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The Compassionate Eye

The Voices of Namaste Publishing and Our Guests

Treating People as a Means to an End Robs Us of Presence

Apr 26, 2011

Spiritual Insight from Eckhart Tolle's Stillness Speaks

Do you sometimes feel like just a means to an end for some of the people you encounter in your average day?

Reversing the question, do some of the people who cross your path in your everyday life serve mere as a means to an end for you?
In Stillness Speaks, Eckhart Tolle writes:

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?

We can even treat those who are close to us as a means to an end, not seeing them for the person they really are and according them our full attention. But we especially do this with people we may not know or at least don’t know well.

Eckhart asks:

What is the quality of your relationship with the cashier at the supermarket, the parking attendant, the repairman, the “customer”?

We could add the waiter or waitress, the receptionist at the hotel, and so many people in positions of service that can easily mean no more to us than a way to get what we want.

In his book The Presence Process, Michael Brown writes about the seeming gap between ourselves and other people, showing that the gap isn’t real but that we are all part of a unified field—a shared Presence.

Speaking of a visit to the grocery store from the perspective of the unified field, he writes:

The task before us is simple. We are invited to take our attention off the groceries of this world and instead choose to look into the eyes of the cashier on the other side of the gap with intent to acknowledge our shared Presence.

“Hello,” we may say, from this point of view. “How are you today?”

When our encounter is complete, we may say with appreciation, “Thank you for taking care of me today.”

In this moment of acknowledgment, recognition, remembrance, and most of all appreciation, we invite Presence to consciously look through the eyes of another directly into our eyes. When we approach anyone from this point of view, we witness them becoming present. In turn, this causes us to feel present. When we look across the gap and deliberately interact with Presence, we invite an experience that’s authentic.

As you perform your tasks at work, meet up with people on the golf course, shop at the mall or a local store, or eat out, do you regard each individual as an expression of the universal Presence we call God? Or are people simply a means to an end for you?

As you perform your tasks at work, meet up with people on the golf course, shop at the mall or a local store, or eat out, do you regard each individual as an expression of the universal Presence we call God? Or are people simply a means to an end for you?

 

*Editor's note: The Compassionate Eye appears Monday through Friday. Eckhart Tolle's second book, Stillness Speaks, which followed The Power of Now and preceded A New Earth, is available in hardback and also on CD. To go more deeply into living in the present moment in an ongoing state of consciousness, especially as it relates to being true to ourselves in our relationships with others, join us in the daily blog Consciousness Rising.

Kate123's picture

Today's words really help me see again that my Life comes from being fed by the Inner Source Who makes Itself One with me. Having this circle of Love relationship going on within...secret, hidden...and coming upon those who appear in my day, We spill out the invitation to commune with Our on-going fellowship.

I was thinking recently about how when I recognize each person AS me, whether it's something in their personality that grates against me or brings ease, they remind me, I am not my personality grid of good/evil traits and tendencies. And as I see beyond that in them into the Essence behind it, I am loving them as myself. As a result, there comes a way for their true Self to make Itself felt by them as no condemnation/judgment frees us both.