books · Reviews

Review & Quotes: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

You know that moment when you see something so beautiful and so mesmerizing that you’re awestruck and speechless? Like a striking sunrise, an amazing structure (natural or man-made), or someone you love but haven’t seen in a while? In moments like that, you are fully present. In “the Now”. -brittany

I finally finished reading “The Power of Now”. I downloaded it on Kindle a couple months ago but didn’t read it consistently. I originally downloaded it as part of my Audible subscription , but for two reasons I gave that up for a Kindle copy.

First, Eckhart Tolle is not that great of a narrator. From my understanding, even the authors have to audition in order to narrate their own audio book. So I’m surprised Tolle was selected because his voice was very quiet, monotone, and unenthusiastic. Basically, it was hard to listen to because it didn’t hold my attention.

Second, this material is deep. I consistently had to stop and think about the material. I’d have to go back, reread, then stop and think again. Plus, there were many useful quotes that I wanted to highlight and reread later. Audio books are not good for this because they don’t support specific rereads or highlighting. (As far as I know, you can just Rewind 15 seconds and Add a Bookmark at a certain point.)

What is the book about? Well, its title and…

Why our intense, conscious presence in the present is important. And how to do that.

The “illusion” of the past and future, and that the present (Now) is all there that there is. It sounds so mumbo-jumbo but I think of it like this: the past no longer exists, and the future does not yet exist. Why do we obsess over that which does not exist?  (Called “the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation”, pg 48) We forget to actually live when we do that, because we can only live in the present moment.

The problem of ego and mind-identification. We aren’t who we think we are. Basically we identify with so many external labels (social status, physical appearance, etc.) and so constantly feel under threat. Our life revolves around preserving these labels because we (or the ego) believe we are preserving ourselves. (“the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment”, pg 72)

I think the most difficult concept for me to understand was how to accept the present moment without becoming apathetic about the situation. He gives the example of being stuck in the mud, or lost in a fog. Acceptance is NOT giving up and resorting to being in mud/fog forever. But if you deny the fact the you are stuck or lost, how can you do anything to change that? The action you take would be based on misinformation. (Almost like: admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.)

 

And whenever we hear these “universal laws of life”, of course we’re going to ask “what about this specific situation?”. What’s nice is that this book is set up as a Q&A, answering those “what about” or “what if” questions.

Of course, I’m not saying Tolle has the answer to everything. I find the book is a guidepost, not the path.

As I said, it took me a while to read this book. Yes because I was constantly rereading, but also because I took breaks (wasn’t always reading consistently). So the concepts I write about here are the ones that really stuck to me. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE.

What’s great about Kindle is that everything I highlight gets put into one place, and as I reread my notes I realize this post is but a scratch on the surface.

So, to top this up, I’m just going to share some of my favorite highlights.

The enlightened person’s main focus of attention is always the Now, but they are still peripherally aware of time.

You are aware of where you want to go, but you honor and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment.

If all your problems or perceived causes of suffering or unhappiness were miraculously removed for you today, but you had not become more present, more conscious, you would soon find yourself with a similar set of problems or causes of suffering.

When you complain, you make yourself into a victim.

If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake.

It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.

Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity.

Feeling will get you closer to the truth of who you are than thinking.

This may be hard to grasp for a mind accustomed to thinking that everything worthwhile is in the future.

You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.

Judgement is either to confuses someone’s unconscious behavior with who they are or to project your own unconsciousness onto another person and mistake that for who they are.

When there is no way out, there is still always a way through.

I want to recommend this to people, but only if you’re ready. It’s a deep read. If you’re going to get anything out of it, it requires reflection and introspection. It’s not for you if you think you have life figured out and you’re not open spiritual exploration. (And anyways even if you adhere to a specific religious belief, I think you might find a lot of these concepts to be complementary to your practice.)

Thank you so much for reading my review and short summary! 🙂

Brittany

 

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