“A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.
I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.
“But I am not a beggar,” I can hear you say.
Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth.” – Chapter 1 of The Power of Now .
Writing a review about “The Power of Now” can be a difficult task, since you come in danger of adding concepts and interpretations to a book, that really tries to quiet the mind and let the reader experience.
Besides, what is there possibly to add to all the reviews already out there , which are interestingly enough quite controversial?
The idea with this review is twofold:
- I want to encourage everybody, who has not yet get in contact with this book and with the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, to give it a real try
- I want to give some insights, that I experienced and I learned after getting to the core of the topic of the book, which is spiritual awakening
If you are in the second group, this may also be helpful for you. Because I think if you first get in contact with the topic, it helps to recognize that both experiences, the ordinary every-day mind and the being in the Now have their place …
The great accomplishment of this book is that it really is able to bring spirituality into the realm of every single person, especially into the western world-view. Eckhart Tolle accomplishes this, by using a very simple and common language, which nevertheless expresses a deep meaning and energy vibe. He really is able to give you as the reader an experience, if you are open enough to let it happen. And experience is the main reason for the book, and on the other hand also the reason for some of the more critical reviews on it, because it was tried to understand only with the analytical mind.
Chapter 1 “You are not your mind” is definitely the entry point for raising your awareness to see, that identification of your self with the thoughts and emotions you have is a core error. If you become able to be the watcher of thoughts, instead of identifying with thoughts, you move to be able to free yourself from one of the greatest sources of suffering and open the door to a higher consciousness (or awareness, Eckhart uses both synonymously).
What then happens is that the mind becomes the servant, the great tool to be used consciously, instead of running on autopilot using you. Your true essence then reveals itself as the underlying awareness itself.
Comments to chapter 1: I like to make clear that the message here is not not to think, or even to say thinking is not good. This is crap of course, since the mind is an amazing tool and worth using to the max. But as Eckhart points out, a lot of thinking is unnecessary and repetitive, even destructive or at least not helpful, like worrying.
About the Ego: it is futile to make the ego to the enemy. Concepts about ourself are created all the time. It is enough to become conscious about the Ego and aware of what lies beneath it. Realizing “you are not your mind” then means using the mind consciously from the point of the underlying awareness. So the point is to raise the awareness and make space inside, which is in my opinion the whole point of Personal as well as Spiritual Development.
Chapter 2 “Consciousness: the way out of pain”: Eckhart suggests that you always become friendly with the present moment, accept the present moment as it is and then act from it. The so called Pain-Body is an activation of unconscious unwanted behaviour, a pattern that lives in the past and fear and it’s dependable on the unconscious identification with it. It can be dissolved by becoming totally aware of it and bringing consciousness into the present moment and disidentify from the Pain-Body. At page 41 Eckhart summarizes the process to dissolve the Pain-Body as following:
- Focus attention on the feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain body.
- Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyze. Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it.
- Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.
- Become aware of not only the emotional pain, but also of “the one who observes,” the silent watcher. This is the power of Now, the power of your own conscious presence.
- Then see what happens.
The chapter ends with: “The secret of life is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death.”
Comments to chapter 2: This quote of course means to awaken to your true essence, meaning to realize what or better that you are, routed in being.
Chapter 3 “Moving deeply into the Now”: The key to disidentify from the mind is to end the illusion of time (page 48). If you remove psychological time from the mind, the mind will not move to the past or project the future and you become able to be present. Opposed to that, clock time is the practical and helpful use of the concept of time. At page 50 Eckhart reveals the illusion of time and the present moment, the Now, starting with:
“You haven’t yet grasped the essence of what I am saying because you try to understand it mentally. The mind cannot understand this. Only you can. Please just listen.
Have you ever experienced, done, thought or felt anything outside the Now? Do you think you ever will? Is it possible for anything to ever happen or be outside the Now? The answer is obvious, is it not?
Nothing ever happened in the past. It happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future, it will happen in the Now.
What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace – and you do so now. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of it’s own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now.
The essence of what I am saying here cannot be understood by the mind. The moment you grasp it, there is a shift in consciousness from mind to Being , from time to presence. Suddenly, everything feels alive, radiates energy, emanates Being.”
What Eckhart says here is the core of Awakening. This single paragraph has real power to trigger this in you, if you feel it inside, allow it and go with it.
Comments to chapter 3: It’s my favourite chapter :) This chapter really opens the possibility for your shift in consciousness , to really experience and dive into it. It happened to me, when I moved into the Now, by realizing by myself – not only mentally by understanding it as a concept – that time is just an illusion in a sense, that time as past and future only exist as concepts in the mind. If you are still not aware of this, listen to this small experiment: past and future are illusions in the sense that both don’t really exist. They are not there in the reality of that what is. Neither past nor future are ever there, could be experienced. This “practical” view is the only real view. All others are concepts in the mind.
As I see it at the moment, everything that happens in the field of Now (the present moment), is a change of energy in formation in the world. Time is created by the witnessing of that change by the mind. Even a clock is nothing more than a change in material formations, then used to measure that change as time.
If Eckhart is saying “illusion”, he means that it is not real, it does not exist. It does not mean, that the mind should not create a vision or goals for the future. This is the process of creating through the mind, and it can be joyful and inspiring. So the word “illusion” is not an evaluation (that it may not be right or good to think to the future in “practical” means such as goals), but it is meant as a fact: past and future never exist (as described above) besides in memory and imagination in the mind.
Chapter 4 “Mind Strategies for avoiding the Now”: Eckhart gives possibilities to stabilize in the state of presence in the Now. Bringing more consciousness into life is always the way to dissolve all negativity on the level of thinking and of emotions. For instance complaining is always non-acceptance of what is. If you accept, then you can take responsibility and act by (1) take action or speak out, (2) leave the situation or (3) accept it as it is. (page 82)
Your life has an Inner Purpose and an Outer Purpose: the inner purpose is all about how you do what you do, consciously. The outer purpose is arriving at the goal and is secondary.
Comments to chapter 4: Accepting does not mean to give up on a situation, on the contrary, it accepts what already is there and stops wasting energy on what can’t be changed anyway anymore. When you accept, you get all energy to act and change the situation to what you want it to be.
Chapter 5 “The State of Presence”: Presence is the state free of thought but highly alert, all your attention is in the now. Presence is pure consciousness. He talks about „Satori“ – brief moments of presence, that are usually not recognized in their significance and vanish afterwards.
The wider the time gap between perception and thought,, the more depth there is to you as a human being, which is to say the more conscious you are. In the state of presence, the feeling of separateness is replaced by the feeling of oneness with all there is. When you become conscious of Being, what is really happening is that Being becomes conscious of itself. When consciousness frees itself from its identification with physical and mental forms, it becomes what we may call pure or enlightened consciousness, or presence.
Chapter 6 “The Inner Body”: Being can be felt as the ever present I am that is beyond name and form. To feel and thus to know that you are and to abide in that deeply rooted state is enlightenment. Being this deeper reality can be felt every moment as the invisible inner body the animating presence within you. To become conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey. So take focus away from thinking and direct it into the body, where Being can be felt in the first instance as the invisible energy field. The key is to be in a state of permanent connectedness with your inner body. The more consciousness you direct into the inner body, the higher the vibrational frequency becomes.
Chapter 7 “Portals into the Unmanifested”: The Unmanifested – opposed to the Manifested world of forms, is the invisible Source of all things, the Being within all beings. Eckhart mentions seven portals, of which the Now is always the main portal, into the Unmanifested:
- The Inner Body
- Dreamless sleep
- Quiet Mind (free of thought, i.e. through meditation)
- Surrender – the letting go of mental-emotional resistance to what is
- Space: Everybody pays attention to the things in space, but who pays attention to space itself? By becoming aware of the empty space around you, you simultaneously become aware of the space of no-mind, of pure consciousness: the Unmanifested.
- Conscious death: One last portal will open up for you immediately after the body has died. As with all the other portals, your radiant true nature remains but not the personality. Nothing that is of value, nothing that is real, is ever lost.
When you dissolve psychological time through intense present moment awareness, you become conscious of the Unmanifested both directly and indirectly. Directly, you feel it as the radiance and power of your conscious presence – no content, just presence. Indirectly, you are aware of the Unmanifested in and through the sensory realm. In other words, you feel the essence in every creature, every flower, every stone, and you realize Oneness.
Comments to chapter 7: These portals are practical ways to get into the Now. Especially meditation (quiet the mind) and feeling the inner body had worked for me.
Chapter 8 “Enlightened Relationships”: True love has no opposite because it arises from beyond the mind. Love as a continuos state is as yet very rare as conscious human beings. True love has no opposite. The root of this physical urge is a spiritual one: the longing for an end to duality, a return to the state of wholeness. Sexual union is the closest you can get to this state on the physical level. For true love to flourish, the light of your presence needs to be strong enough so that you no longer get taken over by the thinker. Love is a state of Being. This is the realization of oneness. This is love.
Give your partner space for expressing himself or herself. Be present. When you have removed the two factors that are destructive of relationships – when the pain-body has been transmuted and you are no longer identified with mind and mental position – and if your partner has done the same, you will experience the bliss of the flowering of relationship.
Comments to chapter 8: A very valuable chapter for being with other people. Giving space to another person, to express and to feel understood is a very practical and helpful thing to do.
Chapter 9 “Beyond happiness and unhappiness there is peace”: Happiness depends on the conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not. When you are fully conscious, drama does not come into your life anymore. Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life when you are not present as the witnessing consciousness, the watcher.
When you live of complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. … You can still make your point… but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack. All suffering is ego-created and is due to resistance.
All negativity is resistance. Resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. It is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. Negativity does not work. Instead attracting a desirable condition, it stops it from arising. Negativity is totally unnatural. It is a psychic pollutant and you stop it from arising by being fully present.
Comments to chapter 9: This chapter is about Non-Duality and Duality. Compassion is the joining of both and the feeling realization of oneness.
Chapter 10 “The meaning of Surrender”: Surrender is simple yet profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. Surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner restistance to what is. Surrender is perfectly compatible with taking action, intitiating change, or achieving goals.A totally different energy then flows into your doing. Surrender reconnects you with the source-energy of Being. When you do [surrender], the energy that you emanate and which then runs your life is of a much higher frequeny than the mind energy that still runs our world. If you surrender, (1) take action immediately: Speak up or do something to bring about change in the situation – or (2) remove yourself from it. Take responsibility for your life. Do not pollute your beautiful, radiant inner Being nor the Earth with negativity. If you cannot take action, you have two choices left: resistance or (3) Surrender completely to as it is.
Presence is the key. The Now is the key.
Final comments: If you read or listen and have experiences, that is so wonderful and the purpose of the book. You are in good company ;) If this glimpse of Awakening happens, please be aware that Eckhart is talking only about the Now in this book, just to make the shift in consciousness possible. Most people are still unaware of this dimension. Although Eckhart says throughout the book, that the mind is a great tool and clock time is necessary and planning, goal-achievement, personal development have their place, it could be misunderstood that these things don’t matter anymore. Especially if you have experiences in the Now, there is the possibility to get trapped there, meaning that you deny demands of the world to a certain degree, just by the joyful and problem-free field of Now. It happened to me, and I sense that it is not unusual.
If you make the clear decision, that this is your way then fine. My personal advice at this stage of my development is: try to balance both. You now are aware of the deeper dimension of yourself: your true essence, you are fully aware of “I am”. The joyful creation and exchange with other people and the unlimited possibilities and forms in the world are still there and are the playground where you use your mind and body to the maximal potential, all guided by the overarching consciousness we are: spirit.
At the end and if you are looking to get in touch with people awakening and discussing, especially about Eckhart’s Teachings, I like to guide you to the Eckhart Tolle Discussion Community where you can meet a lot of wise people …
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