The Power of Now, some said it is a hard book to read, some said that this book is a waste of time, some said that it’s their lifesaver. It is entirely up to you to experience and interpret it…
WARNING: The Introduction and Chapter 1 can be rather boring but essential as it sets a good foundation for the subsequent chapters. Personally, I only start having notes from page 24 onwards.
Like the karate kid movie, in the beginning, chapter 1 is where you are required to go through the mundane, boring, and repetitive tasks (paint the fence, hang the jacket, etc) to build your fundamentals.
Skip to Chapter…
The Greatest Obstacle to Enlightenment
Your assumption (ego) or the “lens” you used to see the world could very well be your biggest obstacle.
There could be pain but it would be pointless to suffer that pain, especially an emotional one. Because suffering is an unproductive state that will trap you into oblivion.
Freeing Yourself From Your Mind
You are NOT your Mind
You are NOT your Emotions
You are NOT your Past
You are NOT your Future
You are NOT your Ego (Identity)
You are NOT What You Think
You are NOT What You Feel
You Are WHAT You Do Now
Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought
Your mind is basically your thinking tool, and you are the user – the Now that decides.
You can even refer to you as your soul or a third party observing yourself, your thoughts, your actions, your reactions, etc for an easier understanding.
Mind, Body & Soul? You Are The Soul, The 21g…
You are not the heart, so don’t listen to people telling you to listen to your heart. Your heart is just a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body, making it part of the Body.
Do you know that when you see something that you like and your heart skips a beat, it’s at the command of the mind? It’s all in the mind.
And the best proof that you are not your heart or in your heart: Ask a heart transplant patient or a person with an artificial heart: “Did you get changed away?”
Emotion: The Body’s Reaction To Your Mind
Pleasure and Pain go hand in hand… Whatever that can give You Pleasure Is Capable of Inflicting Pain – Pleasure can bring you true joy but it comes with the seed of pain.
Examples: Getting married (pleasure) and divorce (pain). Having a child (pleasure) and losing the child (pain). Lived a great life and death becomes a great pain and loss for everyone who felt your love. Basically, whatever gives you an Emotional High can become an Emotional Low eventually.
A recommended movie to illustrate this would be Disney’s Inside Out, with everyone’s emotions having a character and how they interact with each other and how they affect us, the human.
Joy, on the other hand, is way better than pleasure as it has no opposite and thus it will never bring you any pain. Joy comes from within, while pleasure comes from external stimulants.
As illustrated in the movie perfectly, emotions are part of your mind, they can change your mood and behaviors with their influence. But they are not You.
“The Buddha says that pain or suffering arises through desire or craving and that to be free of pain we need to cut the bonds of desire.” – Eckhart Tolle
Desire will always be with us endlessly and limitlessly – We will always want something. Our mind’s main activity is Thinking (Creating Thoughts) – What we want to achieve in life? What do we do now? What do we want to do next?
Life is full of choices, when we choose, we desire one over the others. Make use of your emotions. Enjoy the empowering emotions while it lasts and learn to let go when it becomes disempowering, or even worse, crippling.
“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” – Bruce Lee
Create No More Pain In The Present
Understand that Pain is an emotion and thus mostly self-created. Leave the Pain behind. If we can reframe Pain, we would be able to find a way out of it.
An emotion, which in essence is thought, can affect how we react or respond. Even when the situation is unacceptable, unfair, unpleasant, extremely annoying, we can always choose our reaction to it.
Work on your reactions like you are showering love on your dearest whom you would never give up. Chances are, the outcome would be surprisingly positive.
Relationship Tips: See your wife as that sweet young lady you would want to marry or see your kid as the baby that you would give the best and only the best of you.
Past Pain: Dissolving The Pain Body
Just like in dramas and movies, where the characters are grieving over the death of their loved ones, and ultimately made peace with themselves thinking that they are in a better place. Don’t let Pain consume You.
In this chapter, the book mentioned that the secret to life is to “Die before you Die” and find that there is no death.
Death strips away all that is not you and those that are not critically important.
Don’t seek yourself in your mind
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” – Albert Einstein
End The Delusion of Time
Your past has given you an identity, yet it doesn’t determine your future. Your future is just a possibility that can be changed anytime. You are your now – the only thing that is real and truly matters.
The Key to The Spiritual Dimension
Living in the now frees you from the shadows of your past and the uncertainties of the future – where you can feel truly alive. Things only happen in the Now.
“What, at this moment, is lacking?”
“If Not Now, When?”
Accessing The Power Of Now
You are Now. Don’t judge or analyze what you observe. Watch your thoughts, feel your emotions, and observe your reactions like a third party. And understand all that is not you but your mind (ego).
See how your minds work to influence or manipulate your actions and reactions. And know that ultimately you can choose, command, object, and justify to your mind.
Letting Go Of Psychological Time
Being the Now, your focus should always be in the now. Live in the moment, and learn from your past mistakes but don’t dwell in the past (a minute ago already belong to the past).
For “You” (The You’s You), always focus on Now to free yourself from psychological time. Not the past, not the future, The Time is always Now, in the moment.
Your Time is Now and Only Now belongs to You, thus You Are The Power of Now.
The Insanity of Psychological Time
“Don’t lock your Present to your future. Unlock your Present to Create Your Future” – Max
Believing in a heaven future can also put us into a hell present as we always believe that one day it will be better. The dark side of the power of a belief is that it may become an obsession or a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if you are giving yourself hell now.
We always asked: “What is the purpose of our life?” But at that moment, we are no longer in the now. We are focusing on a future – a destination when we have not even figure out where we are right now is not going to help us much.
In another words, to get from point A to point B, you have to know where point A is and how to navigate point A. Only then would you have the possibility to reach point B.
Thus don’t trust the future, work with your present. At times, we are not even sure of what we want (Point B). And the mind is too over-protective, you will need to prove to it that you can handle come what may.
Negativity And Suffering Have Their Roots In Time
Likewise, when you are trapped in the past, you are not in the present and then your mind takes over and does what it must to survive.
Don’t think of the future or past too much, you will lose your Now. “You” ought to be timeless. thus you can only be truly free in the Present.
If you believe in the incarnations, ever wonder why you don’t remember your past life? I believe because your memories belong to the mind (body).
Finding The Life Underneath Your Life Situation
“All is Well” somehow always reminded me of one of the best Bollywood movie, 3 Idiots, where the main protagonist, Rancho says: “That day I understood that this heart scares easily. You have to trick it, however big the problem is. Tell your heart, ‘Pal, all is well. All is well”
Practically, remember our heart is just a blood-pumping muscle that can be transplanted. Thus it is actually our mind that we need to convince.
All Problems Are Illusions Of The Mind
Focus on living in the now as it is where your circle of influence is. Similar to Gaur Gopal Prabhu’s concept, the Why Worry framework. Do what you can at that point in time and leave the rest to destiny?
“This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is, and always will be, my greatest creation… is You.” – Howard Stark to Tony Stark in Marvel Movie
We may be overwhelmed with our life situation and lose that sense of life. We have to focus on the now, on what we can do, even if it is just one step ahead, that we can see. Do it.
“When life is unbearably hard, the easiest way out is to run.” – It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Korean Drama
Then again, where can we run to? Running away doesn’t solve the problems. It could bring even more problems. The pain may subside for a while, but it will always haunt you: “If only…”, “What if…”, “I should have…”, are the topmost common regrets a human has.
Sometimes, we valued our “junk” too much – So much so that it stripes away our power and traps us in it.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” – Little Prince
The Joy Of Being
When something bad happens, you get lost or stuck somewhere, anywhere but in the now. Your mind takes over and does what it takes to survive even when you are still lost. It is only in the Now that you can be awakened and pull yourself together.
Heard of high functioning depressions? Where one could be working outstandingly well but is actually depressed and at times we only knew it too late…
We have witnessed more celebrity suicides – People who we wish to have their life, their wealth, skills, glamour, or fame. They seem to had it all, and yet they are depressed and choose to end their lives…
Would they have continued living, if they had lived a normal working life? Was the fall from an emotional high such as worldwide success and never to taste it again, that even above mediocracy becomes a pain to live with?
“In the World of Form, of Gain and Loss, Birth and Death. You don’t Demand that Situations, Conditions, Places or People should make you happy, and then Suffer when they don’t live up to your expectations” – Eckhart Tolle
If there is an absolute must-learn concept in this chapter, it would be Non-Attachment. Success or Failure should not have the power to change your inner state of Being – You Are WHAT You Do Now.
And Things Only Happen in the Now
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu
In this case, your mind could be your enemy. But remember Sun Tzu also said that “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”. Your mind can also be your greatest ally. Align it.
Your Mind is Your Worst Enemy and Greatest Ally at the Same time.
Loss of Now: The Core Delusion
When we are not bound by time, we are psychologically free of our past identity and future fulfillment. we can get back to the now, the moment when we are aware that we have not been present.
Don’t dwell in your past anymore especially if it holds you back. And don’t look forward to the ever-changing future, for your action now determines where you will be in the future. Thus Focus and harness the Power of Now.
If you are thinking of your past experience, you are not present in the Now. If you are thinking of your future, whatever it might be or might not be, you are not in the Now…
You are not your past, because it can have totally nothing to do with your future. You are not your future as what you do now can totally change it. Thus…
Ordinary Unconsciousness and Deep Unconsciousness
The Best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with challenges, especially the unexpected ones. Have you become an insensitive person that just accepts norms? Or do you constantly question and improve yourself?
Humans are creatures of Habits, we often get uncomfortable when faced with problems and would try to solve it quickly or procrastinate and get back to our comfort zone.
Once again, be a third party of yourself and observe how your mind Push or Pull “You” into actions or in-actions based on your past and future anchors.
Darkness Cannot Survive in the Presence of Light but also understand that Darkness is ever-present. Be Bright & Shine Bright.
Understand the “Pull & Push” Power of The Mind on Your Past and Future to have better awareness and to react faster in getting back to Now.
What Are They Seeking?
The root of Suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving – Buddha
Humans have always been in conflict or war. When we want something, most likely we will have to sacrifice something or to do something that is contradicting… Movie examples: Transformers, Planet of The Apes, John Wick 3 Parabellum (meaning “If You Want Peace, Prepare For War”, etc.
Dissolving Ordinary Unconsciousness
When you feel or think negatively, ask & observe yourself. Constantly remind yourself of yourself, check your mental and emotional state with questions like “What is Happening to Me Now?”
Prepare your Reactions (Inner game) before
they are being Triggered Externally…
Changes Start Within, All creations happen twice, the first one being mental (your idea, dream, plan, etc) and the second one being the reality where others can observe.
Freedom From Unhappiness
“You don’t need a reason to be happy”
You are just a thought away from happiness. Just like a hard-working father that has to “slave” himself at work, the thought of his newborn child would have made his “slave” life more bearable and quite possibly worth it.
At times, it is not a matter of worth but the willingness to do something for someone (including yourself).
When face with negativity, I always remind myself of Gaur Gopal Prabhu’s teaching: Why Worry?
At times, emotions can be useless in taking action to get things done – Regardless you are happy or sad, you have gotta do it anyway. So why not just enjoy yourself while you are working on it? No point getting an extra burden on the way.
Understand that you always have a choice, even though you may not enjoy the consequences. Where there is life, there’s always hope for a better future. But the better future can only come to fruition if you are totally focusing on your Power of Now.
Wherever You Are, Be There Totally
When faced with difficulties, it becomes easy to victimize yourself and that removes your power to change everything.
It might be better to just remove yourself from the situation, but more importantly, choose not to be affected by it emotionally. Just be there for the choice you made.
Life goes on, whichever path you choose.
Understand that you need to take responsibility to start to change things for the better, then as you grow stronger, you can change more things. But take action, you must…
Adapt Whatever That Is Useful & Drop Whatever That Is Useless
Now is not bound by time, thus Now is not a Point in Time but Everything in between your life and death… And Now is where your absolute focus shall be.
If you want to make people around you happy, you have to find your own happiness first. Being selfish isn’t always a bad thing. Try to only think about your happiness when things are too stressful. It’s okay to do that. – It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Korean Drama
When Faced With…
When faced with a mistake, correct it, learn from it, and never repeat it. Just aim to be a better version of you than yesterday as the saying goes: “history repeats itself for those who do not learn from it.”
When faced with fear, challenge your fear. Remember our FEAR acronym: Face Emotional Assumption Realistically. Find the courage that coexists with your fear – Turn your “should” into your “must”. Transform what holds you back into your Power of Now to act on it.
When faced with stress. Understand that you are focusing on a future which you are not there yet – which does not help your current situation. Have gratitude for what you have now, focusing on now, to make the immediate coming moment (the very next second) better.
When faced with doubts, accept what is within your circle of influence and what is beyond your current capability. Just work with what you can, free yourself from the burden of what you cannot at that point – “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Design Your Problem Response Manual In the Good Times…
When faced with “What if”s or “I could have”s, know that there could be an unlimited supply of it (as long as you are creative), but there’s only one “Now”. Thus focus on it, all else doesn’t matter.
When faced with money issues, understand that money is only a force multiplier, a scaling factor, that’s all. For the abundance or lack of it, it will reveal more of your character.
For someone who is greedy, he will never be satisfied. After earning a million, he will think of the next million. If he is poor, he might even turn to illegal means to get money.
For someone who is insecure. The more money he made, he may end up worrying about getting robbed, kidnapped, children fighting for inheritance, etc. If he is poor, he will always worry about how to make ends meet.
When faced with loneliness or procrastination, learn to enjoy yourself by yourself. Don’t bother to wait for anyone or anything. If they are bound to come, they’ll come. But you need to prepare now to be ready for any opportunities or obstacles when they arrive.
Heard of “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”? So are you ready to take action now?
Focus on Now – For the future will come, with or without your permission. However, the good thing is that the future that comes is created by your Power of Now. – Max Yeo
The Inner Purpose Of Your Life’s Journey
In this section, the book talks about your life’s outer purpose and inner purpose.
The outer purpose focus on the What & Where, which is your reality – all things external, your tangibles, your relationships, your achievements that others can see. All outer purposes will fail as they are subject to the law of impermanence – “Nothing lasts forever”.
Do you have more Inner Peace or Inner Conflict?
Inner purpose focus on the Now’s How – your feelings, your inner game, your immediate action, etc. “How you feel Now?”, “What are you doing now?”, or “What are you going to do now?”
Understand that fulfillment comes from within and living in the Now. You could achieve a lot of outer purposes in your life and yet feel unhappy or empty inside. Eckhart quoted Jesus for this: “Gain the World and Lose Your Soul.”
The Past Cannot Survive In Your Presence
Deal with the Past on the level of Your Present – Learn from your past but do not live in it. Remove your current emotions if you must when referring to your past’s behaviors, reactions, moods, thoughts, desires, fears, etc, so that you won’t be trapped there.
Observe your past like a best friend to yourself, and advise yourself accordingly.
The common truth that it is always easier to advise others than oneself. Simply because you won’t meet their mind’s or ego’s resistance and objections, but you’ll definitely meet your mind when advising yourself.
Remember: Where You Focus is Where Your Attention Grows
Always think of how you can make use of your past to help your present. Avoid thinking of the why in your past (“Why you did this? Why you made this decision?” etc). For the “Why”s in your past might just trap you there making you lose your Power of Now.
Be the Optimist to interpret or frame all your experience into useful lessons, and be the Opportunist when the chance to breakthrough arrives.
Have you ever been in “deep thoughts” that you lose track of your reality? Like when someone needs to call out your name to bring “You” back? Beware that when thoughts rush in, it is when your mind starts to work on your past, future, or both.
Understanding Presence is Being Present. So by asking the right questions like “What’s my next thought?”, you can immediately bring “You” back into the Now.
The Esoteric Meaning of “Waiting”
I am a free thinker, but somehow I do believe in the existence of God or even Gods or higher beings. While Eckhart was quoting Jesus in the following sections, the closest I can relate to are meditating, movies, and my life experiences.
Through meditation, we learn how to anchor ourselves in the here and now, on purpose in the present with full alertness, without remembering (past), thinking (mind), imagining, or anticipating (future). No past, No mind, No future – Only You, Here and Now, in your body and surroundings.
Beauty Arises In The Stillness Of Your Presence
“Satori” – A flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. Similar to martial arts, there’s really not much time for the mind to think. In fact, “You” would be fully present, acting and reacting based more on instinct, to punch, kick, grapple or block.
It also reminds me of those Japanese anime or comic when the characters have a streak of lightning or flash of light in the background either when they are executing an awesome move or the moment they had a breakthrough in solving a mind-boggling situation.
But it’s actually more about enjoying the moment in your life. Observe the air around you, the sunlight, the desensitized sight, and sound in your environment that you got so used to. Once again, meditation is the best example here, the art of total presence and no mind.
Realizing Pure Consciousness
God’s creations are everything around us. The intelligence (God-essence) in everything. And going in-depth, everything is alive:
- How a baby is created? And with close resemblance to the parents?
- How does a seed turn into a particular type of tree?
- How electrons move in an atom?
- How living things and non-living things have the same elements and yet appear differently?
Only the “stillness” in you can perceive the silence outside (your surroundings). For this stillness, I relate it to the “bullet time” feel in movies and games where everything around you slows down, letting you take a closer look at “things” in more detail.
Christ: The Reality Of Your Divine Presence
Never even read a full page from a Christian bible, so can’t really compare. In this section, I am interpreting that the past and future have no reality.
And time is just a measurement for our reference. There is nothing you can do with time. Time is not a resource – You can’t get more of it or save it for later, you can’t even spend time.
Another part here, Presence is one. Your Power of Now is to be in synergy with not only the people around you but the energy of your environment too. This can be easily translated to Metaphysics like Chinese Feng Shui or Chakra where you are in to be in synergy with your body.
Presence is all about “You” – Your Power of Now. Thus “You” can be triggered from external stimulants but “You” comes from within at that moment (Now).
Being is Your Deepest Self
If You believe in God, I call this Being the God in You, Your Soul – The Ever-present You. Practise Meditation to be free from all things external and be more in touch with Your Inner Being, Feel the Universe within You.
While Eckhart gone biblical and religious in this chapter, I would say that Content without Context will be very Open for Interpretations and Confusions. I like the part where he wrote that “a word is nothing but a signpost” to feel within, so are our experiences.
Before You Enter The Body, Forgive
A grievance has no purpose in your life, other than to disempower you. To Forgive is to let go of the emotional burdens of life. The more emotions invested, the harder it is to let go… And Non-Forgiveness can be applied to People, Situations, and even the Future. And it’s always easier to forgive others than to forgive oneself.
“The moment you truly forgive, you have reclaimed your power from the mind” – Eckhart Tolle
State of Being Improve Health
While the book mentioned that it can slow down aging process making your body lighter, clearer, more alive, somehow it reminded me of ancient Egyptians weighing the heart against the feather of Maat (goddess of truth and justice).
It can strengthen your immune system and get you in a state of self-healing by paying attention to your body. Feel the energy flow in the body (Chinese refer to this as Qi while Sanskrit refer to this as Chakras). And we can accomplish this with Conscious Breathing (Yogic Breathing or Wim Hof Breathing?)
While the sub-chapter of Creative Use of Mind reference to be conscious without thought seems to be discussing meditation. It was not explicitly mentioned. I believe you could make use of your subconscious mind to help you too.