Not all reviewer gave a favorable review to this book. Some might said that its pseudoscience or spooky, but few people can argue that the book doesn’t have strong influence and had touched millions of readers. The simple reason for this is ‘it makes sense’. In the book, Eckhart Tolle explains the distinction between oneself (consciousness) and the mind. The separate existence of these two elements is the reason why we always heard a dialogue in our head, this according to Tolle was the mind in action.
But the mind is constantly thinking, its often repetitive in nature, unnecessary, dysfunctional and destructive. It was due to this, he argues that if we fail to make a distinction between our consciousness and our mind, our energy could easily be drained out by this useless exercise. By drawing the distinction, a human can use their mind as a tool, use it when necessary, and lay it down once it does not need them, which will put them at a state of stillness and peace.
The mind always perceived something from past perspective and projected what we currently doing to achieve something in future. This attachment of the mind with past and future make us less aware of what we currently do, what Tolle called ‘the Now’. Past is just a memory of the mind, while future is the imagination of the mind, while we were clouded in this time-bound, we lost the sense of the present – the Now – which is the reality. We fail to appreciate the beauty around us, we can’t feel the joy of present, we are constantly at pain. Our focus should always be the present moment, the Now – which is the reality in which we actually live in, not the past or future.
Tolle pointed out that we often become conscious in life-threatening situation. This is when we focused on the current state of affair or as Tolle puts it ‘in the Now’. In this kind of situation, we no longer focused on our daily problems, we no longer use our mind to exercise on past memories. This is why most people will venture into dangerous activities such as skydiving or bungee jumping, the thrill gave them focus which in turns make them feels alive. If they slip from their focused, they will likely to be dead. Realizing that we need this focus will help us in living a more lively life, we don’t need to exercise these dangerous activities, we need to understand how we operate and used it to find our focus.
At the moment of stillness, a moment many Zen masters called satori is a moment where we’re not thinking, this is a state of no-mind. In this state, we become aware of the beauty surrounding ourself. We become conscious of the sound of the wind, we appreciate the heat that comes with sunlight, we become happier and livelier. To really live is to find the stillness.
In the book, he also discussed greatly on pain and suffering. On how we tried to cover our pain with addiction to drugs, cigarettes, drinking – only for the pain to resurface again, more intensely. When there is no way out, as he puts it ‘there’s always a way through’. By accepting what is, what has happened and fully conscious by not creating any pain. Tolle explains that pain and suffering are normal in life, everything goes up and down in their natural cycle. Trees die to make room for new seeds to grow. So do we, we need to accept our failure, to be at our lowest point so that we cant get any lower and the only way is up. By accepting and not resisting, we allow ourself to learn and re-grow.
I personally like the analogy he gave, that we are a deep lake. Our true self (being as he called it) is the water in the deep, our life situation is the surface of the lake. When we realize this, they may be a wind and a wave in the surface, but the water underneath remains still, calm and at peace. The analogy reminds me of ‘Tuesday with Morrie’ where Morrie said that we are not individual wave, but part of the ocean. When we realize this, no matter what comes, whatever life situation we are in, we will forever be at peace.
The book will definitely give you a new sense of modern spirituality.
This article is a review of “The power of Now: A guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle. Published by Hodder, 2011.
Author of several books including Berfikir Tentang Pemikiran (2018), Lalang di lautan Ideologi (2022) and Dua Sayap Ilmu (2023). Fathi write from his home at Sungai Petani, Kedah. He like to read, write and sleep.