Book Summary of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment: It is possible to live without suffering, but to reach this state of enlightenment, you must put an end to your identification with the mind; it is by being totally in the here and now that you will know how to open yourself to the transformative power of the present moment.
By Eckhart Tolle, 2000 (Ariane Editions), 218 pages.
Note: This review is a guest post written by Brice from the blog Sourire au stress (“Smile at Stress”).
Review and Summary of “The Power of Now”
Introduction of The Power of Now
The Origin of The Book The Power Of Now
Before becoming a spiritual guide, Eckhart Tolle went through difficult phases, and more specifically when he was 30 years old. He suffered many periods of suicidal depression, and it was then that on the eve of his 29th birthday, during the night, he felt a particular suffering and he became aware of something.
This awareness blocked the arrival of his new thoughts and he began to become fully aware. It was then that he experienced something quite strange. He began to be very afraid and to tremble uncontrollably, then nothing; he does not remember what happened during the following hours.
For the next 5 months, he lived in a strange state of bliss, which allowed him to find peace. Although it lessened in intensity, he knew that something had happened to him.
A few years later, he spent time reading texts on spirituality and questioning spiritual masters. This was how he understood that the profound oppression caused by the suffering that night must have forced his consciousness to disengage from his identification with the mind, with this unhappy self filled with fear.
The Truth Within You
As many people questioned him about how he had come to this state of deep peace, he set to work on his book The Power of Now, which this review invites you to learn about.
The explanations that follow alternate between two levels. First, Eckhart Tolle encourages you to understand what is false in you; therefore it is a question of the nature of the dysfunction of the mind and of the unconsciousness.
This knowledge is essential, otherwise you could not recognize the problem when it arises. There can be no lasting transformation if you keep coming back to the illusion; and if you do not pay attention to what is false in you.
Secondly, he explains to you how, from your current living conditions, you too can access this profound transformation. It shows you how to break free from the bondage of the mind; and how to maintain this state of consciousness in everyday life.
The words used are not intended to make you understand these concepts; but to invite you to experience them as you read. You may find some passages repetitive; but this is to train you better in the present moment.
The goal is to give you a taste of this state of presence.
Chapter 1: You Are Not Your Mind
It is compulsive thinking, that is, our inability to hold back from thinking that causes unnecessary pain and trouble.
Since hardly anyone knows how to stop thinking, everyone is then attached to this operating mode of the mind. It is this attachment that creates the identity to which we cling, that person who is nothing but the conditioned result of the sum of our past experiences.
You can believe what is written by reading these lines. Unfortunately, apart from satisfying your mind, you can only free yourself by making the effort to experience it for yourself.
It is very easy to become a spiritual beggar in search of enlightenment, which is what we all do when we buy books, go through training and everything else.
We become beggars because we have this belief, subtle to detect, that our happiness, our satisfaction, enlightenment, wealth, the end of suffering, inner peace, are on the outside. If we think that this is something that we are missing, then yes, we are creating suffering and permanently nourishing it.
The Mind Is A Magnificent Tool If Used Wisely
For example, if you have a virus on your computer, you can do two things:
- You can throw away your computer, you can get rid of it, point your finger at it and blame it and then condemn it, in which case we continue to feed this concept of duality which is actually the real problem. As we saw above, if we become attached or blame it on something outside you, we keep the problem going.
- You can also fix it, and this is the goal of The Power of Now, that every human undertakes this mind exercise in order to clean it, understand how it works and maintain this wonderful tool.
Suffering is linked to our identification with the way the mind works. It is still a question of being able to observe the faults of its 2 underlying habits:
- Seeking pleasure at all costs.
- Avoiding pain at all costs.
In this incessant struggle between these two polarities, you may notice that even the search for awakening, or enlightenment as some might call it, “sometimes” becomes an impediment or an obstacle to achieving freedom from the mind.
The solution is acquired in the present moment, that is to say when the mind is in equilibrium.
Understand the subtlety written in these words: There is no categorization or particular judgments towards pain or pleasure, what is designated here represents the relationship one has with sensory objects.
Chapter 2: Getting Out of Suffering Through Consciousness
Create No More Suffering in The Present
The suffering created in the present comes from our non-acceptance of what is. The mind always seeks to avoid what is in the present; and begins to torment you by amplifying your anxiety or your fantasies.
Do You Really Live in The Present?
Most of the time you can catch yourself thinking about the future or the past; you can observe yourself constantly to understand the mind’s escape.
The mind will take you into the past when you are shopping; or into the future when you are in a line. Instead of paying attention to what is happening moment by moment; you will keep thinking about what “could” happen, and how you “should react to it.”
In other words, you are afraid of what “might” happen. This fear amplifies your attachment to the mind and this resistance to the present moment increases your suffering.
Dissolve The Suffering Body
As you begin to observe your negative thoughts, your emotions, and this tension that demands your attention, you will notice that suffering needs “you” to feed itself. The more you are attached to it and identify with it, the more it will feed on your energy, leaving you tired and exhausted.
When the pain is there and you feed it, you ask for more. It’s like a mosquito bite that you scratch and make it itchier. In fact, it suffices to no longer pay attention to it, and the unpleasant sensation disappears on its own, but you still have to be aware of it at the right time.
In your mental scenario, you are either the victim or the executioner. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer it. Of course, you are not aware of it when this happens.
If you were aware of this, the suffering scenario would go away on its own, for it is sheer madness to want to suffer more.
Suffering does not want you to be able to observe it, it is afraid of your presence, of your consciousness. It is just an illusion that you are trying to get rid of. As soon as you manage to become the witness of this suffering, your identification with the mind will be broken and you will have discovered your own inner strength; you will have tapped into the power of the now.
Just as you cannot fight against the dark, neither can you fight against suffering, trying to do so would only add more suffering.
Don’t Be Afraid of Losing Your Identity
At times, you will encounter a very great inner resistance to losing your identification with suffering. This is normal, because over time, the attachment to what we believe to be “our identity” is stronger and stronger so much so that we nourish an unconscious fear of losing our identity.
If so, observe your attachment to your suffering, observe the curious pleasure you derive from your own torment, the compulsion you have to talk about or think about it.
The resistance will stop if you make it aware.
Chapter 3: Immersing Yourself in The Now
Do Not Seek Your Self in The Mind
Do not think that you have to be a mind expert to learn how to let go of it. This will only fuel your mind’s continual need for information. The problem of the mind cannot be solved with the mind. It lives with infinite needs and feels constantly threatened. Remember the last time a stranger looked at you seriously without saying anything…how did it make you feel?
End The Delusion of Time
To end the identification of the mind, the key is to end the delusion that time and mind are inseparable. If you eliminate time from the mind, it stops unless you choose to use it.
When you are identified with the mind, you are trapped in regret and over-anticipation; you are constantly preoccupied with the past and the future, and you create a suffering that hardly ever helps you to solve the problems that arise in your life in the present. On the contrary, you may even make them worse.
This behavior arises from a delusion, the promise of permanent satisfaction that only takes place in the future, like a carrot that you can never reach.
Everything that happens (pleasant or unpleasant) is experienced in the present; it is the ultimate truth. The past and the future are constructions of the mind.
Nothing has ever happened in the past; it has happened in the present. Nothing will happen in the future; it will happen in the present. The present moment is the one and only bridge that can take you beyond the mind.
Note: I took a lot of time to appropriate this reflection, because I have always taken the habit of planning certain actions in advance! Realize here that there is nothing wrong with it when psychological time is used on an ad hoc basis without creating unnecessary anxiety, fear, or frustration. Besides, if you think about it, you will find that the present moment is also the only time when you can be truly productive and creative.
How to Access The Power of Now
When you are freed from time you perceive things in a new way. Colors, sounds, sensations are more penetrating, because the mental filter no longer intervenes; you experience more peace and a deep love for all that is.
The mind cannot apprehend this kind of reality because it judges, and it permanently labels sounds and colors. The mind creates associations; it cannot take you into the reality of the present moment, because it does not know it.
It is another part of you, a conscious part, attentive and alert to every subtlety that appears; and which takes you to taste this deep peace.
The mind and all your knowledge are very useful. They help you to carry out your tasks; to accomplish your work; they are real practical companions in everyday life, but they have their own limits.
The mind cannot rule all aspects of your life. It can turn into a real parasite if you don’t watch it, and it can damage your relationships.
You will be able to experience the fleeting present moment when you feel a deeply intense love for a person or admire a breathtaking landscape.
The goal is not to hang on or to constantly seek these kinds of sensations, but to switch to the present permanently.
The method is simple, you have to break the old habit of denying the present and resisting it.
Practice withdrawing your attention from the past and the future when the situation isn’t there.
Get out of the time dimension as much as you can in your daily life. If you cannot, observe the tendency of your mind to want to flee the present moment.
You will find that it generally imagines the future to be better or worse than the present. In the first case, it gives you pleasure and hope in anticipation, otherwise it will create anxiety. You must realize that these illusions do not reflect the reality of the present moment. If you deny it, it means that you are still attached to your mind. Observe this attachment, this resistance.
The moment you observe that you are no longer present, you are. Whenever you can observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it.
Be present as an observer of your mind, thoughts, emotions, and reactions in certain situations.
Chapter 4: The Mind’s Strategies to Avoid The Now
Losing The Present Moment Is The Core Delusion
It is true that we all have problems to solve in our lives. We all have bills to pay and more and more things to think about, plan, follow, etc. Removing the suffering associated with psychological time does not mean that you cannot solve these various problems.
It just means that you will overcome all these difficulties one after the other by being totally present.
You will remain attentive to the subtle vibrations which enliven each cell of your body, and in this way, you will be at peace in dealing with each of these problems.
You will neither have the urge nor the inclination to create additional suffering by causing anxiety for the future or regret for the past.
Losing the present moment is losing that inner peace that helps us to face life’s problems in a healthy and serene way.
This transformation requires a lot of persistence and a constant effort to stay in the present. At the beginning you have the fleeting experience of your consciousness, you go back and forth between presence and the dimensions of time.
You then get into the habit of noting how often you are not present. It is this attitude, this ability to recognize your absence that will make you progress in leaps and bounds. Anytime you realize that you are not there, you will become so quickly.
How to Break Free from Torment
To practice, you can pay attention to negative thoughts or feelings that will appear when you feel unhappy in a situation, when you listen to someone you don’t like, or when you do something you don’t like.
Once you become aware of the appearance of these thoughts and emotions, you will be able to observe in more detail the mechanism which gave rise to them. If you feed these thoughts or emotions instead of watching them appear and disappear, you will create suffering.
If you create suffering, nevertheless, make the effort to realize that you do not want it. Most of the time, it is not the present situation that is at the origin of our suffering.
Note: I know it is sometimes very difficult to admit.
In fact, it is the thoughts and emotions that arise during this situation that prevent us from facing these difficulties.
The best way to be convinced of it is to practice experiencing it, otherwise, whether you believe it or not, it will not change anything in your life.
Wherever You Are, Be There Totally
Try to catch yourself complaining, judging yourself (or judging someone else), either in word or in thought. To lament is not to accept what is. This attitude has a negative component that we are not always aware of. When we complain, we are a victim, and we develop the certainty that we are powerless.
When we express ourselves or act consciously then we regain the power to accept or change the situation that displeases us.
To take action, start by observing your inner resistance to defuse the negativity associated with the situation. Action that results from understanding needs is more effective than action that results from negativity.
Even if, sometimes, it is better to take any action than to do nothing (especially if you have been treading water for a long time). If you make a mistake, you will learn and grow from this experience, and in this case, it will no longer be a mistake.
The mistake is getting stuck in a trap doing nothing, in which case it is usually the fear of change that keeps you in this trap. If so, recognize it, observe it while taking action. It will surely accompany you, but as you are confronted with it, its intensity will decrease.
If you are in a situation that you cannot change, then fully accept what is going on right now to let go of the negative charge associated with it. Observe this inner resistance and understand it.
Do not think that it is synonymous with abandonment or weakness, because letting go hides a great strength in itself. A force that will give you the power to accept or wait for the situation to change on its own. In any case, you will be liberated internally.
If there is something you should be doing that you are not doing; then do it now or accept your inactivity. If that’s your choice, go all out and have fun, be as inactive as possible.
And if you go fully and consciously, you will come out soon’ or maybe not, but anyway you move forward with a mind free from inner resistance; you will not be stressed, because you will not resist the present moment.
If you are stressed, it is because you are in a hurry to get to the future; you do not accept your present situation and you are not yet aware that this resistance is holding you back in your projects.
Note: Re-read the sentence above!
Stress is caused by the fact that you are “here” when you want to be “there”; you are in the present while you want to be in the future. If you think about this last sentence carefully, you will understand the illusion of stress and why it is an endless trap that is constantly self-feeding.
You may need to work, to move, even to run with great energy, great speed, you can do it without projecting yourself into the future. You can do this by being fully aware of your movement and the intensity of your energy at that time. It is in these conditions that you will be able to work or run without stress and with more attention and precision.
You will be relieved of stress and fully present in your activity.
Whether You Go for It or let It Go, Observe Your Mind
It may say to you “Stop, you are wasting your time”, “You should take a break” or “You should work more”.
Observe it and smile at it.
Note: Now you understand the origin of the title of my blog “Smile at Stress”.
Chapter 5: The State of Presence
It Is Not What You Think!
If you try to understand what it means to “be present”; you will not succeed, for the mind cannot comprehend something beyond it. To understand, you have to experience presence.
Try the following experiment: close your eyes, pay attention, and ask yourself the following question: “I wonder what my next thought will be?” Stay alert and watch what happens. Be like a cat watching over a mouse hole, or a wise old man watching children play (children being the thoughts that arise).
Try now. You will have understood that when you are attentive, you are free from all thoughts. You will also have noticed that it is not yet possible for you to remain attentive long enough to remain present for long periods of time.
It is training that requires patience.
To stay present, be firmly focused on your body, inhabit it fully. You can keep some of your attention focused on certain parts of your body. You have to make the effort to feel your body from the inside out.
It can act as an anchor (like the anchor of a boat), that way you keep it from drifting, and you stay close to the present moment.
In this state you cannot be afraid, you cannot feel tense. You are at peace, but you are alert; you are present to your being. Your personality, your ego or your identity is no longer there, but nothing is lost since you are here and now. You have just found yourself with yourself.
Beauty Arises in The Stillness of Presence
You may have already experienced sudden lucidity when you are alone, in nature, or having a wonderful experience. To realize the beauty of your experience, the mind must be silent. You have to drop the burden of your past, your problems and your future. Even if it is painful, you have to make that effort.
Beyond the beauty of the outward form, there is something else, something sacred that cannot be labeled. We cannot name it because we can only understand it when the mind is silent.
Chapter 6: The Subtle Body
Finding The Invisible and Indestructible Reality Within You
We have understood that identification, that is, attachment to the physical or psychological form (of our body, our thoughts, or our identity) represents the root of our illusions. Now we are going to see how our body can bring us to this liberation.
The visible body is only a limited perception of a deeper reality, a reality felt at every moment even if it escapes us, because we do not know how to pay our attention to it.
To inhabit your own body is to feel the body from the inside, to feel the life that inhabits each member, each portion and ultimately each cell of your body. When you have this kind of experience, you discover that you are something other than the outer form that you can admire in front of a mirror.
Wait, because this is not only the beginning of a world of peace and great calm, but also of great strength and great power. It is experiencing life at a higher degree of intensity.
You will gradually realize that you are only a fragment, a wave floating between birth and death, and this awareness connects you to this deep peace. It is as if you feel connected to the ocean that gives life to all these waves, all these fragments.
I am telling you about it to show you that it is possible and that you too can experience this reality.
As long as your mind takes all of your attention, you will be cut off from your being. If so, you will not be in your body, and you cannot help but think.
Compulsive thinking becomes unhealthy because you mistakenly think that your identity comes from your mental activity.
If you no longer inhabit your body and are identified with your mind, it is normal that you still find yourself lacking (pleasures).
Want to find a very efficient way to do it? Take your attention away from the thought and direct it to a part of your body (your posture, for example).
Getting in Touch with Your Subtle Body
At the beginning, as in any practice, it is quite difficult to come into contact with your subtle body, which is why you may be asked, as here for example, to close your eyes, but as you keep practicing, it becomes easier and easier to achieve.
Now turn your attention to your body, not looking for anything in particular, you just need to feel the vibrations or other sensations already present in your hands, arms, legs, feet, abdomen or chest.
The more attention you pay to it, the clearer and more intense the sensations will be.
You can pay attention to the feeling of the air on your skin, the contraction of your muscles, the flow of air through your nostrils to the very bottom of your lungs. Don’t be upset if you don’t get it right away. It’s a practice that takes a lot of patience and persistence.
Whatever happens, whether it is pain or pleasant sensations, do not get attached to these sensations, it will only deepen your identification with the form. Remain the witness, this silent presence which objectively observes the appearance and disappearance of these sensations.
Sermon on The Body
What you perceive as a dense physical structure and which you can call “body” is in fact only an illusion. It is not a single shape, but an assembly of infinitely small elements. This assemblage of infinitely small elements is subject to disease, old age, and death, but it is not you.
Your essence is beyond the impermanence of your body. As your mind loses touch with its true essence, it fuels this certainty within you that you are your body and maintains this unwarranted fear of losing your physical form.
Even if you do not agree with what is written and you are looking for the truth; do not focus your attention elsewhere than on your body, know how to remain in this state of inner vigilance.
Try to keep in constant contact with some bodily sensations. Do not provoke them. Observe those which are already there, but of which you are not aware.
Create Deep Roots Within Yourself
The key is to be in constant contact with your body, to feel it all the time. The more aware you are of the subtle vibrations present in your body, the more the frequency of these vibrations will increase just as the intensity of a light bulb increases.
It is this rise in frequency which will attract towards you new situations in accordance with your energy; the negativity produced by your mind will reach you less and less. You will transform yourself internally, but it will happen subtly, you will perhaps not always be aware.
If you keep your attention on the sensations of your body, you will stay grounded in the present (remember the boat analogy). This is how you will avoid straying into the past or the future and you will come back to face the present situation armed with an unshakeable inner peace.
Your emotions and thoughts will still be there, but you will no longer be swayed by them; you will be in control.
And right now, where is your attention directed? Are you thinking of anything in particular? Are you reading these lines? If so, let’s say it is the focus of your attention, but you also have peripheral awareness of where you are and the people around you. You can also be aware of the mental activity that is going on around what you read (you can make comments, judgments, or other remarks).
However, all of this does not have to hold your attention, you can choose to focus part of your attention within. Don’t let your attention turn entirely outward, stay in touch with your bodily sensations as you read these lines, try…
Practice this over the coming weeks and days. Walk with your whole body, read with your whole body, speak while keeping part of your attention on your breathing, for example, or on your stomach (if you are eating at the same time).
Do not give your full attention to the mind and the outside world. Concentrate on what you are doing, of course, but make an effort to feel your body at the same time as often as you can.
This is how you will experience a new reality through all your daily experiences. Be patient and persevering, and you can get there.
If you have to wait somewhere, in lines or in traffic jams, sweep away your bodily sensations and make an effort to keep some of your attention (or all of your attention at first) on your sensations. Hold that attention as long as possible and make it a game.
Thus, you will manage to excel in this; you will become an artist who observes your bodily sensations even in the most uncomfortable situations (that is, where you need it most).
If you give up, your mind will come back through the back door to dictate your behavior.
You will no longer have access to this state of peace, and you will suffer from lack or repulsion in certain situations.
When you find yourself responding automatically to certain situations (with anger, fear, or impulsive urge), reconnect, even for a few seconds, with your bodily sensations.
When you are deeply rooted in your body, it is very easy to observe the mind. And when you have disengaged your attention from your mind, you will immediately have access to inner calm, to this witness presence.
You Have to Forgive Before You Inhabit Your Body
When you pay attention to your bodily sensations you may not like it, this is normal. You may even observe the negative reactions, the inner resistance that the mind makes (doubts and fears that it is unnecessary or ineffective).
These are mental barriers that the mind builds when it does not like the present situation or the bodily sensation that appears. You may even have to deal with pain, headaches, or nausea.
You do not have to think about your body to pay attention to it; and you just have to remain the witness and observe what is happening inside of it.
It is your attention that is the key to your transformation, your ability to stay attentive longer and longer. Emotions can present themselves during your observation period, they can be considered as small waves or ripples which arise and die out. If you do not cling onto them, they will go away on their own.
On the other hand, if you are not anchored in your body when the emotion appears, it can stay in you for days, even longer. It can also be the cause of physical illnesses. If you cannot forgive (yourself or someone else), you can just go back and observe your bodily sensations and pay attention to them.
If you remain anchored in the present, forgiveness occurs naturally without forcing. This state of peace propels you forward to face reality as it presents itself.
Chapter 7: Various Gates into the Unmanifested
Fully Inhabit Your Body
At first, it is quite normal not to feel sensations all over your body; you will definitely feel things in your arms and legs.
If you have time, you can try the following meditation technique.
For 10 to 15 minutes, you will take a very straight posture; if your spine remains straight, then you will be more alert.
Make sure that nothing or nobody will disturb you and sit in a chair or in your favorite meditation pose. Close your eyes and first take a deep breath, making sure your body is relaxed.
Feel yourself breathing, bring your attention to the sensations in the abdomen; to those slight expansions and contractions that occur during inhalation and exhalation.
Do not think about what’s going on. If you catch yourself thinking of something, come back and focus your attention on the sensations. This is how you can make sure that your mind does not take ownership of your consciousness.
Try to feel your subtle body as one energy field. If you don’t get it right now, be patient and continue until all you feel is a sense of presence. Become one with this sense, eliminate this perceptual duality “observer-observed” to become one with your own body.
Once that is done, open your eyes and for a few minutes you will look at the things around you in a meditative way, without mental labeling, without judgment, without desire or rejection and try to maintain this attention on your energy body.
When you reach this point, you access a source of deep peace, but also of subtle joy and great vitality. It is a realm available by your side at all times.
You can let this energy flow back out whenever you make an effort to stay alert to your energy body.
You can access this deep peace through silence. For example, try to hear the silence behind the sounds around you. Look for this silence, this place from which every sound flows and returns.
Pay more attention to silence than to sounds.
You cannot turn your attention to outer silence without simultaneously opening a breach of intense stillness and deep peace within you.
For example, in a conversation, try to focus on the intervals between words, on the brief silent moments between sentences.
Have you ever noticed that your mind has this fear of “blanks” or cuts in a conversation? Learn to bring your attention to this silent space, without thoughts, without judgments. It is from this source that your next words will become filled with wisdom.
Chapter 8: Enlightened Relationships
Step into The Now, No Matter What
This deep peace that we are talking about is accessible to everyone here and now. It does not require special conditions; you do not need to wait for something special or to have a special encounter to access it.
Many people think that pleasures of the body or the pursuit of other psychological pleasures can help them to break free from their state of fear or wanting. They believe that happiness is nothing more than a heightened feeling of vitality that comes directly from some of these sensations.
When the search for these sensations originates from this state of wanting and frustration, the pleasures that result are only short-lived. This is how you will be able to repeat the same scenarios over and over again, projecting always further into the future (far from the here and now) your state of peace and happiness.
The unconscious mind maintains within you this illusion that you will only be happy and at peace in the future. True happiness is to feel within you, here and now, this deep peace, this good which has no opposite, this joy which depends on nothing other than itself.
It is also a real liberation, a liberation from this fear, this suffering, this sense of lack and insufficiency. It is liberation from all attachment and greed.
If you think time is the instrument that keeps you happy, then sorry to disappoint you, but it is actually your biggest obstacle. It is from the circumstances in which you find yourself that you can access the present moment.
From Addictive to Enlightened Relationships
You can turn an addictive relationship into a real one. It is by being present and intensifying your presence continually that true love can flourish.
The light of your presence must be strong enough that you no longer let your mind or your pain assimilate into who you are. In fact, the moment judgment ceases, you give way to acceptance of what is, of you and of the other.
It is by making room in your mind that you will be able to welcome the joy of being, despite the circumstances or the words of others. This is how you will stop judging yourself needlessly and then stop judging others.
If you no longer need to change your partner and accept him/her as he/she is, then you will be carrying your relationship beyond ego.
Love is a state that is already within you, it is not outside, and it does not depend on particular conditions. The stillness of the inner presence allows you to feel this state.
Relationships as Spiritual Practice
As human beings have become more and more identified with their minds, it then is normal that a great majority of relationships are the source of suffering and conflict.
Many people live alone or in single parent families for fear of reproducing melodramas due to relationships experienced in the past. Other people compromise and persist in staying in dysfunctional relationships, others move from one relationship to another and perpetuate the pleasure-pain cycle in search of an unattainable goal of achievement.
Each crisis experienced in a relationship represents a real opportunity for change, for inner transformation. If relationships amplify the body of pain and stir up different mental patterns, it is to give you the opportunity to observe and accept the facts of a given situation.
As long as you deny the facts or want the situation to be different, you hold yourself back from moving forward and making progress. Make no mistake either, for this inner transformation to happen, you just need to make space for love to happen. You cannot transform yourself at will or transform your partner.
If your partner is acting unconsciously, refrain from judgment, recognize this dysfunction so that you can free yourself from any reaction. Instead of struggling with the dark, see through this illusion and you will be able to act by being present and open to the situation in the here and now.
Your partner will not be able to continue to fuel their own unconscious reactions if you no longer fuel yours.
Let Go of The relationship You Have With Yourself
In terms of form, you are not complete, you are either male or female. When you are in a state of inner peace, you experience this lack, this incompleteness, as being on the periphery of your presence. Everything that happens to you then feels like it is on the periphery, as if the whole world is just ripples or waves on the surface of a deep ocean. You are this ocean, but also this wave which has realized the true nature of its identity, that is to say the ocean.
You then take a permanent step back from the world of waves and ripples, you find that the world of form is no longer so important.
This does not mean that you are indifferent and cut off from others; on the contrary, it is only in this way that you can relate deeply to others or to your partner.
If you cannot feel good when you are alone, you may seek to establish a relationship with others to deal with this suffering. In this way, you will mask the real problem and the discomfort will resurface in another form when you are in a relationship.
Chapter 9: Beyond Happiness and Torment: Peace
Beyond Good and Bad: The Higher Good
You cannot only attract positive circumstances to yourself. It is your perception of positivity that widens as you enter this state of peace.
For many people limitations, failures and illness become very great masters. It is these events that teach the mind to let go of false self-images and to be aware of endless desires that lead to suffering. These events then provide depth, humility, and compassion for others.
When a negative experience arises, a lesson lurks deep within it, even if you don’t see it yet.
You can still change a situation if you have the power, you can do your best as long as you accept the present moment as it is. It is the acceptance that frees you from the resistance created by the mind. This is how all harmful incentives such as fear, ignorance, or control will cease.
If you move forward freed from your mind, a much greater intelligence will kick in and this quality of presence will shine through in what you do.
The Cycles of Life and The Impermanence of Things
As long as you are in this dimension, you will always be subject to the law of impermanence. The only difference is that you no longer perceive it as “bad”, but only as something that is.
By allowing everything to be there, a deeper dimension is revealed to you in the form of a lasting sense of presence, of an unchanging and deep stillness, of a spontaneous joy that goes beyond good and bad. This is the joy of Being, divine peace.
You can become aware of all these cycles on your own. For that, you just have to observe the cycles of success and achievement that rule civilizations or even your own existence.
You must most certainly have experienced a great failure or a deep suffering to be drawn to the spiritual dimension. Maybe your successes have lost their meaning, turning into failures.
Behind all success there is failure and behind all failure there is success. In terms of form, nothing is permanent.
How to Use Negativity and Relinquish it
As you observe, you will notice that all anger, negativity, resistance; or irritation becomes more disturbing than the cause that is responsible.
Use each of these situations to make it a spiritual practice. Feel that you are becoming transparent as if you are devoid of solidity; allow noise or any form of resistance to pass through you.
Instead of reacting or getting pushed around, you become invulnerable, you let all of these things go through you or slip over you. If, for example, someone insults you, do not offer any resistance to what is, observe your urge to react and forgive yourself.
Do not let that stop you from reminding them that their behavior is unacceptable, but in any case, you will not get carried away by your inner state.
The Nature of Compassion
When you detach yourself from your own resistance; you then become aware of the deep and subtle connection that unites you with all other creatures. When you are present with this deep peace within you, and also know that through the body and mind of all other individuals there is this peace as well.
You then know what their true identity is. You also know what is preventing them from experiencing it, and this is how others can no longer hurt you. And you are just witnessing the suffering of others through which you can still see that spark of peace that lies dormant within them.
This is compassion, this awareness of the bond that unites you to others, to all creatures.
Chapter 10: The Meaning of Letting Go in The Power of Now
Acceptance of The Now
Letting go does not mean “accepting what is without making an effort to change the situation”, it does not mean that you should not try to improve your current living conditions. True detachment is subtly different from all of this.
To let go is to accept the present moment unconditionally, without resisting it; it is to relinquish the inner resistance that opposes what is. You can plan and improve your life as long as you are present; and offer no inner resistance in the present moment.
To better understand the principle, here is a visual analogy. Imagine walking along a path at night. You have a flashlight that penetrates the fog. Imagine that this fog represents your living conditions of the past and the future; the flashlight represents the present consciousness which allows you to move forward.
If you don’t let go before you act; you will harden the ego shell and perceive the world around you as a threat. Even inside your body; tension is created in various parts of the body and this impairs the free flow of energy.
Letting go is an internal mechanism. It does not mean that on a concrete level you do not take action. If you are stuck in the mud, do not tell yourself a story, on the contrary, fully recognize that you want to get out of it and then bring your attention back to the present moment without passing judgment on the present situation.
Accept the moment as it is, then take action and do whatever it takes to get out of the mud.
Keep practicing letting go until you get the result you want.
From Mental Energy to Spiritual Energy
It is not always easy to be successful in letting go. To begin with, you must be aware of this resistance; you must be present when it arrives. Observe how your mind creates it, how it judges, criticizes, classifies the situation, yourself or others.
By being the witness of your resistance, it dissipates naturally, without doing anything; you must nevertheless be patient and persevering. The longer you observe your resistance, the easier it will become to make it disappear.
Letting Go in Interpersonal Relationships
You will not be able to manipulate someone or be manipulated by others if you are present and in touch with your inner peace. Letting go doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be tormented or exploited by others.
It is perfectly possible to say “no” firmly and clearly to someone or to disagree completely with another person while maintaining this complete absence of inner resistance.
When you say no, make it of a high quality; free from all negativity so as not to create further suffering.
If you cannot let go, take action, but do it in a totally responsible way.
How to Transform Suffering into Peace
You have two chances to let go. The first is to accept what is outside of you, knowing that what is cannot be undone; you do what must be done according to the circumstances of the situation.
If you maintain this state of non-resistance, you no longer create negativity, and you live with grace and levity.
If you are unsuccessful in living this way, you may feel that it is the external circumstances that are creating your suffering, when, ultimately, it is not.
The second chance that is within your reach is to accept what is in you. If it is difficult for you to admit the external circumstances, understand the internal situation. Do not resist your pain, give it permission to be there.
Let go in the face of grief, fear, loneliness; witness it without judging it. Welcome it warmly and observe how the miracle of letting go transforms this suffering into deep peace.
The Way of The Cross
Many people say that they have found this state of peace in their deep suffering. In fact, it is not through suffering, but through the total acceptance of what is in suffering.
It is when all judgment and all negativity disappear that all of a sudden a great stillness arises in you. It is an unfathomable sense of peace.
However, the suffering may last a long time before this happens. Consciously choosing enlightenment means letting go of attachment to the past and the future and making the present the focus of your life.
This is why you must train yourself moment by moment to maintain this state of presence.
Having The Power to Choose
Some choices are difficult to make, which is why many people make unconscious choices that lead them to continually repeat the same scenarios of suffering.
The choice only exists if you are fully aware and detached from your mental self.
No one chooses madness or suffering. If they arise, it is only because there is not enough presence to dissolve the past or the future.
There is not enough light to dissolve the darkness. As long as the mind is managing your life, you don’t really have a choice, you aren’t really there.
If the mind is leading your life, you will still suffer from the consequences of fear, conflict, and pain issues.
Rest assured, however, at one time or another, your suffering will force you out of your state of unconsciousness.
When you let go of what is, you become present; your past loses the power it had over you and you then no longer need it. Your presence is key and so is the present moment.
Conclusion on the book The Power of Now by Brice from the blog Sourire au stress (“Smile at stress”)
When I closed The Power of Now for the first time, the days that followed were much calmer and more peaceful even though my daily life hadn’t changed a bit.
It was I who had changed. I had become aware of something unique; because I knew how to return to the present moment instead of constantly escaping it.
In fact, it helped me a lot.
I was a student the first time I read The Power of Now; and remember feeling more focused and alert in what I was doing. My words were more pleasant and my demeanor more confident.
I understood that at any time I could recreate this state myself; just by making the effort to observe my mind and pay attention to my bodily sensations.
I still remember, when I saw certain colors, they seemed to me more vivid and more intense even if it did not last long at the beginning. By continuing to make the effort to return to the present, I succeeded in recreating this state of peace that I had been seeking for a very long time.
My friends found me more attentive and more reassuring when they spoke to me about their problems. Moreover, I am delighted to have had this book The Power of Now at hand during this whole period of my life.
Mind you, the book The Power of Now is much richer than it seems!
When I first read The Power of Now (in 2008), I obviously started to pay attention to a lot more things and to be a lot more present. It is actually a wonderful place to start, but the habits of the mind come full circle if you do not maintain your efforts for the long haul.
This is why I now practice meditation on a daily basis, and this is why I want to warn you that The Power of Now should be read slowly and reviewed regularly (at least every 3 to 6 months). In fact, what is magical is that with each rereading, you will have the impression of rediscovering The Power of Now once again and finding a new way to bond with your well-being.
Do not let your ego get carried away. The trap that you might fall into and into which I myself have fallen is wanting at all costs to lecture everyone on the teachings of the book.
The ego is cunning and even through such valuable teaching it can be brought back into control.
If you are overwhelmed with your work or are afraid to take risks in your entrepreneurial endeavors; The Power of Now is a valuable guide that will lead you in peace to realize what you are lacking in the here and now.
The Power of Now invites you to do the things that scare you with love and to use your suffering as a springboard to enlightenment. Keep in mind though, what I forgot to mention is that no matter what situation you are in, The Power of Now will give you what you most need right now to move forward regardless.
If spiritual topics interest you and The Power of Now is the kind of book you like, then we recommend that you check out our articles on The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and The Art of Meditation by Matthieu Ricard.
Strong Points of The Power of Now:
- The question-answer format takes you forward serenely through this teaching; because The Power of Now takes the form of a conversation between the author Eckhart Tolle and his students; you will be able to note that your resistance will dissipate as you continue reading.
- All areas of life are involved and more particularly that of relationships; because this is how you will be able to present and discuss this work with your loved ones (and put it into practice).
- Marc Allen’s preface gives you chills. If you just read this preface; you can be sure you will get to the end of The Power of Now; you’ll want to understand why The Power of Now is truly special and why it can change your life.
Weak Points of The Power of Now: (in fact, these are more warnings or lessons than weak points)
- It takes a lot of patience to read The Power of Now. It requires a lot of questioning, all these reflections throughout The Power of Now show you the extent of the work to be done on yourself.
- Your life will change temporarily. The cycle of impermanence will play its part. This means that it will be necessary to maintain a regular effort; even if this effort is a small one, but you must be regular in the practice of this teaching.
- The passages we may want to avoid are in fact the ones we need the most. I found myself avoiding reading certain chapters; and when I did; I understood that this was exactly what I needed to understand.
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