The Power Of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

 “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”

Eckhart Tolle is a German contemporary writer who after battling years of depression and suicidal tendencies, underwent a deep inner transformation at the young age of 29. With this direct revelation of his personal experience, Tolle introduces his famous book The Power of Now.

`I cannot live with myself any longer.’ This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. ‘Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.’ ‘Maybe,’ I thought, ‘only one of them is real.’

Tolle dismantles the idea that you are your mind – an idea that most of us wrongly take for granted. According to him, “disidentification” from the mind is the first step one can take towards inner freedom.

(…) The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive (…) it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly – you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over.

The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity – the thinker. (…) The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind.

Gaining Control Over The Mind

When you “disidentify” from your mind and the incessant stream of thoughts that typically populate it, you are able to choose when and how to use it and, in doing so, it works more productively. Tolle refers to those moments when we are able to stop thinking as “gaps of ‘no mind’”.

When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of ‘no mind.’ (…) When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness with Being.

(…) you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there is inner stillness.

Just as you can watch your thoughts, you can witness your emotions, which are in Tolle’s words “the body’s reaction to your mind”.

If you really want to know your mind, the body will always give you a truthful reflection, so look at the emotion or rather feel it in your body. If there is an apparent conflict between them, the thought will be the lie, the emotion will be the truth.

To watch an emotion in this way is basically the same as listening to or watching a thought (…) allow the emotion to be there without being controlled by it. You no longer are the emotion; you are the watcher, the observing presence.

Living In The Now

According to Tolle, typically we either live in the future or in the past. They are both mental constructions and therefore they are fictitious. Life only takes place in the present moment. There is no life outside “The Now”.

Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.

Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.

Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time – past and future – the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.

In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve. Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.

Make it a practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed. (…) You will observe that the future is usually imagined as either better or worse than the present. If the imagined future is better, it gives you hope or pleasurable anticipation. If it is worse, it creates anxiety. Both are illusory. Through self-observation, more presence comes into your life automatically. The moment you realize you are not present, you are present.

This does not impair your ability to use time – past of future – when you need to refer to it for practical matters. Nor does it impair your ability to use your mind. In fact, it enhances it. When you use your mind, it will be sharper, more focused.

Waiting is a predominant state nowadays. It is an undisputable sign that we are not living the present.

Are you a habitual ‘waiter’? (…) waiting for the next vacation, for a better job, for the children to grow up, for a truly meaningful relationship, for success, to make money, to be important, to become enlightened. It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.

Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want what you haven’t got. (…) This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.

There is nothing wrong with striving to improve your life situation. You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner Being. It is already whole, complete, perfect. Your life situation consists of your circumstances and your experiences. There is nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to achieve things. The mistake lies in using it as a substitute for the feeling of life, for Being. The only point of access for that is the Now.

Stop Doing, Start Being

Many of Tolle’s teachings are actually forms of meditation. He emphasizes the importance of learning to “be”. To stop for a moment and not do anything, just be. Don’t think, just be.

Use your senses fully. Be where you are. Look around. Just look, don’t interpret. See the light, shapes, colors, textures. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be. Listen to the sounds; don’t judge them. Listen to the silence underneath the sounds. Touch something – anything – and feel and acknowledge its Being. Observe the rhythm of your breathing; feel the air flowing in and out, feel the life energy inside your body. Allow everything to be, within and without. Allow the ‘isness’ of all things. Move deeply into the Now.

The Power of Now is a book to be felt, an experience to be lived. Worth giving it a try if you haven’t done so yet. Most probably you will either love it – and re-read it more than once – or you will not be able to finish it. It is a book you are either ready for or not. If you are, you will join thousands of others who have seen it play a decisive role in their own personal transformation.

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