Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1999) proposes neither a grand scheme for success nor ethereal concepts for “achieving transcendence.”
Hidden in the New Agey-spin (“The power and infinite creative potential that lie concealed in the now are completely obscured by psychological time”) is a nuanced assertion about silencing the mind’s chatter.
Tolle suggests that you shouldn’t try to be in the present so much as to realize that you always, inescapably, are. Nearly all stress and anxiety come from mental projections about the past or the future. This has been the cornerstone of Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and other traditions for over two millennia. Instead of suppressing thoughts of regret about the past or anxiety about the future in a strenuous, counterproductive endeavor to “be present,” you’re to see them for what they are.
By putting your mind into perspective and gently observing—without judgment—what it says and thinks, you’re merely a witness to the rolling tides of reflection and emotion. You are not your thoughts. The moments you spend spinning stories of hope and anxiety, delight and regret, are being centered in the present—you’re doing so now. Nothing ever happens except now, when you’re supposed to be filled with an awareness of being alive.
The present moment is problem free. Troubles need to exist in their own space and time. Consequently, by being in the present, you give less life to them. You’re free from regret and apprehensions when you act from a sense of deep being instead of restlessly seeking to become something.
To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly.
Idea for Impact: Life is sacred; being alive is sacred. Relishing that you’re alive, experiencing the sacredness of aliveness, and just being—these are the most integral facets of Tolle’s vision of enlightenment, the “natural state of felt oneness with Being” and feeling “more together.”