940 of 1,023 people found the following review helpful
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.
992 of 1,092 people found the following review helpful
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
234 of 267 people found the following review helpful
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.
240 of 275 people found the following review helpful
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.
81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2009
As a Christian pastor for 14 years, I found this book fascinating. Tolle starts out by saying that if you're reading the book from a religious perspective (Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, etc.), there will be no need to abandon your faith - just allow him to take you a little deeper.
And indeed, I can see how this happened for me in some ways. Tolle explained his concept of The Now in ways that I think Jesus was clearly indicating in passages such as Matthew 6:25-33. In fact several times he quoted Jesus and I believe treated Jesus fairly and explained things Jesus said in ways that seemed to clearly fit where Jesus himself seemed to be headed.
Yet in several other places Tolle had to mention that this or that parable had been frequently misinterpreted, before giving his own interpretation. In the case of the parable of the wise and foolish builders, Tolle's interpretation was nearly laughable, going far beyond anything Jesus obviously intended (especially if one interprets all of Jesus' teachings with the assumption that they more or less mean what they say and are not just clever disguises for various Eastern teachings that happen to appeal greatly to Tolle). The same was true of the parable of the Prodigal Son. By the time I got here I realized that for Christians to accept his interpretations of some of these parables actually WOULD require abandoning their faith, and trusting that wherever Tolle says something has been misunderstood, it actually has been.
There was something in the book I just could not get past as a Christian. Tolle kept saying that learning to be in the present moment is the key to seeing our toxic thoughts and thought-patterns begin to fall away. He says our deepest problem is the mind and its constant rambling, so we must learn to stop thinking (to observe our own thoughts). Christianity teaches that the mind, like everything else, is fallen, and can be redeemed. It promises healing and transformation of the mind so that the mind is no longer a fountain of violence and lusts of various kinds. Christian spiritual masters have shown this is possible - that rather than stopping thought, the content of one's thoughts can be increasingly directed God-ward so that gradually one's mind and thoughts are focused on God and God's goodness, even when engaged in the normal activities of life. Tolle basically says,
1. The mind is the cause of your misery
2. So stop thinking
1. The mind is the cause of your misery
2. Change your mind - redeem it
Many of the techniques Tolle recommends to stop thinking are excellent ideas for Christian meditation. But once the mind is stilled, Christian meditation reintroduces thinking, only the thoughts are focused on God and on the good.
In summary, if someone were to read this book who was not committed to any particular religion, and followed its guidelines, I believe they would live a much better life overall than they otherwise would have. However, I don't believe his philosophy works as a whole, or that it ultimately beats Christianity when it comes to offering an accurate diagnosis of what has gone wrong with mankind and how that problem can best be fixed.
I am a critic of the "pray and God will fix everything" variety of Christianity. I can't be consistent in that without also criticizing Tolle's simplistic, "The secret is to stop thinking and be present." Much can come from that, to be sure, but it's certainly not the end of the story.
518 of 607 people found the following review helpful
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.
158 of 185 people found the following review helpful
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.
136 of 159 people found the following review helpful
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.
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2009
When I first heard about Eckhart Tolle and his "The Power of Now", I said, "Sounds like Buddhism, to me!"
I was very skeptical about Tolle because it sounded like he was just marketing Buddhism under his own name. I can see where some may still insist that this IS what he is doing. But I don't think so.
After hearing more about him I finally rented a dvd of his. I found his message indeed very "Buddhist" but with a "twist". But frankly I found his speaking style and his tendency to giggle every so often kind of annoying.
But I was intrigued enough by his message that I decided to take a look at the book. I borrowed the book from the library and began reading it.
I was very inspired by it. It was clear that here was a guy who understood on a very profound level the message of the Buddha, yet without having ever been a monk. In the preface or intro he says that one day after being depressed for a long time he just woke up. That is, he woke up and realized the power of Now and the reality of his inner being.
Despite the fact that I have studied the teachings of the Buddha for 2 years, meditated, and read many books on mindfulness and being here now, I found this book very inspiring and very clear.
In fact it excited me much more than most of the Buddhism books I have read and while it is "the same message", I think sometimes the WAY someone teaches is what counts. It's like when you're in junior high and your teacher makes the Civil War boring... deadly boring... And then one day you get a substitute teacher and he teaches you the same lessons but with so much enthusiasm and clarity and makes it Exciting to learn about the Battle of Vicksburg! ... It's all about whether or not a teacher truly KNOWS and is excited by the material, and is able to transfer that knowledge and enthusiasm for knowledge to you.
To me, Eckhart Tolle is very good at explaining the value of the Now moment and sharing the enthusiasm for it in a way that inspires me to try harder or put more attention on being present in each moment and not get hung up in the past and future, on the way things "should be", etc..
So while there is "nothing new here" (actually there is nothing new, ANYwhere!), what he have is a teacher who has the rare ability to reach people with an important teaching.
The Buddha captured the people of his time with this message, but not too many people today are interested in reading the Buddha's words. As a student of the Buddha I can tell you that his teaching style (at least as it has come down to us from the ancient Pali scriptures) does not fit our current 21st century style of learning very well. Some Buddhist monks like Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama and Ajahn Brahm have been able to regurgitate the Buddha's teachings to us in a way that is much more inspiring. But still, unless you have an interest in "Buddhism" it is unlikely you are going to study the deeper teachings of these monks.
So what Tolle has done is - just by being himself and teaching in his own style, from his own realizations - write a book (or books) that has a way of relating to the average day modern seeker of knowledge. I do not mean to imply he has diluted it or simplified it. It's just that his style is his style and it seems to resonate with people. And that's a good thing!
I would like to add that it has become clear to me that many of the people who don't like the book are not really understanding the deeper message of the book. That is, they are understanding it "intellectually" but not "getting" that it is not just a matter of "understanding" "about" the now moment, but rather it is a matter of LIVING IN THE NOW MOMENT, being PRESENT in the now moment during much or all of one's life, which is not a simple thing at all.
To illustrate this point I suggest you try the following exercise:
Sit down in a quiet place and close your eyes and focus ONLY on the present moment. Try to focus ONLY on what ever is present right now as you sit down with your eyes closed. Fair game are sounds, feelings, the feeling of your butt on the chair or floor, the feeling of air going in and out of your nose or mouth, the sound of the dog barking or bird singing in the distance, etc. etc... As soon as a thought comes in about what you did or what you are going to do or what you need to do, put it aside and try to go back to focusing only on the present moment...
As you do this I think you will see that it is VERY difficult. Thoughts come. You get the feeling you "need" to get on to doing something. More thoughts come. You feel nervous. You feel this is a waste of time. More thoughts come...
Try to get to the point where the thoughts do not overtake you, and in fact, see if you can ONLY focus on your BREATH. Try to notice ONLY your breathing, in whichever way you can do it. That is, you can focus only on the air coming in and out of your nose or mouth. Or you can notice your belly going in and out, your diaphragm rising and falling. No matter how you do it just as long as you ONLY focus on your breathing, nothing else; no other sounds, no other feelings, no other thoughts...
This is the lesson Tolle is trying to teach: being truly and completely in the present moment. There is much value in this practice as it not only shows you your mind but it helps you learn to control it, to calm it, and it teaches you great powers of concentration in the present moment which you will find very valuable in all aspects of your life, once you learn to do it with some proficiency.
So if you think "I've heard all this before" there is a good chance that you HAVE. But there is also a good chance that while you've heard it before you still haven't gotten the message. Try again. And keep trying until you "get it".
90 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2001
Attracted by exciting reviews, I bought and read the book. I was so impressed that I bought the tapes. I have been listening to them over and over again every morning for several months. Rather than repeat the wonderful comments of previous reviews, I would like to add a few personal insights.
Eckhart's message is very condensed. He compresses a tremendous amount of meaning into a very few simple words. This makes the book very good value for money. You would have to buy and read several similar books by other authors to derive the same quantity of information - but they would probably not match Eckhart's high quality of delivery.
Eckhart's messages are deep. A typical sentence has two or three levels of depth that reveal themselves after a number of readings on the conscious level. (On the sub-conscious level you would probably appreciate the deeper meaning immediately). Reflection, and day to day experiences should take you to the deeper levels. However, do not be satisfied with whatever level you have reached. Deeper levels exist. Continue reflecting and seeing day to day events with the new wisdom you have acquired. This will take you deeper still.
While you may not agree with all of Eckhart's teachings, you will admit that most of them make sense at a very deep level. After reading this book and listening to the tapes, you will be well on your way to higher levels of consciousness.
Buying this book should not be the main consideration, since it is clearly essential reading for everyone. For me the main consideration is how deep do you want to go? I would urge more than one reading. I think you will be pleasantly surprised as each successive reading takes you to new levels of awareness and serenity.