“The Power of Now” is a spiritual self-help guide to help us discover our true Being, release our pain and find deep inner peace. When we are intensely present in the Now, we respond from deep consciousness and flow with ease and joy in life. In so doing, we can better fulfill our outer purpose (to achieve goals and seek to create a better world), while fulfilling our inner purpose and truly changing the world at cause. In this summary, we’ll outline various insights and tips about mindfulness, spiritual enlightenment and how to unlock the power of now.
Tolle started the book by sharing the circumstances and experience leading to his “enlightenment”. Like many others, he had suffered from anxiety and even suicidal depression for many years. Then, when he was 29 years old, he had a personal epiphany which brought him “a state of the most intense joy”, and changed the course of his life since.
Tolle only fully understood his transformation years later, and this book acts as a spiritual self-help guide to capture what he has discovered through his experience and years of spiritual study. The book is organized in a Q&A format, addressing common questions about spiritual enlightenment. We have organized some of the key ideas and exercises in our summary into 5 main segments. Here’s an overview of some key highlights (do get more details from our full book summary).
You are not your mind
One key idea in the book is this – at the core, we are pure consciousness, beings of love, joy and peace. Yet, most of us are struggling and in pain because we have unknowingly “identified with our mind” and a false sense of self. Enlightenment simply means regaining awareness of our true Being and being deeply connected with Being.
OUR EGOIC MIND
The mind is a powerful tool, when used properly. The problem is, most of us don’t consciously use our mind; instead, we are controlled by our minds, with incessant mental noise and a false sense of identify (we elaborate more on this in our full summary).
Let’s pause for a quick exercise: Take a minute to ask yourself this question: “Who am I and what do I stand for?”. Do your answers involve your possessions, job title, social status, education, abilities, relationships, beliefs, religion and even family history? Do you realize that most of these things you identify with are merely collective identifications in your mind derived from external sources? They are not you, and they will not follow you beyond your death. Tolle refers to this as our “ego” or our derived sense of self.
ENLIGHTENMENT: RISING ABOVE THOUGHT
Because the ego is not your true self, it can only exist by drawing on external sources. It feeds on the past (who you think you are, based on past experiences, memories etc.) and the future (who you think you want to be, based on beliefs and perceptions drawn from external influences). So long as you identify with your mind (and the ego-self that it presents), it will remain your biggest obstacle to enlightenment.
Enlightenment means “rising above thought”. In your enlightened state, you’ll still use your mind. The difference is, you can lay it aside and quieten your mind when you choose to, i.e. you use your mind, but are not enslaved to it.
THE DELUSION OF TIME AND THE POWER OF NOW
Like your ego, “time” is a concept created by the human mind, to help us function in the practical world. “Clock time” is useful for tasks like scheduling appointments and running a meeting, as well as to learn from the past and set goals for the future. However, “time” is really an illusion. The time at this moment is simply “now”–everything that has ever happened or been created happened in the Now. It is the only moment that we ever truly possess.
Yet, most of us are trapped in the illusion of time. We spend the bulk of our energy reminiscing the past, or hoping for a better future. In the process, we are absent in the “Now”–the only real moment that we have. Worse still, we create pain in the present when we unconsciously resist what is, either through judgement and/ or negativity.
Accessing the Power of Now
FREE YOURSELF FROM THE MIND
To free yourself of your mind, you need to learn to observe it impartially. Constantly ask yourself “what is going on inside me at this moment?” and “am I at ease at this moment?”
• Watch the thinker. Become aware of the voice in your head and realize that you are not your mind; you’re merely an observer of your mind.
• Watch your emotions. Your emotions are a reflection of what’s on your mind. Since we can’t observe every single thought, we can use emotions as a tool to bring awareness to our thoughts, including the sub-conscious ones.
• Dissolve the pain-body. Our past experiences (including our experiences as a child or even past lives) can leave behind residues of pain, like an accumulated “negative energy field”. This “pain-body” carries all the stories, baggage and external identities that our egoic mind creates.
If you realize that you are not feeling good about something, either
1. Stop doing what you are doing;
2. Speak to the person concerned; or
3. Decide to drop the negativity that your mind has created around the situation, like how you would a hot coal.
FOCUS ON THE NOW
Focusing on the Now involves several components (please refer to the book or our full summary for more details):
• Stop “Creating Time”. Learn to withdraw attention from the past and future when it’s not needed. Do not dwell on your goals or depend on them for fulfillment, happiness or even self-identity.
• Instead, focus on the Now. Accept your present situation as if you had chosen it. Then, take action from there.
• Be Present and Act with “Present-Moment Awareness”. Learn to direct your focus fully into the present moment, such that you are alert, aware but not thinking.
SURRENDER AND FOCUS ON SPACE & SILENCE
If you are genuinely unable to change your present situation, and you can’t even remove yourself from the situation, then “surrender” to it by accepting what is. “Surrender” does not mean weakness, giving up or being fatalistic. It simply means that you drop all inner resistance to what is.
Being is something that cannot be explained with words, nor understood by the mind. It is like how you cannot explain water to a fish – it can only be felt or experienced. Space and silence are similar in that, they are essentially no-thing. Yet, there can be no sound without silence, and there can be no form without space. When you become aware of silence, space and “nothingness” in your external world, you’d have achieved stillness within, and experienced a shift in consciousness inside you.
THE INNER BODY AND SELF-HEALING
Awareness of and Connectedness with the Inner Body
As you develop a deep awareness and connection with your Inner Body or your Being, you will realize that you are not isolated in your physical form, but are one with the rest of the Universe.
Use the exercises provided in the book (and our summary) to connect with your Inner Body. When you feel and know that your inner and outer bodies are as one, you’d have effectively transcended your body and connected with the Source.
Although your outer, physical body will age and fade with time, your inner body doesn’t change. The more you “inhabit” your body, or bring consciousness into the body, the more your entire body seems to come alive. When you’re present and connected with the timeless Inner Body, you raise your vibrational frequency, improve your natural self-healing capability, slow down the ageing process, and strengthen your immune system.
Get more details here about self-healing meditation, removing time from illnesses and forgiveness.
So far, we’ve discussed various ways for you to de-identify with your mind and connect with your inner Body, including intense presence in the Now, stillness, cessation of thinking, contemplation of space and time, surrendering etc. These are all “portals” into the UnManifested, Source or God (whichever term works for you). When the portal is open, love comes through into this world. As you go deeper into your Being and become permanently connected, you become a bridge between the Source and the external world. This is enlightenment.
Other Details in “The Power of Now
The ideas in the book may seem simple at first glance, but there are many nuances and insights that can only be gleaned by experiencing the spiritual truths behind the words. Tolle presents them using various angles and perspectives in the Q&A format. Although Tolle isn’t identified with any specific religion, he has been influenced by a wide range of spiritual works, and he makes many references to God, Christ, Jesus and Buddha in this book, using these terms interchangeably with words like “presence”, Source, and the Unmanifested.
If you resonate with the ideas in the book, we strongly recommend that you read the entire book to personally feel and experience Tolle’s message.
Start your journey to spiritual enlightenment with these powerful resources!