Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Power of Now

Eckhart Tolle's non-fiction bestseller, The Power of Now, describes his experience of enlightenment at the age of 29 after suffering long periods of depression, dissolving his old identity and radically changing the course of his life. This book emphasizes the importance of being aware of the present moment as a way of not being lost in thought. In Tolle's view, the present is the gateway to a heightened sense of peace and aliveness. "Being in the now" also brings about an awareness that is beyond the mind. This awareness helps in transcending "the pain-body" that is created by the identification of the mind and ego with the body. His later book, A New Earth further explores the structure of the human ego and how this acts to distract people from their present experience of the world. His other works include Stillness Speaks, a book that modernises the ancient sutra form.

The aim of Tolle's teachings is the transformation of individual and collective human consciousness--a global spiritual awakening.

Core teachings that appear to arise from his works are:

1. You are not your thoughts. You are the awareness behind the thoughts. Thoughts are often negative and painful, yearning for or fearing something in the future, complaining about something in the present or fearing a matter from the past. However, the thoughts are not you; they are a construct of the ego. Awareness of your thoughts without being caught up in them is the first step to freedom.

2. Only the present moment exists. That is where life is (indeed it is the only place life can truly be found). Becoming aware of the 'now' has the added benefit that it will draw your attention away from your (negative) thoughts. Use mindfulness techniques to fully appreciate your surroundings and everything you are experiencing. Look and listen intently. Give full attention to the smallest details.

3. Accept the present moment. It is resistance to the present moment that creates most of the difficulties in your life. However, acceptance does not mean that you cannot take action to rectify the situation you are in. What is important is to drop resistance so that you let the moment be, and that any action arises from deeper awareness rather than from resistance. The vast majority of pain in a person's life comes from resistance to what is.

4. Observe the pain-body. Years of conditioned thought patterns, individually and collectively, have resulted in habitual emotional reactions with an apparent personality of their own. During 'pain-body attacks' we become completely identified with this 'pain identity' and respond from its agenda--which is to create more pain for ourselves and others. Observing the pain-body is awareness itself arising--as it allows humans to separate from this unconscious identification with pain.

Eckhart Tolle is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition.

Influences which are alluded to in The Power of Now are the writings of Meister Eckhart, Advaita Vedanta, A Course in Miracles and Zen Buddhism's Lin-chi (Rinzai) school. The book also interprets sayings of Jesus from the Bible.

2 comments:

host said...

The Power of Now has been widely recognized as one of the most influential spiritual books of our time. A #1 New York Times bestseller, it has been translated into over 30 languages. The book has helped countless people around the globe awaken to the spiritual dimension in their lives, find inner peace, increased joy and more harmonious relationships

To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the beginning of the first chapter we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where one breathes a lighter air, the air of the spiritual. Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language and a question and answer format to guide us. The words themselves are the signposts.

For many of us there are new discoveries to be made along the way: we are not our mind; we can find our way out of psychological pain; authentic human power is found by surrendering to the Now. We also find out that the body is actually one of the keys to entry into a state of inner peace, as are the silence and space all around us. Indeed, access is everywhere available. These access points, or portals, can all be used to bring us into the Now, the present moment, where problems do not exist. It is here we find our joy and are able to embrace our true selves. It is here we discover that we are already complete and perfect.

Many of us will find that our biggest obstacle to this realization is our relationships, especially our intimate relationships. But again, we are in new territory and all is not what it had seemed before. We come to see that our relationships are yet another doorway into spiritual enlightenment if we use them wisely, meaning if we use them to become more conscious and therefore more loving human beings. The result? Real communion between self and others.

If we are able to be fully present and take each step in the Now; if we are able to feel the reality of such things as the inner-body, surrender, forgiveness, and the Unmanifested, we will be opening ourselves to the transforming experience of The Power of Now.

Catherine, the redhead said...

I love the idea of your blog - I hope you keep it up.
Catherine, the redhead