Originally Published: April, 2012
I arrived in Vancouver on the tail end of August, 2011. The Summer days were fading and the cool, crisp, September air was setting in. On the 18 hour plane ride over, I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if I’ll meet him?’ as I flicked through the pages of one of his books. It seemed unlikely, but I hoped it would happen all the same.
It was during the third week of my semester abroad that our paths first crossed. We pulled up next to each other at the traffic lights: me on my pushbike, him in his blue jaguar. I glanced around to see his bearded face in the car window, and waved, hoping to catch his attention. He smiled back.
I enjoyed studying at The University of British Columbia. My philosophy classes were more challenging, the students more enthusiastic than back at Melbourne University. Each time I left Existentialism 385, my head would be pulsating with life's deepest questions. To put them at bay, I would wander off campus into the Pacific Spirit Regional Park: a 1,800 acre forest that spread across the University Endowment Lands, right behind campus, only a 10-mintue walk from my dorm. The trail I most enjoyed walking, lay on Pacific Spirit’s perimeter. To reach it, I followed a road down past the suburban, campus backstreets; past a small secondary school, and there, hidden off on the side, was Sword Fern’s entrance.
Walking Sword Fern soon became somewhat of a daily meditation for me. Unlike many of the other trails throughout this mammoth forest, Sword Fern harboured smaller vegetation, like younger pines, ferns, and shrubs. I enjoyed examining them, pretending I was some kind of botanist as I clasped my hands behind my back and frowned at the various mosses and lichens. Every time I began this walk, I always did my best to leave my worries and woes at the forest’s doorstep. My walking meditation was simple – walk to the end of Sword Fern, clear my mind of all thoughts, and walk back again. Rarely did I encounter others whilst doing this. Now and then a jogger or cyclist might fly by, but on the whole, this trail remained remarkably solitary.
The day I met him, my mind was particularly lively. I reached the forest’s entrance and began focusing on my breath, doing my best to leave my heavy head behind. I followed Sword Fern down, weaving through the trunks along the leaf-littered path, inspecting the ferns, stumps, and rocks that lined it. Nearing the end, I would routinely taper off into the woods to sit in a short meditation. However, on this day, something inside of me whispered, ‘No,’ right at the point where I would normally digress. Obediently, I turned on my heels and wandered back along the way I’d come, never once questioning this sudden change of mind.
About halfway back, I came across him: a middle-aged man with a little white terrier by his side. He was stout and wore a blue cap with the brim pulled down so that his face was obscured. As he approached me, I became distracted by his snowy dog, which was now darting in and out of the ferns; its pink tongue dangling as it panted away. I had almost passed this man, when suddenly I was hit with an immense presence. At the same time, my peripherals caught sight of the familiar, rotund profile that I’d seen only a month earlier.
‘Excuse me…’ I said, whipping round to face him, ‘are you Eckhart Tolle?’
Very slowly he turned around and looked up, a small smile now spreading across his face.
‘Yes…yes…I am…indeed.’ His words entwined like delicate latticework, forming into soft sentences.
With my heart now in my throat, I still managed to utter a few words:
‘Oh wow…it’s…it’s really nice to meet you.’
We shook hands. His grip was tender, his hand warm.
‘It is…very nice…to meet you too,’ he replied.
‘I’m a big fan of yours,’ I proceeded, my star-struck mind regaining focus, ‘I really love your work.’
‘That’s good…I can see you are…very present.’
To this I didn’t really know what to say. I shifted on my feet and paused for a moment, before telling him how I’d waved to him at the traffic lights no more than a month ago. He vaguely recalled the incident, chuckling and saying, ‘Yes…a lot of people…wave to me.’
As the conversation continued, I told him I was inspired by his series of books, and that I too had aspirations of becoming a kind of “spiritual” author. He inquired about my accent and I explained how I was from Melbourne, but was doing an exchange course over here in Vancouver. I mentioned my passion for eastern philosophy and my love for the Taoist and Zen traditions. In fact, rather unknowingly, I seemed to tell him almost everything about myself. Each time I dished out a new detail, he would bend his head in a prolonged nod of approval, and smile his small, bashful smile. His wide, blue eyes twinkled and he appeared completely absorbed in everything I had to say, as if nothing else could distract him from this moment; as if everything outside of our conversation was insignificant.
Eventually, I realised that in my nervousness I was rabbiting on, and so, quickly changed the direction of conversation.
‘Do you walk along here often?’ I asked.
‘Yes…I do. My home is…very close by…just over there,’ he pointed over my shoulder into the distance.
‘Oh, you’re really close by. Isn’t this forest just incredible? I’ve been walking this trail every day, it’s so beautiful.’
‘Yes…I walk through the forest…every day as well. The nature here is…quite spectacular.’
We both fell silent.
‘Anyway, I guess I better get going. I’m really glad I got to meet you,’ I said, ‘it’s strange that I bumped into you again after seeing you not so long ago.’
‘Well…the Universe is…always working in synchronicity,’ he responded.
‘It seems it is,’ I replied, ‘maybe I’ll see you along here sometime again?’
‘Yes…maybe...very nice meeting you. Good luck…with your studies.’
He turned around and walked away. I did the same, caught, not in shock anymore, but in a mixture of amazement and amusement.
My meeting with Eckhart Tolle highlighted numerous realisations for me, but there was one epiphany that struck me the most: divine synchronisation. The series of events was uncanny. It firstly began with thoughts of meeting him, during the airplane ride over to Vancouver. A few weeks into my arrival, I had waved to him at the traffic lights. Now, a month and half into my trip, we were conversing in the middle of a forest. This all occurred to me to be more than just a coincidence. For me it was a sure sign of the Universe’s synchronicity. It made me feel like something greater was watching over me and looking after me. Even though I always sensed this was so, I often had fleeting moments of doubt when I would ask the questions, ‘Is there anything beyond us? Is there anything truly divine beyond the material world?’ This incident felt to me like it was the final answer, and that answer was, ‘Yes.’ As I walked away from Mr. Tolle, it became clear to me that the Universe and I were a team, constantly striving towards harmony. By the time I had reached the forest’s exit, all fear and doubt had melted away, and was now replaced with a deep trust for the process of life.
Additionally, meeting Eckhart not long after I had envisaged this meeting, showcased truth in the law of attraction. The law of attraction is the theory that our thoughts and intentions are directly related to that which manifests in our existence. It can sometimes be difficult to witness because we often miss or “see through” that which we have brought into fruition. I believe missing what we have manifested, is due to a lack of present awareness. Many of us, in the busyness of our lives, dive into what I would call “tunnel vision.” We become so set in our ways and so focused on a goal we’re attempting to reach in front of us, that we become oblivious to what is going on around us; that is, to what is existing in our peripheral vision, outside of this tunnel vision. I myself am no stranger to tunnel vision and unconsciously participate. This is why I take time out to do things such as walking meditations. From my own experience, I can assure you that, more often than not, what we want to draw into our lives has already manifested in some way; however, because we are in tunnel vision, we walk right passed it.
In my scenario, I never recognised Eckhart when he was in front of me. I was oblivious to his presence. That being said, when he was at my side I instantly “felt” him. Had I not been doing a walking meditation and keeping my mind still and present, I can guarantee you I would have waltzed on right by him. Looking back on this, I deduce, that when using the law of attraction to manifest what you want in your life, don’t always expect yourself to find what you seek, directly in front of you. It is more likely that it will exist on the boundary, waiting for you to pull out of tunnel vision and back into present awareness, so that you can turn and face it. Also, it is likely that you will intuitively feel that which exists in your peripherals, before actually seeing it. Thus, it is always important to be in the present moment, so as to be aware of the subtle signs of the universe’s synchronicity. I feel Mr. Tolle would agree, as he is a strong advocate of the power of present awareness, and has dedicated much of his life to teaching it.
My intention, in writing this article, was not to idolize Eckhart Tolle. On the contrary, Mr. Tolle is another human being just like you and I. Looking back on our short meeting, I’ve realised that most of the things I’ve learnt were not things that he taught me directly. In fact, our conversation was not particularly profound or philosophical. I learnt these things by simply being in his company and by observing how he acts. This interaction reminded me of how the old Taoist and Zen sages would rarely teach their students through conversation. Instead, the student would learn by being in the sage’s presence, and witnessing how the sage relates to their surroundings. Being in Mr. Tolle’s presence, I was able to vicariously feel his unwavering trust in the universe. It is this characteristic that makes him stand apart from most other people; it is also why he has become such an amazing teacher for humanity. It seems, his incredible trust in divine synchronisation allows him to fearlessly walk to the universe’s rhythm, and in return, the universe walks to his.
The good news is that we can all do the same. It just takes two things: present awareness and fearlessness:
Present awareness comes from stepping out of “tunnel vision” and coming back to the moment, so that you become aware of your peripherals, and subsequently, everything that is around you. This way, you can tune your senses to the Universe’s frequency. By becoming attuned, you are working as a team with the Universe.
Fearlessness comes from trusting the divine synchronicity at work; knowing everything is part of a higher plan that is for your own greatest good. Once we come to trust this, we can then tap into this plan and become a co-creator. In order to do so, we need to be conscious of the thoughts and intentions we are sending out, and observing how they are manifesting in our lives. Once we are mindful of this relationship, we can then alter it to be exactly the way we want it to be. As a result, our life becomes exceptionally responsive to our intentions.
Try it out yourself. Send out your intentions as accurately and directly as you can and then stay present, in order to observe the manifestations that occur, not just in front of you, but all around you. The correlation is rarely instantaneous, but there is a correlation nonetheless. As you start to see the direct correlation, your trust will begin to grow. As your trust grows, so does your partnership with the divine.
Originally Published: April 27th, 2012