The Power of Now – by Eckhart Tolle
‘A guide to spiritual enlightenment’
We’ve tackled another spiritual book. It’s all about the present moment. We are too often caught reliving the past or obsessing over the future that we neglect the Now. There are a lot of lessons to take from The Power of Now!
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Here is a dot point summary of the book!
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‘A guide to spiritual enlightenment’
- Eckhart was depressed
- “What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? To carry on with the struggle?
- Desire for non existence was becoming stronger than desire to live
He thought, “I cannot live with myself no longer”
- He became aware of a peculiar thought, “am I one or two?” If I cannot live with myself then there must be two of me: the I and the ‘self’ that I cannot live with
- He thought “only one of them is real”
He passed out and became fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts
He woke up and saw the light, realized there was infinite more light to realize
The soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself
Everything was fresh and pristine as if he had just come into existence
- The intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced his consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately fiction of the mind
- A time case he had nothing on the physical plane. No job, no home, no socially defined identity.
- I spent more than two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy
- “People would ask I want what you have. The answer Is in this book”
- A profound transformation is possible, not as a distant future possibility, but available now – no matter where you are
- You are shown how to free yourself from enslavement to the mind, enter into this enlightened state of consciousness and sustain it in everyday life
Chapter 1 – you are not your mind
A beggar had been sitting on the side of the road for 30 years asking for some money. One guy replied asking what is the box you are sitting on. Just an old box I have, been sitting on it forever. ‘Ever looked inside?’ said the stranger.
- The beggar opened the lid and saw that he had a box filled with gold
- Eckhart is the guy in the parable, but asking you to look inside yourself for the jackpot
Buddha’s definition of enlightenment – end of suffering
The word God – has become a closed concept. The moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created of a white old dude.
Being may be a better word as it is an open concept, your very essence
What is the greatest obstacle to experiencing this reality?
- Identification with the mind
- The philosopher Descartes gave expression to the greatest basic error “I think therefore I am”. Equating thinking with being and identity with being
Identification with the mind
- Creates a screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgements, definitions and blocks all true relationship
- The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. If used wrongly it can be very destructive
- If you use it wrongly, you usually don’t use it at all – it uses you. This is the disease that you believe you are your mind, this is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over
- It is using you and you don’t even know you are it’s slave
Watching the thinker
- The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated
- You start to realize the things that matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken
The good news is you can free yourself from your mind.
- You can take the first step right now, start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay attention to repetitive thought patterns, those old broken records
- Listen to it impartially and do not judge
- The thought then loses its power
- One day you will catch yourself smiling to the voice inside your head like it’s a little child
- About 80-90% of most peoples thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunction it is negative in nature
- The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it here it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind
- To the ego, the present moment hardly exist. Only past and future are important
- It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure continual survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment there. It says , “one day when this or that happens I will be happy”
- It wasn’t through thinking that the miracle of life was born. Clearly an intelligence far greater than the mind to produce a single human cell, 1/1000 inch across to contain instructions within its DNA that would fill 1000 x 600 page books
- Mind tries to solve the problem of emotions. But it is like the chief of police finding the arsonist when the chief of police is the arsonist
- Resentment , hatred, self pity, guilt, anger jealousy are all forms of pain. And every pleasure or emotional high contains within it the seed of pain: its inseparable opposite.
- Like taking drugs
Chapter 2 – consciousness the way out of pain
- The greatest part of pain is unnecessary , it is self created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life
- All the pain is a form of non acceptance, a rejection of what is
- The more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer
“What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is?”
- Say YES to life and what is, and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you
- As soon as the emotion pops up, catch it the moment it comes from the dorment state
- The pain body wants to survive, it is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it.
- Be the watcher and accept it
Watch out for any defensiveness in your mind
- What are you defending, an illusory identity, an image in your mind , a fictitious identity
- Watching it, it will quickly dissolve. This is the end of all arguments, power games, which are so corrosive to relationships
Chapter 3 – moving deeply into the now
- The egos needs are endless. It feels vulnerable and threatened so lives in a state of fear and want
- It is always seeking for something to attach to uphold and strengthen its illusory sense of self
- It will readily attach itself to your problems
- There is a lot of unconscious ego invested in pain and suffering
Nothing exists outside the now
- Have you ever experienced, done, thought or felt anything outside the now? Do you think you ever will? Is it possible for anything to happen or be outside the now?
- Nothing has ever happened in the past, or the future. It has happened now!
- Great Zen master Rinzai, to get his students awareness would ask “what in this moment, is lacking?”
Bible says – Take no though for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Nobody who puts his hands to the plow and looks back, is fit for the kingdom of God
Sufism say – past and future veil God from our sight, burn up both of them with fire
**Accessing the power of the now
- Make it your job to withdraw from the past or future whenever you can
- There is a place for mind and mind knowledge. But don’t let it take control of your life
- If an imagined future is better, it gives you hope or pleasurable anticipation, if its worse, it creates anxiety. Both are illusory. The moment you realize you are not present, you are present
- Imparting from your mind, in fact it enhances it
- For making an appointment or planning a trip. Learning from the past so we don’t repeat mistakes
- You can set a goal work towards it and enjoy the journey
- But when your present moment becomes a stepping stone it turns into psychological time… Your life is no longer an adventure, just an obsessive need to arrive, to attain, to make it. You no longer smell the flowers by the wayside, or aware of the beauty of life around you
- The present moment is all that you will ever have
Negativity and suffering have their roots in time
- The future is usually a replica of the past, but real transformation is rare and depends on whether you can become present enough to dissolve the past by accessing the power of the now
“I cannot believe that I can reach the point where I am completely free of my problems”
- You are right. You will never reach it because you are at that point right now
- You cannot be both unhappy and fully present
Chapter 4 – mind strategies for avoiding the now
- Like dreaming in sleep, people only shift between ordinary unconscious and deep unconsciousness.
- The best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with lifes challenges when they come
- You can use a challenge to awaken you, or it can pull you into a deeper sleep
- The dream of ordinary unconsciousness can then turn into a nightmare
Carl Jung tells in a book with an Indian chief, where he pointed out white people have tense faces, staring eyes and a cruel demeanor, they are always seeking something. We think they are mad
- “Can anxious thought add a single day to your life” Jesus asked his disciples
- Human beings are a dangerously sick species. It is a fact that the sanity is underneath this madness. Healing and redemption are available right now
- Whenever you complain about your life situation you are resisting what is. Leave the situation as is, like the weather. All else is madness
- When you catch yourself slipping into waiting. Snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, then there is never a need for you to wait for anything?
Does it matter if we achieve our outer purpose?
- If will matter as long as you haven’t realized your inner purpose
- It is possible to fail your outer purpose but fully succeed your inner purpose
- Every outer purpose is doomed to fail sooner or later due to the impermanence of things
- The sooner you realize your outer cannot give you lasting fulfillment, the better
Chapter 8 – Enlightened relationships
- A relationship is sometimes the answer to all of the egos problems. You can derive your sense of self from that person and the now becomes relatively insignificant.
- You are no longer a segmented fragment it seems. Your world now has a center, outside of you
- This is a permanent feeling at the ego will pop up
Menstrual flow- AA
Chapter 9 – beyond unhappiness there is peace
- “I have lived with several zen masters – all of them cats”
- How easily they float along at ease with themselves, dignified and perfect as a mindless creature can be
- Ducks will sometimes get in a mindless fight and then forget about it in 3 seconds
- One of the most powerful spiritual practices is to meditate deeply on the mortality of physical forms
- Your physical form is dissolving, is no more
- All mind forms or thoughts also die
Chapter 10 – the meaning of surrender
- Surrender is the simple profound wisdom of yielding, rather than opposing the flow of life
- But if your stuck in the mud, you don’t just lie there and stay there
- You don’t need to accept an undesirable life situation
- Recognize fully that you want to get out of it
- Anything bad that happens in your life , use it for enlightenment
- Become an alchemist, transmute base metal into gold, suffering into consciousness, disaster into enlightenment
If you’d like to read the book for yourself, you can grab a copy here: https://www.bookdepository.com/Power-Now-Eckhart-Tolle/9780340733509/?a_aid=adamsbooks