“I think, therefore I am.” With those words, humanity catapulted into the modern era, replete with its dualities, its empiricism, its science, and, above all, its tireless, incessant thinking. “The Power of Now” flings that platitude on its head. Combat anxiety and resentment by learning to be present in the now. Wrest control from the repetitive emotional patterns that tear you down. And discover the true, fulfilled self beneath the surface when your mind goes still.
Free your inner self from the tyranny of too much mind.
READ THIS BOOK REVIEW IF YOU:
- Seek the truth at the heart of all religions and codes
- Feel incomplete or fearful and want to live a more present life
- Want to deepen your understanding of mystical experiences
Table of Contents
- You Are Not Your Mind
- Consciousness — the Way Out of Pain
- Moving Deeply Into the Now
- Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now
- The State of Presence
- The Inner Body
- Portals Into the Unmanifested
- Enlightened Relationships
- Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness, There Is Peace
- The Meaning of Surrender
- About Eckhart Tolle
First published in 1999, Eckhart Tolle’s spiritual self-help book became – with a little help from Oprah Winfrey – a number one New York Times bestseller and cultural phenomenon. His teachings borrow heavily from Christianity, as well as Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies. Tolle holds that quieting your relentless thoughts lets you become fully present in the “Now,” and that this inner stillness connects you to an eternal state of “Being.” Tolle’s subsequent books, including A New Earth and Guardians of Being, expand on his teachings. While always impartial in matters of religion, we recommend Tolle’s contemporary classic to those interested in mindfulness literature as a gateway to personal growth, inner peace and spiritual enlightenment.
- The “power of Now” comes from being completely present in the moment and freeing your consciousness from mental noise.
- You can access a new dimension of consciousness by nonjudgmentally observing your thoughts, emotions and fears.
- Your thoughts – the ceaseless self-talk streaming through your mind – block the experience of Being. “Watch the thinker,” the voice in your head that abhors silence.
- Instead of focusing on your life situation, pay attention to the only “real” thing – what is true in this moment.
- Emotions are thoughts that reverberate throughout the body.
- The “egoic” mind exists in the past and future, but cannot function in the Now.
- The “pain-body” is the emotional residue that negative experiences leave behind.
- Don’t let your outer purpose dwarf your inner purpose: to partake in the “light of Being.”
- In an enlightened relationship, you’re open to love and you accept your partner unconditionally.
- Spiritual surrender calls for accepting what is and letting go of inner resistance.
When he was 29 years old, caught in his own mental anguish and depression, Eckhart Tolle experienced a total cessation of thought — a moment of what he calls no-mind, in which the endless turning of what we consider our conscious processes stopped. What he felt that night, though, was not self-annihilation, but freedom from the constant negativity his mind inflicted on him. Waking the next morning, he found himself able to truly be aware of his surroundings, of his moment in time, and of his self. He found infinite beauty in as mundane an object as an empty bottle in his room. In that intense awareness of the present, he discovered great peace.
Vision doesn’t shatter everyone’s world at 29. For those of us still waiting on revelation, The Power of Now lays out what Tolle learned in language anyone can understand. You don’t need to have grown up in a particular religion or spiritual practice to grasp what The Power of Now offers: freedom from what is false in us — that is, the way we believe we are our minds and the problems that arise from that near-universal falsehood — and a path to a new consciousness, deeper than the mind without rejecting it.
The Power of Now delivers its lessons in friendly, question-and-answer format with rest breaks helpfully mapped out. Take one of those breaks now — take note of your thoughts, your emotions, and your body — and come into this summary without judgment, listening to your own mind’s resistance until it quiets.
You Are Not Your Mind
If The Power of Now is a guide to spiritual enlightenment, what is enlightenment?
Enlightenment is feeling one with Being.
What is Being?
Don’t get attached to the word. It’s just a form. Using God or the universe puts a fully formed idea already in your mind, and when it comes to feeling that connection with everything that is, the mind is only getting in your way.
How can that be?
You are not your mind.
The mind is a ceaselessly working survival tool, like your heart or your guts. All these organs are part of us, and we’re aware of their effects — we can even sometimes feel them move within us. But the mind is the only one we put on a pedestal, claiming, “This is me!” If that were true, though, what exactly is putting your mind on a pedestal? If we can point a finger at our minds, then who’s pointing the finger? You are something that encompasses your mind and has far greater reach.
You can become aware of your you through two practices:
- Listening to your constantly thinking mind. This establishes you as witness to your mind, an entity beyond it. Be careful not to judge the thoughts your mind churns out. Judging is a thinking act, a mind act; if you find yourself calling your thoughts stupid or smart, good or bad, right or wrong, you’re not being you but splitting your mind into two, setting it against itself. Just listen to your thoughts. Be with them, pay full attention to them, then let them pass without claiming or rejecting them. They are not you. As you consciously experience them, you will find yourself no longer identifying yourself as your mind — you are that consciousness.
- Being conscious of the now — that is, everything around you in this moment. Your surroundings, your body, the input your senses hand your brain, your own activities: these are the now. As in the first exercise, don’t judge these experiences. Just experience them. If you are sitting in a chair, feel the chair beneath your thighs, notice the length or curve of your spine. Is your leg bouncing or still? Are your feet apart or together?
You are no longer thinking, bound to the wheel of your mind. In noticing your body and where it is, what it does, you are in the now.
Why is being in the now so important?
Our minds are always, always thinking, always projecting themselves into the future by crunching data from the past. But we can’t do anything about the future, nor do we exist in the past. We can only act, feel, or be in the now.
The false self we create when we think — that is, when we constantly cast ourselves into the past or the future when now is our medium — is the ego. But the ego is just a projection. It is not you. You exist now.
What about emotion? Is that part of this “constant thinking”?
Emotion arises where mind meets body. Your mind thinks a thought and your body reacts to it, muscles loosening or contracting, hormones sending messages from synapse to gland. You are neither your mind nor your body. You are not your emotions. Take note of your emotions as often as you listen to your thoughts. This will strengthen your ability to be you, the watcher.
Isn’t this like removing myself from my feelings? What about positive feelings, like happiness or love?
Real joy and love are part of the peaceful state of oneness with Being. Those fleeting moments we feel, even when we’re not conscious and still identify with our minds, are just glimpses when that state — our natural state, our deepest state — breaks through and shuts our minds up for a second, like at the birth of a child. Then pain, fear, cravings, and all emotion and mind activity cover it up again and block us from consciousness.
Consciousness — the Way Out of Pain
If emotions tie back to pain, what is pain?
We feel pain when our minds reject what is. In other words, we feel pain when our minds reject the reality of the present moment. We want things to be this way, we wish things had gone that way — when we think or feel these things, we’re throwing ourselves into the past and future again, into what-ifs where our egos are the actors playing us. We create our pain by fighting the now.
To stop building this pain, we must make the now the only time we have. We must accept what is instead of clinging to what our minds think should be.
What about what was?
The pain of the past builds up within us to form a pain-body, another false self within us made of emotion rather than thought. The pain-body often lies dormant, but when triggered by another, similar pain, it rears up and reacts, often with violence or anger. Resistance is how the mind and emotions seek to change situations that threaten them.
And the future?
As pain is rooted in the past, fear is rooted in the future. Our ego — the “self” we make when we think we’re our mind — is false and therefore fragile, and its grip on existence is insecure. It sends a fear signal to the body when it thinks its existence is threatened.
Something as simple as being wrong threatens the ego’s existence. If we identify with a mental position that turns out to be false, our whole identity — this mindbased identity — could be false. (Of course, we know that it is.) That’s why we feel so deeply anxious when we’re proven wrong; being wrong shakes that eminently shaky identity.
Our self-worth rests on inconsistent players in our lives — struggling for wealth, success, recognition — and we often find ourselves feeling still incomplete and unfulfilled. The problem is that the ego is not our true self. The mind has created problems for itself. We are in the now, and now is what we must make peace with.
Moving Deeply Into the Now
So the mind is bad?
No. The mind is an incredible tool. What’s bad is believing you are your mind. That’s what creates problems.
Then how do we stop?
When we stop identifying with our mind, we have to end the delusion of time. What is time? The concept of time falsely projects the now into the future and into the past and stretches our ego out both ways. Time disconnects us from the now.
When we think we have time, we stop noticing what’s around us — our homes, our bodies, our loved ones. We withdraw from the now to worry about the future or dwell on the past, to dig into our resentments and gnaw on our anxieties.
Pull your attention away from time when you don’t need it for survival.
Then how on earth will we survive?
Let’s posit something called clock time. In clock time, a clock moves. We can act. We learn from the past, we set goals, we work toward those goals. We do what we have to do to survive, but we take it one step at a time, and we always keep some part of our awareness in the now.
What we want to avoid is building up psychological time, in which we take our identity from the past — what we did, what we thought, what happened to us — and project our egos into the future. We’re not in the now when we’re doing psychological time. We’re chucking ourselves into the past or the future. And why?
To avoid pain. And what is pain, again, but the rejection of the situation we’re in now. What we need is to notice the now without judging its quality. No one can give their full attention to something and also resist that something. Consciousness frees us from pain. We can only maintain consciousness in the Now.
That’s not to say you can’t act if you find a situation calls for action. Acting consciously — with full attention to the now, and without motivation from pain or fear — means acting while being. In that is joy and peace.
Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now
But my mind won’t want to be in the now.
The mind is a tool created to secure the future, and we have given our minds the reins. Our minds maintain the low-grade fears of ordinary unconsciousness — worry, struggle, neediness — that then balloon massively when the ego is threatened. Something doesn’t go according to plan, and the self we’ve created that lives in the future might cease to exist, like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
Or maybe something challenges the sense of self we’ve built from our experiences of the past, the narrative we’ve written, our origin story. That triggers our pain-body, and now that self wants to lash out and protect itself. We cling to our past just as we claw for our future.
How do I stay in the now?
Make the process conscious. Be conscious. Ask, “What’s happening in me right now?” and pay attention to yourself. You can do that by following these steps:
- Drop the negativity. If you can’t, though, acknowledge it. Witnessing it will separate you from the unconscious mental and emotional processes. You are not your fear. You are not your pain.
- Then act. Once you are acting consciously, you can either deal with the situation or accept it. Those are the only two things you can do with a situation.
- Forget waiting. At least, don’t accept waiting as a state of mind. Waiting means waiting for something, it means projecting yourself into the future. That’s your ego, that’s your fear.
The State of Presence
What strategies can I use?
Staying rooted in your body can help you stay in the now — that is, in maintaining a state of presence. Be present in your body — feel every atom of yourself, from the little ridges of skin that make up your fingerprints, there on the very tips of your fingers, to the length of bone in your arms, and so on down. See what your next thought will be. What will you think up next?
Didn’t you just say I should stop waiting for things?
You should stop allowing waiting to be a state of mind, but being still, staying alert and ready to receive the next thought, sensation, or emotion, is very different from putting off the now because you’re afraid of the future. Instead, create a gap between your stillness and awareness of beauty and the rush of thought we’re so used to. “Oh, it’s so pretty.” “Oh, if only so-and-so could see this.” “Oh, I’ll take a picture.” Each of these thoughts, even the first, takes your attention away from the beauty itself.
Is this what you mean by being one with Being?
You can’t understand or know Being intellectually.
Being encompasses everything. Consciousness is Being becoming aware of Itself. That is, we are a part of Being, and as we become conscious of ourselves, of being part of Being, the Being that manifests in us becomes conscious, too.
You might think of it as being part of a cell. All of it comes from the same DNA, but the cell manufactures different pieces according to that DNA’s instructions. It creates different proteins, which join to form different organelles. Those organelles work together to create a functioning whole. An individual human becoming conscious is like a molecule recognizing that it’s an amino acid, and that it’s part of a chain of amino acids that make a protein, and that these proteins make up a mitochondrion, and the mitochondrion powers the rest of the cell by interacting with other molecules, transmuting them into hydrogen and oxygen and energy for other molecules to pick up.
Yet, as wondrous as that is, there’s yet a body made up of these cells. And who knows what that body is part of?
So…consciousness is important, why? Mitochondria don’t know about us, they just work.
Humanity needs to be conscious to survive how insane we humans have become. We identify too much with mind and with the illusion of time. We create anxieties and pain and inflict them on each other, inflict them as people on other people. We seek to soothe our egos’ cravings by obtaining more and more. No other creature does what we do to one another.
The Inner Body
Are animals better than us, then?
Our problem isn’t that we’re wrong to have minds. Our problem is that we identify too much with our minds. Our balance is out of whack.
Should we instead identify with our bodies?
I’m sure you can guess, but here it is: You are not your body. As part of Being, we are more than body and mind. However, focusing on the body can get you out of being too much in your mind. The simplest exercises to bring your state of presence into your body center on the breath. Yoga, for example, always returns to the breath. Pay attention to your breath now. Don’t force it into any particular rhythm. Just be aware of it for a few moments. A minute, if you can. Feel your body from the inside.
Do you feel more present?
To transform yourself, to anchor yourself in that true consciousness, to become new — all of that comes through the body, not by way of divorcing yourself from it. You don’t need to deny your body intellectually or physically. Practice connecting with your inner body all the time, like when you’re waiting for a bus, doing work, or even reading a book.
I don’t like exercises that ask me to focus on my body. My body and I have a complicated relationship.
Pay attention — without judgment, only experiencing what comes up — to the emotions arising as you make the attempt, or even think about it. You may be clinging to resentment or fear toward a situation — which we can only accept or deal with — that you must forgive.
Remember, you cannot act in the past or future. Therefore, if this unforgiven situation already happened, what can you do? And if you have an expectation for yourself you haven’t reached, what does it mean that you haven’t? If you’re basing your self-worth on reaching that goal or find that your pride depends on it, that you worry about how you look, you’re reacting out of fear.
Clinging to the fear or pain only intensifies your false selves, the ego and the pain-body. Maintaining consciousness in your inner body and practicing being in the now as often as possible improves your physical health and your connection with others. Why shouldn’t it? You’re really paying attention to yourself and to the people you love, not the people you think you should be.
Portals Into the Unmanifested
What is the Unmanifested?
Don’t get caught on the words, remember? Here, though, let’s call it Being without the specificity or separateness — or, say, the egoism — of form to muddle it. As much as possible, drop images and specific words from your meditations or other spiritual exercises. You want to inhabit these practices, not analyze them, and choosing words with closed meanings inhibits your state of presence. You can’t feel what’s true if you’re already expecting something.
What if the now doesn’t work for me? Can I feel one with Being some other way?
Of course! There are other portals into the Unmanifested. Besides the now, we have silence, space, and death.
- Listening to the silence between words and sounds can open Being to you in a way that doesn’t need form. Like the now, manifesting a state of presence in it requires attention without judgment, stillness, disidentification from the mind. Pay as much or more attention to the silence as you would to sound.
- Matter is made more of empty space than anything else. How much space is around you? Within you? Would you be as empty as the galaxy, with different eyes? Can you feel the space?
- Death, of course, is the ultimate shedding of form, and the closest all of us will get to the Unmanifested in our lives. If we are able to maintain presence in that hour we ourselves become Unmanifest, that would be the greatest oneness with Being one could ever hope to experience.
What about relationships? I feel part of something bigger with my partner.
You might, but it’s a conditional pleasure, isn’t it? It depends on something outside yourself, on a form rather than on Being. Most “romantic” relationships are addictive sops to our ego’s fears and pain.
What do you mean?
Our ego seeks fulfillment outside ourselves. It’s always afraid of its own death, since anything that threatens our identifying with our mind threatens the ego’s entire existence — and we stop identifying with our mind when our mind is wrong, or useless, or doesn’t bring us happiness. So the ego looks for that fulfillment and happiness in a special bond. But that special bond goes from mind-body to mindbody, ego and emotion to emotion and ego, and only glimmers of real love and joy reach the real you now and then. These bonds so easily turn to jealousy, hate, and actions that build up the pain-body.
Ceasing to identify with the mind and being present in the now, alone or with your partner, stops you from identifying with the pain-body and causing problems with judgment, nonacceptance, neediness, and codependence.
Knowing yourself to be that inner stillness from which all love springs means being part of true, spiritual love, the love of Being. God’s love, if you will.
What about loving yourself?
Don’t have a relationship with yourself. Be yourself.
Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness, There Is Peace
It sounds like you’re saying that I can’t trust happiness, even though it’s something I feel. Are no emotions real? Should I shove my emotions away?
Of course not. Be as present with your emotions as you are with your mind. You can’t develop a state of presence without showing up and being present for every part of reality, even the parts someone says you should avoid.
But happiness as we understand it depends on perceiving conditions — temporary, situational things — as positive. That means we judge, and we judge with our minds. Our minds weren’t designed to make us happy, they were designed to solve problems. So they make problems. They tell us, “We’d be happy if…” And there we go. We’re out of the now.
Inner peace means accepting things as they are and feeling one with them.
So we have to resign ourselves to bad situations?
Again, bad is a judgment call your mind makes. When things are a detriment to your survival, you deal with them, of course. You always have to decide to deal with a situation or accept it. But you don’t have to deal with it because it’s bad. You deal with it because it’s what you have decided to do, not out of emotional reaction, not because you are placating your ego or pain-body with it. Do what you do consciously.
The mind believes resistance will change “bad” situations. This is not always true. If you think about it, you can make a case that it isn’t even mostly true. Often, when we feel negatively toward something — when we feel resistance about accepting it — we retreat even from thinking about it without acting.
Use negativity as a signal to become aware of yourself and act consciously. Once you acknowledge your thoughts and distinguish yourself from your mind’s reactive processes, you can act with focus, staying present in the now.
The Meaning of Surrender
What about when I can’t act? Or when acting isn’t the right thing to do?
Then you surrender to what is, rather than what your mind wishes it would be. You move with the flow of life rather than straining against the current.
This is not resignation.
You can surrender and still act. You can and should act, if that is the decision you come to after accepting the truth. You’re only cutting out negative motivations and false identifications. If you accept your situation, your now, as it is, you can focus on the one thing you can do now.
What if I can’t accept it?
If you can’t accept your external conditions or life situation, turn your attention inward and accept your inner condition. Forgive your emotions. Be present in your body. Bear witness to yourself.
Your life condition is not your life. You are neither your body nor your mind. What is external does not define you. You are the stillness that watches all of it, and your natural state is that of peace, love, and joy.
Does surrender mean I give up making my own choices?
Is there any choice without consciousness?
Your mind clings to the familiar, what it knows. Even if it cannot control the situation, it can control you as long as it knows what’s coming. That’s why the painbody grows stronger as it feeds on itself. The pattern controls your life.
Only when you are conscious, when you accept yourself, forgive the situation, and act from that place of stillness, do you truly choose anything.
“The Power of Now”
When your mind is still, you can gain access to your deepest self and feel the oneness of “Being.” While to many people the word “God” evokes a corresponding mental image, the word “Being” has no analogous image, nor does any single religion own this idea. Being is an open concept that encompasses the “eternal, ever-present One Life.” Being lies at the core of your essence, though it can be a difficult concept for your mind to grasp. You feel it when you are fully present and your attention is completely in the Now. Realize that “the present moment is all you ever have.”
“You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life…It is already whole, complete, perfect.”
Experiencing the transformative joy of Being brings inner peace and connects you to something greater than yourself. This enlightenment occurs when you tap into your true nature and returns you to your natural state.
Your thoughts – the ceaseless self-talk streaming through your mind – block the experience of Being. Thinking isn’t equivalent to Being. Engaging in planning, worrying, judging and explaining frames the world as a place of conflict and problems. That mental churn creates the illusion of separateness – that there is you, alone, and everything else is “other.”
“The more you are able to honor and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering – and free of the egoic mind.”
Begin to “watch the thinker,” the voice in your head that abhors silence. Focus on the repetitive thoughts that relive past situations or agonize over the future. Become a witness to thought rather than the thinker. Connect with the presence that lies beneath thought to experience a new dimension of consciousness. Watching the thinker robs thoughts of their power.
“When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally.”
You will experience pauses in the thought parade, a brief period of “no-mind,” which “is consciousness without thought.” Even if these gaps occur for only a few seconds, they bring inner peace and joy: the “oneness with Being.” With practice, these feelings can deepen and last for longer periods of time. To become fully present, focus on the Now. Give your full attention to everything you do, no matter how mundane. Stop what you are doing for a moment to observe your breath going in and out of your body. Becoming intensely aware of each moment brings you into the Now.
Enlightenment and Emotion
Most people draw their sense of self from what goes on in their minds, their past experiences and cultural conditioning. This false or “phantom” self is your ego; it exists only when you derive your identity through your thought processes. To survive, the ego keeps the past alive and projects its concerns onto the future. Ego can’t exist in the Now. Use your thinking mind to navigate day-to-day, but quiet your inner monologue. The peace and inner stillness you can achieve is the wellspring of innovation and creativity.
“In compassion, the seemingly opposite feelings of sadness and joy merge into one and become transmuted into a deep inner peace.”
Emotions are thoughts that reverberate throughout your body. For example, when you have hostile thoughts, you feel anger physically. The body undergoes biochemical changes in the presence of strong emotions. Become aware of your emotions and watch them as you watch your thoughts. Feel emotion in your body. Let it exist without it controlling you. Identifying with your mind brings emotional pain. This pain can manifest as self-pity, anger, resentment and depression. Pleasure from external sources is fleeting, part of the “pain/pleasure” cycle. You feel love, joy and inner peace when you free yourself from mental activity.
Time and Pain
Pain you create in the present and pain from the past still cause anguish. You self-generate most pain, and it is superfluous – an unnecessary source of subconscious resistance, judgment and negativity. The “egoic” mind exists in the past and future. It cannot function without the framework of time.
“The art of inner-body awareness will develop into a completely new way of living, a state of permanent connectedness with Being, and will add a depth to your life that you have never known before.”
To blunt time’s influence and to live in the Now, realize that the present moment is the only truly “real” aspect of your life. You will find you can access the past and future as the practical aspects of living. You may feel the present is disagreeable. But if you can let go of labels and judgment, you can untether peacefully from external conditions. Then you can let the present moment simply exist and accept it.
“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness.”
A “pain-body” is the emotional residue that negative experiences leave behind. This negative energy field is dormant until something triggers it and brings it to life. When you identify with a pain-body, it gathers strength and momentum. When that happens, focus your attention on this feeling, identify it as a pain-body, and resist the tendency to judge or analyze. The moment you disengage from it and observe it, the pain-body will begin to lose power. When you become an objective observer of the pain-body, you can reach a higher dimension of consciousness. That consciousness enables you to feel the power of Now.
“Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continually attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy.”
You can disconnect from fear the same way, by becoming a “silent watcher.” Psychological fear is seldom a response to an immediate danger; it involves worry and concern about what might happen in the future. Your mind projects into what might be, causing an “anxiety gap.” This mind-identified state leads to fear of loss, failure, pain or death. When you shine a light on this pattern by witnessing it without engaging in it, fear begins to dissolve.
The past is a “former Now,” a memory trapped in your mind. The future is the “imagined Now,” an illusion of what has not yet occurred. The egoic mind stays trapped in time, living in thoughts that dwell in the past and future. But the present moment – Now – should be your main concern. Now is the gateway to the state of Being that is unfettered by the mind. Shift your consciousness into the Now by withdrawing attention from thought processes and focusing on the present. In this timeless condition, you can linger in the Now, lose it and then return to it repeatedly until it becomes your predominant state.
“Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continual conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking.”
Reserve “clock time” for practical purposes, such as setting appointments or planning an activity. Use it also for learning from mistakes, applying knowledge, solving problems and taking corresponding action. However, clock time turns into “psychological time” when you identify too much with the past and project too much into the future. That is, if you make a mistake and learn to avoid doing the same thing in the future, you have productively utilized clock time. However, if you make a mistake and continue to berate yourself, you’ve moved into psychological time.
Presence Versus Unconsciousness
Your “life situation” derives from psychological time. Dwelling on negative past events or hoping for a better future while denying the Now will keep you unhappy. Pay attention to your life – what happens in this moment. Use your senses to look, see, listen, feel, acknowledge and accept.
“True salvation is to know yourself as an inseparable part of the timeless and formless One Life from which all that exists derives its being.”
Most people operate in a state of “ordinary unconsciousness.” They dwell mostly in the egoic mind and are unmindful of Being. Unrest, discontent and anxiousness haunt their lives. When they face a major challenge, it threatens their ego. They enter a state of “deep unconsciousness.” External events trigger the pain-body, and they feel negative emotions – anger, fear or depression. Instead, you can bring consciousness into your daily life. Focus acutely on the present. Monitor your mental and emotional states. Make the unconscious conscious by letting it rise to the surface.
“Inner and Outer”
The outer purpose of life’s journey is to reach a personal goal or achievement. This outer purpose should not eclipse life’s inner purpose, which is to be present in the Now and revel in the “light of Being.” The two are not mutually exclusive. However, a conflict between inner and outer creates unhappiness. Drop negativity by addressing the situation in the moment or letting go of the pain associated with it.
“When you live in complete acceptance of what is – which is the only sane way to live – there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in your life anymore. There is only a higher good – which includes the ‘bad’.”
Often, problems are situations you try to handle by planning and worrying without acting. Instead, treat problems as situations to walk away from, address or accept. When you face the intolerable, you have only those three options – “remove yourself from the situation, change it or accept it totally” – so make a choice.
“The problems of the mind cannot be solved on the level of the mind.”
Presence, or enlightened consciousness, occurs when you free yourself from identification with your mind and body activity. The mind can’t grasp the meaning of presence; you feel it in your soul by actually being present.
Begin a practice of closing your eyes and sensing your body. Focus on your breath. Conscious breathing is a powerful meditative tool. Your body is an outer shell holding the “invisible inner body” within. Beneath your outer form lies a wellspring of spiritual and immeasurable energy. When your mind dominates your attention, it separates you from Being. Your sense of who you are results from your thoughts.
“Portals into the Unmanifested”
The “Unmanifested” is a synonym for Being. It represents the “formless realm,” the “invisible Source of all things, the Being within all beings.” The Unmanifested is the source of “chi,” or inner energy, a bridge between the manifested – or worldly – and the Unmanifested. “Chi is movement; the Unmanifested is stillness.” In the dreamless stage of sleep, you visit the Unmanifested and draw vital energy from the Source. The Now is the portal to the Unmanifested. Focusing intently on the present moment provides direct and indirect glimpses of the Unmanifested. The Unmanifested lingers in silence, in the pauses between sounds, and in space, as the no-thing between objects.
Consciousness and Relationships
Until you root yourself in the Now and become free of the egoic mind, your relationships will remain dysfunctional. When you fall in love, everything seems perfect. Soon, however, the relationship fluctuates between periods of love and hate. You cannot skip the negative periods because “the polarities are mutually interdependent.” You can’t have the love without the hate.
“If you delve into the past, it will become a bottomless pit: There is always more.”
Love relationships offer a reprieve from loneliness, unhappiness and incompleteness. The relationship seems to satisfy the egoic mind, give your life meaning and provide you with another identity. The physical union provides a transient moment of bliss. You connect to something outside of and greater than yourself – through another person. But when your partner fails to meet your needs, you blame him or her for your unhappiness. Like an addiction to “alcohol, food or…drugs,” relationships can “bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you.”
“I have lived with several Zen masters – all of them cats.”
However, when you disengage from your mind and access the Being beneath the mental noise, you can participate in an enlightened relationship. You’re an open vessel for love, joy and peace. You stop judging yourself and you accept your partner without judgment. You no longer feel the need to change him or her. Your love doesn’t center on someone outside yourself; it is inside you.
“Acceptance and Surrender”
You’re conditioned to view things as positive or negative. However, circumstances are neither of these things; they simply are. Accept the power of Now, and shed the labels “good” and “bad.” Acknowledge what is. Surrender carries negative connotations and implies weakness or defeat. But true surrender means yielding to what is rather than combating life’s reality. Accept the present moment unconditionally and without judgment to concede your inner resistance to the reality of Now. Resisting makes the present moment into an enemy. Let “positive action” arise from acceptance instead of from anger or frustration. “Surrender does not transform what is, at least not directly. Surrender transforms you.”
As you surrender to what is, feel infused with the “source-energy of Being.” Examine the realities of an unsatisfactory situation, and decide if you can change it, improve it or withdraw from it. Take appropriate action or, if none is available, surrender deeply and feel resistance leave your mind-set. “Through surrender, spiritual energy comes into this world.”
You now know that you are more than a collection of mental and emotional processes. You know how to draw your consciousness to those processes and separate from them and make the best decision in each situation for yourself.
You know how the concepts of past and future pull you away from the only time that is real: the now. You know that you can only deal with or accept situations. You know to reject waiting as a state of mind.
You know that pain comes from resisting what’s now. You know that fear exists in the future, where you can’t act. You know that you are part of Being, and if you don’t, you know you can feel that oneness eventually by being present with yourself, your loved ones, your body, and even your mind.
You know that forgiveness is key to living in the now. You know that consciousness is the key to choice. And you know that you don’t have to search for love, or joy, or enlightenment. You have always known those things inside you. You just have to stop thinking so much.
About Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle is, first and foremost, a spiritual teacher. In the course of sharing his insights worldwide, he has traveled across the globe, has led live spiritual webinars with Oprah Winfrey, and has written a number of books, including The Power of Now, now translated into 33 languages. His other works include A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose and Guardians of Being, which will further enrich your experience of being in the now.
The Power of Now is a book that aims to help readers achieve spiritual enlightenment by living in the present moment. The author, Eckhart Tolle, is a spiritual teacher who experienced a profound transformation after suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. He shares his insights and wisdom on how to overcome the pain and suffering caused by the mind and the ego, which are constantly creating problems and conflicts by dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. He teaches readers how to access the power of now, which is the state of being aware and conscious of the present reality, without being distracted or influenced by thoughts and emotions. He also explains how to connect with the essence of our true self, which is beyond the physical form and the personal identity, and which is one with the universal source of life.
The book is divided into ten chapters, each addressing a different aspect of the power of now. The chapters are:
- You Are Not Your Mind: This chapter introduces the main premise of the book, which is that most people are identified with their mind, which is a tool that has taken over their lives. The author explains how the mind creates a false sense of self, which he calls the ego, which is based on memories, beliefs, opinions, judgments, and desires. The ego is always seeking more and never satisfied, and it causes pain and suffering by creating resistance to what is. The author suggests that the way out of this trap is to become aware of the present moment, which is the only reality that exists. By observing our thoughts and emotions without judging or reacting to them, we can free ourselves from their control and find peace and joy in the now.
- Consciousness: The Way Out of Pain: This chapter explores the concept of pain, which is not only physical but also emotional and psychological. The author claims that pain is caused by our resistance to what is, which creates conflict and negativity. He introduces the term pain-body, which is the accumulation of negative energy that feeds on our pain and creates more pain. He says that the pain-body can be personal or collective, and it can be dormant or active. He advises readers to dissolve their pain-body by becoming aware of it and accepting it as part of their experience. He also warns readers not to identify with their pain-body or let it take over their personality.
- Moving Deeply into the Now: This chapter explains how to move deeply into the now, which is not a concept but an experience. The author says that the now is not a point in time but a dimension of consciousness, where we can access our true nature and our creative power. He says that the now is always available to us, but we are usually unaware of it because we are distracted by our thoughts and emotions. He suggests some ways to enter the now, such as focusing on our breathing, our senses, our inner body, or any object or activity that requires our attention. He also emphasizes the importance of being present in our daily life, especially in our interactions with others.
- Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now: This chapter exposes some of the mind strategies that prevent us from being in the now. The author says that the mind is always trying to escape from the present moment because it fears losing its identity and its control. He identifies some of these strategies, such as making excuses, complaining, blaming, justifying, comparing, projecting, analyzing, interpreting, labeling, and dreaming. He says that these strategies are based on illusions and create more problems than they solve. He advises readers to recognize these strategies and stop using them as a way to avoid facing reality.
- The State of Presence: This chapter describes the state of presence, which is the state of being fully aware and conscious in the now. The author says that presence is not something that we achieve or acquire, but something that we are. He says that presence is our natural state, which we have lost touch with because of our identification with our mind and our ego. He says that presence is not dependent on external conditions or circumstances, but on our inner state of being. He says that presence is not only peaceful and joyful, but also powerful and creative. He says that presence is the source of true happiness and fulfillment in life.
- The Inner Body: This chapter introduces another way to access the power of now, which is through our inner body. The author defines the inner body as the energy field that gives life to our physical body, and which connects us with the universal energy field. He says that the inner body is always in the now, and by feeling it from within, we can align ourselves with it and become more present. He guides readers on how to feel their inner body by directing their attention inward and sensing their aliveness. He also explains how feeling their inner body can help them heal their physical body and enhance their intuition.
- Portals into the Unmanifested: This chapter explores the concept of the unmanifested, which is the source of all manifestation. The author says that the unmanifested is the invisible and formless essence of our being, which is also the essence of all things. He says that the unmanifested is not separate from the manifested, but rather the other side of the same coin. He says that the unmanifested is not a place or a state, but a dimension of consciousness, where we can experience our true self and our connection with all that is. He suggests some portals into the unmanifested, such as silence, space, stillness, and surrender. He also warns readers not to confuse the unmanifested with nothingness or emptiness, but to recognize it as the fullness of life.
- Enlightened Relationships: This chapter discusses the topic of relationships, and how they can be transformed by the power of now. The author says that most relationships are based on egoic needs and expectations, which create conflict and suffering. He says that enlightened relationships are based on presence and awareness, which create harmony and joy. He says that enlightened relationships are not dependent on the form or the outcome of the relationship, but on the quality of the consciousness that we bring to it. He says that enlightened relationships are not only possible, but necessary for our spiritual growth and evolution. He gives some tips on how to practice presence and awareness in our relationships, such as listening attentively, speaking truthfully, and accepting others as they are.
- Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness There Is Peace: This chapter explains how to go beyond happiness and unhappiness, which are relative and impermanent states of mind, and find peace, which is absolute and eternal. The author says that happiness and unhappiness are dependent on external conditions and circumstances, which are always changing and unpredictable. He says that peace is independent of external conditions and circumstances, which are only forms that appear and disappear in the present moment. He says that peace is our natural state of being, which we can access by being in the now. He says that peace is not a passive or boring state, but a dynamic and vibrant state, where we can enjoy life fully without being attached to it or disturbed by it.
- The Meaning of Surrender: This chapter clarifies the meaning of surrender, which is often misunderstood or misinterpreted by people. The author says that surrender is not a weakness or a defeat, but a strength and a victory. He says that surrender is not giving up or giving in, but letting go and letting be. He says that surrender is not a passive or a reactive act, but an active and a proactive act. He says that surrender is not an action or a decision, but an attitude and a state of being. He says that surrender is not losing control or losing freedom, but gaining control and gaining freedom. He says that surrender is not resisting or fighting what is, but accepting and embracing what is. He says that surrender is not a one-time event or a final destination, but an ongoing process and a continuous journey.
I think this book is a powerful and profound guide to spiritual enlightenment by living in the now. The book is well-written and easy to understand, with clear explanations, examples, illustrations, exercises, summaries, and references. The book is also engaging and inspiring, with anecdotes from the author’s personal and professional life, and quotes from various sources.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in spirituality, psychology, philosophy, or personal development. I would also recommend this book to anyone who wants to overcome their pain and suffering, or find their peace and joy in life. I think this book is a valuable resource for learning about the power of now.