|Genre:||Non-Fiction / Spiritual / Self-Help|
|Release Date:||December 2021|
I read the Dutch version of this book called “De kracht van het nu”, but the English title, as my review suggests is “The Power of Now”. Eckhart Tolle has been known for this book for a long time and he’s seen as a modern day spiritual leader, with millions having read his works, with the most notable one being this book I’m reviewing today.
You are not your mind
The limited edition that we got has the text “You are not your mind” imprinted on it in large gold letters. For some reason my nerd mind immediately connected this to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which says “Don’t Panic” in large friendly letters on the back. Anyways, I digress. This entire book is all about living in the here and now, because according to Eckhart Tolle, that is all we have. The past doesn’t matter, the future is in constant motion and we only have the here and now. He believes that the only way to become enlightened is to not let our thoughts distract us and be in a constant state of awareness right here and now. Of course, this is made extremely difficult in this day and age, because we are distracted easily and before we know it, our thoughts dwell on all kinds of things, meaning our ego has taken over. But we are not the ego, this is the thinking brain and the thinking brain is not who we truly are. Deep under all of that, we are something else, free of all worldly constructs and if you train enough, you can live in the Now. It does sound promising, I have to admit and the premise of this entire book is pretty good, because it is a good thing to not dwell on the past and be busy with a future we want to live in when we are tethered to the present.
Mindfulness and meditation teaches you the basics
I’m already a very mindful person and meditate daily, so for me being present and letting go of thoughts is something I’m already fairly trained in. I won’t say that I’m an expert or anything, but I have found that I don’t dwell on thoughts very long and that I am present a fair amount of time during the day. The big difference between that practice and the theory in this book is that being present is seen as something divine and that this is the only way we can experience God in our existence. And this is where I started having doubts about whether this book was really for me.
Eckhart Tolle mentions a lot of different faiths in this book and although he mentions that he doesn’t mean God in the traditional “Guy-with-a-big-white-beard” type of way, he keeps mentioning God over and over again. To be fair, I think it would’ve been best if he had just let go of this convention and given it a different name, such as the Logos, which the Greek philosophers of old used to describe the Divine. Also the amount of times Jesus is being mentioned in the book got a bit tiresome. If living the Now is our way to salvation and to become enlightened, shouldn’t you let go of all religious context? Even what I mentioned before?
You can’t “understand” the Now
The main thing that I took from the theory in this book is that you can’t try to think about the Now. You have to experience it and can’t put it into words, because it is indescribable. And even just thinking about it when you experience it will pull you away from it. In other words, we need to find a way to stop our inner monologue/dialogue from rambling on and just be present. This can be reached in many ways, meditation being a very obvious choice, but you can also experience it when you’re doing something without thinking. This is usually referred to as “flow”, at least, that’s how I like to call it.
All in all, I think the message of the book to not bother with our past and future is a good one and I fully agree that dwelling on thoughts is usually a more harmful thing than a good thing. At the same time, it is extremely hard to describe who we are as a Human being. Are we not our thoughts? Are we something that is under that layer of ego? I can’t say that I disagree fully, we are more than just our thoughts, but our thoughts, experiences and environment are generally what shapes us as a person. I do believe in letting go of “wanting” things and the pursuit of happiness is definitely not defined by acquiring more and more stuff, because that is one way to not become happy. True happiness does come from within, despite everything that’s going on in our lives, it comes from a place where we can be content with just being. Even if we face hardship and loss of a loved one, it is within our capability to still feel content, not happy. The way in which Eckhart Tolle has written this book, as if he has found the only correct way to live, it just seemed a bit too forced. I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach an enlightened state of being, even though I spend quite a bit of time in the Now, but I’m not sure if the way Eckhart Tolle describes it is the best way. I suppose I’m too much of a Skeptic and Stoic to be able to fully agree with him on all of this.
Summarizing, this book was definitely an interesting read and one that makes you think, despite its message that you shouldn’t think at all, if you want to experience the Now. It is full of a lot of good advice and it can definitely be used as a guide into becoming more mindful, possibly even enlightened, but I think one of the best ways to train your mind to shut up is to practice meditation. Only the theory from this book won’t be enough for you to reach living in the Now and becoming an enlightened Human being. But it is a good point to start, just don’t let all of the religious talk get in the way of understanding the message of the book.
Writing style: 🌟🌟🌟
Paper Smell: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Jeffrey, I enjoyed your discussion of the premise of the book: “This entire book is all about living the here and now, because according to Eckhart Tolle, that is all we have. The past doesn’t matter, the future is in constant motion and we only have the here and now.” Putting his religion aside, all you had to say was very worthwhile. May you & Bren be well & in the “Now”!!! Phil
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