"Observe your thoughts, don't believe them." 
Eckhart Tolle

I highly recommend reading this fun and eye opening excerpt called "The Cloud" by Darryl Bailey from his book titled Dismantling the Fantasy: An Invitation to the Fullness of Life. Made available here with permission from the author.

The Cloud

Landscape with clouds picture

Once upon a time, a group of friends lay on a hillside watching a cloud. They had become fascinated with its appearance while walking in the country. It was a marvelous cloud, massive and surging, one moment appearing to be a house and the next a bevy of balloons. In turn there were forests and cities, animals and people, comings and goings, no end of activity.

As it so happened, an old man, a stranger, was wandering close by. When the group of friends saw him, they cried out in their excitement, Old man, come join us! Come watch this cloud!

After hurried introductions and the shifting of bodies, he took his place within the group.

The afternoon passed pleasantly as the cloud continued to surprise. There were soldiers at war and children at play. There were creatures of the wild: birds, mammals, and fish, as well as beasts of work and burden. There was a mother and her child. There were the many scenes of life: birth, death, sickness, youth and old age. There were lovers and fighters, friends and enemies, the interaction of groups, and single, poignant portraits.

Time wore on, the afternoon dwindled, and eventually the old man stood to leave. He thanked his new friends and made his goodbyes, but hesitated, looking at the gathering.

May I ask you a question?

Of course, they replied, in their various ways.

Were you at all concerned for those we saw this afternoon?

Who? they asked.

The figures we saw in the cloud: the soldiers, the animals, the children.

The friends looked at each other, perplexed.

One answered, Old man, there were no people, no animals; there was only the cloud.

The others nodded in agreement.

How do you know that?

How do we know what?

How do you know there was only the cloud?

It’s obvious, anyone can see it.

See what?

There is only the cloud; it’s still there.

What about the forms we saw?

There were no forms; there is only the cloud and it has no particular form.

How do you know that?

Just look, and you can see it.

What do you see?

There are no forms there.

How do you know that?

Because they’re always changing. No form is ever really there; whatever form you think you see is always altering, rearranging in some way.

How do you know that?

Just look! That’s all you have to do.

There were no soldiers, no animals, no children?

No. It may have seemed like that, but there was only the cloud.

There were no soldiers deciding to fight, no lovers deciding to love?

How could those false appearances decide to do anything? There is only the movement of the cloud.

So the cloud decides to move?

No. The cloud does not decide to move. It has no form. It simply moves. That’s its nature.

How do you know that?

Have you ever seen a cloud that stopped changing? Every aspect of it is shifting in some way.
It doesn’t decide to do it; it’s on automatic. The movement simply happens.
There were no people?
There was no birth and death?

Birth and death of what? There is only the cloud. It seems like many forms coming and going, but it’s always only the unformed cloud.

And no one is deciding to do anything?

No. The forms that appear to be there are not really there, because each one is altering in some way and eventually disappears. There is simply action or motion. The forms are not the reality; they are false appearances. There is only movement, a streaming that has no particular form.

But the lovers who moved closer together...?

There were no lovers, no soldiers, no animals. There is only the cloud.

The old man pondered this slowly.

There were no forms there?
No decisions to act?
No birth and death?

That’s right! said the friends, thinking they had finally gotten through to him.

But how do you know that for certain?

Picture of clouds

Just watch! The forms that you see are changing all the time. They never stop. No particular form is ever really there. If you had to describe a cloud, you wouldn’t say it looked like a horse or a soldier. That wouldn’t give you a true sense of the cloud. A cloud is constantly changing.

The appearance of form is not the reality. The altering is. That’s the basic fact. There is no coming or going, no birth or death, no decisions being made, no matter how much it seems like that. There is only motion. Anyone can see that if they watch it long enough.

The old man considered this carefully.

You’re absolutely certain?

Yes! We’re absolutely certain.

And you can tell all of this from seeing this constant change, this motion, this dynamic?


The old man contemplated this.

May I ask another question?

The friends remained silent, waiting.

Are you actually people?

What are you talking about? Of course we’re people.

But you’re changing.


Everything you are – your bodies, thoughts, emotions, interests, urges, desires, capacities, decisions, focuses, ideas, activities – in fact, more than just you, all things that you know of.

What about them?

They’re constantly changing.

Yes, sighed the members of the group, They’re changing.

Do you change them?

No, old man, they simply ...

The friends stood staring at him, their minds racing, exploding to find some other response.

He gazed back at them.

They looked.

He looked.

For what seemed to be a very, very, long time.

Then he smiled, turned, and wandered away.