Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment details a radical way of thinking and living life that leads to spiritual enlightenment. Tolle presents a guide in which he dismantles common practices and beliefs, like looking towards the future, the idea of choice, and the way we think of our own minds, and its relation to ourselves. The Power of Now stresses the importance of becoming aware of what is false within us and becoming free of the enslavement of our own minds.
The Power of Now Summary
Here are 20 lessons to take from The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment:
#1 You do not use your mind
Tolle claims that it is not you that uses your mind but rather your mind uses you. Believing that you are your mind is a delusion because you are not using it at all. Your mind using you is a disease–and he claims a disease occurs when there is an imbalance between things.
#2 Enlightenment is the end of suffering
Enlightenment is defined as the end of suffering as well as the end of the “enslavement” of thinking. Enlightenment is essentially being at peace, and in full acceptance, with yourself and is the most natural state of Being.
#3 The mind resists the now because it needs time
The author claims that the mind resists the Now because it functions when it is in control of the past and the future–and as we know, the Now cannot exist when you are focused on the past and future. While your mind and time function as one, then that is when the resistance persists.
#4 The only way to prevent pain is to stop time
The author defines pain as a form of non-acceptance, and the accumulation of time in the mind seems to hold pain from the past. Time seems to hold a burden over humans, so in order to stop creating time, to avoid pain, you need to realize the importance of living in the present.
#5 The mind itself is not dysfunctional
To be clear, the mind itself is not dysfunctional, the problem arises when you make the mistake of thinking you are entirely your mind. This also stems from not being fully present, when you are present you allow your mind to exist, but you don’t try to find yourself within it, allowing it to be a tool to you.
#6 Nothing exists outside the now
The author explains that as humans we should not be preoccupied with anything but the Now. Tolle explains that the past and the future are essentially nonexistent. What occurred in the past, was happening in the Now and what will happen in the future will also be in the Now. The author tries to articulate the nothing will ever happen in the future, when the future arrives it will become the Now.
#7 You can improve your life situation but you cannot improve your life
Life is described as the deepest inner Being of a person–it is already complete and perfect. Tolle argues that there is nothing wrong with attempting to set goals to improve situations but the mistake that people make is trying to change to fulfill their Being. The only way to really improve your life is to live in the Now.
#8 Wherever you are, be there totally
If you find yourself unhappy, Tolle presents you with three options: you either remove yourself from the situation, you change your situation, or you accept it as it is. He argues that this is the only way to take responsibility for your life and you must choose one of those three options and accept it fully with all the consequences that would follow.
#9 Waiting is qualitative
Tolle describes a qualitative kind of waiting. This type of waiting is not focused on the future, it is not the kind that makes the present seem like a sort of obstacle that prevents you from attaining that point in the future, but rather this type of qualitative waiting requires you to be fully present and alert. If you are not fully aware and alert you will miss whatever is coming for you, therefore your attention should be in the Now.
#10 Body awareness keeps you present
So how do you keep yourself present? Well, Tolle argues that in order to be fully present you must inhabit your body completely. This requires you to pay attention to the energy of your body and to truly feel the body from within. Body awareness is there to help keep you present, but it is not the only strategy.
#11 When your mind runs your life, problems are inevitable
Tolle has established that the mind using you is a disease. He claims that when your mind is running your life that is when problems and conflict arise. This is because when the mind rules, when people talk to each other, it is mind-to-mind speaking, instead of actual communication and connection. This allows for miscommunication and misunderstandings. There is no real connection between humans as long as it is your mind running your life.
#12 To reclaim power from the mind, you must forgive
Forgiveness is defined as relinquishing your grievances. This means that to forgive is to allow life to live through you with no concern for the past or the future. When you forgive, you allow yourself to live in the present and be fully aware of the present. You reclaim the power from the mind, as the mind is the one that cannot forgive.
#13 Women are more likely to be enlightened
The qualities that are needed to reconnect with the reality of Being, like surrender, nonjudgement, and openness are related to the female principle. It does not mean that men aren’t capable of having these qualities but it is far more common that these are present in women.
#14 True salvation is fulfillment
True salvation is defined as fulfillment, as well as peace and living life in its fullness. It means acceptance of who you are and your relation to life. To think that you need to obtain something to feel happy or complete is what prevents you from true salvation. All you need to be happy is yourself, just as you are.
#15 There are neither positives or negatives
Although the author acknowledges that there is “good”, he claims that when viewed from a higher perspective, things are neither positive or negative. They are simply just what they are. To live in the Now, and to accept what is as it is, means that there seems to be no “good” or “bad” but rather life becomes the higher good, which includes the “bad.”
#16 Negativity is unnatural
If you have a hard time believing that negatives or negativity doesn’t exist, Tolle presents the idea that negativity is simply unnatural. He notes that no other life form on our planet is aware of what negativity is–only us humans are concerned with negativity. To put it simply, negativity in its essence is only resistance. We should not concern ourselves with negativity.
#17 Surrender is not defeat
One might think that surrender implies defeat, however, Tolle explains surrender as simply yielding and not opposing life. Most importantly to allow life to take its course, you must be living in the Now, which implies that you fully accept the present moment, and whatever it comes with, without reservations. Surrender is more about acceptance.
#18 Choice implies consciousness
As mentioned in this The Power of Now Summary earlier, Tolle makes the argument that until you no longer identify with your mind, you are not fully conscious of your choices. As long as your mind has control over you, it is what compels you to feel and think a certain way.
#19 The present does not exist to the ego
Moments in the present are hardly existent for the ego. It is constantly looking to the future for the fulfillment, if the ego is unhappy it looks forward to the future, “when this finally happens, I will be happy.” When it attempts to look at the present, it fails, as it only looks at it through the lens of the past. It utilizes the past as an influence on the present, therefore not really existing at the moment.
#20 Anxiety will remain if your mind is in the future
Tolle makes the argument that psychological fear is not related to true danger but rather it is concentrated in something that might happen.. This results in nervousness, anxiety, phobias, etc. To be centered in what might happen is to have your mind in the future, while you are physically here in the present. So as long as your mind is in the future, then your anxiety will remain.
Top 10 Quotes from The Power of Now
- “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.”
- “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
- “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.”
- “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”
- “What a caterpillar calls the end of the world we call a butterfly.”
- “Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”
- “Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.”
- “Where there is anger there is always pain underneath.”
- “Die to the past every moment. You don’t need it. Only refer to it when it is absolutely relevant to the present. Feel the power of this moment and the fullness of Being. Feel your presence.”
- “Accept — then act. 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.”
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