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Book Review: ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle

Tripti Singh

‘What is the Power of Now’ and what are they actually missing in their lives.

The book ‘The Power of Now’ has been written by Eckhart Tolle, published by Hodder Australia in the year 2004. It consists of 235 pages and is divided into ten chapters, which are based on mind, consciousness, spiritual enlightenment, mind strategies, state of presence, inner body, enlightened relationships, happiness and peace, meaning of surrender respectively. Author used simple question- answer pattern to arrive at different concepts and conclusions. Neutral terminology has been used by him for easy understanding. The book is written clearly with a message that there is a way out of agony, distress and to enter into peace and harmonious life.

This particular book is written for people who are still looking for answers related to the purpose of living in this materialistic world and actually finding it difficult to attain spiritual enlightenment. The main aim and purpose of the book is to inculcate the dimension of ‘conscious manifestation’ among human beings as it is the ultimate satisfaction in human life to be self- conscious and to realize the ‘inner self’ more deeply. It focuses upon crucial task of human transformation in a spiritualistic direction, lessening or completely removing suffering from peoples’ lives. The author tried to work upon the ‘self-identification’ and ‘inner peace’ by giving examples in detail with respect to inner body awareness, sense of internal freedom and relinquish mental as well as emotional resistance to the ‘suchness’ of the present moments and current situations. He also gave examples, which could have life-changing effects on people and take them to another level of self-realization.

According to author, there are two kinds of dimensions in our lives, first being called as ‘horizontal dimension’ in which we perceive that if we get what we want, we will be happy. But that’s not true and actually a misconception. Second dimension which he refers to as vertical dimension, is to be aware about us, that is, dimension of being to be aware of manifestation easily. There should be a balance and stability between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ dimensions in our life. Apart from these, there should be appropriate inculcation of skills and practices to realize our conscious self. There should be continuous source for creation of inner self and consciousness for a happy living.

The book’s main point of criticism is that the readers who put head instead of their heart into reading, the stream of instinctive and ceaseless thinking will inexorably fail to see the power of now. For readers to look into their souls deeply, they should leave their head behind and must immerse their complete heart for spiritual enlightenment. The author being a spiritual teacher lays emphasis on the fact that our mind is making noise and hence it is a reason why we don’t understand ourselves. It acts like a catalyst for radical inner transformation. The author explains at two different levels. At the first level, he insists that what is false in us should not be allowed to disseminate in ourselves and should not lead to any kind of illusion or pain. Secondly, he talks about profound and reflective transformation of human consciousness and how to set free from the mind so as to enter happy state to enjoy life.

Repetitive usage of words like ‘being’, ‘presence’, ‘mind’, ‘happiness’ and ‘consciousness’ are used in different parts of the book and are looked upon differently by the author. They remind us of what we have actually forgotten and pave new ways of thinking deeply. Eckhart Tolle also used quotes from ancient religious teachings of Jesus and Buddha that there is no need to go outside for search of truth, it already exists in you. Truth is internal and should not be searched for externally. One timeless spiritual teaching is essence of all the religions and practices; there is no particular theory or speculation in this regard. The text is intermingled with short analysis of quotations and excerpts from various different religious traditions.

Author carries forward his views related to thinking, creating no more pain at present so as to achieve enlightenment. He opines that ego is a negative emotion and it should be treated well before it leads to destruction of mind, body and soul. A statement that the author makes which is indeed very philosophical is worth quoting: ‘The secret of life is to die before you die and to find out there is no death’. To understand the power of present, one should end the delusion of time from mind so as to think deeply at present. Negatives and agonies have their roots in time. Further, Tolle claimed that ‘The Now’ is central to the teachings of Sufism as it’s supported by a famous Sufi saying ‘the Sufi is the son of the time present’. The joy of doing a work is more important than what kind of work we are doing. ‘How’ is always more important than ‘What’. The author very well tried to connect with the readers at large, to convey the message with respect to conscious and unconscious mind, ignoring people for their faults, the role of silence in our lives. He added that women are generally closer to enlightenment. They can transfer suffering into peace and illness into enlightenment more easily and smoothly as compared to men. ‘Beauty arises in the stillness of the presence’ is the main motto of the author so as to spread the message worldwide and understand the true meaning of the power of now.

Tolle’s naive and flawless writing, empathetic voice and zeal makes it an extensive manual and study material for all those who really want to know the meaning of ‘Living in Now’. A lot of information and basic stimulating ideas are linked to each other in such an effective way that one can easily connect, understand and realize the importance of concepts like creative use of mind, enlightened relationships, impermanence and the cycle of life. He has used symbols for the readers like ‘ƒ’ as a symbol to pause and think deeply. It makes readers to practice the spirituality within themselves on their own. It is much more like a mental exercise for the readers. ‘Egoism’ can be dreadful and how it destroys our present life is a clear message.

As every coin has two faces, so this book also has its pros and cons. Apart from all the positive vibes this book portrays and reflects, there are some negative aspects also. Author talked about the origin of this book as highly unpredictable. But, certain sentences are very confusing and negative in their own ways like ‘I cannot live with myself any longer’. In the introductory chapter also, the misuse of the term ‘God’ has given rise to so many absurd beliefs, assumptions and egoistic delusions for which author made few statements like ‘Me or our God is the only true God and your God is false’, and supported it with Nietzsche’s statement ‘God is dead’. He explained that the word ‘God’ has become a closed concept now. Such statements are highly critical and are not in consonance with views and beliefs of all readers.

Notwithstanding my minor concerns, this is a very useful book that will serve to people in realizing their inner self and to work on themselves in the present context rather than thinking and relating their past incidents and experiences with the present. This kind of book lends itself to regular and frequent changes with respect to self -realization and to be a spiritual being. As the world is dynamic, this book keeps a track on its readers so that they stop in their running life, wait a while and reflect upon them as ‘What is the Power of Now’ and what are they actually missing in their lives.

The author is a research scholar in Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar and an intern at Academics4nation.



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