It took me about a week and a half to finish reading Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, and it was definitely an eye-opener on so many levels. I was sure to spend extra time re-reading certain concepts and principles so that I could have a better understanding of his materials.
The book is written in a cool FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) fashion. Because spiritual enlightenment can be difficult to understand, he focuses on answering questions from others throughout the book. I found this very useful and it helped me have a clearer understanding of his ideas.
The primary principle in the book revolves around the concept of being fully present, in other words, living in the NOW. The lesson was very similar to what was being preached in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation. Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”
Eckhart talks about how people are constantly thinking compulsively throughout their day-to-day lives. This is what I usually refer to as “stuck inside your head” or in a completely “logical” state of mind.
They're either thinking about the PAST or the FUTURE, rather than embracing the moment fully for what it is.
When you're not embracing the moment fully is when fear consumes you and negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, depression, etc… these are all symptoms of living in the past or future.
Eckhart describes a state of intense presence as “free of thought”.
“Many people are so imprisoned in their minds that the beauty of nature does not really exist for them. They might say, “What a pretty flower,” but that's just a mechanical mental labeling. Because they are not still, not present, they don't truly see the flower, don't feel its essence, its holiness — just as they don't know themselves, don't feel their own essence, their own holiness.”
Another really interesting concept that Eckhart talks about is “The Ego's Search for Wholeness”.
“People will often enter into a compulsive pursuit of ego-gratification and things to identify with in order to fill this hole they feel within. So they strive after possessions, money, success, power, recognition, or a special relationship, basically so that they can feel better about themselves, feel more complete. But, even when they attain all these things, they soon find that the hole is still there, that it is bottomless.”
“As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot truly be at ease; you cannot be at peace or fulfilled except for brief intervals when you obtained what you wanted, when a craving has just been fulfilled. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”
This part of the book completely made sense to me. What Eckhart is saying, is that nothing external can make you complete. People spend their entire lives trying to ACHIEVE certain things — an expensive house, a lot of money, a sexy body – in hopes that they will finally find their happiness. But, they're only doing it to meet a certain NEED that they have or to fill up that emptiness inside of them.
The other segment of the quote from Eckhart Tolle is how people use these external sources to define WHO THEY ARE and their IDENTITY. But, if your base your sense of self on these external factors, you have no control. What would happen if one day you lost your job, your partner, or become old and lose your physical appearance? What would happen to your confidence?
Those material things will always come and go… but it's WHO YOU ARE is what you get to keep.
I kept adding post-it's to so many different parts of the book, because I found passages that were pure gold. He talks a bit about relationships which I found interesting.
“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.
All you really need to do is accept the moment fully. You are then at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself.”
Again, Eckhart talks about how a relationship will not make you fulfilled and how most people jump into them due to insecurity and loneliness. If you find yourself needy and longing for a companion, then I'd suggest making a commitment to yourself to be single for a certain period of time so that a relationship isn't an option. When you learn to become fulfilled and comfortable alone and with who you are, you will instantly become more attractive to everyone. It's because you're already ABUNDANT emotionally.
The last idea that I will mention that Eckhart talks about what holds people back from changing and transforming their lives.
“The mind, conditioned as it is by the past, always seeks to re-create what it knows and is familiar with. Even if it is painful, at least it is familiar. The mind always adheres to the known. The unknown is dangerous because it has no control over it. That's why the mind dislikes and ignores the present moment.”
I think this is one of the primary reasons why people will never change or become the best they can be. This is what limits them from extreme growth and the ability to step outside their comfort zone.
While they're already living a boring, mediocre life that they're clearly unhappy with – at least it's COMFORTABLE. It's often easy to stay where it's comfortable, then to venture out into the unknown.
I'm going to end things here, so that this post doesn't get too long and out of control. But, believe me, I could have gone on and on and on with more quotes and ideas in this Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now Review. Remarkable book. No wonder Oprah raves about him and has added him to her book club years ago.
If you want to check out this book, you can purchase it from Amazon here. The only warning I have is that it can be difficult to read if you're unfamiliar with reading books on spirituality and enlightenment. Some of the stuff can be difficult to grasp, but it will sink in and it is definitely worth it.