on June 30, 2002
I have refrained from writing a review of this book for nearly a year and a half, being content to simply practice what Tolle has expressed so simply - remain in the present moment for that is all we have. After nearly three decades of practicing meditation to become enlightened (some day) I found it disheartening to conclude that I wasn't really getting anywhere, yet I was reluctant to give up the effort. Then Tolle popped into my life like a much needed life preserver, showed me who I really am, and put an end to my thrashing about in self-created whirlpools of despair - when you discover you are the ocean itself the whirlpools peter out in embarrassment.
Don't read this book in order to feed your mind, stroke your ego or validate your beliefs. Read it in order to learn to free yourself from pain and delusion. It is obvious when reading certain reviews that some people are looking to add mind stuff to their inventory and then to demonstrate what a fine mind they have with an erudite and academic rebuff. They will have to remain content with a mind dominated life, always looking for something outside themselves to give validation and meaning. At some point, however, if they are lucky they may tire of that and take the opportunity to practice living in the now. It takes courage to jump into the unknown and discover the freedom and joy in living life moment to moment.
Perhaps you are ripe for this book like I was. Even so it was not always easy to let go of cherished beliefs and practices, but ultimately it is the only thing you can do if you really want freedom. Tolle shows how conditioned we have become in a gentle and easy manner, leading you by the hand all the way to the door of freedom. But it is up to each one of us to open that door. At first you may spend only moments of clock time in the sweetness of the now. If you keep at it you will become more skillful in accessing the now, and you will find yourself dwelling there for extended periods of clock time. And then upon reflection you will realize the peace that is always available - that we ARE peace.
So, are you willing to see what life will be like without a mind and ego to steer your every move, as you have been so conditioned to do all your life? (and if you are, don't worry, you will always have access to the mind and ego). Are you willing to let go of everything and to simply BE and let life unfold naturally? (it will anyway, but not resisting it reveals the peace that underlies all phenomena). If you are you will not find a better guide than Eckhart Tolle.
on April 30, 2010
... I do in fact like this book, despite the rating I gave it. I agree with basic teaching in Tolle's book. Enlightenment can be found in releasing attachment to the mind and by experiencing life directly in the moment. By letting go of the past and the future, we abide in the present, until even that fades into a luminous emptiness.
My problems with the book do not stem from the lessons so much as with how they are presented. First of all, Tolle presents the material as if he has pulled out all of these amazing tools for enlightenment out of a hat, like some kind of magician's rabbit. In my opinion, that is just a little dishonest. Instead of just suggesting "watching the watcher" so offhandedly as if he had just made it up on the spot, it would have been nice for him to acknowledge the use of such a method existing in India for thousands of years. Or when he teaches the method of bringing attention to the "inner body," as he calls it, he could have at least brought up the mozhao and shikantaza methods of meditation in China and Japan respectively which do just exactly that.
Also, Tolle has this really terrible habit of making simple mindfulness much more mystical than it actually is. It's a little misleading. And he makes the mind sound Evil with a capital "E." He should have emphasized more strongly that it is not our thoughts and emotions, but our relationship to them that is the problem. There is no "pain body," only bad habits learned over a lifetime. Why the need to make is so mysterious and magical? Why the need to disassociate our learned behavior and neuroses and make them into some parasite inside you with an agenda of its own? Much better to teach that thoughts are simply thoughts. You can choose to let them go, or you can think of them as some nasty monster inside you. What sounds the most healthy to you?
Tolle clearly wrote this for an audience that has never studied Hinduism and Buddhism, and that's fine. Everyone needs an introduction. I just wish that he had come clean that that was what he had learned, what he decided to teach, and not mislead his readers into believing that he came out of some vacuum in space, fully formed and fully enlightened.
Read the book if you like. It will probably give you some clarity. But consider supplementing it with Buddhist and Hindu books that aren't watered down.
I would recommend:
A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield,
The Method of No-Method by Sheng Yen,
Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,
Wake Up Now by Stephen Bodian,
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn,
and Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner.
In my opinion, these books are the real deal. Happy searching, brothers and sisters.
Steven A Martin-Nunez
on February 5, 2001
Although I have always felt myself to be vaguely spiritual, I had never bought a book on spirituality before, shunned anything that smacked of religion, and wouldn't be caught dead in the New Age section. However, a friend recommended Tolle's book, and I found myself completely absorbed in it from beginning to end. Tolle himself would probably agree that there is nothing essentially "new" about the ideas in the book; the value lies in the clear, intelligent and gentle way in which they are presented. This book is carefully, thoughtfully and beautifully written. Not only does it illuminate the fundamental, slippery, destructive patterns of the mind or ego which confound one's spiritual and even physical well-being, but it also provides a variety of simple and practical techniques for breaking down and dissolving these various forms of mental pollution. I use Tolle's calming, contemplative techniques every day and throughout the day, and they work wonderfully for me. I've read the book twice so far and have given it to others as a gift. The companion tapes are excellent as well.
on January 24, 2002
I picked up "The Power of Now" in the "New Age" section of the bookstore. I was determined to make the reading about "spirituality" a short episode in my life... and I was probably right, as far as the reading goes, that is.
I got the book and continued reading at home, and, as I often do with study guides and textbooks, started underlining what seemed most important. Soon it became harder to separate the important from the unimportant, because it all seemed important! Then, I stopped, put down the pencil and said: "Wow!"
Where did this book come from? Why aren't we hearing about it on CNN? Reading it felt strange at first, as it demanded my total attention: either I was drawn deep into it, or not at all. Do you like to eat while reading? Well, this book will make you feel ridiculous if you try to eat and read at the same time!
The book showed me that I have a pretty thick mold of the mind to break through, and it took me very far on the first day, even farther after that. The message went beyond what I would probably recognize on my own. After all, I was (and still am but to a lesser degree) one of those constant thinkers who mistakenly believe that it's good to think all the time but almost never stop to see, hear and feel the essence of being. Although the message in the book seems familiar and simple, in the end it provided exhaustive answers to the few questions that I had and also those that I wouldn't have thought of before. Amazingly, it also managed not to raise new ones. What it did was grab me by lapels and put me into the present moment. Over and over again, it told me what it means, how to enter it, offered a few different methods, and suggested that with practice many opportunities exist to enter it.
Another point is that once I finished the book, its message lingered (may I say "in my mind" here?). The author's obvious and at the same time subtly effective, repetitive approach somehow kept reassuring me that I was absorbing and remembering the material. The text never strayed far from the core of the message, which seemed to stick with vivid clarity.
I soon began to practice shifting myself into this state of intense concentration, and it feels strange and alluring at the same time, this detachment from the mind. At first, I could only do it while being completely relaxed, just before falling asleep. Later, it became easier to do along with other daily activities. Don't worry; you will not get hit by a truck while crossing the street and trying to focus into the Now! Also, the people at work will not laugh at you because you look weird trying to focus, but they may notice a difference in you: that you are relaxed, focused and less confrontational (because you are surrendered to the present moment). The most immediate effect for me was that focusing into the present moment helped me communicate better. I began to listen more intensely, meaningfully and less judgmentally than before.
However, I feel that this is only the tip of an iceberg. Trying to be in the Now has inspired me more than any miracle. At the same time, it's clear that learning to live in the Now is a skill, and like any skill it can be enhanced with practice. The more you work at it, the better and more natural you get doing it.
In short, I don't need to search for the truth anymore. I got lucky on the first try, by becoming a little curious with the book that seemed unassuming and light in physical weight. Thank you, Eckhart. NOW, I can be at peace, knowing how much I can look forward to in this life, and beyond.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment was just the thing that I needed to come across that was going to give me that much needed spark in realizing that in order to move further, I had to let go of the here and now and escape the false sense of reality that my mind had created in my life. Reading this book allowed me to escape this and to see that there was a world out there that I had yet to actually tap into. I was able to see that instead of living, I had merely existed in my reality. The information contained in this book showed me that there was a path to getting where I was aiming for. I was not aware of the many opportunities that I was wasting that were placed right in front of me.
I was still not quite satisfied with the information that I had gained. I felt that there was more that could be discovered. That was when I found another great book titled Manifestation Magic: Attracting Abundant Wealth, Incredible Health, Great Relationships, and Limitless Success into Your Life. When we stop and think about it we do not actually live up to our full potential as we tend to over think things and not quite allow our minds to be the powerful tool that it is. Reading this book I was quick to discover that we hold all the power in getting the things that we are seeking out. Regardless of if it is wealth or health, we can manifest it when we unlock our brain.
When you are looking to unlock the power that your brain has, it is a good idea that you read these two books as they will help to guide you down the right path. Once you begin to read these, you will quickly see the power that the human mind can and often does have on our lives. If you want something bad enough, you need to remember that you are the one in charge of making it happen not the universe.
on November 23, 2001
Eckhart Tolle's message isn't new. His book is meant to point us toward enlightenment,
and thus his teachings aren't much different than that of Buddhism. But the way this book SPEAKS...
I've been reading "Power of Now" slooowly, over the past week and a half.
I'm nearly finished with it, and plan on starting again on page one when I'm done.
This may be the ONE book that you've been looking for... it's that good.
You can FEEL the essence of Tolle's message while you read. The book BREATHES with spiritual insight.
As you read, you just KNOW that what Tolle says is "the truth."
In reading the book, meditating, and practicing these principles in everyday life,
I've noticed in myself an increased ability to be "fully present" in the world and STAY THERE.
This is the experience I've been wanting for many years.
I've been waking up each morning in a peaceful mood...
I think, while sleeping, I've been integrating the lessons I've learned!
Be here now... it's the only place and time to be.
on October 11, 2002
You've heard the old maxim that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. That's what The Power of Now represents to me. I have been in the book business all my adult life and consider myself somewhat jaded when it comes to books on self-help, gurus or enlightenment manuals. In fact, I almost never read them. There is something unique about The Power of Now that makes it stand out in an otherwise crowded field. It may be the clarity of the language, the absence of technical language, or more likely, the fact the author is clearly writing about a place the he authentically inhabits; and that my friends, is rare indeed. When describing this book to others, I compare the concepts and practices to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and to the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the core instructions of such Zen Masters as Dogen and Hongzhi. The thing that makes this book so magical is that you get all that pith instruction without having to wade through cultural artiface or the barriers of religiosity. This is only the second review I've written, and I'm doing it because I believe this book is fundamentally important. The teachings have had an immediate impact on my life in a way that few books ever have. I agree with the editorial review - within a chapter of reading this book, I was already holding the world in a different container. This is the real deal.
on January 18, 2006
Something in your head goes click. Or else it doesn't.
Down through time, there have probably been thousands of natural mystics, who more or less fell into a state of enlightenment in one dazzling moment, and never lost it.
There have been millions who have glimpsed such a state, accidentally, or through chemical enhancement, or through spiritual practice. And they may or may not find their way back to it now and then, and they appreciate whatever help is on offer to "cleanse the doors of perception". Many millions more are seekers, who have heard the rumor of enlightenment and hope for a connection to it.
Tolle clearly and authentically belongs to the first group. He makes it all sound very easy, which of course from the enlightened side of things it is. He doesn't seem to have a very solid grasp of what a slow plod it can be for most of us in the other two groups. Still, the advice and the method are the same for everyone.
There are plenty of texts that will give one version or another of the same advice, from Brother Lawrence to the Upanishads to the Gurdjieff work to Zen. A distinct advantage Tolle's account will have over most of the rest, for many readers, is the fact that his own dazzling burst came to him independently of any particular spiritual tradition. And that frees him to explain the way to arrive at the same peace and self-control, without imposing any dogma, and (for the most part) in simple, everyday modern language. It's not surprising that, for so many readers, this freedom and freshness have made the message click for them.
In its radical refusal to mix in any esoteric religious paraphernalia, its quiet and patient return to the same monotonous core prescriptions of silence and non-judgmental attention to the present, _Power of Now_ is most reminiscent of the style of Krishnamurti. And that's a high recommendation.
By the same token, it isn't surprising that for many other readers the book just sounds like more of the same self-help hype. The central insight is extremely simple, and it's all-or-none. You get it, or you don't. This is one more chance to get it, more straightforwardly expressed than most. And if you've already had your glimpses, it's a useful, friendly reminder to return to your spiritual practices, and the value they've had for you.
True, there's nothing new here. There's nothing new about sunrise, or falling in love, either. That's hardly a serious fault in any of the three.
on April 22, 2001
This book is about living in the now to find peace and happiness. We all spend so much time consumed with past hurts and the possibility of an unpleasant future that we are unable to live in the now. I have gained progress toward the goal of living in the now by studying this book and the book An Encounter With A Prophet. If you would like to give up bringing emotional garbage into your present and stop worrying about the future I recommend you read both books.
on September 28, 2001
This work will become a true Spiritual Classic. Eckhart states that none of these core concepts are new. They have been re-stated in a crisp clean no-nonsense fashion. Here is the easiest and clearest light upon the path to spiritual peace and freedom I have ever read or listened to. I have the book and audiobook. I like both, but enjoy the audio version read by the author best; because the sense of deep peace conveyed in the authors voice.
After reading and re-reading the book I felt compelled to go and listen for myself to Eckhart in person. I was curious if his presence would be what was conveyed through the book. I flew to New York shortly after the awful incidents in Manhattan and D.C. and participated in a Meditation Retreat at the Omega Institute. Eckhart conducted a five day workshop that was amazing. 'Life-changing' is the best description for it. He exudes PEACE through his serenity! It was a God-send after the horrible upsetting incidents of the previous week. We didn't retreat from the world, but Eckhart addressed the terrorist attacks from his spiritual frame of reference. Those words healed the hurt and anger, with love. He didn't excuse the terrorists but made clear the insanity that grips the entire human family.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with a yearning for a more spiritual life. An open heart is all that's required to begin down a path to enlightenment. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, and others pointed to this same path. But many of their words became obscured with the egoistic mind of mankind. You needn't change religions, but rather re-read your scriptures with wide open eyes. For the first time I realized what many of Jesus' words were really about.
There's nothing hard here. It's quite simple and almost obvious after hearing from Eckhart's un-obscured view of life. Enjoy!...