What is The Power of Now about? In this book review I will present the most famous book of spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle and what makes it one of the most important readings for anyone on the quest towards spiritual enlightenment. This review covers:
- The Content
- Core Messages
- What I learnt from the book
- 10 Quotes
Pages: 236 (paperback)
Publisher: 1997 (Namaste Publishing), 1999 (New World Library)
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
The Power of Now is a#1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into thirty-three languages
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author who was born 1948 in Lünen, Germany. He studied at the Universities of Cambridge and London. He said that he was depressed most of his life until he underwent and “inner transformation” at the age of 29 which he also elaborately describes in his book. 1995 he moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he published his first book “The Power of Now”. Here you find more information about Eckhart Tolle.
Below I will list the chapters to give you an idea about the structure of the book
- Chapter One: You Are Not Your Mind
- Chapter Two: Consciousness: The Way Out Of The Pain
- Chapter Three: Moving Deeply Into The Now
- Chapter Four: Mind Strategies For Avoiding The Now
- Chapter Five: The State Of Presence
- Chapter Six: The Inner Body
- Chapter Seven: Portals Into the Manifested
- Chapter Eight: Enlightened Relationships
- Chapter Nine: Beyond Happiness And Unhappiness There Is Peace
- Chapter Ten: The Meaning Of Surrender
Our suffering and the pain that we feel in our lives is created by the identification with the past and the longing for the future and not being just in this very moment.
The way out of this suffering is described as not identifying yourself with your problems and your ego; this would cause you to lose your identity when you lose your problems.
1. You are not your mind
Eckhart Tolle describes the moment of his enlightenment at the beginning. He felt very depressed and was laying on the bed when he was thinking: “I cannot live with myself any longer”. And he realized that there have to be two entities the “I” and the “self” that “I” cannot live with. And he thought that maybe only one of them is real. The voice that is talking to us in our head is not who we are.
2. Freeing yourself from your mind
The mind is a useful tool that helps us to find solutions to our problems by analyzing and finding solutions. However, thinking has become a disease, we are not using our mind but it is using us. We think all the time and have forgotten how to push the stop button. It has taken so much control of us that we even identify ourselves with the thinker in our head, who in fact we are not. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.
There is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought of things that truly matter like love, creativity, joy and peace which arise from beyond the level of thought and the mind.
3. Understanding how the mind works (or the voice in your head)
The voice in your head continuously comments, speculates, compares, judges, worries, likes or dislikes whatever is going on around you in this very situation or of what has happened in the past and is not related to the current situation. Visual images or mental movies may be part of that process that can repeat itself over and over again in your head. What you hear is your mind that is conditioned by all of your past history, your belief systems and your collective cultural mindset and identity.
4. Rising above thought
The awareness of not being the thinker and the voice in your head allows you to listen to your mind whenever it is talking. This makes you not only aware of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. As you listen to the thought, you can feel a deeper presence of consciousness which is your deeper self. This awareness gives you back your power over your thoughts, and not the thoughts having power over you.
Everything that you focus on grows. When you stop focusing on your thoughts and identifying yourself with them you keep your energy and power directed towards yourself. You are in peace with yourself and make an end to involuntary and compulsive thinking.
The stillness between your thoughts becomes a source of inner peace and joy of being.
5. Emotion: The body’s reaction to your mind
Emotions happen where the mind meets the body. They are the body’s reaction to a thought, or a reflection of your mind in the body. Since emotions are created by the mind, they do not necessarily correlate with our environment or situation we are in right now. The more you identify yourself with your mind, the less you are in the present moment which will make your emotions much stronger.
If you cannot express your emotions, either because you are not aware of them or because you simply cannot feel them, then the energy of your emotions (e-motion = “energy in motion”) may seek expressions in the physical reality. This could be in form of a disease or in form of a physical event. People carrying a lot of anger with them are more likely to get into situations where they are attacked, even with no apparent reason, verbally or physically by attracting people that have that latent anger in them as well.
Lose your mind and come to your senses. Feel inside your body in order to find out if you carry unresolved issues with you.
6. Thoughts and emotions feed each other
While you are dwelling on a thought, event or person that you associate with a certain emotion, you feed this emotion. This in turn feeds the original thought pattern which again feeds your emotions. So in order to break through this pattern you need to become present. The thought that you are thinking of is most likely something that happened in the past or something that you imagine happening in the future.
Detaching the story from the emotion will break up this self-feeding pattern, thus, allowing you to just feel the energy of this now neutral feeling. The original anger that was created by a thought now becomes something transformational. This is where alchemy is happening and transforming it into positive and uplifting energy. Become an alchemist and take back the power over your mental and emotional state by living in the present moment.
Accept, then act. Whatever the present moment contains, act as if you have chosen it
7. The pain-body
Whenever you experience emotional pain, it leaves behind a residue of pain that lives in you. This creates your pain-body that is either active or dormant. It can be triggered by anything related to the pain that caused its creation and is resonating with it. The expression of the pain-body, once triggered, can be directed against others in form of aggression or violence or against the host of the pain-body. These can be self-destructive thoughts that can cause accidents, illnesses and even thoughts about suicide.
When your pain-body is activated it “becomes you” and lives through you while it gets new energy by the pain and suffering that it causes. The pain-body is the shadow cast by the ego and an unconscious living style. You may misinterpret the pain-body as part of your personality and thus, identifying yourself with it not realizing that it is only a self-created illusion. It can only be transmuted by focusing your consciousness on the present moment.
8. Moving deeply into the Now
Resistance to the now is a collective dysfunction in our society. The Buddha taught that constant craving and wanting is the root of all suffering. Worrying and being anxious about some future event does not help you in any way in your current life situation.
The solution to all craving, living in the past, and being worried and anxious about the future can be only solved by consciously focusing on the present moment. Enjoy being, live your life purpose and be grateful for what you have. See yourself as a divine being and don’t identify yourself neither with your body nor with your thoughts or emotions.
Step into the now and activate your inner child once more and you will have the most happy and fulfilled life.
Thoughts About The Book
Can I have goals and being present at the same time?
At first it might seem contra-dictionary accepting the present moment no matter how it looks like. So, does this mean that we should not have any goals, or do we have to deny having a vision for ourselves?
The answer is: No, you can have goals and be present at the same time. Being present is nothing else then true acceptance of the now which is nothing else than being in a state of happiness and gratitude for what is. Now you might have heard of the proverb: The journey is the reward.
The journey is the reward
Imagine going on a hiking trip as a metaphor for achieving your goals, like I did some years ago. I went by feet from Munich in Germany across the Alps to Venice in Italy which took me four weeks. Now if I would have accepted the moment in absolute bliss, why would I want to go on the trip in the first place and not just staying at home?
On the other hand, if it is only important to achieve the goal, why not just fly to Venice, wouldn’t this be the situation that makes me happy, arriving at my destination? Now you see that neither staying home nor reaching my destination itself is what makes one happy. But it is the way to go there and being in the moment while doing so.
Free yourself from the past and future
When I hike I don’t want to enjoy the moment, the hiking experience, I have to focus on the path at my feet, I want to enjoy the view. There is no point pondering about how good it would be staying at home not doing anything but meditating, nor would I only think of Venice all the time and how nice it would be to be there, then I would miss all the way. However, this is what people normally do without realizing it.
So you can have your vision while being in the present moment and, at the same time, on your way towards your goal. This is actually the only way that can make you accept the moment and being happy while manifesting your vision. This is inseparably connected to being grateful for everything in life.
Isn’t it so damn hard to climb that mountain? But what would be the reward not climbing it but using the lift or flying on top? The mountain is only there testing you how serious you are about your goal.
Live in the Now
Reaching your goal is just another moment and can bring by itself only temporary satisfaction and afterwards you will have to reach your next goal to be happy again. But the point here is to understand that it is the way (moment after moment) that makes us happy and that is nothing else than the present moment we are living in.
We can never find happiness in life being trapped between the past and the future.
Now this is basically what the book is teaching you and more so, it shows how you can free yourself of this thinking by asking the right questions and allowing you to get a totally new perspective on how you see the world.
Who This Book Is For
This book is literally for anyone interested in self-development and a way to find peace within yourself. If you started your spiritual quest or have been struggling with your life, this book can teach you how to consciously present in the moment and accept yourself and the world around you. Remember, that this does not mean to have no goals in life.
What I learnt from the book
For me the teachings of Eckhart Tolle have become an integral part of my knowledge. I am not fully incorporating them always, but what was one of the biggest insides is that I am not my thoughts. I am not my mind and there is an ego that easily can fool you and make you believe that it is you that is thinking something, where in fact it is your ego, making you think it.
The distinction between my ego and the awareness of who I really am gave me an inner alertness towards my thoughts that made me not always believe what “someone in my head is trying to tell me” or trying to convince me of.
Being hunted by your thoughts
If you are unaware of your ego your thoughts can literally rage through you, keeping you awake at night, making you talking to yourself without you noticing, and you may even talk out loud suddenly thinking of something and say: “I knew it, this guy try to fool me!” or something like that, only then you realize that you are in the public and people may look at you or ask you if everything is alright. This may be an extreme example, but it happens all the time to us in various degrees of severity.
After you realize that you are not your thoughts you can decide that you no longer want to be hunted by them. You can detach yourself from the flow of thoughts and let them pass through you while being alert and in the present moment.
What happened to me is that I can decide if I want to be hunted by my thoughts any longer or not. But to be able to see this you need to get aware of your ego first and notice that you are actually the observer that is observing your thoughts but you do not longer think that you ARE your thoughts. This creates space within yourself, and in this space you can experience to be peaceful and true happiness
“So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel conscious presence – your deeper self – behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.”
“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender”
Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought”
“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.”
Being an outsider to some extent, someone who does not “fit in” with others or is rejected by them for whatever reason, makes life difficult, but it also places you at an advantage as far as enlightenment is concerned. It takes you out of unconsciousness almost by force.”
“Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.”
“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
“Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”
“What a caterpillar calls the end of the world we call a butterfly.”
Here you can get an impression about what Eckhart Tolle teaches. However, personally, I think it is always better to actually read something, because then it gets more imprinted into my brain and I can remember it better. But for the more audio-visual people I think this is a good basis.
“I would do anything to be anywhere in the vicinity of Eckhart Tolle.”
~ Jim Carrey
“I keep Eckhart’s book at my bedside. I think it’s essential spiritual teaching. It’s one of the most valuable books I’ve ever read.” O. Winfrey
I can highly recommend to read this book and to try to implement what it teaches into your life. It is truly an eye opener and will make you feel happier and more peaceful.
Get The Power of Now
So I hope you enjoyed reading this review. Leave a comment if you want to share what you think about the book or have any question.
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