Unity Magazine: Your awakening was dramatic and permanent. Most of us are trying to get there one step at a time. We still have to catch ourselves being in judgment or operating from ego and remember to let that go. Do you ever have to remind yourself of such things, or do you consistently live in higher consciousness without having to course-correct?
Tolle: Well, for the transformation to be integrated fully into my life took quite a few years. At first, on the external level my life continued as if nothing much had happened, although there was one change. Things came into my life without any effort, sometimes on a very small scale, or on a larger scale. But I still continued with my old life, believing that the academic world was still my path. I got accepted for graduate work at Cambridge and, again, that came effortlessly, and for a while I enjoyed it. Then gradually I noticed a heaviness because everybody was in their minds and their egos. So, it took a few years before I readily realized, “This is not where I am meant to be.” I almost touched on unhappiness again at that point. I had to bring myself back to the present moment. It was like the mind tugging on my sleeve and saying, “Come this way towards unhappiness.” And I had to say, “No, I’m not going there.”
For some reason, I always thought Tolle quit academic life immediately after his experience. I did not know it took him years to realize he was not where he was supposed to be. I also had no idea he came close to returning to a state of unhappiness. This makes his situation so much more relatable to me. For some time, I have been struggling with negative feelings about my job. But I don't know if these feelings are caused by ego's identification with habitual thoughts or if they are based on a deeper truth.
There is no logical reason I should be unhappy with my job. I sit in a warm, comfortable cube with other friendly cubemates. The work is not stimulating, but not incredibly boring. It's not like I'm picking cotton 18 hours a day. So I continue to question.