I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” but I’m not getting why he thinks Now is such a big deal. What am I missing?
Now or Never
Let’s start by letting you know that you are in good company. When the book was first released I had many people contact me, asking if my sessions could help make sense of that book. There is great value in it, but of the many books on the same subject, it is one of the more difficult ones for many people.
What you are missing is The Power of Now, in a fairly literal sense. This may prove helpful. Sometimes things are easier to see from farther away.
You’re likely thinking of Now as a time, but in fact it’s the only time. As remarkable as it may seem, the book points out that the concept of linear time is an invention —an illusion— and our belief in it is what keeps the door to Now shut.
So rather than it being a time, think of Now more as ‘silence-as-a-verb.’ It’s about not-thinking.
Thinking is what creates our sense of separateness and it’s also what places us in time. Without it we are like children —we are fully awake and alive in the moment we are in. That is why children learn so phenomenally fast.
I’ve said it many times; most of us learned at least one language by the time we were two years old, including a large vocabulary and the ability to do algebra in real time because if we couldn’t do that then we couldn’t assemble those words into coherent ideas using grammar.
Consider that we all did all of that learning without anyone really attempting to even teach 99% of it, and we were also functioning without any sense of trying to grow or learn. We were just being. Being is where the wisdom’s at.
Now is a very specific place/mindset/time. It is ultimately when 100% of our lives take place. But by using super-subtle narratives of thought and pre-loaded beliefs, we can create scenarios in our consciousness in which we are lonely, or offended, or hurt. We can also tell ourselves positive stories and feel happy or satisfied or warm, but that still requires having a Being to experience the happiness or satisfaction or warmth.
Even better is to have no Being at all. To not be anyone. To be free and clear. To be transparent. To be alive, but not be a life. To have no story. To simply be. This is awareness itself. That is what it is to live in the Now.
Eckhart’s not kidding —it’s a pretty amazing place to live. The most important thing I can say is that you cannot try to achieve Now. It’s not something achievable in the classic sense. Instead, it must be realized.
We don’t find it by seeking it, or learning about it, or meditating on it. We realize it by being it, which is why in my own work I focus on psychological experiences rather than ‘teaching.’
The idea is not to learn about Now, but to become One with Now. Like a child, we must learn again to function without time. Without definition. We are verbs. In being so, we surrender the story of our personal identity in favour of diving into the Present Moment.
Now is an important idea. It is important to study our assumptions and re-consider our beliefs. And we need to actually practice going quiet. Completely quiet. Because a profound silence deep within ourselves is the only access point to Now.
We can open that door, but the key is to quiet your chattering story-telling ego. Without a string of words describing the past or future, we are left in the gap before our mind assigns reality any qualities. This is a place of grace, and the journey we take to find it is well worth it.
If the book felt difficult, that was largely only because we have been so strongly taught to see the world in a linear, described fashion. But Now is a natural place that we relax into discovering. We want to return to the state of mind we had as children, before we all knew language, before we could use it to fabricate a past and present with words.
Our limitations are created by our word-based thoughts. Cease them, and we are all left together, basking in The Power of Now.
Good luck with your reading.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.