Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now Book Summary

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  • You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are.


Chapter 1: You are not your mind

  • 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. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.
  • So you see and judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted view of it. It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person’s own worst enemy.
  • 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 the essence of meditation.
  • Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in the practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.
  • So the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this: learn to disidentify from your mind. Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger.
  • To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important.
  • The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you cannot find the present moment as long as you are your mind.
  • The predominance of mind is no more than a stage in the evolution of consciousness. We need to go on to the next stage now as a matter of urgency, otherwise, we will be destroyed by the mind, which has grown into a monster.
  • The mind is essentially a survival machine.
  • Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.


Chapter 2: Consciousness: The way out of pain

  • The more you are able to honor and accept the now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering – and free of the egoic mind.
  • “What time?” they would ask. “Well, of course, it’s now. The time is now. What else is there?”
  • Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the now the primary focus of your life.
  • Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life – and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.
  • Everything is shown up by being exposed to the light, and whatever is exposed to the light itself becomes light.
  • The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.
  • All of these things you will have to relinquish sooner or later.
  • Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death.


Chapter 3: Moving deeply into the now

  • The present moment is all you ever have. There is never a time when your life is not “this moment”. Is this not a fact.
  • The mind then creates an obsession with the future as an escape from the unsatisfactory present.
  • Usually, the future is a replica of the past.
  • The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.
  • It is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that determines the future, then what is it that determines the quality of your consciousness? Your degree of presence. So the only place where true change can occur and where the past can be dissolved is the now.
  • All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present.
  • You may find it hard to recognize that time is the cause of your suffering or your problems.
  • What you refer to as your “life” should more accurately be called your “life situation”.
  • Be aware of the silent presence of each thing.
  • It’s about realizing that there are no problems. Only situations.
  • 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. As there are no problems in the now, there is no fear either.
  • If there is no joy, ease, or lightness in what you are doing, 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”.
  • So do not be concerned with the fruit of your action – give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord.
  • Nonattachment to the fruit of your action.
  • When the compulsive striving away from the now ceases, the joy of being flows into everything you do. The moment your attention turns to the now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfilment and satisfaction – you don’t look to it for salvation. Therefore, you are not attached to the results. Neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of being. You have found the life underneath your life situation.


Chapter 4: Mind Strategies for avoiding the now

  • The root of suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.
  • Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species.
  • Wherever you are, be there totally.
  • If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now.
  • Any action is often better than no action.
  • Only a surrendered person has spiritual power .
  • 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.
  • There is nothing wrong with striving to improve your life situation. You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner being. It is already whole, complete, perfect. Your life situation consists of your circumstance and your experiences. There is nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to achieve things. The mistake lies in using it as a substitute for the feeling of life, for being.
  • Outer riches and inner poverty, or to “gain the world and lose your soul,”. Ultimately, of course, every outer purpose is doomed to “fail” sooner or later, simply because it is subject to the law of impermanence of all things. The sooner you realize that your outer purpose cannot give you lasting fulfilment, the better
  • Only the present can free you from the past.
  • You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present.


Chapter 5: The state of presence

  • The teacher and the taught together create the teaching. In any case, the words in themselves are not important. They are not the truth; they only point to it.
  • I am that i am.
  • The second coming of Christ is a transformation of human consciousness, a shift from time to presence, from thinking to pure consciousness.


Chapter 6: The inner body

  • Life is like the light switch and the light globe. All people have their light globe on (living) and are scared of their light globe turning off (death) because they fear the dark (after death) none existence. But who turned on your light in the first place. Where were you before your globe turned on?
  • The illusion that you are nothing more than your physical body and your mind. This “illusion of the self”.
  • To become conscious of being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey. It will free vast amounts of consciousness that previously had been trapped in useless and compulsive thinking.
  • Transformation is through the body, not away from it.
  • Do not fight against the body, for in doing so you are fighting against your own reality. You are your body. The body that you can see and touch is only a thin illusory veil. Underneath it lies the invisible inner body, the doorway into being, into life unmanifested through the inner body; you are inseparably connected to this unmanifested one life – birthless, deathless, eternally present. Through the inner body, you are forever one with god.


Chapter 7: Portals into the unmanifested

  • Feeling will get you closer to the truth of who you are than thinking.
  • Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.
  • Every physical object or body has come out of nothing, is surrounded by nothing, and will eventually return to nothing. Not only that, but even inside every physical body there is far more “nothing” than something.
  • Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.
  • The essence of all things is emptiness.
  • Space has no existence. To exist literally means to stand out. You cannot understand space because it doesn’t stand out.
  • Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of god.
  • You also know that every form is destined to dissolve again and that ultimately nothing out here matter’s all that much. You have overcome the world, in the words of Jesus, or, as the Buddha put it, you have “crossed over to the other shore”.
  • If there were no illusion, there would be no enlightenment.” It is through the world and ultimately through you that the unmanifested knows itself.
  • We live in a culture that is almost totally ignorant of death, as it is almost totally ignorant of anything that truly matters.
  • Every portal is a portal of death, the death of the false self. When you go through it, you cease to derive your identity from your psychological, mind-made form. You then realize that death is an illusion, just as your identification with form was an illusion. The end of illusion – that’s all that death is. It is painful only as long as you cling to illusion.


Chapter 8: Enlightened Relationships

  • Most people pursue physical pleasures or various forms of psychological gratification because they believe that those things will make them happy or free them from a feeling of fear or lack.
  • True salvation is a state of freedom – from fear, from suffering, from a perceived state of lack and insufficiency and therefore from all wanting, needing, grasping, and clinging. It is freedom from compulsive thinking, from negativity, and above all from past and future as a psychological need.
  • What is god? The eternal one life underneath all the forms of life. What is love? To feel the presence of that one life deep within yourself and within all creatures. To be it. Therefore, all love is the love of god.
  • True communication is communion.
  • The realization of oneness, which is love. Usually, this is quickly lost again, unless you are able to stay present enough to keep out the mind and its old patterns. As soon as the mind and mind identification return, you are no longer yourself but a mental image of yourself, and you start playing games and roles again to get your ego needs met.
  • Humanity is under great pressure to evolve because it is our only chance of survival as a race.
  • To relinquish judgement does not mean that you do not recognize dysfunction and unconsciousness when you see it. It means “being the knowing” rather than “being the reaction” and the judge.


Chapter 9: Beyond Happiness and unhappiness there is peace

  • Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive, inner peace does not.
  • Through allowing the “isness” of all things, a deeper dimension underneath the play of opposites reveals itself to you as an abiding presence, an unchanging deep stillness, an uncaused joy beyond good and bad. This is the joy of being, the peace of god.
  • All conditions are highly unstable and in constant flux, or, as he put it, impermanence is a characteristic of every condition, every situation you will ever encounter in your life. It will change, disappear, or no longer satisfy you.
  • The most essential kind of knowledge is not yet widely accessible.
  • Nothing can give you joy. Joy is uncaused and arises from within as the joy of being. It is an essential part of the inner state of peace, the state that has been called the peace of god. It is your natural state, not something that you need to work hard for or struggle to attain.
  • All that arises passes away. This i know. What he meant, of course, was this: i have learned to offer no resistance to what is, i have learned to allow the present moment to be and to accept the impermanent nature of all things and conditions. Thus I have found peace.
  • To offer no resistance to life is to be in state of grace, ease, and lightness.
  • All those things, of course, will still pass away cycles will come and go, but with dependency gone there is no fear of loss anymore. Life flows with ease.
  • Having gone beyond the mind-made opposites, you become like a deep lake. 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. You are the whole lake, not just the surface, and you are in touch with your own depth, which remains absolutely still. You don’t resist change by mentally clinging to any situation. Your inner peace does not depend on it. You abide in being – unchanging, timeless, deathless – and you are no longer dependent for fulfilment or happiness on the outer world of constantly fluctuating forms. You can enjoy them, play with them, create new forms, appreciate the beauty of it all. But there will be no need to attach yourself to any of it
  • Awaken out of identification with form.
  • Only those who have transcended the world can bring about a better world.


Chapter 10: The meaning of surrender

  • Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.
  • You cannot be conscious and unhappy, conscious and in negativity. Negativity, unhappiness , or suffering in whatever form means that there is resistance, and resistance is always unconscious.
  • If you cannot surrender, take action immediately. Speak up or do something to bring about a change is the situation – or remove yourself from it. Take responsibility for your life. Do not pollute your beautiful, radiant inner being nor the earth with negativity. Do not give unhappiness in any form whatsoever a dwelling place inside you.
  • You only need to be concerned with the inner aspect. That is primary. Of course, that will also transform the conduct of your outer life, your relationships and so on.
  • You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state.
  • God is being itself, not a being. There can be no subject-object relationship here, no duality, no you and god.
  • The mind always adheres to the known.
  • The unknown is dangerous because it has no control over it. That’s why the mind dislikes and ignores the present moment. Present-moment awareness creates a gap not only in the stream of mind but also in the past-future continuum. Nothing truly new and creative can come into this world except through that gap, that clear space of infinite possibility.
  • It always looks as if people had a choice, but that is an illusion. As long as your mind with it’s a conditioned patterns runs your life, as long as you are your mind, what choice do you have? None. You are not even there. The mind-identified state is severely dysfunctional. It is a form of insanity. Almost everyone is suffering from this illness in varying degrees. The moment you realize this, there can be no resentment. How can you resent someone’s illness? The only appropriate response is compassion.
  • When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. You do not need it anymore. Presence is the key. The now is the key.
  • Greatest guru of all: life.


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