The Power of Now
By Eckhart Tolle
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: New World Library; 1ST edition (August 19, 2004)
In the middle of last year (2008), I was given this book together with Practising the Power of Now. The author provides an excellent explanation as to why it’s taken me so long to finish reading this book and also write this review; in the Introduction, he writes:
The pause symbol [elongated ‘s’] after certain passages is a suggestion that you may want to stop reading for a moment, become still, and feel and experience the truth of what has just been said. There may be other places in the text where you will do this naturally and spontaneously.
As a result of reading this passage, I duly paused when necessary; only, I seem to have paused for months!
The Power of Now is a non-fiction piece of work and on the back cover of the book, the blurb reads as follows:
Hugely successful author Echkart Tolle guides us through a challenging but extraordinarily rewarding journey to find The Power of Now. We learn that we can find out way out of psychological pain; authentic human power is found by surrendering to the Now; the silence and space all around us is one of the keys to entering inner peace. In the Now, the present moment, problems do not exist. In the Now, we discover that we are already complete and perfect.
There is also a description of who the author is:
Eckhart Tolle was born in Germany, graduated from the University of London and worked at Cambridge University. When he was twenty-nine, a profound spiritual transformation virtually dissolved his old identity and radically changed the course of his life. He is now a counsellor and spiritual teacher.
More recently, Eckhart Tolle also gained much notoriety when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show. A series of classes called, A New Earth classes, was organised based on his newest book, A New Earth.
Already aware of the principles of Advita, teachings of Buddha and little bits of Christianity, a lot of what Eckhart Tolle said was not new to me. However, I was very impressed with the way he managed to explain these complicated concepts in very simple terms. He chose to do it in a ‘Question and Answer’ style – a question is posed by the reader and he answers it. Here is an example of the pain-body concept being explained in simple terms:
Focus attention on the feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyse. Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it. Stay present and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you. Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of “the one who observes,” the silent watcher. This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence. Then see what happens.
The entire book is presented in a logical sequence from explaining what enlightenment is to identifying pain and moving to other issues like enlightened relationships and finding happiness. The biggest problem with this book is the size of the font used – it is too small and this made reading this book more difficult.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from reading this book:
‘Instead of “watching the thinker,” you can also create a gap in the mind stream simply by directing the focus of your attention into the Now. Just become intensely conscious of the present moment. This is a deeply satisfying thing to do. In this way, you draw consciousness away from mind activity and create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking. This is the essence of meditation.’
‘Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want to the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want what you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.’
‘When you know you are not at peace, your knowing creates a still space that surrounds your nonpeace in a loving and tender embrace and then transmutes your nonpeace into peace. As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.’
It is not an easy book to recommend to people. I would certainly keep my copy of the book and read passages regularly. However, anyone who reads this book needs to be open to what I call ‘alternative theories’ and accept spiritual concepts which might be different from what they’ve believed all along; me giving a blanket recommendation like, “Yes, go and buy it,” will not do. It is a very good book and if read with an open mind, will certainly help to broaden the reader’s spiritual horizons.
29 January 2009