Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’
I decided to write this mini-review of Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ because after reading this book it really did change the way I think.
Tolle explains in this book how we are often looking into the future or thinking back to the past at the expense of living in the moment, as if treating the present moment as just a stepping stone to something perceived as ‘better’ in the future.
How many times do we reach a goal and then still not feel fulfilled and happy? For instance, someone could have a goal to buy a new Toyota car, then when that goal is reached they then want the next model up, then perhaps a Mercedes, then maybe two cars and so on . . .
This book is not about appreciating what you already have. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. His advice is to eradicate the egoic mind and enjoy the present moment and not get attached to things as if they are part of ourselves. The present moment, as he rightly explains, is all we ever really have. Cars rust, new technologies become old technologies, looks and health eventually fade and of course life itself in this state at least is only temporary.
Interestingly, he proposes that the past is not you and is just a series of events that you can learn from. He splits time into several different categories: ‘Clock Time’ and ‘Egoic Time’. Egoic time is explained as when you form a bridge in your mind to a ‘usually traumatic’ time in the past and hang onto it, forcing you to constantly and needlessly think back to that moment, causing stress and unhappiness.
The concept of ‘Surrender’ is re-examined as a strong weapon against the egoic mind’s prison. When you surrender (accept) ‘what is’ this is explained as the key to breaking free from the egoic mind’s controlling thought patterns.
For example, if someone is cruel to an animal for instance, if I confront them and take appropriate action (i.e. calling the RSPCA etc.) that the situation deserves, I may have resolved the situation. Â However, the situation is still not resolved in my mind, as I will constantly think back to that event with thoughts similar to ‘How can some people be so cruel?’ or ‘It shouldn’t be like that’ or even ‘That should never have happened’. This book does not advise you to not take action or stop defending yourself or others, it advises you to ‘do what needs to be done’. Surrender in this sense means to accept the situation or fact as something that ‘is’. He rightly explains that for any situation that we are not happy with, we have three options: change the situation, avoid the situation or accept (surrender to) the fact. Re-judging, re-telling or re-thinking through the situation isn’t going to change anything. Then, after you accept past experiences, so that you can really move on and surrender to ‘what is’ you can clear your mind and appreciate the present moment more.
I liked this book a lot as it is not bogged down with ancient, vague and often inaccurate Â language translations from thousands of years ago. I wanted to know why people meditated apart from relaxing and feeling at peace of course. I felt that there had to be more to it. I also wanted to have at least a pointer to what ‘enlightenment’ is. Although it is true that you cannot appreciate ‘enlightenment’ until you experience it and of course striving toward this defeats the object, Tolle explains that ‘enlightenment’ is simply being free from the controlling egoic mind and connecting with ‘being’ in the present moment. In fact, the Buddha explained enlightenment as being ‘free from pain’ – in other words – free from being too attached to material things that are temporary and also accepting states that the egoic mind fights against, as in getting older or the fact that our life is temporary.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a fully enlightened zen master with a flawlessly clear state of mind to benefit from awareness. I’d say that I’ve cut down destructive and needless thought patterns by about 50% – not perfect by any means – but it’s made me more productive and more relaxed as a bonus.
There is a lot of nonsense surrounding meditation at times, confusing people and seeming unobtainable, in reality it can be done anywhere and in almost all activities. This book points out that meditation is just a very clear and simple state of mind that exists within all of us.
So, hold off the plans to put wind chimes around your house, grow a metre-long beard and change your name to ‘Little Lotus Dragon’ 😉 Improved awareness and defence against the egoic mind can be found in this book and once the concept is understood, I believe that anyone can benefit from Tolle’s excellent advice. However, I had to read it slowly, a little at a time and re-read most parts to get the message.
If anyone has read or reads this book, please leave a comment as I would be interested in your thoughts. This blog post is just the icing on the cake and doesn’t do a thorough job of explaining the whole book so please don’t go by my opinion. It’s your opinion of this book that counts as you’ll have a whole new perspective relative to you. I hope that this post was useful and also hope that it helps someone in some way. 🙂
Article by Kevin Baker