“Should a situation arise that you need to deal with, your actions will be clear and incisive—and more likely to be effective—if it arises out of present moment awareness. It will not be a reaction coming from the past conditioning of your mind but from an intuitive response to the situation.” Eckhart Tolle (from A New Earth)
“An intuitive response to a situation” is a creative response. Tolle is speaking to the problem of creativity that all artists face. Even here when I open this quote card, I feel resistance, a writer’s block, a not know what to say, and what’s the use. Who am I anyway to address this: who do I think I am.
I’m reminded of the three temptations of the Buddha when he awakened to “the present moment.” The first two were desire and fear, which the Buddha passed easily, but the third was Doubt. Mara, which is one’s own mind, demanded that the Buddha point to what authority gave him the credential to be who he was. What degree, what experience, what guru or lineage, what ordination, what certificate and education….what gives you the authority. What past conditioning, in other words, what is your reference, what is external to you that moves you, that gives you power? A God? An Institution, a Religion, scripture? What?
The Buddha in silence just pointed to the earth beneath him, an intuitive response to the situation. The Bodhi Tree he was seated under showed him with flowers.
This reminds me of the Zen Koans which are the enigmatic responses of the Zen master to the monk’s intellectual questions. Our intellect works through logic and knowledge, which is language. The Buddha’s response was non-verbal, non-intellectual, and through the body’s language instead of the mind thought.
The Buddha’s pointing to the ground of being was not pointing to something as his authority, his source of creativity. With fear and desire defeated—which is the mind conditioned by time—only Present Moment exists. Just A New Earth exists.