According to spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle, everyone has two identities: the “form identity” and the “essential identity.”
Most of us tend to focus on our form identity, or the apparent part of ourselves. “There is the form identity of you with a personal history and a personal future history, and you do your best there,” Eckhart says. “It’s good. You have to do your best. You learn things. You improve your skills. You experience things. You travel. You get a good job, or as good as you can. Improve yourself as a person. Good. But not enough.”
To find deep, lasting joy, Eckhart says, you must delve deeper and find your essential identity, or what he describes as “the formless and timeless essence of who you are.” Otherwise, you might find yourself chasing fleeting happiness. “If you only know the form you, the form identity, life becomes very frustrating,” Eckhart says. “You never really get any lasting peace or joy in your life because everything changes so quickly. Whatever you achieve, a moment gives you pleasure or not, and then either it’s taken away, or it dissolves, or it no longer gives you pleasure, because you’ve had it for too long. And so life becomes very frustrating if the deep that I mentioned is missing in your life.”
So, how do you find your essential self? Eckhart’s answer is simple: through stillness. “That is a sensing. That is the ability to just become still. The ability to look at something or someone without imposing immediately conceptual thought on it or him or her. The ability to become still. I said in my book Stillness Speaks, a little meditative book, you are never more essentially yourself than when you are still. You’re never more essentially yourself than when you are still.”
Here, Eckhart explains why stillness is the key to connecting with who you really are.