The Power of Now

A guide to spiritual enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle (a summary by Pat Evert)

Eckhart lived in great depression until age 29. He loathed his own existence. ‘I cannot live with myself. Are there two of me? Maybe only one is real’. He had a spiritual experience in which he learned, ‘Resist nothing’. For the next two years he lived in bliss, though living on the street. Intense suffering had broken his identification with ego. This peace and bliss you already have, you only need realize it.

This book presents:

  1. What is false in you, human unconsciousness. Don’t make the false into a self, perpetuated by problems.
  2. It presents the transformation of human consciousness. Many religions have taught these teachings initially, but are later obscured by mental dogma.

You are not your mind – What is enlightenment? The illustration of the beggar – look inside and see the treasure you already have. It is your natural state of felt oneness with ‘being’, finding your true nature beyond name or form. ‘Being’ (God) is the eternal one life beyond the forms of life subject to birth and death. It is your invisible and indestructible true nature. You can know it only when the mind is still, the infinite of your essence, the I AM. Identification with the mind is the greatest obstacle to experiencing this reality. This stream of thought creates the sense of separation. You believe you are your mind. You do not use it, it uses you with its incessant thinking. Can you be free of the mind? I am not the thinker, observe that. Comparing and complaining is an example of this mind possession. I can be free from this voice in my head. Watch your thoughts impartially, without judging. I recognize that these are not my thoughts, but that of ego. In being fully present, no mind, you are more alert and more awake. Direct your attention into the present. Peace within will be the proof of it. Most of our thinking is useless and even harmful (negative). It is an addiction, you cannot stop it. The ego (fantom self) is only kept going by constant thinking. This false self continually looks to the past or future, not the present.

Do this exercise, oscillate between mind and no mind. The mind is essentially a survival machine. Your emotions are a reflection in the body of your thoughts. If your thoughts and emotions conflict, the emotions will give the truer gauge of what is going on in you. You are the watcher, not the emotion or thought and you need not be taken over by them. Love, joy and peace come from consciousness. Emotions come from the duality of mind control. The mind seeks fulfillment in the substitutes of the joy of ‘being’.

Consciousness, the way out of pain – The greater part of pain is due to unconscious resistance to life, judgment. The mind resists the now, seeking to preserve itself. Realize that the present is the only time you have. Don’t create more time, only adding to the pain of the past. What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, that which is now? See how life is working for you, rather than against you. All past experiences have left an accumulation of pain in you, the pain body. It can be either active or dormant. It wants to survive by getting you to identify with it as yourself. It feeds on you, your pain. You become a victim/perpetrator. Nobody is consciously insane. It fears being found out, which will be its death. When you, the watcher, observes the pain body, you have found your inner strength, the power of now. Unconsciousness creates the ego/pain body, consciousness transmutes it into consciousness. Stay present and the pain body will lose its control. Don’t let anger or any other emotion take you over. Focus your attention within and see the pain body. Don’t think about it, judge or analyze, just watch it. Don’t make an identity out of it. Be the silent watcher. You can transmute all past pain.

The ego has great psychological fear of what might happen. It fears loss, failure, the compulsive need to be right and ultimately its death. Watch out for defensiveness – this is the ego. Anyone identified with their mind will be riddled with fear, this is most people. The secret of life is to die before you die, and find that there is no death.

Moving deeply into the now – The unconscious state creates the false sense of self, the ego. The ego dwells in fear and want. Remove time from the mind and all problems will be gone. Both the past, where we get our identity, and the future of which we hope for satisfaction are both illusions. Life is now. It is our only point of access into the timeless and formless realm of being. The past is only a memory trace and the future is no more than an imagination of the mind. I can be free of the burden of the personality in the present. I can enter the now and be free of time. Observe how your mind tries to escape the present and you will enter the now. Identification with the mind gives it energy, observation of it withdraws energy from it, time vs. timeless. The present moment is all you ever have. Am I always trying to get somewhere more fulfilling? Your degree of presence determines your quality of consciousness. In the present you have no problems (your life) and thus no fear. The time bound mind is your one and only problem. Give your full attention to what is free of outcomes.

Mind strategies for avoiding the now – Notice how little time you spend in the present moment. In learning the now you will shift back and forth between Presence and unconsciousness. Most people only shift between different levels of unconsciousness. Addictions are used to remove our unease. Deep unconsciousness like anger is a manifestation of the pain body. Conscious presence is most easily practiced in ordinary situations, then later you will grow to be present in difficult circumstances. Anxiety, judgment, resistance, madness are signs of unconsciousness. Ask yourself often, ‘Am I at ease at this moment?’ Or do I resent what I am doing, or do I have negative feelings against the person with me? Speak to the person about it or just drop the negativity. Negativity will pollute others. See if you catch yourself complaining. This is unconscious negativity. Surrender is giving up resistance. Die to the past, you don’t need it. Waiting for a better future is to overlook the present. Step out of it and enjoy the present. The present moment is the death of ego. Access the power of now, your presence, your consciousness liberated from thought form.

The state of Presence – You cannot understand Presence, you can only experience it. Once thought comes back in you are back in time and no longer present. You need be highly alert, awake to feel the body within. Don’t miss the bridegroom’s return. Perceive the awe and holiness in yourself and all else. When ‘being’ becomes conscious of itself this is Presence. God dwells in the eternal present, this is our home as well. Everything that exists has being, God essence and consciousness. It appears as a separate identity for a time. Through me consciousness is awaking out of form. It becomes enlightened consciousness or Presence. For the human race to survive it will have to evolve to a new form. Silence is a potent carrier of Presence. It creates stillness within you. Christ = Presence. I AM that I AM – no time.

The inner body – The body is a point of access to ‘being’. The body is not all we are, nor is it something we want to separate from. Within our body is our inner body through which we can experience ‘being’. The mind will make you unconscious from this by fear and thought. Focus your attention on the inner energy field within, feel it without thinking about it. Feel this field of energy, this life. Focus on feeling. Keep some attention on the inner body, between your form identity and your true identity.

Many religions have viewed the body as a hinderance to get away from. By our bodies we are close to the animal kingdom. We don’t just have a body we are our body, it is our link to unmanifested ‘being’. Enlightenment and transformation is through the body, not apart from it. What I perceive as a physical body is an illusion of the mind, but it contains the inner body, the doorway into ‘being’. Thru it we are connected and forever one with God. Be in a continual awareness with your inner body, keep some of your attention within. Don’t give all your attention away to the mind. When you are waiting, feel your inner body, go more deeply within, a more permanent connection with ‘being’.

Until you are present you will be run by your mind in unconscious insanity. Observe and feel fully the inner body, but don’t think about it. Emotions can thrive for years if you are not present to keep them from taking control from you. Forgiveness will free you from many of these lingering emotions. Presence is pure consciousness reclaimed from the mind. Feelings will get you closer to the truth within, than thinking will. The more consciousness the stronger your immune system will be. Your body loves the attention. Self healing meditation – flood your body with consciousness. Give attention to each part for 15 seconds, then in waves or the whole body. Focus on your breathing and this will help you feel the inner body. Go back and forth between thinking and listening/feeling with your body.

Portals into the Unmanifested

  • Meditation, feel rather than think, going into the body, being, the unmanifested, chi is a bridge between form and the unmanifested,
  • Silence, give a portion of your attention to form and some to stillness. In dreamless sleep you enter the unmanifested. You need to enter it consciously.
  • Inner body, feel your inner body, its life
  • The now is the main portal, time is dissolved.
  • Cessation of thinking, thinking becomes an opaque screen to keep us from seeing the invisible.
  • Surrender, letting go, resistance cuts you off from others, and strengthens the sense of separateness.

Once you open a portal love comes thru it. The unmanifested is everywhere but disguised. Few see it. Pay more attention to the silence. It enables sound to be. The dimension of stillness will grow within you. Everything comes out of nothing. Even solid matter is more of nothing than things. The essence of all things is nothing/silence. Who pays attention to space itself? Don’t try to understand it. It has no existence, but enables everything else to exist. What is not there is more important than what is there. There is an inner world to match that of our outer world. No mind, but rather consciousness. The infinitely creative womb of all existence. Fear distorts our perception of the world. Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal is. Everything of matter will dissolve, nothing out here matters that much. Objects and time depend on space and silence (presence). Space is the body of God. This is also in me. Infinity and eternality are two essential characteristics of God. The world is here to be transcended, to know the unmanifested.

  • There is another portal right after physical death. The luminous splendor of the colorless light of emptiness, which is your own true self. Most will miss it by too much resistance, fear and attachment to form. Their presence is not yet strong enough for immortal consciousness. Every portal is a portal of death, which is an illusion.

Enlightened relationships – Salvation is here and now, not in some future time. True salvation is to know yourself as one with God, freedom from wanting. You think you are incomplete, but you are complete by seeing you are there now. In or out of a relationship, enter the now from there. We are flawed and disfunctional, love/hate relationships are considered normal. On the positive you feel whole in a relationship, but you become addicted – fear of loss, rage or attack. Was it love or addictive clinging? Fear and the feeling of incompleteness drives us into a relationship, a longing for wholeness. Union is longed for, but cannot be found on the level of form. Nothing can give ego that lasting satisfaction. Clinging is the ego’s false love, its substitute for salvation (wholeness). Addiction to a person or thing will only develop into pain. Relationships only bring out the pain that was always there. This is why we try to escape the now. If we only knew how easy it is to access the now in Presence, how close we are to reality, God. Being present and taking your attention more deeply into the now, intensifies your presence. Know yourself under the pain-body so as to not be overtaken by the thinker. Don’t judge or resist, complete acceptance of your partner is a key. No longer any victims or villains. God is the one eternal life within all. Feel it within you and you will feel it in all others. When your mind is rendered powerless your ‘being’ becomes revealed and you experience love, true communion. But ego loves playing the drama of trying to be a human. Every conflict is an opportunity of enlightenment (redemption). Create a space for love to enter. Unconsciousness is being brought to the light, rejoice. The relationship becomes your practice of the now. In your reaction be the knowing. This relationship is not for your happiness, but your consciousness, sanity (salvation). Watch the illusion, but don’t react. Allow each other to express yourselves. Relationships and difficulties will bring to light our unconsciousness. This is to bring us into consciousness.

Every challenge is disguised but is an opportunity to awaken. Watch your emotions and pain rather than being them. The energy frequency of the mind is more masculine than feminine. Surrender and non judgment are needed for consciousness and the flowering of love. Collective pain bodies can also be a contributing factor in someone’s life (gender, race, etc.). More women are awakening now then men. The victim identity seems like the past is more powerful than the present, but it is not. Don’t claim the pain body as your identity. Catch your pain body as an emotion before it takes you over. Give it your full attention and acceptance. Nothing of ego can survive in Presence. In your form you will sense great need, but your ‘being’ has none. If you cannot be at ease with yourself you will seek someone else to meet your need. Learn to be at peace with just yourself.

Beyond happiness and unhappiness there is peace – Happiness depends on what is considered positive circumstances. From a higher perspective there is no positive and negative. The only sane way to view things is as they are, not good and bad. Forgive every moment and no resentment can build up. Mind and resistance are synonymous. Accept whatever comes, an intelligence greater than the mind is in charge here. The ultimate effect of all suffering is to awaken humanity to who they are. When fully conscious drama does not come into your life. Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life. Egos put together will create drama, conflict and the timeless/formless life is obscured. They fear most the end of their drama. You cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. In this dimension all is subject to the law of impermanence. There are cycles of life and death, growth and dissolution. Both are needed and neither is good or bad. They are not your life, only your life situation. To seek something from things (identity) is insanity. Things and conditions can give you pleasure and pain, but peace, joy and love come from within (God). This is your natural state. All that arises passes away. Offer no resistance to life and do not depend on form. ‘Being’ takes you beyond happiness. Negativity is resistance and cannot attract a desirable condition like ego thinks. It is unnatural and pollutes the psyche. Let nature teach you integrity. Plants and animals avoid negativity. They have no ego to build a story. Presence will enable you to remove negativity. “Attention here and now”. Allow the noise or ……… to pass right through you. Don’t resist, argue, attack, etc. Don’t seek peace without, accept all that is and you will have it within. Every moment is the best. I am the ocean, though it is chaotic on the surface, it is stillness below. The secret is to die before you die. A new consciousness, a new world is coming to birth. The world we now know is egoic, created and seen by the ego – fear is a large factor. Only those who have transcended the world can raise it. Who we are effects our world more than what we say or do. All evil is a result of unconsciousness. To eliminate evil we must first eliminate unconsciousness.

The meaning of surrender – It is not giving up in defeat. It is yielding to the flow of life, to relinquish inner resistance. When things go ‘wrong’, surrender. Have no judgment of the now and you’ll find your life within. Surrender reconnects you with ‘being’. The quality of my consciousness will determine my future. Focus on one thing at a time. Surrender is not negativity.

Acknowledge the resistance. Observe how the mind creates it. If you are unhappy there is resistance. Where does unhappiness come from? Who keeps it alive? Entering the now brings spiritual energy which comes without negativity. Those who try to manipulate others are unconscious and only the unconscious can be manipulated. To manipulation say a high quality, non-reactive ‘no’. Do not pollute your beautiful being or the world with resistance. In undesirable circumstances use RCA 1) remove yourself or 2) change the situation or 3) accept it fully. To accept ‘what is’ will enable you to accept others as they are, no longer trying to get what you can from a relationship. Observe your attachment to your opinions. See how emotional you get in an argument. Am I freed from my mental position? Only then does true communication come. Ego sees vulnerability as weakness and uses resistance for its strength. Only through surrender will you discover your true strength.

Your life is different from your life situation. Allow the present suffering to force you into the now. Accept the image in the mirror, don’t attack it – this is mad. Whatever comes into your life, use it for enlightenment. You don’t need not protect your identity. The egoic mind is the creator of this world, but a new world is coming. A calamity can bring you into such awakening – perfect peace. This is beyond happiness, you are indestructible. Your first chance is to surrender to whatever situation comes into your life outwardly. You then will live in non-resistance. Your second chance is to accept the internal, surrender to the inner emotions. Embrace it – this is your crucifixion and let it become your resurrection. There is no escape to what life brings you i.e. alcohol, medication, etc. In going into the pain, be very alert, feel it, stay present. Full attention = full acceptance = surrender. It is a journey into death consciously. Then you will realize there is no death, only the ego dies. This is how you realize God, by surrender. God realization is the most natural thing, the only unnatural thing is that we can be unconscious of God. You can be forced into the kingdom kicking and screaming (suffering/resisting) or you can go the way of enlightenment consciously chosen. Nobody consciously chooses pain. A choice implies a high degree of consciousness. The mind conditioned by the past will go the way of unconscious familiarity, rather than conscious choice. As long as you are run by your mind, how can you have choice? The present renders the the past powerless. The now is the key.