Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
People with my DNA set will enjoy reading this. – Summary by KBaeksu
Buddha definition of enlightenment “the end of suffering”
When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the now, being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of being and to abide in that state of “feeling-realization” is enlightenment.
This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering.
The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity – the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.
Here it often imagines things going wrong and negative outcomes; this is called worry. This is because the voice belongs to your conditioned mind, which is the result of all your past history as well as of the collective cultural mind-set you inherited. So you see and judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted view of it.
Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patters, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what I mean by “watching the thinker,” which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence.
When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door.
So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought.
The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.
When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of “no-mind” At first, the gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside of you. With practice, the sense of stillness and peace will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being.
Instead of “watching the thinker,” you can also create a gap in the mind stream simply by directing the focus of your attention into the now. Just become intensely conscious of the present moment. This is a deeply satisfying thing to do. In this way, you draw consciousness away from mind activity and create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking. This is essence of meditation. Pay attention to everyday activities.
Your mind is an instrument, a tool. It is there to be used for a specific task, and when the task is completed, you lay it down. As it is, I would say about 80 to 90% of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful.
This kind of compulsive thinking is actually an addiction. What characterizes an addiction? Quite simply this: you no longer feel that you have the choice to stop. It seems stronger than you. It also gives you a false sense of pleasure, pleasure that invariable turns into pain.
As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it here it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind.
To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important. This total reversal of the truth accounts for the fact that in the ego mode the mind is so dysfunctional.
Even when the ego seems to be concerned with the present, it is not the present that it sees: It misperceives it completely because it looks at it through the eyes of the past.
Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought.
Enlightenment means rising above thought.
You oscillate every few minutes or so between thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind. No-mind is consciousness without thought. Thought alone, when it is no longer connected with the much vaster realm of consciousness, quickly becomes barren, insane, destructive.
The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against other minds, gathering, storing, and analyzing information – this is what it is good at, but it is not at all creative.
To watch an emotion in this way is basically the same as listening to or watching a thought.
Make it a habit to ask yourself: What’s going on inside me at this moment? That question will point you in the right direction. But don’t analyze, just watch.
An emotion usually represents an amplified and energized thought pattern, and because of its often overpowering energetic charge, it is not easy initially to stay present enough to be able to watch it. It wants to take you over, and it usually succeeds – unless there is enough presence in you. Through lack of presence, which is normal, the emotion temporarily becomes “you.” Often a vicious circle builds up between your thinking and the emotion: they feed each other. The thought pattern creates a magnified reflection of itself in the form of an emotion, and the vibrational frequency of the emotion keeps feeding the original thought pattern. By dwelling mentally on the situation, event, or person that is the perceived cause of the emotion, the thought feeds energy to the emotion, which in turn energizes the thought pattern, and so on.
Emotion literally means “disturbance.” The word comes from the Latin emovere, meaning “to disturb.”
Love, joy and peace are deep states of Being.
Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within. The very thing that gives you pleasure today will give you pain tomorrow, or it will leave you, so its absence will give you pain.
Love may be pleasurable and exciting for a while, but it is an addictive clinging, and extremely needy condition that can turn into its opposite at the flick of a switch. Many “love” relationships, after the initial euphoria has passed, actually oscillate between “love” and hate, attracting and attack.
The Buddha says that pain or suffering arises through desire or craving and that to be free of pain we need to cut the bonds of desire.
All cravings are the mind seeking salvation or fulfillment in external things and in the future as a substitute for the joy of Being. As long as I am my mind, I am those cravings those needs, wants, attachments, and aversions, and apart from them there is no “I” except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted. In that state, even my desire to become free or enlightened is just another craving for fulfillment or completion in the future. So don’t seek to become free of desire or “achieve” enlightenment. Become present. Be there as the observer of the mind. Instead of quoting the Buddha, be the Buddha, be “the awakened one,” which is what the word Buddha means.
Pain is inevitable as long as you are identified with your mind, which is to say as long as you are unconscious, spiritually speaking.
Every pleasure or emotional high contains within itself the seed of pain: its inseparable opposite, which will manifest in time.
The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgement. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity.
Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future. So it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.
Have your dwelling place in the now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.
Pain can only feed on pain.
Some spiritual teachings state that all pain is ultimately an illusion, and this is true. The question is: Is it true for you? A mere belief doesn’t make it true. Do you want to experience pain for the rest of your life and keep saying that it is an illusion?
I call it presence. You are now the witness or the watcher of the pain-body. This means that it cannot use you anymore by pretending to be you, and it can no longer replenish itself through you. You have found your own innermost strength. You have accessed the power of Now.
St. Paul expressed this universal principle beautifully: Everything is shown up by being exposed to the light, and whatever is exposed to the light itself becomes light.
When you start to disidentify and become the watcher, the pain-body will continue to operate for a while and will try to trick you into identifying with it again. Although you are no longer energizing it through your identification, it has a certain momentum, just like a spinning wheel that will keep turning for a while even when it is no longer being propelled.
Focus attention on the feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyze.
To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. This creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and an unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be. The compulsion arises because the past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. Both are illusions.
Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time – past and future – the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now.
Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed. Step out of the time dimension as much as possible in everyday life.
Notice also how often your attention is in the past or future. Don’t judge or analyze what you observe.
If you become excessively focused on the goal, perhaps because you are seeking happiness, fulfillment, or a more complete sense of self in it, the Now is no longer honored. It becomes reduced to a mere stepping stone to the future, with no intrinsic value. Clock time then turns into psychological time. Your life’s journey is no longer an adventure, just an obsessive need to arrive, to attain, to “make it.” You no longer see or smell the flowers by the wayside either, nor are you aware of the beauty and the miracle of life that unfolds all around you when you are present in the Now.
The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future – which, of course, can only be experienced as the Now.
All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence, Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.
There is no salvation in time. You cannot be free in the future. Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now.
Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focused on the future, and this continued focus perpetuates your denial of the Now and therefore your unhappiness.
It’s about realizing that there are no problems, only situations.
You become so overwhelmed by your life situation that you lose your sense of life, of Being.
A great deal of what people say, think, or do is actually motivated by fear, which of course is always linked with having your focus on the future and being out of touch with the Now.
Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing\? If there isn’t, then time is covering up the present moment, and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle. If not, it does not necessarily mean that you need to change what you are doing. It may be sufficient to change the how. “how” is always more important than “what.”
In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of “consecrated action.”
Loss of Now is loss of Being.
You lose the Now, and you return to it, again and again. Eventually, presence becomes your predominant state.
Buddha taught that the root of suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.
Make it a habit to monitor your mental-emotional state through self-observation. “Am I at ease at this moment?”
Wherever you are, be there totally.
Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake.
If there is truly nothing that you can do to change you’re here and now, and you can’t remove yourself from the situation, then accept you’re here and now totally by dropping all inner resistance. The false, unhappy self that loves feeling miserable, resentful, or sorry for itself can then no longer survive. This is called surrender. Surrender is not weakness. There is great strength in it Only a surrendered person has spiritual power.
Completely accept your inactivity, laziness, or passivity at this moment, if that is your choice. Go into it fully. Enjoy it. Be as lazy or inactive as you can. If you go into it fully and consciously, you will soon come out of it. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, there is no inner conflict, no resistance, no negativity.
Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there,” or being in the present but wanting to be in the future.
You can stop this health-and life-corroding insanity simply by acknowledging the present moment. Become aware of your breathing. Feel the air flowing in and out of your body. Feel your inner energy field. All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life – as opposed to imaginary mind projections – is this moment. Ask yourself what “problem” you have right now, not net year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now.
Are you a habitual “waiter”? How much of your life do you spend waiting?
Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want what you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously crate inner conflict between you here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.
Your life’s journey has an outer purpose and an inner purpose. The outer purpose is to arrive at your goal or destination, to accomplish what you set out to do, to achieve this or that, which, of course, implies future. But if your destination, or the steps you are going to take in the future, take up so much of your attention that they become more important to you than the step you are taking now, then you completely miss the journey’s inner purpose, which has nothing to do with where you are going or what you are doing, but everything to do with how.
The outer purpose is just a game that you may continue to play simply because you enjoy it. It is also possible to fail completely in your outer purpose and at the same time totally succeed in your inner purpose. Or the other way around, which is actually more common: outer riches and inner poverty.
The sooner you realize that your outer purpose cannot give you lasting fulfillment, the better.
Whatever you need to know about the unconscious past in you, the challenges of the present will bring it out. If you delve into the past, it will become a bottomless pit: There is always more. You may think that you need more time to understand the past or become free of it, in other words, that the future will eventually free you of the past. This is a delusion. Only the present can free you of the past. More time cannot free you of time.
So deal with the past on the level of the present. The more attention you give to the past, the more you energize it. Give attention to the present.
You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present.
As long as you are in a state of intense presence, you are free of thought.
The ancient seers of India asked themselves. They saw the world as lila, a kind of divine game that God is playing.
Whenever you watch the mind, you withdraw consciousness from mind forms, and it then becomes what we call the watcher or the witness.
You will begin to realize that you are not just a meaningless fragment in an alien universe, briefly suspended between birth and death, allowed a few short-lived pleasures followed by pain and ultimate annihilation.
The fact is that no one has ever become enlightened through denying or fighting the body or through an OOBE. Although such an experience can be fascinating and can give you a glimpse of the state of liberation from the material form, in the end you will always have to return to the body.
Physicists tell us that the solidity of matter is an illusion. Every atom there is mostly empty space. Buddhists have known that for over 2500 years. “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form,” states the Heart Sutra.
You see time as the means to salvation, whereas in truth it is the greatest obstacle to salvation.
The relationship then oscillates for a while between the polarities of love and hate, and it gives you as much pleasure as it gives you pain. The polarities are mutually interdependent.
Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain.
If you continue to pursue the goal of salvation through a relationship, you will be disillusioned again and again.
Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not.
When a loved one has just died, or you feel your own death approaching, you cannot be happy. But you can be at peace.
When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries. You cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack.
All suffering is ego-created and is due to resistance.