But we can’t just cancel out all the bad-feeling emotions and keep all the good ones. It just doesn’t work that way. Like the front and back of a piece of paper, you can’t have one without the other. If we didn’t recognize the horrible feelings we would not be able to recognize the happy feelings either.
These feelings come from our minds. First come the thoughts, then come the feelings. We see something we judge we don’t like. We think first. We judge first. Then come the feelings. We see someone hurting a puppy. First comes the thought, “This is wrong.” Then come the feelings of anger, upset, and outrage. Maybe to a sadist, it wouldn’t be wrong. Seeing it would make them happy.
The problem comes when our thoughts are constantly in a state of judging and commenting on life with a negative bias. In our need to survive, everything can become a threat. The fearful and negative bias that kept us alive and dominant as a species is also what poisons our lives and causes us to be anxious or sad animals—unlike any other animals on the planet.
So it’s really the mind’s fearful antics that Eckart Tolle addresses. The emotions are a bi-product of our churning thoughts. To escape from the uncomfortable emotions, people will try all kinds of things. Eckart Tolle points to how the mind works so you won’t be hurled around by it or be kept on an endless pursuit of fun and temporary relief through substances and distractions.
He doesn’t mean to dull out our emotions so we won’t feel anything. It’s more like he’s telling us to dull out the aspects of our minds that cause unnecessary pain and suffering for ourselves and others. He’s not suggesting that we be like zombies, mechanically going through our days accomplishing tasks and surviving. He is letting us know that we need to use techniques to get control of the ever-racing mind and its chatter so that we can clear the way for the peaceful emotions.
The way to do this is by living in the present moment. In this moment we can feel whatever comes up and not hide from it. We can feel our emotions deeply but they don’t pull us around. Feelings come and go. They are not who we really are. We can feel one way about someone one day and then next we feel completely differently. So just like our minds, which come and go, our feelings also appear and disappear on the horizon of our waking consciousness. They guide us through life and let us know our happiest and most fulfilling path, but they are not who or what we are.