The Power of Now Book Summary, Review, Notes

There’s a reason why “The Power of Now” is called the most spiritual book of the 20th century. This isn’t a woo-woo type of book, but more of a spiritual guide to enlightenment that combines the wisdom of religious texts with the freshness of New Age spirituality.

 

Book Title: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Author: Eckhart Tolle

Date of Reading: November–December 2017

Rating: 9/10

 

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said In Detail:

 

The Power of Now is divided into ten chapters:

  • You Are Not Your Mind
  • Consciousness: The Way Out of Pain
  • Moving Deeply into the Now
  • Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now
  • The State of Presence
  • The Inner Body
  • Portals into the Unmanifested
  • Enlightened Relationships
  • Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness There Is Peace
  • The Meaning of Surrender

Each chapter talks about the problem (and dominance) of mind and ego on the spirit and how you need to dissolve both to become enlightened. Tolle provides examples from multiple religions and talks about his personal experience with enlightenment.

 

Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:

 

Foreword

 

“A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy. But even the most beautiful experiences come and go.”

”Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.” their challenging questions, and their readiness to listen.” 

“I do so not in order to compare, but to draw your attention to the fact that in essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms. Some of these forms, such as the ancient religions, have become so overlaid with extraneous matter that their spiritual essence has become almost completely obscured by it.”

 

The Power of Now – YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND

 

“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater than you. It is finding your true nature beyond name and form. The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflict within and without becomes the norm.” 

“When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of “feeling-realization” is enlightenment.” 

 

Eckhart Tolle Quote 2

 

“It is not a trancelike state. Not at all. There is no loss of consciousness here. The opposite is the case. If the price of peace were a lowering of your consciousness, and the price of stillness a lack of vitality and alertness, then they would not be worth having. In this state of inner connectedness, you are much more alert, more awake than in the mind-identified state. You are fully present. It also raises the vibrational frequency of the energy field that gives life to the physical body.” 

“In your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention, so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present. Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on. Or when you get into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.” 

“Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought.” 

 

The Power of Now – CONSCIOUSNESS: THE WAY OUT OF PAIN

 

“The reason why you don’t put your hand in the fire is not because of fear, it’s because you know that you’ll get burned. You don’t need fear to avoid unnecessary danger, just a minimum of intelligence and common sense.”

“This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap.” 

“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. Do you find this frightening? Or is it a relief to know this?” 

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” and find that there is no death.”

 

The Power of Now – MOVING DEEPLY INTO THE NOW

 

“To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation.”

“The moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind:” 

“nationalism, or rigid religious belief systems, which operate under the implicit assumption that the highest good lies in the future and that therefore the end justifies the means. The end is an idea, a point in the mind-projected future, when salvation in whatever form happiness, fulfillment, equality, liberation, and so on will be attained. Not infrequently, the means of getting there are the enslavement, torture, and murder of people in the present.”

“If it is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that determines the future, then what is it that determines the quality of your consciousness? Your degree of presence. So the only place where true change can occur and where the past can be dissolved is the Now.”

 

The Power of Now – MIND STRATEGIES FOR AVOIDING THE NOW

 

“Many people use alcohol, drugs, sex, food, work, television, or even shopping as anesthetics in an unconscious attempt to remove the basic unease.”

“The best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with life’s challenges when they come. Through those challenges, an already unconscious person tends to become more deeply unconscious, and a conscious person more intensely conscious. You can use a challenge to awaken you, or you can allow it to pull you into even deeper sleep. The dream of ordinary unconsciousness then turns into a nightmare.”

“As within, so without: If humans clear inner pollution, then they will also cease to create outer pollution.” 

“It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” 

“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.” 

“If there is truly nothing that you can do to change your here and now, and you can’t remove yourself from the situation, then accept you’re here and now totally by dropping all inner resistance.” 

 

The Power of Now – THE STATE OF PRESENCE 

 

“Yes. Zen masters use the word satori to describe a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. Although satori is not a lasting transformation, be grateful when it comes, for it gives you a taste of enlightenment. You may, indeed, have experienced it many times without knowing what it is and realizing its importance.”

 

The Power of Now – THE INNER BODY

 

“This is why no true master has ever advocated fighting or leaving the body, although their mind based followers often have.”

“there is infinitely more intelligence in Being than in your mind. As long as you are in conscious contact with your inner body, you are like a tree that is deeply rooted in the earth, or a building with a deep and solid foundation. The latter analogy is used by Jesus in the generally misunderstood parable of the two men who build a house. One man builds it on the sand, without a foundation, and when the storms and floods come, the house is swept away. The other man digs deep until he reaches the rock, then builds his house, which is not swept away by the floods.”

“When listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen.” 

 

The Power of Now – PORTALS INTO THE UNMANIFESTED

 

“‘ All that is, is holy.” This is why Jesus, speaking entirely from his essence or Christ identity, says in the Gospel of Thomas: “Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up a stone, and you will find me there.”

“Just as no sound can exist without silence, nothing can exist without nothing, without the empty space that enables it to be. Every physical object or body has come out of nothing, is surrounded by nothing, and will eventually return to nothing.” 

 

The Power of Now – ENLIGHTENED RELATIONSHIPS 

 

“Both are in fact different aspects of the same dysfunction. I am speaking here of what is commonly called romantic relationships not of true love, which has no opposite because it arises from beyond the mind. Love as a continuous state is as yet very rare as rare as conscious human beings.” 

“Anyone with a strong pain-body and not enough consciousness to disidentify from it will not only continuously or periodically be forced to relive their emotional pain but may also easily become either the perpetrator or the victim of violence, depending on whether their pain-body is predominantly active or passive. On the other hand, they may also be potentially closer to enlightenment.” 

“Is it not true that you need to have a good relationship with yourself and love yourself before you can have a fulfilling relationship with another person?”

 

The Power of Now – BEYOND HAPPINESS AND UNHAPPINESS THERE IS PEACE

 

Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?” This was written 2,000 years ago by Marcus Aurelius, one of those exceedingly rare humans who possessed worldly power as well as wisdom.” 

“When egos come together, whether in personal relationships or in organizations or institutions, “bad” things happen sooner or later: drama of one kind or another, in the form of conflict, problems, power struggles, emotional or physical violence, and so on. This includes collective evils such as war, genocide, and exploitation all due to massed unconsciousness. Furthermore, many types of illness are caused by the ego’s continuous resistance, which creates restrictions and blockages in the flow of energy through the body.” 

“It is not true that the up cycle is good and the down cycle bad, except in the mind’s judgment. Growth is usually considered positive, but nothing can grow forever. If growth, of whatever kind, were to go on and on, it would eventually become monstrous and destructive. Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cannot exist without the other.” 

 

Eckhart Tolle Quote

“Failure lies concealed in every success, and success in every failure. In this world, which is to say on the level of form, everybody “fails” sooner or later, of course, and every achievement eventually comes to naught. All forms are impermanent.”

“Nothing can give you joy. Joy is uncaused and arises from within as the joy of Being. It is an essential part of the inner state of peace, the state that has been called the peace of God. It is your natural state, not something that you need to work hard for or struggle to attain.” 

“Those who do realize it often become world-weary and depressed: if nothing can give you true fulfillment, what is there left to strive for, what is the point in anything? The Old Testament prophet must have arrived at such a realization when he wrote “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. ” When you reach this point, you are one step away from despair and one step away from enlightenment.”

“To you I would say. Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non peace, your nonpeace becomes transmuted into peace.” 

“But don’t confuse cause and effect. Your primary task is not to seek salvation through creating a better world, but to awaken out of identification with form.” 

“Although you can enjoy sensory pleasures, the craving for sensory experience is gone, as is the constant search for fulfillment through psychological gratification, through feeding the ego. You are in touch with something infinitely greater than any pleasure, greater than any manifested thing.”

“But who you are is always a more vital teaching and a more powerful transformer of the world than what you say, and more essential even than what you do.”

“You can alleviate the effects of unconsciousness, but you cannot eliminate them unless you eliminate their cause. True change happens within, not without.”

“Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit. So don’t let your compassion become one-sided.” 

 

The Power of Now – THE MEANING OF SURRENDER

 

“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.” 

“For example, if you were stuck in the mud somewhere, you wouldn’t say. “Okay, I resign myself to being stuck in the mud.” Resignation is not surrender. You don’t need to accept an undesirable or unpleasant life situation. Nor do you need to deceive yourself and say that there is nothing wrong with being stuck in the mud. No. You recognize fully that you want to get out of it.” 

”Is there anything I can do to change the situation, improve it, or remove myself from it?” If so, you take appropriate action.” 

“Jesus referred to this energy when he made his famous prophetic statement in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the gentle; they shall have the earth for their possession.” It is a silent but intense presence that dissolves the unconscious patterns of the mind.”

“But surrender doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to be used by unconscious people. Not at all. It is perfectly possible to say “no” firmly and clearly to a person or to walk away from a situation and be in a state of complete inner nonresistance at the same time.”

“Nonresistance doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. All it means is that any “doing” becomes nonreactive. Remember the deep wisdom underlying the practice of Eastern martial arts: don’t resist the opponents force. Yield to overcome.”

“If you looked in the mirror and did not like what you saw, you would have to be mad to attack the image in the mirror. That is precisely what you do when you are in a state of nonacceptance. And, of course, if you attack the image, it attacks you back. If you accept the image, no matter what it is, if you become friendly toward it, it cannot not become friendly toward you. This is how you change the world.” 

“As far as the still unconscious majority of the population is concerned, only a critical limit situation has the potential to crack the hard shell of the ego and force them into surrender and so into the awakened state. A limit-situation arises when through some disaster, drastic upheaval, deep loss, or suffering your whole world is shattered and doesn’t make sense anymore. It is an encounter with death, be it physical or psychological. The egoic mind, the creator of this world, collapses. Out of the ashes of the old world, a new world can then come into being.” 

“Limit-situations have produced many miracles. There have been murderers in death row waiting for execution who, in the last few hours of their lives, experienced the egoless state and the deep joy and peace that come with it.”

“Now here is your second chance at surrender: If you cannot accept what is outside, then accept what is inside. If you cannot accept the external condition, accept the internal condition. This means: Do not resist the pain. Allow it to be there. Surrender to the grief, despair, fear, loneliness, or whatever form the suffering takes. Witness it without labeling it mentally. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace. This is your crucifixion.” 

“When there is no way out, there is still always a way through. So don’t turn away from the pain. Face it. Feel it fully.” 

“They found God through surrender, through total acceptance of what is, into which they were forced by their intense suffering.” 

“God is Being itself, not a being. There can be no subject object relationship here, no duality, no you and God.” 

“Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present.” 

“This is not related to intelligence in the conventional sense of the word. I have met many highly intelligent and educated people who were also completely unconscious, which is to say completely identified with their mind. In fact, if mental development and increased knowledge are not counterbalanced by a corresponding growth in consciousness, the potential for unhappiness and disaster is very great.” 

“The mind always adheres to the known. The unknown is dangerous because it has no control over it.” 

“if you are one of the many people who have an issue with their parents, if you still harbor resentment about something they did or did not do, then you still believe that they had a choice that they could have acted differently. It always looks as if people had a choice, but that is an illusion. As long as your mind with its conditioned patterns runs your life, as long as you are your mind, what choice do you have? None. You are not even there. The mind-identified state is severely dysfunctional. It is a form of insanity.”

 

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

 

The Power of Now is a really great book. And it took me reading Sex, Ecology, Spirituality by Ken Wilber to understand all the things Tolle was talking about in this book. The “language” of spirit is transpersonal and, therefore, out of the domain of language. That’s why it’s so hard to explain these concepts for us to understand them. It’s only when we live through them that we understand what they were talking about. I generally recommend this book to people, but it won’t resonate with everyone.

 

Rating: 9/10

 

This Book Is For (Recommend):

 

  • A successful person who has “everything” and is seeking the deeper meaning of life
  • A young professional “hungry” for spiritual guidance in today’s world
  • Anyone who feels there’s something bigger than us out there

If You Want To Learn More

 

Here’s Eckhart Tolle talking about The Power of Now.

Decoding Presence

How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book

 

This is quite a difficult book to implement since the ideas in it seem radically simple to understand, yet they’re difficult to implement. It took me quite a lot of time to develop the spiritual part of myself that’s aligned with reason, logic, and science. So what I did is that I started to explore transpersonal psychology (Wilber) and figured out how to connect spiritual teachings with science (yes, it can be done. Yes, it’s very difficult).

 

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

 

Try becoming aware of the moment that you do on automatic. Think about that step, like really think. If you’re washing the dishes, think about every plate that you take in your hands. If you eat, think about every chew and bite. It may sound ridiculous at first, but this will make you more present and you will start noticing (opportunities) everywhere.

The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle -Summary Infographic
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