I’m reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle (actually I’m listening to the audio version on CD, I’m not sure if I would have made it through the book if I was reading it). It’s pretty deep and not what you would call an easy read but I do think he has some profound things to say about spiritual enlightenment, positivity and negativity, and the benefits of living in the present. I’m not sure that I would be able to grasp his concepts if I hadn’t already been doing some reading and research on the topics of happiness and positivity, however, since I have been, I have enjoyed his insights.
I want to share some of the points that resonated with me. I can’t say for sure that you would have gotten the same thing out of reading/listening to this book but perhaps you should read it and find out.
If you boil it all down to one main concept it is that humans can only attain spiritual enlightenment by living in the Now. Not the past, not the future, but the present. The present is all we really have. Focus on what is really happening in the present, absorb the sensory perceptions that go with the present. Turn off your mind and the constant self-talk that goes on inside of your head. This is all much harder to do than you think but once you can make it a habit, once you can learn to live in the Now, and accept it for what it is, you will be more at peace. You will experience joy from living in the present. From learning to “be”.
Now this may seem very deep but it is only the beginning of the depth of the book. He continues on to say that the mind is ruled by the ego. And the ego is pretty much not our friend. The ego controls the mind and although thought is part of consciousness, consciousness does not need thought to exist. One of the bad habits that we as humans have, is that our mind is always racing. And often it is reviewing things in the past that we cannot change or thinking about the future which may or may not happen. Very rarely is it focussing on what is happening right now.
Living in the Now takes practice and effort at first. However, once you master the practice of being present, then your experiences will deepen and you will be more connected with the universe as a whole.
One of the ways to master being in the present is to silence your mind. Some people do this through meditation while others become more aware of their thoughts and can help them dissipate by acknowledging them and accepting them for what they are. Even if they are “fear-based” (disappointment, sadness, guilt, anger, etc), if we observe the thoughts and accept them then they have less power over us and less control over our emotions.
One of the analogies that Eckhart uses in the book to describe humans is that we are like a lake or large body of water. On the surface there may be ripples and waves depending on outside conditions but underneath the waves we have great depth, stillness and serenity. The ripples and waves can be our thoughts, mood or perceptions. They change depending on our reactions to stimulus. However, these ripples and waves are not who we really are at our essence. If we can access our essence we will see that the ripples and waves are insignificant and in the big scheme of things they are not who we are. They are our reactions to the influences of our minds. If we can turn off our minds or even accept our reactions for what they are, we have a greater chance of reaching the serenity within our depths.
I hope that what I’m writing will make sense to anyone who reads this post ;). It’s probably as murky as a mud puddle since I am condensing about 8 hours of audio into a couple of short paragraphs. Suffice it to say, if you can learn to live in the Now, if you can learn to turn off your mind, you can become more conscious and have the potential to experience great peace, joy and serenity. I have miles to go before I get there but practice makes perfect and anyone can start practicing now.
As a matter of fact, I practiced during my shower earlier today. I let the warm water fall over my face and I focused on the feel of the warmth and the wetness cascading over my skin. I shut my thoughts off and focussed on the sensations as long as I could. Doing this made me enjoy my shower more than I have in ages. Instead of thinking about all of the things I needed to do after I got out of the shower, I focused on my actual shower. I found enjoyment in the process which is the point of all this.
I’m sure that you have heard this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson many times before, “life is a journey, not a destination”. If you can learn to enjoy the journey, live and experience the Now, you will have greater joy in your life than if you think that nothing is good enough until you reach your goal. Goals are great as long as you experience happiness while getting there and not just upon arrival.
Check out the book if you are looking for the path to enlightenment or even just the path to living a happier life. It is deep but if you can get into it I’m sure you will get something out of it.