People’s Choice #6: The Power of Now

For this week’s People’s Choice, you’ll be reading one another’s blogs on the The Power of Now and choosing your favorite post. Comment here to register your vote, & don’t forget to include the name of your classmate, the link to their post, and your rationale for choosing it. Due Thursday, 3/25 by 9am. Happy reading/voting 🙂

Reading Response #6 (The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle)

The Power Of Now speaks on the issues that overthinking can cause you, and techniques on how to stop overthinking. The book starts off similar to most books in the self-help genre, by speaking about his testimony. Tolle describes battling anxiety and depression until one day he found himself loathing so much his mind basically shuts off. He explains that the journey and complete joy he felt just listening to the silence of his mind, is what The Power of Now is and how it was discovered. Tolle says the mind likes to separate people within one entity, so as humans we separate the bad qualities of ourselves as another person when really we are all one being. The author says this is due to ego and how ego only wants to keep the past alive. So the technique to start seeing yourself as one being would be to focus on the present moment that your in and listen to what the mind is thinking without judging it.

Tolle then goes on to describe the emotional pain body which is defined as accumulated pain that is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. So your pain-body is just a reflection of your ego. But if you accept what the present moment brings and don’t focus so much on what was and what will be, this creates an anxiety gap.

As the chapters continue Tolle continues to drill the message that only through focusing on the now and you will allow you to reach your ultimate being or your god-like state. He explains that through portals (gateways) such as surrendering and forgiving your unconscious mind or letting go of time perception can help you achieve this conscious mind. Using practices such as taking deep breaths or meditating also can help since you are taking time for yourself and to focus on yourself. Once your able to control your mind by listening to it and not worrying about anything other than the present, that is when you reach this ultimate state and also switch back and forth from using your unconscious mind, to experience pure joy and fulfillment in your conscious, silent mind.

The Power of Now By Eckhart Tolle

Firstly, I had trouble in getting the book from Amazon as quickly as possible, so I was not able to read the entire book. But from as much as I was able to read, I can say that it was very highly prepared and motivational. It reminded me of The Secret by Rhonda Bynes, but this book was more of a spiritual guidance like the Bible. When I was a little girl, I use to go to church almost every week on Sundays with my mother in Brooklyn, New York. When I had move to Trinidad to go to school, from my years of pre-teen and early teenager, I would go to church almost every week on Sundays with my great grandmother or on Saturdays with great aunt. I say this because since I was little, I have always been trying to build a connection with God and allow him to come into my life by going to church and reading spiritual things. But to be very honest, I have never succeeded or really gave it a good fighting chance. I believe that this is also because of the family and friends around me, for very few of them pray and give thanks.

The book consists of the introduction, ten chapters, notes, acknowledgements, and about the author. “Chapter 1: You Are Not Your Mind, Chapter 2: Consciousness – They Way Out of Pain, Chapter 3: Moving Deeply into the Now, Chapter 4: Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now, Chapter 5: The State of Presence, Chapter 6: The Inner Body, Chapter 7: Portals into the Unmanifested, Chapter 8: Enlightened Relationships, Chapter 9: Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness There Is Peace, Chapter 10: The Meaning of Surrender.” By the title of these 10 chapters, I found them to be very diverse.

As I read through the introduction, it gave me a very detailed, informative, and pulling motivation on what I was going to read and feel in each chapter. “The Truth That Is Within You.” (Tolle 6) As I saw that quote, it made me wonder on if I was really about to find out the whole truth inside me. The introduction also states, “The pause symbol .S’ after certain passages is a suggestion that you may want to stop reading for a moment, become still, and feel and experience the truth of what has just been said. There may be other places in the text where you will do this naturally and spontaneously.” (Tolle 8) This showed that the book was definitely working for the ones that read it to get a true feel from what he was implementing. I also found myself, while going through the table of contents to see what each chapter was highlighting, I was really intrigued on how the book would make me feel at the end.

Reading Response #6 – The Power Of Now

Have you ever aimed a camera at a screen that’s showing what that camera sees? If you have you know that it results in that screen showing different colors, pure whiteness or just pure blackness. The main point is the screen shows basically nothing and this reminds me of Eckhart Tolle’s idea of “Watching the thinker”. He says it should result in a gap of being completely thoughtless and I found it to be true. If you try to look inside your mind and identify your thoughts, it’s the same as pointing a camera at the projector screen, and monitoring the picture. Tolle says the point of this is to disidentify with the mind and come to the realization that our mind and who we actually are, aren’t one. With this mindset comes the gift of being “conscious” and seeking joy in even the darkest moments and maintaining a natural state of peace.
The title of the book comes from this idea that the past is irrelevant and so is the future, the only thing worth focusing on, is the now. When he explains it, it makes a lot of sense. He says the past is just “the now” that has already happened while the future is not only also “the now” just upcoming, but the future is also reliant on “the now” or the present. He says that we have multiple things we worry about, but if we were to truly appreciate the now, we would realize that all of those worries would go away because they aren’t an issue as of right now.
He is using conversation between him and someone else to get his point across the same way Socrates famously used conversation to get his points across. This helped me understand because the questions almost always made sense and made me wonder what miracle was he going to pull off by answering such a good question. I can’t say I was always following along with what he was saying but there were instances where I felt he had the perfect answer, almost as if he made the question himself just so he could answer it (i’m pretty sure he did do this).
Throughout the text he is explaining what it means to be “conscious” and how to get there despite how difficult it may sound. He gives different examples of things conscious people do and one example that caught my attention was when he says “When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible, leave the situation or accept”(Tolle 56). This reminded me of “The 7 habits of highly effective people” by Steven Covey. The first habit is to be proactive instead of reactive, to be in control so I found that to be cool. This is discussed shortly after the quote but I find the idea of simply “accepting” no matter what happens to be very intriguing. Are there really people who can do this? Another example he makes that I found interesting was when he compared us to a lake. He says “The outer situation of your life and whatever happens there, is the surface of the lake. Sometimes calm, sometimes windy and rough, according to the cycles and seasons. Deep down, however, the lake is always undisturbed”.(Tolle 123). By saying this he’s saying that no matter what happens to us, we are always in control with how we react and able to keep ourselves still and composed, like the deep part of the like.
Overall, I really like this book the only thing I was disappointed in is when I saw we were to read an entire book I expected a book with an interesting story or at least some type of story, so when I realized it was an entire book based on some guy explaining his ideology, I was sort of let down but nonetheless, it wasn’t bad at all.

The Power of Now

This book has a variety of concepts, from love-joy   TO  death-surrender and forgiveness, but perhaps its main idea is that the present is such a little gap of time. Hence, it should be easy to live and enjoy it.  Tolle in an interview in June 2019, made a comparison between the heartbeats and the thinking; “They both happen automatically, you are not in control of your thoughts.”  The Power of Now seems to have a content that is the opposite to the Secret of Rhonda Byrne.

The statements that grabbed my attention while reading the Power of Now were:

On page 17, the author mentions the fact that “virtually everyone hears a voice” and yes, I have experienced so. I never asked anyone whether they also heard voices, because usually hearing voices has a negative connotation (being mentally sick). I am so glad that Tolle brought it up.  He says that the voice belongs to one’s conditioned mind, which is the result of one’s history and the inherited collective cultural mindset (environment influence).

On page 22, Tolle brought up the “addiction to thinking” I declare myself guilty of this. Not having something to think about actually gives me anxiety. I mean having my mind in blank gives me anxiety. It is because while the mind is blank time is still ticking off and there is a million of things to do. So, rather than putting my mind in blank, I start addressing those “million things to do” list. However, I do put my mind in blank when I turn the music up =). In page 49, Tolle makes reference to the fact that everything functions directly proportional to time. He gave the example that without time; long and short terms goals wouldn’t even make sense. He recommends using time wisely. I fully agree.

Another concept very intriguing was on page 23, the ego. Allegedly our ego is eager to talk first and that he only focus on either the past or the future. Moreover, the ego is “vulnerable and insecure. Hence it sees itself under constant threat.” page 44. I believe that the ego makes a person reactive.  Once I learnt in psychology that when someone is told something and he/she reacts by laughing (mockery), it is because her/his brain is intentionally avoiding the processing of information giving chance to the ego to react by laughing.

It was good to learn the meaning and root of the word emotion, that comes from the lati  emovere, which means “to disturb”  this certainly makes sense because emotions do distract us. Page 29.

I do agree that emotional cravings like being needy/clingy are born of the need to fulfill certain emotional holes in ourselves. And yes, that any emotion or feeling  can turn from one side of the spectrum to the other (“negative and positive polarities are faces of the same coin”) E.g., passing from pleasure to pain in a relationship as indicate on page 32. Then on page 148, Tolle complement the definition of polarity, by saying that  it is not possible to have only one side of the coin. I personally think that it is easier to recognize the bad side than the good side, that’s probably why people pick faster on something bad that one does and easily ignore all the good deed one did.

On page 46, Tolle indicates that “the secret to life is to “die before you die”.” This is like a conundrum, and I thought it meant that we should live everyday as if it were the last therefore, we will be ready when death do come to us. But Tolle explained on page 196 that meditating deeply about the mortality of our physical forms is what is called “die before you die.”

On page 64, I concur with Tolle “all problems are illusion of the mind” Most people drown themselves in a glass of water. On page 74, Toller points out that in dealing with life challenges; a conscious person is likely to become more conscious and successfully resolve the challenge. Sadly, a lot of people do not get to this level, they are stuck fighting their own self (drowning in the glass of water).

Each of us have a “purpose/mission”, pages 88 and 202  “Everybody we cross paths with will be affected either negatively or positively by our presence.”

On page 152, Tolle brings up an opinion that I will call controversial, Nevertheless, I fully support it “you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”  I find this statement to be true I always thought about it, but I didn’t dare to say because it sounds mean (you never know how someone is going to take it regardless that you carefully chose your words).

Furthermore, in the topic of pain, Tolle says: “we are trying to escape from the present, because we are actually trying to escape our pain.”  We try to escape our present because we hope that there is some sort of salvation in the future. By thinking about the future, we may not be fully enjoying the little gap of time called “the present”  Page 153.

 

I fully disagree with what the author says on page 172, “ we as individuals are not complete, we are one-half of the whole.”  I find this statement objectionable.  It almost made me stop reading the book. I agree that some people are perhaps not even the half of what a decent human is supposed to be. But at the highest of our  abilities. I believe we each are a whole. And when it comes to man and woman being in a relationship, I prefer to say that each of them is a whole, because saying that we are a half put us in a mindset that we can never be fully happy by ourselves, because allegedly we individually are incomplete (a half).

On page 174, Tolle wrote “if you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, then such unease will reappear some way or another when you are in a relationship, and you will likely hold your partner responsible for it.” This is so true. Indeed, many of the reasons why couples fight is because they each as individuals have issues of their own and just because they are in a relationship, they sort of automatically blame on one another for it.

Failure, loss, pain illness, had been greatest teachers for some people. Page 177. This works on people who already have kindness/empathy/humbleness in their heart, because for people who do not have kindness/empathy/humbleness in their hearts,  failure, loss, pain illness, will trigger their worst selves (revenge/violence/apathy). These 2 different outcomes are an example of the 2 sides of the same coin. You can not separate them and unfortunately every and absolutely everything has at least 2 sides (DUAL NATURE) and consequently at least 2 different outcomes.  Moreover, as said on page 186, even happiness comes with unhappiness. Everything  has an inseparable opposite [Tolle quoted this from  the Buddha].

On page 194, he quoted something that Jesus said: “turn the other cheek.”  Tolle called this phrase an “enlightenment teacher”. I agree because this phrase is meant to teach humbleness. Of course, most people living nowadays do not think this way (they did not get the memo). Because they do all the opposite when being provoked/attacked, these people are are so quick to reply (anger issues) without realizing that replying makes the aggressor more furious, and the situations worsens ending many times in fatalities.  I know that certain situations call for self-defense but most of the time is just anger issues that make  people react so quick and poorly. It would be better for these people to practice what Tolle calls, the “actionless activity (page 215).  Doing nothing will likely bring better outcomes than reacting angrily . Indeed, many people ruin their lives because they reacted so quickly without thinking and caused harm to others.  Purportedly “actionless activity “ was regarded as the highest achievements or virtues at some point of history in China (page 215).

Only those who have transcended the world can bring about a better world.”  (page 201).“True change happens within not without” (page 203). I believe he is referring that changing our mindset comes first and that we should not blame our downfalls to external factors. On page 218. Tolle wrote that “we are the problem” this seems to complement the above referenced quotation  “true changes happen within.”

 

Chapter 10, the power of surrender was intriguing, because I think it is hard to find a middle point to “conform” I mean there are things that one must accept no matter what, and others we must actually push ourselves to change them.  According to Tolle “surrender is the simple wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”  Page 205, by flow of life I think Tolle means the now, and to enjoy the present, it requires some degree of conformism] (to be happy with what you have now). Letting go of resistance, page 210, goes hand on hand with the motto : “sometimes holding onto something harms more than letting it go.”

 

The example of the stoic Greek philosopher, on page 220, who replied: “I knew he was not immortal.” when told that his son died is perplexing . He offered no resistance, he accepted something that cannot be changed. I find this example interesting because I always thought that occasionally crying  is a positive way of releasing the anguish. Resisting the pain is mentally toxic, one must let it out by crying.

The power to choose on page 226, explains that for a choice to happen there has to be a high degree of consciousness. And on page 228 Tolle talks about forgiveness, that true forgiveness requires compassion for you and the others and that forgiveness only happens when you really leave the past behind.

 

 

 

Power of Now Response

      The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle was a very diverse read that had, in my opinion, something for everyone. Living in the present is the focal point and dismissing complaining, suffering, negativity, and grudges. Leaving room for forgiveness, acceptance, happiness, and compassion. Tolle mentions a lot of controversial subjects such as God, relationships, and enlightenment and how it is understood on a gender level. This type of book is meant to return to. In order to understand all the messages the author is trying to convey. I do not agree with most of the messages he is sending ,but as stated before there are views for everyone to relate to.

2617-Eckhart-Tolle-Quote-The-past-has-no-power-over-the-present-moment.jpg (3840×2160) (quotefancy.com)

   Your are encouraged to dismiss the past and future to engage in the now, the present. He goes over how the brain hinders our progress and should be used in meaningful ways. “You usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. “(13 Tolle) The author sets the stage and justifies it by providing you with what can be seen as absurd or validated reasoning. By saying compulsive thinking is an addiction that controls you could be taken very differently depending who you are. Repetitive thinkers are also discouraged in the ideology that once a task is completed there should be no further thought. I disagree with this form of thinking. Personally I think for some it is important to look back at what you have achieved to stay motivated in your goals.

   Religious believers in my opinion would be mortified in the way he mentions God and Buddhism. He goes on to explain God and so forth is merely a mental crutch use. “The word Being explains nothing, but nor does God”(11 Tolle) More so to establish it is an empty word that helps justify our thinking and behavior. As he also mentions Buddhism’s idea of being is faulted because to the author there is nothing to establish in silence. I do not follow Buddhism perfectly, but I do agree with a lot of the base line teachings I find this way of thinking extremely insulting. To say someone’s belief is incomplete sounds egotistical which the author also mentions as an obstacle, but to me he is exhibiting the very thing he is against.

    To have freedom one must forgive, accept, and have compassion. He speaks about forgiveness in a very peculiar way as if you should fade into the background noise when you feel defensive so there is nothing to forgive because the insult passed though you and forgiving is automatic. In human nature it is almost second nature to take into account what others say to you then process them and react. Accepting comes when you limit your thinking of what can you possible change and take things as they are. If you find yourself unable to do so especially in relationships you must free yourself for such endeavors. That frame of mind seems logical to me. Why would you stay in an unhappy relationship, not to dismiss many people that do according to circumstances.

  Over all this book was a hard read for me because I disagreed with a vast majority of it’s content and found myself rereading some of the content to make sure I understood how absurd I found some of the text. I do however truly believe in some of the concepts in this book and would go back to those sections.