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The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Paperback – August 19, 2004
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Ekhart Tolle's message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle's clear writing, supportive voice, and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who's ever wondered what exactly "living in the now" means. Foremost, Tolle is a world-class teacher, able to explain complicated concepts in concrete language. More importantly, within a chapter of reading this book, readers are already holding the world in a different container--more conscious of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of their ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.
Tolle packs a lot of information and inspirational ideas into The Power of Now. (Topics include the source of Chi, enlightened relationships, creative use of the mind, impermanence, and the cycle of life.) Thankfully, he's added markers that symbolize "break time." This is when readers should close the book and mull over what they just read. As a result, The Power of Now reads like the highly acclaimed A Course in Miracles--a spiritual guidebook that has the potential to inspire just as many study groups and change just as many lives for the better. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"The Power of Now is one of the best books to come along in years. Every sentence rings with truth and power."
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The end goal here is that amidst the spiritual undertones of the book, what Tolle is really educating people about is self-awareness, which is the cornerstone of growing emotional intelligence. I was reading Daniel Goleman's book, "Emotional Intelligence" at the same time and the parallels were quite obvious. The additional benefit that Tolle offers is walking through some meditations and affirmations and presenting the information in a way that is like an easy to digest conversation.
After I was about halfway through the book, I had a moment of sitting in my car by myself, and had the thought, "I don't have to take this bulls*** anymore, I am not a victim," and then I laughed for about five minutes and many months later, still feel great about all of the things I was able to let go of.
The theme of the Power of Now is that you can find and maintain a deep sense of peace, joy and fulfillment, and in doing so, "return home to yourself." These concepts are very real and attainable. The goal is to break through the barrier of the noise of the mind. When you do this, it is like having total awareness of being alive. It is like being able to see the world with clarity and without the constant stream of mental judgments, mental noise and fear. Even the appearance of objects seems so different and vibrant. And even physical space takes on new meaning -- you sense that everything is connected. Knowledge takes on a deeper dimension that transcends language. Instead of having faith in God, you know and feel God. You go through life having a deep sense of peace and joy. You feel that peace and joy within yourself and external to yourself. It is a life with little mental fear. The peace you feel is not like coming home to yourself, it is coming home to yourself, meaning your natural state of being. When you realign with yourself, it becomes obvious that this state is the way you were meant to be.
A main theme to Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now, is that humanity can change, but it will start with individuals returning to their spiritual center. Just as humanity can learn from the past of what it doesn't want to be; humanity can learn from the past what it wants to be. His message is that we need to look to the past and see the common thread of messages of hope given to us. These messages of hope are: (1) that we are spiritual beings; (2) that we do have an innate joy and peace within; (3) that we essentially have God within us; and (4) that we can experience a new reality that is radically different, but radically true to whom we are.
The Power of Now's message is that many people of he past and present have broken the barrier of fear and discontentment; they have rediscovered or reconnected with their deep sense of peace and joy. In our lack of understanding, we often refer to these people with terminology that may not really be accurate: "enlightened," "awakened," "mystics," "gurus," "holy," etc. These terms are too loaded and create an impression that such a state is unlikely to occur to the average person. We can find our peace and joy and find it now. We are not discriminated against when it comes to God's Grace.
Tolle aids the process of coming home to ourselves. He provides us with an age-old message and road map to achieve this. The road map is simple, yet so profound. The message is simply: we need to quiet our minds.
So, how do we quiet our minds according to Tolle? How do we realign with ourselves? How do we take off the onion layers to our minds and reconnect with that joyful and peaceful part of ourselves?
The term meditation is probably not what you think or have been taught. Meditation as it used here is more a way of life that can be used in any and every activity you do for the rest of your life. Eckhart Tolle talks about different ways to get reconnected with ourselves. What is interesting is that many of the methods are somewhat mechanical, and the process is less spiritual than one might think. The end result, however, is certainly deeply spiritual.
Some of these methods are:
1. Breathing and being aware of your breathing;
2. Being the witness of your thoughts without judgment -- allowing thoughts to flow without identifying with your thoughts -- deeply acknowledging that you are not our thoughts;
3. Feeling your physical body and allowing it be without judgment;
4. Feeling your emotional body (including the emotional pain) and allowing it be without going on thinking tangents about the pain -- just being there with the raw physical emotional pain.
5. Getting in touch with the silence and stillness that is ever present; (so as you listening intently to the world around, you pay attention also to the silence that is behind all sounds);
6. Being totally present where you are and allowing that which happens to be;
7. Acknowledge and avoid the traps of time -- with a deep understanding that in reality what happened in the past is no longer; and what happens in the future is not now (basically time really does not, from a physics perspective, exist);
8. Accepting what you are at any given moment;
9. The simple act of asking God to allow you to feel His presence/His Grace, and then, the act of you feeling God's presence;
10. To go deep inside yourself and realize that innate joy that is ever present -- God.
11. Feeling the stillness within yourself.
One myth is that to obtain peace, joy and God, you need to takes years of monk-like seclusion. In fact, finding what was traditionally known as "enlightenment" could take a few minutes. The quicker you break down the noise of the mind and become present with the world without judgment, the quicker you can come home to yourself.
There is much potentail to what the author lays out in this book but it is up to the reader to follow what is written. While some people may not agree with some aspects of the book or feel that there is too much repition the central message is clear: Start living in the NOW and stop letting your mind control your life. This is not one of those books you should read fast but would be great in small chunks. Any philsosophical text requires one to read a passage and take some time to digest/think about what they read. I puchased the Audible version of this book as well and feel it would be great to listen to passages while on walks through nature or just during meditations. The fact that the author himself narrates the book adds another layer to the information he presents.
During my reading/listening of this book I never found any strong religious overtones so while there a some Biblical references he does bring in some Buddhist concepts as well as Taoist ideas. It's not a preachy book in that sense which kept me reading (It probably would have deterred me from reading it otherwise). I don't have much of a relgious background (my family did not have any religious affiliation growing up) which is why I find the ideas in the book easier to accept over the literal interpretations of, say, the Bible. I think anyone regardless of religious affiliation would find something in this book that would coincide with what they already practice.
This book is something I look forward to rereading/listening to in the future (which doesn't exist if you accept what the author states) during walks though nature. I recommend the audiobook version because the author does a good job with the narration and it wasn't much of an extra cost for it.