Eckhart Tolle’s Perspective
A German resident of Canada, Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual leader and author. In 2008, the New York Times described Tolle as “the most popular spiritual author in the United States.” Additionally, the Watkins Review claimed in 2011 that he was the most spiritually influential person in the world. Although not identified with a particular religion, Tolle claims to be influenced by multiple religions and spiritual works.
The Power of Now states that living in the now is the most authentic path to happiness and enlightenment. Eckhart Tolle awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain. He also shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. If you surrender to the present moment, your problems will no longer exist. The present is where you will find joy, embrace your true self, and discover you are already complete and perfect.
StoryShot #1: Your Mind and Body Are Separate
Your mind is the primary origin of pain. So, if you allow your ego to take over, you will endure considerably more pain. Your mind is associated with pain because it frequently brings up memories. Focusing on your memories often leads to worries about the past and more significant anxiety about the future. Generally, our mind fixates on negative memories. Subsequently, this prevents us from living in the present. The pain associated with memories is compounded by us having no control over these events. Eckhart Tolle highlights that we only have control over the present. We have no control over our memories or future events.
Tolle suggests you try to separate yourself from your mind due to the pain associated with your mind. Try to focus on your body. Your body understands what is best for you. Subsequently, you can learn a lot about the critical factors within your life by choosing to focus on your body. Tolle argues that nobody has ever found enlightenment by focusing on their mind and ignoring their body.
The Buddha was passionate about the concept of separating your mind from your body. The Buddha learned from spending six years abstaining and intermittently fasting that he could not reach enlightenment by separating his body. Instead, he found the only effective practices were those that helped him feel united with his body.
StoryShot #2: Observe Your Relationship With Your Mind
When you seek to detach yourself from your mind, you must be fully conscious of your mind’s power. This consciousness should allow you to highlight the subtle ways your mind causes you pain. This pain could be through behavior or thoughts. Simply observing your relationship with your mind will create a gap in the flow of your thinking. For example, suppose you ask yourself what your next thought will be. There will likely be a delay before your next clear thought arrives. Consistently using questions like this will help you become more conscious of how you become so used to your mind’s flow. Alternatively, breaking up your thoughts will help you isolate your mind and separate yourself from it. Try to accept these thoughts as they arise. But, do not necessarily follow the advice of these thoughts.
StoryShot #3: Focus on the Present
You likely spend most of your time thinking about the past and future. Tolle suggests you could be neglecting the only moment fully available to you, which is your present. No events occur in the past or future. Life is just a continuous stream of present moments over time. The past is a collection of once-present moments that have passed. The future is filled with several present moments that are yet to arrive.
As the past and future are simply alternative versions of the present, there are no advantages to worrying about them. If you can simply focus on the present, you will only be dealing with minor problems as they arise. You can break a challenging task into several minor challenges.
StoryShot #4: Accept the Tragedies in Your Life
Tolle introduces the readers to the concept of pain-body. According to him, pain-body is an accumulation of painful life experiences that were not fully faced and accepted in the moment they happened. They leave an energy form of emotional pain behind. They come together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a pain-body: an energy entity consisting of old emotion. It’s a heavy burden for us to carry around and it
continues to grow as we add more pain. The residual pain can overwhelm us, so we must learn to cope with it.
Living in the present does not mean you should surrender to the present. You should adopt mental strategies to deal with any negative feelings that emerge from dealing with the present. Not all pain is within our control, as we all experience challenging moments like loved ones passing away. That said, you must accept these traumatic events for what they are. Doing so will limit the quantity of pain and the length of this painful period. Understanding that nothing can now be changed will help you avoid unnecessary suffering. Detaching from your mind will provide you with the inner strength required to accept painful situations.
StoryShot #5: Be Permanently Alert
Eckhart Tolle describes the optimal state of presence as permanent alertness. As well as separating yourself from your mind, you should also adopt an active waiting technique. Active waiting is characterized by being aware that something important could happen at any moment. So, during this state, you have all your attention focused on the present moment.
Active waiting suppresses any opportunities to daydream, plan for the future, or remember the past. It is impossible to be distracted from the present. One of the strengths of active waiting is that it helps you pay attention to your body for potential events. Tolle explains that Zen masters sneak up on their pupils when they have their eyes closed. Then, they attempt to hit the student. This approach forced their students to adopt active waiting, which helped them fully concentrate on their bodies.
StoryShot #6: Your Ego is Destructive
Tolle speaks at length about the negative impact of your ego. Your ego is a part of your mind that controls your thoughts and behavior. Crucially, ego is part of your ‘inner body,’ which often controls you without your knowledge. Tolle highlights that your ego depends on your misery for its continued existence. As your ego relies on misery, it also obstructs your potential happiness.
The impact of egos on humans is apparent when you consider that nobody wants to suffer. Yet, there are so many people who are architects of their own downfall. They intentionally sabotage their own happiness or stay in painful relationships. The ego is a destructive part of the human mind. It wants to be an essential part of you and knows no limits. So, if you let it gain control, it will bring you much suffering.
StoryShot #7: Manifest Your Flow of Energy
Tolle recommends that readers connect to the unmanifested presence of the now that we carry with us at all times. So, we must practice being present to inner energy for 10-15 minutes at a time. Breaking away from a focus on your body will allow you to be more aware of this energy. Specifically, once you have identified unmanifested energy, you want to flow this energy into the manifested form. Tolle calls this Chi.
Sleep is a period when you will experience more of the unmanifested. But you will not liberate the energy associated with the manifested unless you enter it consciously. So, conscious awareness of the now is your main portal. You can reinforce your awareness of the now by practicing silence. The interplay of sound and silence shapes all our manifested experiences. Space is also the emptiness among the atoms of the world and is comparable to silence. It is usually impossible to be fully aware of space or silence. However, if you can become aware of space, you will also become aware of the unmanifested.
Sleep is an example of an involuntary portal. Similarly, death is another involuntary portal. It opens up briefly at the time of physical death. Suppose you missed all other opportunities for spiritual realization during your lifetime. In this case, you will still have one last portal open up for you immediately after the body has died.
StoryShot #8: Relationships Can Pull You Away From the Present
Relationships are consistently associated with suffering, partly because society believes we are entitled to great relationships. That said, Tolle believes that relationships often pull us away from the present. This is common because relationships encourage us to consider future experiences as saviors. Relationships are naturally addictive because they create a love-hate cycle. These cycles make us feel alive. But we are often drawn to people romantically because of our wounds. Subsequently, we become disillusioned when our romantic partners are unable to heal these wounds.
Your spiritual path should never depend on another person. This is particularly important to consider as relationships can activate the pain-body when we are disillusioned with the relationship. To heal, we must dis-identify with the mind and connect with the now.
Tolle believes women are naturally closer to enlightenment, as they are also naturally closer to their bodies. Men are too obsessed with their minds. Women also have a collective pain-body due to women being subjugated within society. So, women must reflect on how much they resist letting go of their pain.
StoryShot #9: Detach to Find Peace
Simply accepting things as they are is the first step in achieving peace. Tolle suggests you move beyond the binary of good and bad by viewing every experience as potentially moving you toward peace. The ego’s need for control creates the most destructive things in life. We can create drama when we battle with other egos. We can also create drama on our own, battling with our egos. Tolle says humans are the only life form on earth that knows negativity. Fight against this and use detachment to be free of expectations and acquire genuine compassion.
StoryShot #10: Surrender Rather Than Resign
Surrender is not the same thing as resignation. One can surrender to the reality of a situation and still take steps to create a different path. Surrendered actions involve letting go of judgment while seeking change. Tolle believes you can experience more effective motivation when you surrender. Surrender your resistance by acknowledging it and then understanding how your mind seeks to label and judge this resistance. Understanding your resistance will liberate you from being reactive and allow you to choose your actions freely.
Surrendering is another way to achieve peace. Tolle suggests you mindfully surrender to each moment. Say yes to both what is and what isn’t. Without surrendering, we are swapping potential peace for suffering through resistance. You will know that you have effectively surrendered when you no longer have to ask yourself whether you have surrendered.
Final Summary and Review of The Power of Now
The Power of Now is an overview of how you can move from the past and future into the now. Tolle believes that being present and aware of your bodily reactions is key to understanding yourself. Being present requires you to realize the influence of your mind and focus more on your body. The power of being present is the ability to surrender to the reality of pain and still seek change. By accepting hardship, you can find peace and choose your actions freely.
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