three seconds, perhaps longer. That is enough for something more real to emerge than the roles we usually play and identify with.
To what degree do you think this book can help me overcome depression?
Depression effectiveness rating: 9 on a scale of 1-10
Where can I find it?
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