Book Review & Summary Notes of The Power of Now by Eckardt Tolle

The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle is considered to be one of the best books written on the power of being present. This blog post contains our summary notes of the top quotes from the book and a review.

Summary notes by Mastery Quadrant are meant to provide a sneak peek into what we believe to be some of the best non-fiction books across various subjects. These are meant to give you a quick overview of what you can hope to learn by reading a book and cannot be considered a replacement for actually reading the book itself. The Power of Now is available on Amazon.com.

Compulsive Thinker

Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being.

The compulsive thinker, which means almost everyone, lives in a state of apparent separateness, in an insanely complex world of continuous problems and conflict, a world that reflects the ever-increasing fragmentation of the mind.

You have probably come across “mad” people in the street incessantly talking or muttering to themselves. Well, that’s not much different from what you and all other “normal” people do, except that you don’t do it out loud. The voice comments, speculates, judges, compares, complains, likes, dislikes, and so on.

The Voice in Our Heads

The voice isn’t necessarily relevant to the situation you find yourself in at the time; it may be reviving the recent or distant past or rehearsing or imagining possible future situations.

It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person’s own worst enemy. Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease.

Watching the Thinker

The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.

You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am

listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind.

Summary notes by Mastery Quadrant are meant to provide a sneak peek into what we believe to be some of the best non-fiction books across various subjects. These are meant to give you a quick overview of what you can hope to learn by reading a book and cannot be considered a replacement for actually reading the book itself. The Power of Now is available on Amazon.com.

Disidentifying with the Mind

So the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this: learn to disidentify from your mind. Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.

The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.

What I call ordinary unconsciousness means being identified with your thought processes and emotions, your reactions, desires, and aversions. It is most people’s normal state.

The unease of ordinary unconsciousness turns into the pain of deep unconsciousness — a state of more acute and more obvious suffering or unhappiness — when things “go wrong,” when the ego is threatened or there is a major challenge, threat, or loss, real or imagined, in your life situation or conflict in a relationship.

The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now.

Our Ego

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.

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.

You have already understood the basic mechanics of the unconscious state: identification with the mind, which creates a false self, the ego, as a substitute for your true self rooted in Being.

The ego’s needs are endless. It feels vulnerable and threatened and so lives in a state of fear and want.

The false, unhappy self, based on mind identification, lives on time. It knows that the present moment is its own death and so feels very threatened by it. It will do all it can to take you out of it. It will try to keep you trapped in time.

As long as you are identified with the mind, you have an externally derived sense of self. That is to say, you get your sense of who you are from things that ultimately have nothing to do with who you are: your social role, possessions, external appearance, successes and failures, belief systems, and so on. This false, mind-made self, the ego, feels vulnerable, insecure, and is always seeking new things to identify with to give it a feeling that it exists.

Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life when you are not present as the witnessing consciousness, the watcher. The ego perceives itself as a separate fragment in a hostile universe, with no real inner connection to any other being, surrounded by other egos which it either sees as a potential threat or which it will attempt to use for its own ends. The basic ego patterns are designed to combat its own deep-seated fear and sense of lack. They are resistance, control, power, greed, defense, attack.

To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important.

The Illusion of Time

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

Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is. Why is it the most precious thing? Firstly, because it is the only thing. It’s all there is.

Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.

Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now.

Summary notes by Mastery Quadrant are meant to provide a sneak peek into what we believe to be some of the best non-fiction books across various subjects. These are meant to give you a quick overview of what you can hope to learn by reading a book and cannot be considered a replacement for actually reading the book itself. The Power of Now is available on Amazon.com.

The Now

The oak tree or the eagle would be bemused by such a question. “What time?” they would ask. “Well, of course, it’s now. The time is now. What else is there?”

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.

The reason why some people love to engage in dangerous activities, such as mountain climbing, car racing, and so on, although they may not be aware of it, is that it forces them into the Now — that intensely alive state that is free of time, free of problems, free of thinking, free of the burden of the personality.

The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now — to be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you.

The present moment is all you ever have. There is never a time when your life is not “this moment.

Becoming Present

The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you cannot find the present moment as long as you are your mind.

Make it a habit to ask yourself: What’s going on inside me at this moment?

Be the ever-alert guardian of your inner space.

Learn to use time in the practical aspects of your life — we may call this “clock time” — but immediately return to present-moment awareness when those practical matters have been dealt with. In this way, there will be no buildup of “psychological time,” which is identification with the past and continuous compulsive projection.

To alert you that you have allowed yourself to be taken over by psychological time, you can use a simple criterion. Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing? If there isn’t, then time is covering up the present moment, and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle.

See if you can give much more attention to the doing than to the result that you want to achieve through it. Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents.

So do not be concerned with the fruit of your action — just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord.

It is essential to bring more consciousness into your life in ordinary situations when everything is going relatively smoothly. In this way, you grow in presence power. It generates an energy field in you and around you of a high vibrational frequency.

Observe the many ways in which unease, discontent, and tension arise within you through unnecessary judgment, resistance to what is, and denial of the Now. Anything unconscious dissolves when you shine the light of consciousness

Make it a habit to monitor your mental-emotional state through self-observation. “Am I at ease at this moment?” is a good question to ask yourself frequently. Or you can ask: “What’s going on inside me at this moment?” Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.

As long as you are in a state of intense presence, you are free of thought. You are still, yet highly alert. The instant your conscious attention sinks below a certain level, thought rushes in. The mental noise returns; the stillness is lost. You are back in time.

To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself; otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river.

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.

When you are intensely present, you don’t need to be concerned about the cessation of thinking, of course, because the mind then stops automatically.

You are that ocean and, of course, you are also a ripple, but a ripple that has realized its true identity as the ocean, and compared to that vastness and depth, the world of waves and ripples is not all that important.

Having gone beyond the mind-made opposites, you become like a deep lake. The outer situation of your life and whatever happens there is the surface of the lake. Sometimes calm, sometimes windy and rough, according to the cycles and seasons. Deep down, however, the lake is always undisturbed. You are the whole lake, not just the surface, and you are in touch with your own depth, which remains absolutely still.

The Past & The Future

In the normal, mind-identified or unenlightened state of consciousness, the power and infinite creative potential that lie concealed in the Now are completely obscured by psychological time. Your life then loses its vibrancy, its freshness, its sense of wonder. The old patterns of thought, emotion, behavior, reaction, and desire are acted out in endless repeat performances, a script in your mind that gives you an identity of sorts but distorts or covers up the reality of the Now. The mind then creates an obsession with the future as an escape from the unsatisfactory present.

The only place where true change can occur and where the past can be dissolved is the Now.

You are carrying in your mind the insane burden of a hundred things that you will or may have to do in the future instead of focusing your attention on the one thing that you can do now.

To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment.

So don’t seek to understand the past, but be as present as you can. The past cannot survive in your presence. It can only survive in your absence.

When you let the past or future obscure the present, you are creating time, psychological time — the stuff out of which drama is made.

Letting go of The Future

All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life — as opposed to imaginary mind projections — is this moment.

You can always cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future — nor do you have to.

So give up waiting as a state of mind. When you catch yourself slipping into waiting . . . snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being.

Focus not on the one hundred things that you will or may have to do at some future time but on the one thing that you can do now.

Letting go of Resistance

Maybe you are being taken advantage of, maybe the activity you are engaged in is tedious, maybe someone close to you is dishonest, irritating, or unconscious, but all this is irrelevant. Whether your thoughts and emotions about this situation are justified or not makes no difference. The fact is that you are resisting what is.

Negativity is never the optimum way of dealing with any situation. In fact, in most cases it keeps you stuck in it, blocking real change.

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is.

Are you resisting your here and now? Some people would always rather be somewhere else. Their “here” is never good enough.

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 you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity. No psychic pollution. Keep your inner space clear.

Summary notes by Mastery Quadrant are meant to provide a sneak peek into what we believe to be some of the best non-fiction books across various subjects. These are meant to give you a quick overview of what you can hope to learn by reading a book and cannot be considered a replacement for actually reading the book itself. The Power of Now is available on Amazon.com.

Getting Free of Suffering

The more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer. Or you may put it like this: the more you are able to honor and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering — and free of the egoic mind.

The pain-body may seem to you like a dangerous monster that you cannot bear to look at, but I assure you that it is an insubstantial phantom that cannot prevail against the power of your presence.

“Everything is shown up by being exposed to the light, and whatever is exposed to the light itself becomes light.” Just as you cannot fight the darkness, you cannot fight the pain-body. Trying to do so would create inner conflict and thus further pain. Watching it is enough.

If you are able to stay alert and present at that time and watch whatever you feel within, rather than be taken over by it, it affords an opportunity for the most powerful spiritual practice, and a rapid transmutation of all past pain becomes possible.

This is not to deny that you may encounter intense inner resistance to disidentifying from your pain. This will be the case particularly if you have lived closely identified with your emotional pain-body for most of your life and the whole or a large part of your sense of self is invested in it.

The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.

All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.

Ultimately, there is only one problem: the time-bound mind itself. I cannot believe that I could ever reach a point where I am completely free of my problems. You are right. You can never reach that point because you are at that point now.

There is no salvation in time. You cannot be free in the future. Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now.

This is not about solving your problems. It’s about realizing that there are no problems. Only situations — to be dealt with now, or to be left alone and accepted as part of the “isness” of the present moment until they change or can be dealt with. Problems are mind-made and need time to survive. They cannot survive in the actuality of the Now.

Focus your attention on the Now and tell me what problem you have at this moment.

“Problem” means that you are dwelling on a situation mentally without there being a true intention or possibility of taking action now.

Are you worried? Do you have many “what if” thoughts? You are identified with your mind, which is projecting itself into an imaginary future situation and creating fear. There is no way that you can cope with such a situation, because it doesn’t exist.

When you are not in your body, however, an emotion can survive inside you for days or weeks, or join with other emotions of a similar frequency that have merged and become the pain-body, a parasite that can live inside you for years, feed on your energy, lead to physical illness, and make your life miserable

Non-forgiveness is often toward another person or yourself, but it may just as well be toward any situation or condition — past, present, or future — that your mind refuses to accept.

Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story is their identity. The ego runs their life. They have their whole sense of self invested in it. Even their — usually unsuccessful — search for an answer, a solution, or for healing becomes part of it. What they fear and resist most is the end of their drama.

Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry, or hard-done-by person. You will then ignore, deny, or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. It is also insane.

Have you ever seen an unhappy flower or a stressed oak tree? Have you come across a depressed dolphin, a frog that has a problem with self-esteem, a cat that cannot relax, or a bird that carries hatred and resentment?

Whenever you notice that some form of negativity has arisen within you, look on it not as a failure, but as a helpful signal that is telling you: “Wake up. Get out of your mind. Be present.”

So whenever you feel negativity arising within you, whether caused by an external factor, a thought, or even nothing in particular that you are aware of, look on it as a voice saying “Attention. Here and Now. Wake up.”

Feel yourself becoming transparent, as it were, without the solidity of a material body. Now allow the noise, or whatever causes a negative reaction, to pass right through you.

Somebody says something to you that is rude or designed to hurt. Instead of going into unconscious reaction and negativity, such as attack, defense, or withdrawal, you let it pass right through you. Offer no resistance.

But that person no longer has the power to control your inner state. You are then in your power — not in someone else’s, nor are you run by your mind.

I am not getting any answer because it is impossible to have a problem when your attention is fully in the Now. A situation that needs to be either dealt with or accepted — yes. Why make it into a problem? Why make anything into a problem? Isn’t life challenging enough as it is? What do you need problems for?

Cravings

All cravings are the mind seeking salvation or fulfillment in external things and in the future as a substitute for the joy of Being.

As long as I am my mind, I am those cravings, those needs, wants, attachments, and aversions, and apart from them there is no “I” except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted.

When your deeper sense of self is derived from Being, when you are free of “becoming” as a psychological need, neither your happiness nor your sense of self depends on the outcome, and so there is freedom from fear.

Emotions

An emotion usually represents an amplified and energized thought pattern, and because of its often overpowering energetic charge, it is not easy initially to stay present enough to be able to watch it. It wants to take you over, and it usually succeeds — unless there is enough presence in you.

Love, joy, and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance.

Intense presence is needed when certain situations trigger a reaction with a strong emotional charge, such as when your self-image is threatened, a challenge comes into your life that triggers fear, things “go wrong,” or an emotional complex from the past is brought up. In those instances, the tendency is for you to become “unconscious.” The reaction or emotion takes you over — you “become” it. You act it out. You justify, make wrong, attack, defend. . .except that it isn’t you, it’s the reactive pattern, the mind in its habitual survival mode. Identification with the mind gives it more energy; observation of the mind withdraws energy from it.

Summary notes by Mastery Quadrant are meant to provide a sneak peek into what we believe to be some of the best non-fiction books across various subjects. These are meant to give you a quick overview of what you can hope to learn by reading a book and cannot be considered a replacement for actually reading the book itself. The Power of Now is available on Amazon.com.

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