In Chapter 8, “The Discovery of Inner Space” of A New Earth, Echkhart Tolle writes:
“Non-resistance, non-judgement, and non-attachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.” (pg 225)
I’ve been practicing this, and I can definitely say that yup, that is true. As the Borg say, “Resistance is futile”, and indeed, my experience of resistance is that I miss opportunities, because I’m stuck in a resistant space that potentially has a lot of charged emotions to it like anger. Not resisting, I have the physical sensation of relaxing and mentally, not worrying about the future. Non-resistance brings me back into the present and I am more receptive to opportunities.
My experience of non-attachment dovetails with the ability, described in Non-Violent Communication (NVC), of having empathy for others. When I practice non-attachment to my own ideas, I’m much more open and interested other people’s ideas. And this has a very interesting effect (which could be called the Dale Carnegie effect): when I show an interest in other people, they become interested in my ideas.
And non-judgment is a vital ingredient for empathy–not judging another person (or even myself). I find judgement to be a closing, exclusionary activity. When a person consistently says one thing but does another, (and here I dive into NVC again) I can observe the inconsistency and I can be aware of my feelings of frustration and need for consistency, but I do not have to judge the person as being “bad”. Non-judgement is a path to accurate observation and experiencing my own feelings and needs, which allows me to come to decisions based on what I experience rather than on my judgement of a person or situation.
But I found myself in a quandary. Accepting (non-resistance) without judging, combined with non-attachment, I found myself in a space of almost continuous inner joy, but I found it very difficult to engage deeply in any activity. What does it now mean to say “I love you” to my partner, when I live in a space of non-attachment? What motivates me to break the silence on a lovely walk with a friend when I am experiencing non-judgement? Why should even bother expressing my needs (other than the bottom of Maslow’s core needs pyramid) when I live into non-resistance?
This bothered me in an abstract sense, as it seemed like I was losing something important in my experience of life. The answer to this came in Tolle’s last chapter of the same book, in which he describes the three modalities of awakened doing: acceptance, enjoyment, enthusiasm. Tolle writes:
“You need to be vigilant to make sure that one of them operates whenever you are engaged in doing anything at all–from the most simple task to the most complex. If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.”
Once I read that, I realized that this was the key to unlock my question. I am still experiencing my degree of acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm, even while practicing non-resistance, non-judgement, and non-attachment. Indeed, one of the things I noticed first when practicing these was an significant increase in joy. So I can say “I love you” to my partner in and as the result of the experience of joy and enthusiasm. There’s a duality to this space, balancing the inner activity (and it is an active thing!) of the practice of inner peace with the outer activity of expressing acceptance, joy, and enthusiasm.