"Every state transmits itself." - Eckhart Tolle
I listened to a fascinating talk by Eckhart Tolle yesterday. He said that a big reason why people love animals so much is: animals don't think. So they help us to not think.
He said, 'Your pet will look at you. He isn't thinking about you."
Animals live below thought, but us humans can rise above thought. Being with animals helps us to rise above thought. Rising above thought is very important - it is the next stage of human evolution.
I believe that thinking for most humans today is almost continuous, and totally compulsive. It's relentless and exhausting. The response of continuous thinking in your body is called emotions - so we get pushed and pulled around a lot, mostly by desire and fear. So to rise above thought is a great blessing, and a great gift to the planet. Suddenly we're not polluting the earth with stress, with negativity anymore. Rising above thought is offering peace to the world, which is the next stage, the true human being.
But eventually we need to bring that stillness, that peace into our relationships with other human beings as well. And it's not just a nice idea, it's actually totally essential. Because other wise we're acting like a human doing. Doing, thinking, talking - all the time. Either inside our head or with someone else. And in that there's no peace. But really we are a human being. We can be. You can relax. We can enjoy this very moment without needing to get to another moment.
In this moment there is always beauty, peace and aliveness.
We might start by finding our peace in connection with nature, or in a meditation practice or maybe a musical practice or a even a physical practice - no doubt many athletic people find a degree of peace (freedom from their mind) while doing their thing, whether it's a morning jog, a yoga class or something else.
But at some point we need to take it to the next level, because, as Tolle puts it, "Relationships need stillness to survive." In stillness there really isn't two of us anymore. There's really just one. Being is one.
So we can go from communication to communion. And this is a sweet state, a sweet space. It's love, actually. It's also tuning in to the inner. The inner world lies behind this physical world of form...the inner world is a formless, boundless world... the world of Consciousness, or Light. And in this state you can know so much more about the other, about what's going on with them, and about right action, what they need, how to serve them, where things might go - than we ever could through words alone.
Wisdom, wise action, then becomes possible in the relationship. And sometimes this means that we will simply do nothing but be there - as a field of stillness. Stillness isn't particularly hard to practice. Mostly it takes remembering to do it. We might begin by taking moments throughout the day to simply drop in - move some attention to our inner body, feeling the inner energy field of the body. Many find it easiest to begin by feeling their hands. Another way is to simply 'come to your senses', several times during the day, giving full attention to your surroundings, whenever you remember to do so. Really notice all the colors, and shades of color. Notice what you can hear, near and far. And pay attention to your inner body as well. See, hear, feel, fully - and you will have no attention left for thinking. Then the next stage involves doing this while with someone you love, and then making choices that support that developing stillness. Choices like our home, our job, or our routines, can be made to support stillness in developing. And developing stillness might just be one of the most important things we can do. In Tolle's words, "Spiritual growth is the increasing absence of thought."
The more we become free of thought, the more we discover that Now, this moment, is all there ever is, and all there ever was.
So our animal friends help us to be in touch with being, a peaceful state - a state of no thought. They help us be free of thought, because that's where they are. This reminds me a lot of a teaching by transpersonal theorist Ken Wilbur, on the '3 stages'. They are:
1. Pre-rational - a child before it develops an ego or 'i'
2. Rational - ego or thinking mind
3. Trans-rational - transcending your ego, transcending thought.
Experiencing the world more and more through stillness.
The third stage is what many of us are developing now. And our animal friends are helping us to do this. But then bringing that stillness into our relationships is essential, too. It might just be one of the most important things we can do.