Question: Most spiritual traditions have a strong emphasis on morality. What role does morality play in your teachings?
Eckhart Tolle: The main aim of this teaching is to transcend the Ego, the Ego being a false sense of self, a false sense of identity. Morality is important in many traditional teachings because those teachings have not gone beyond Ego, so they still function within the framework of the Ego.
If you live in a society that is inhabited by Egos, you need certain external rules of behavior and regulations so that there is not absolute chaos. What you need then is commandments, or laws that need to be in place so that the Ego does not create absolute chaos in the world. The emphasis of this teaching is to transcend the Ego so that a different state of consciousness arises, we call it “presence”.
Once this state of consciousness operates, external rules and regulations are not really needed anymore, because a knowing of what is right and wrong arises from within you, and you are no longer able to inflict suffering on others because the illusion of absolute separateness between who you are and who another human being is, has disappeared. You are no longer trapped in that illusion, so you know that ultimately, whatever you are doing to another, you are doing to yourself. Most importantly, there is love as the recognition of the other as yourself - the recognition of oneness. Once that is the basis of your life, you don’t need rules or regulations anymore because that arises directly and spontaneously from within you.
One could say that all you need to do is to be in that state of love, which is not conventional love, but the recognition of non-separation, recognition of the ultimate Oneness of all beings. Once that is there, then the right conduct flows naturally from within you. You don’t need to memorize the commandments anymore to tell you what’s right and wrong. The emphasis of this teaching is transcending the Ego, and once that’s done, morality arises from within. The emphasis of this teaching is not on morality because that comes as really the effect of the transformation. It is the effect of the inner transformation. The emphasis of this teaching is not on morality, but on something deeper, out of which true morality flows.