The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle [Book Summary]

by Nick

The power of the now offers you a special way to put an end to suffering and achieve inner peace: you need to live fully in the present and separate yourself from your thinking.

The book will teach you to disconnect yourself from your “ego” ─ part of the mind trying to control your thoughts and actions.

Eckhart Tolle is a Canadian born in Germany. For many years, he suffered from depression until he had, as he calls it, an “internal transformation”, as a result of which he became a spiritual mentor and wrote a Bible of self-development of the Power of the Present.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint

Present Life as a Way to Avoid Suffering

Many of us live life trapped in a past filled with regrets, or worried about a future that they cannot control. At the same time, we cling to the hope that somehow we can improve our lives, become happier and come to enlightenment, although we do not have a clear idea of ​​how to do this.

Welcome to the Power of the Present, a book in which best-selling author and illustrious spiritual mentor Eckhart Tolle will show you how to walk through the confusing terrain of your inner life and build relationships with the past, present, and future.

The basis of Tolle’s extremely practical philosophy is the need for life in the present tense, which avoids most of our ordinary suffering. To this end, the author focuses on the relationship of thinking and suffering, inviting the reader to consider a number of self-destructive techniques of the latter, for example, getting stuck in cycles of suffering that prevents a person from becoming happy.

The power of the present has helped millions of people change their lives, improve relationships with others, increase their self-esteem and feel full contact with their lives.

By Focusing Exclusively on the Present and Ignoring the Past and Future, You Can Significantly Improve Your Life

Many seek inner peace and want to improve their lives. In short, we seek enlightenment, but do not know what steps lead to it.

The first step may be easier than you think.

We are used to living in the past or in the future. While we remember and regret, we plan and worry, the only time that completely belongs to us passes by us, our present.

The present, now.

Only the present matters, because nothing ever happens in the past and in the future; everything happens only in a continuous stream of the present.

When you feel something, you experience this feeling in the present, because your feelings only provide information about a specific moment. Therefore, when we say that something happened in the past, this is not entirely true: in fact, it happened at the only current moment in time.

What we call the “past” is actually a collection of past moments that were once real. Also, what we call the “future” consists of current moments that will someday occur.

This suggests that worrying about the future or living in the past is unprofitable, it is reasonable to live “now.” When you can live today, you will not have serious problems, and those minor difficulties that you will encounter can be resolved as they arise.

For example, a difficult task such as writing scientific work often seems too large and difficult to carry out. If you worry about how much work is left or regrets about missed opportunities to work on a task in the past, you will not go far. It is much easier to do the job if you just solve one problem after another: collect information, write a plan, take up the first chapter. So try to live in the present! Stop clinging to the past and fearing the future, and you will see how much your life will change.

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Some Part of Your Personality Needs Pain in Order to Survive, and This Causes Most of Your Suffering

Suppose you manage to start living in the present and not worry about the past and the future. What happens if you feel pain now? If you are in pain now, how to deal with physical and emotional suffering?

Pain and suffering are nothing but internal resistance to external ─ events that we cannot change. You feel pain when you are not satisfied with the existing state of things, but you do not have the strength to change the situation. At an emotional level, suffering manifests itself as a negative feeling.

Because you think so much about the past and the future, and you can only live in the present, you have no way to change things that you don’t like. Therefore, you are inwardly resisting the existing state of things, which you feel as pain.

The other side of the pain you generated is the “pain body”, the part of the person who wants you to feel pain, because only in this way can it continue to exist.

The pain-body consists of your painful experiences; every time you experience pain, it grows and gets stronger. It is beneficial to him that you be unhappy and sad.

This cycle can be reproduced for a very long time, until, finally, the pain becomes your main component, you will completely identify yourself with the pain body. By this time, the pain will be such an important part of your life that you are afraid to get rid of it. Getting rid of the pain will be a threat to your entire personality.

For example, when someone annoys or teases you, you get angry and your painful body begins to lead you. Anger prevents you from thinking rationally and leads to new pain.

Even when it seems to you that all the suffering comes from the world around you, in fact, you created most of them yourself: the pain comes from within. The good news is that since you created it, you yourself can deal with it. We will talk about this further.

The Ego is the Part of Your Mind That Keeps You From Being Happy

Have you ever wondered why some people harm themselves? Why does no one want to be unhappy, but there are so many unhappy faces around?

The ego is to blame for everything – the part of consciousness that controls your thoughts and actions without your knowledge.

Since tracking the ego is not easy, many do not understand the extent to which it controls their life. For example, if you recall a dispute with someone, you may realize that you reacted too violently to your opponent’s arguments. You might even begin to regret it. But during the discussion, you simply did not understand that something controls your thoughts and behavior.

Why does the ego do this?

The reason is the long experience of suffering, which at every step blocks the manifestations of happiness and acts contrary to your own interests.

The existence of a destructive part of consciousness that engenders suffering explains why so many people are tormented despite their unwillingness to be miserable. For example, some people intentionally give up happiness without stopping deeply destructive and painful relationships.

The ego engages you in conflict situations with others and awakens in you discontent with what you have. T.O. it takes control of your behavior and thinking.

When two or more ego meet, drama happens, as happens in small offices or in the family. People want peaceful coexistence, and their ego is forced to get annoyed over trifles and quarrel. When you suddenly find yourself embroiled in a heated debate about whose turn it is to clean the kitchen or whether the program is good on TV, think maybe this is the work of your ego.

The ego is a destructive part of human consciousness, which wants unlimited power. If you allow him to prevail over you, it will make you suffer.

If You Need a Better Life Without Pain, Separate Yourself From Your Mind and Concentrate on Your Body

The power of the ego is just one of the reasons why it is important to separate oneself from the mind and pay more attention to the body. In fact, many great teachers spoke of the importance of focusing on the body, not on the mind.

Why is it important?

It is the mind that is responsible for the pain.

It generates pain, bringing to the surface memories of the past and plans for the future. Reason fills your life with sad memories and disturbing scenarios, preventing you from living in the present.

But you cannot change the past or the future, and as a result, you constantly worry about things that are beyond your control. This leads to suffering.

Obviously, we must find a way to reduce the power of the mind and limit its control.

But how?

By shifting your attention from the mind to the body.

Your body knows what is good for you. Listening to your body, you will clearly understand what is important in your life. Jesus often spoke of the meaning of the body through sayings and allegories, for example: “Your body is the temple of God.” The tales of his resurrection and ascension to heaven invariably emphasize that his body disappeared from the grave, he ascended with his body, and not just his soul and mind.

No one was able to gain enlightenment, concentrating on the mind and neglecting the body. A vivid example of this is the Buddha, who fasted and starved for six years to separate himself from his body. What was the result? He really separated from the body but found neither harmony nor enlightenment. All this came to him in the field of how he stopped fasting and again felt in harmony with his body.

Observing your thoughts without appreciation is the best way to separate yourself from your mind and free yourself from pain.

Having understood that the mind causes suffering and does not allow you to truly live in the present, you must disconnect from it.

How to do it?

To separate yourself from the mind, you must fully realize your thoughts and their power over you, otherwise, you will never understand the countless tricks with which the mind affects your thinking and behavior, and therefore your happiness.

If you want to observe your mind, ask the question: “What will be my next thought?” If you fully concentrate on this question, you will notice that the appearance of a new distinct thought will take time. By observing, you create a gap in the stream of thoughts.

If you start asking yourself this question more often, you will notice how much time an endless stream of consciousness takes. This is the main way to interrupt thinking and separate from it.

The second method available to you is to observe your thoughts without evaluating them. Judgment and evaluation in themselves are the work of the mind, so when evaluating something, you return to using the mind.

For example, if in the middle of the day you suddenly want to run, follow the impulse of your body. Your body knows what is good for it, so go outside and run.

Then listen to the quiet grouchy voice in your head saying, “Now you must work, not run and waste time!” Do not evaluate the voice as good or bad, do not try to follow the advice. Just smile and acknowledge that it exists.

By doing so, you will learn to notice your thoughts, and not follow them wherever they lead.

Try to Live in a State of Constant Awareness

Along with disconnecting from your own mind, try using another technique:

Active waiting.

This is a special kind of expectation, similar to when you know that something important can happen at any moment. Your attention in this state is fully concentrated on the present.

In a state of active expectation, you do not dream, do not plan and do not remember, nothing distracts you from the present. Just like during the exam you cannot spend time worrying about the result, instead, you are fully present in the moment and focus on the work in front of you. To achieve this, you need to enter an active waiting state shortly before the exam begins and maintains it until the end.

Being in this state, you also track your body, because it should be ready for any event. As you already understood, concentration on the body is also important for life in the present.

As an example, let’s give a Buddhist technique. Zen masters sneak up on a student whose eyes must be closed and then try to hit him. Active waiting makes the student fully concentrate on his body, so he feels the approach of the master and can evade the blow.

Many spiritual teachers encouraged class members to maintain a state of expectation because They knew that this was the path to a happy life. When the apostles asked Christ what to do in order to live a happy and calm life, he advised them: “Be like a servant awaiting the arrival of his master.”

Because the servant does not know when the master will come, he is always in a state of readiness. He does not make big plans for the future and constantly looks around the neighborhood so as not to miss the owner.

Living in the present may be difficult for your partner, but it improves your relationship.

After going through all the above steps, you are able to live in the present and no longer depend completely on your mind.

But how will this change your daily life? For example, your relationship?

It is incredibly difficult for a “normal” person to coexist with someone who lives fully in the present. The ego of an ordinary person feeds on problems, so a calm and peaceful resident of the present seems dangerous to him. The ego of not living in the present reacts to the threat by creating new problems: it attacks the partner, argues over trifles, endlessly recalls past grievances. All this in order to get a person out of the present.

Why are they doing this?

In order to answer this question, we use an analogy. A man controlled by the ego cannot live next to one who has existed in the present for a long time, just as darkness cannot survive next to the light. Extreme opposites cannot be in close proximity to each other. If you light a candle in the dark, the darkness will disappear.

If You Fill the Flame With Water, the Fire Will Go Out.

But if you act wisely, staying in the present can greatly improve your relationship. You will be able to stop judging, criticizing and trying to change a partner, and recognize him or her as an independent person.

In addition, enlightenment following life in the present can help break vicious circles and stop the endless debate of partners. Inner calm allows you to hear a partner, but not to judge him.

If you live in the present, living together with you can be a very difficult experience. This can be a test of relationships. But in the long run, this is a great opportunity to change for the better: for a partner and relations in general.

Not all pain can be avoided: surrendering to the present does not mean ignoring sad and painful experiences.

Even if you live fully in the present, sadness and suffering are inevitable.

But what to do with them? Just suppress them and pretend that everything is fine? This is not the best way out.

Despite the fact that we create most of the suffering ourselves, there are those that are not created by us. An example of inevitable suffering is the pain inflicted by people controlled by their destructive thinking. Another example is the death of our loved ones. Such pain is inevitable since you cannot bring everyone around you to enlightenment and cannot cancel death.

What can be done about this?

Experiencing a traumatic experience that causes you real pain, you just need to accept this event as it is. If you lose a loved one, you will certainly grieve and be sad. But if you are able to accept this as something accomplished, as something that cannot be changed, then you will avoid unnecessary suffering.

Sadness is a natural feeling; one should not blame oneself or be ashamed of it. Everything is as it is. Acceptance of this fact will allow you not to waste time on dreams that circumstances would turn out differently.

Living in the Present, You Can Get Rid of Most of Your Suffering, but Not All.

Moreover, living in the present does not mean ignoring or suppressing pain. Instead, you will gain inner strength to accept complex, painful events.

Surrendering to the present does not mean leading a passive life

Inner calm is a great thing, but if you have a difficult life situation, there is little sense in it.

Does accepting the present lead to a passive lifestyle in which you don’t think about problems and don’t want to change anything?

Not necessary.

Life in the present is an internal process, insight and experience. But it does not entail a habit of passive behavior. For example, if you get stuck in the mud, you don’t need to repeat to yourself that you always wanted to get stuck in the mud. Instead, stay calm and try to get out.

Living in the present can provide you with new resources and teach you new ways to deal with problems. Since you no longer spend your internal resources on creating problems, it will also give you strength and determination. In fact, you will not see problems in front of you, only certain solvable situations that you will “click” one after another. It will make your life much more productive.

Living in the present and accepting it does not mean that you are doomed to lead a passive life or that you will not try to change your fate for the better. Rather, concentrating on the present and arranging the past and future in their places, you are more able to

clearly see what is currently not in order. In addition, you have enough strength to make a difference.

The Final Words

Do not get hung up on the past or the future! Live in the present and try to separate yourself from your “wise” mind. Using this method reduces suffering and improves your life.

How can you improve your life?

  • You can significantly improve your life by focusing solely on the present, and not attaching importance to the past and future.
  • Some part of your personality needs pain in order to survive, and this causes most of your suffering.

How are mind and suffering related?

  • The “ego” is the part of your mind that prevents you from being happy in ─ am.
  • If you need a better life without pain, separate yourself from your mind and concentrate on your body.
  • Observing your thoughts without appreciation is the best way to separate yourself from the mind and free yourself from pain.
  • Try to live in a state of constant awareness.

How will this affect your life?

  • Living in the present may be difficult for your partner, but it improves your relationship.
  • Not all pain can be avoided: surrendering to the present does not mean ignoring sad and painful experiences.
  • Surrendering to the present does not mean leading a passive life.

Why You Should Read “The Power of Now”

  • To achieve inner peace and enlightenment.
  • To stop suffering and being dissatisfied with your present existence.
  • To deal with your inner enemy.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint