The Power Of Now
by Eckhart Tolle
“You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are!”
When Tolle was 29 years old he had an experience that brought him the knowing that is the foundation of this book. He was on the brink of ending his life – he had the thought “I cannot live with myself any longer.” When he asked: “Am I one or two?” He realized there was an “I” and a “self” and that maybe only one of them was real.
You are not your mind. Our minds use us, we don’t use them. We are the slaves of our minds. To be free we must observe our minds, our thoughts. Begin watching the thinker – be a witness to the voices in your head. Don’t judge, just observe. Eventually you will come to experience that there is a voice and “I am” listening to it. This sense of “I am” arises from beyond the mind. When you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness to the thought. Now everything changes.
You can move beyond watching the thinker to realizing you can create a gap in the stream of thoughts by being in the Now – becoming intensely conscious of the present moment. Every time you can create a gap in your thoughts – the light of consciousness grows stronger – you no longer take your mind seriously. You see it produces just a stream of thoughts.
The ego exists in past and future. It doesn’t exist in the Now. Consciousness does not need thought. Enlightenment is rising above thought – free of the internal dialog.
Emotion is the body’s reaction to the mind. The more you are identified with the mind – the less present you are in the Now – the stronger the emotional charge will be. All emotions stem from fear or pain. The mind attempts to remove the pain – which it can’t do because it is a part of the pain. Love and joy are glimpses of the gap – not emotions at all. They are states of being. Pleasure comes from outside you. Joy comes from within. Don’t desire enlightenment. Become present. Become the observer.
Consciousness: The way out of pain. Realize at a deep level that this moment is all you will ever have. Dwell in the Now. Pay visits to the past or future. Accept whatever the present moment contains. Your pain body is the accumulation of all the pain you have experienced from birth to the present. It can be dormant or active. It wants to survive which it can only do if you identify with it – give it energy. It feeds on your experiences that resonate with it. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain or you want to suffer or both. Once you become conscious of it, it dissolves. That’s why it is afraid of the light of your consciousness. Once you become aware – the witness or watcher of the pain body – it dissolves.
Lack of consciousness creates the pain body. The moment your thinking is aligned with the energy field of the pain body, you are identified with it and are feeding it with your thoughts.
Summary: Focus on the feeling inside, know that it’s the pain body, accept that it is there, don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking, don’t judge, don’t analyze, don’t identify with it, stay present, continue observing, become aware not only of the emotional pain but also the one observing – the silent watcher. This is the power of Now.
Moving deeply into the Now. The problems of the mind cannot be solved at the level of the mind. The mind itself is not dysfunctional – it’s a great tool. Dysfunction sets in when you become identified with it – to become trapped in time – the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory (the past) and anticipation (the future). Time is an illusion – the more you focus on it – the more you miss the Now. Being in the Now is your only point of access to the timeless and formless realm of Being. The mind cannot understand this – only you can. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it.
Mind strategies for avoiding the Now. When every cell of your body is so present that it feels vibrant with life, and when you can feel that life every moment as the joy of Being, then it can be said that you are free of time. To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment.
When you are resisting what is, you are making the present moment into an enemy. You are creating an unhappiness which is polluting not only your being, but those around you. Any negative inner state is contagious – unhappiness spreads more easily than disease.
“Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species. That’s not a judgment. It’s a fact.”
To complain is always non-acceptance of what is. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness. Stress is caused by being “here” and wanting to be “there” – or, being in the present and wanting to be in the future. Die to the past every moment. You don’t need it.
The state of presence. “When Being becomes consciousness itself – that’s presence.”
Egos are drawn to bigger egos. Darkness cannot recognize light. Only light can recognize light.
The inner body. “Please stop trying to understand Being – it cannot become an object of knowledge. Being can be felt as the ever-present I am that is beyond name and form.”
Don’t get stuck on the level of words – a word is a means to an end – an abstraction.
Don’t fight against your body. You are your body. The body that you can see and touch is only a thin illusory veil. Underneath it lies the invisible inner body, the doorway into Being, into Life Unmanifested.
Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life – to allow life to live through you. The moment you truly forgive, you have reclaimed your power from the mind. The mind cannot forgive, only you can.
Portals into the unmanifested. “When you can feel the inner body clearly as a single field of energy, let go, if possible, of any visual image and focus exclusively on the feeling. If you can, also drop any mental image you may still have of the physical body. All that is left then is an all-encompassing sense of presence or ‘beingness,’ and the inner body is felt to be without a boundary. Then take your attention more deeply into that feeling. Become one with it. Merge with the energy field, so that there is no longer a perceived duality of the observe and the observed, of you and your body. The distinction between inner and outer also dissolves now, so there is no inner body anymore. By going deeply into the body you have transcended the body.”
Every portal is a portal of death – of the false self. When you go through it, you cease to derive your identity from your psychological, mind-made form. You then realize death is an illusion, just as your identification with form is an illusion.
Enlightened relationships. They do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you. First you stop judging yourself, then you stop judging your partner – complete acceptance of your partner for who they are.
Love is a state of Being – it is deep within you. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.
Beyond happiness and unhappiness there is peace. When you are fully conscious, drama does not come into your life anymore. Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life while you aren’t watching. When you feel sorry for yourself, that’s drama. So long as you are your mind what you fear most is awakening.
All that arises passes away. To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. Cycles come and cycles go, but with no drama or dependency. Life flows with ease. Even if everything were to collapse around you, you would still feel a deep inner peace. You may not be happy, but you will be at peace.
The meaning of surrender. Focus on the one thing you can do now. Negativity, unhappiness or suffering means there is resistance. Resistance is always unconscious.
Do you choose unhappiness? If not, how did it arise. Who is keeping it alive? What is its purpose? When you are conscious, all negativity dissolves in the light of the Now. It can only survive in your absence.
If you can never accept what is – you can never accept anybody as they are, including you. Feel the emotional, mental energy behind your need to be right and make the other wrong. That’s the egoic mind. Acknowledge it. Feel it. And, one day it will become conscious and disappear. You surrender. You become very simple. Very real. Surrender does not transform what is. It transforms you. When you are transformed, your whole world is transformed.