Now – Condensed Summary

This is my summarized interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Enlightenment is: the enduring enjoyment of existence. The only obstacle to this serene state is the thinking-mechanism of the mind and its unremitting rumination. The thinking-mechanism just blathers on about life, shouting its constant commentary and criticisms while predicting dire doom. The thinking-mechanism is the terrorizer within, the source of all your problems.

You must strive to disassociate with this fiend. Those are no longer your thoughts, they’re just concoctions of conjecture floating by, worthless byproducts of the creative mind. As thoughts are no longer invited into your mental abode, a silence develops within that space. And the more often you shut the door on these unwelcome solicitations, the more this silence grows into serenity.

As the space between thoughts increases, your degree of consciousness increases. You’re currently driven by an unconscious addiction to the thinking-mechanism, a problem that won’t end without intervention. Thoughts are not who you are, they’re a diversion from who you are, resulting in an existential dissatisfaction.

Your true self exists in this moment only — that’s it. Your consciousness is simply trying to experience existence, but the thinking-mechanism is polluting the process and preventing this from happening. Your goal is to allow the consciousness to experience life without intrusive thoughts getting in the way (allowing you to enjoy existence).

Thoughts paint dour pictures of a woebegone past and a pessimistic future, slandering the actual experience of existence. Silencing these thoughts will drastically improve your experience.

Existence is happening right-now. Memories from the past or projections into the future aren’t actually happening when they’re envisioned in the mind — they’re concoctions of the thinking-mechanism. Staying in the present is the doorway to enlightenment — it’s the middle-way that must be maintained while abstaining from past and future musings that act as exits.

Just noticing that you’re not present, brings you into the present. Observe thoughts, feelings, and your reactions. Experience them, but don’t get lost to them. The primary object of attention should be right-now. Right-now is all there is, it’s the only reality you can actually engage with. By definition, the past no longer exists and the future hasn’t happened.

If you’re counting on circumstances in the future to make you happy, you’re doing it wrong. The condition of your consciousness right-now is what forges the future. So the way in which you improve your future is by improving your present, and the way to improve your present is to increase your awareness of it.

If you can’t enjoy right-now, you won’t be able to enjoy the future, no matter what the circumstances. The feeling of unfulfillment will follow you wherever you go. Waiting is a poor practice, avoid it — appreciate right-now instead. If you’re acknowledging the present, you won’t need to wait, you’ll have the greatness that’s in this moment.

Presence isn’t something you can think about, it’s the opposite of thinking, it’s the state of full-awareness of right-now. Be a predator whose prey is thoughts. When thoughts are allowed to flow freely, they’ll take you on a reckless ride downstream into unconsciousness. Keep your focus on right-now and you can’t get lost in thought.

How can you experience existence from an unconscious state? Obviously the ideal way to experience existence is from a conscious state while fully aware of what’s happening in front of you. If you’re too busy thinking about perceived problems, concocted pasts, and speculated futures, how can you appreciate actual life? Focus on experiencing; skip the commentary.

One method for increasing consciousness is by transfering focus away from the mind and into the body.

Here’s some practice: Focus on your fingers and notice the sensation, a slight pressure or tingling or just the feeling that they’re there. Then move up the arms and into the head then the chest and around the body all the way down to your feet. Feel the sensation individually and then as a whole, pervading the entire body — focus on this sensation.

While going about your normal activities, maintain some awareness of the aliveness/energy feeling pervading the entire body. Focus on the task at hand but widen your scope to include the sensation within the body as well. And when not doing anything in particular, instead of getting lost in thought, focus on that aliveness/energy feeling within.

Whenever you start losing yourself to an alleged problem, go into the body. By focusing on an inner sensation, your focus leaves the thinking-mechanism of the mind. Focus on a single part of the body, feel it, notice the sensation, it’s there and you’re aware of it. Do this for every part of your body. Once you’ve gone through them one by one, start at the bottom and move up the body like a scanner, from toes to head and back down again. Then, concentrate on the sensation of the entire inner body at once — focus and feel it. If focusing within the body is tough, start with breathing. Observe the breath: in… out… in… out….

Remember that meditation is the practice of not-thinking. And this practice shouldn’t be limited to the duration of each session. While outside of meditation, continue guarding against the thinking-mechanism of the mind and continue feeling the inner sensation of the body.

You want to develop a connection to a deeper you. There are a few methods for maintaining this connection. One is through an awareness of the energetic-sensation within the body. Another method is by literally focusing on right-now — through the conscious experience of everyday activities. Another method is through the purposeful suppression of thought — maintaining gaps between mental commentary. And another method is by surrendering to life and whatever it is you’re resisting.

Then once this connection is well-established, it becomes a portal for love to flow through — this is the bliss and elation that comes with living in the now.

Satisfaction with life is a state that’s achievable right-now. Waiting for a particular circumstance or condition to occur only takes you further away from fulfillment. If you chase external modes of satisfaction, you’ll remain on a perpetual treadmill of dissatisfaction. Satisfaction is an internal state, a state without fear or lack, a state without worry or neediness, a state unencumbered by negative thought.

You’ll know you’re not enlightened if you’re not radiating love and joy — or if you quickly lose composure when tested by life’s obstacles. And the best use of these obstacles is as reminders and opportunities to enter right-now — as beacons to become aware and witness, to surrender to life unfolding.

From a broader perspective, situations and circumstances cannot be considered good or bad — they just are. And your goal, is to attain this perspective. To be at peace, you forgive and you accept every moment. You let the past dissipate to allow the present to flow in unhindered.

If you consciously accept everything as it is, the drama ends, there’s literally nothing to fight against. Drama is caused by resistance, and if you don’t resist, there’s no conflict. Let life happen, practice acceptance, watch without judgement or opposition as you go up and down and all around.

The thinking-mechanism of the mind believes that complaints can force the world into compliance. In other words, it can get what it wants through criticism — by pointing out everything wrong with the world, sharp and undesirable edges will be chipped away. But this is an incorrect assumption of the mind — a more effective path is to avoid negativity.

The only valid use for negativity is as a reminder to become present. Just like an alarm, irritation can serve to jar you awake. You cannot solve your dissatisfaction with life by pouting and complaining, by resisting it. You must allow situations and circumstances to pass right through you. With this power of transparency, you cannot be ensnared.

Should you approach the experience of existence distrustfully, constantly on-guard, waiting for the doom-hammer to fall, belligerently opposing everything that comes your way? Or, should you willingly allow the experience to unfold before you, surrendering yourself to existence?

Surrendering to the experience of existence is not the same thing as giving up. Surrendering in this context essentially means approaching life with a good attitude — with acceptance and appreciation. You can do what you want as long as it comes from a positive place whereas you’ll want to avoid acting out of fear or anger from a bad attitude.

Whenever you notice that you’re in an unpleasant situation, you can use the power of surrender to turn things around. Essentially, you’re saying, “I’m okay with this! Let’s do it!” And with that attitude adjustment, everything from that moment forward improves — you’ve positively altered your future.

Your choice is this: resist life with a bad attitude or surrender to it by maintaining a good attitude. When you interact with the world while maintaining a bad attitude, you’re going to have a bad time as you denigrate and disparage everything in your path, you’re going to attack and defend as you navigate an imagined minefield.

Of course the world looks horrible when you have a horrible outlook. But have an awesome outlook, and the world seems suddenly better. There is no problem “out there” — your lack of consciousness is the problem. The thinking-mechanism of the mind is taking you on a wild ride through the rapids — and consciousness allows you to rise above this self-induced turbulence.

The thinking-mechanism of the mind is the origin of your resistance and bad-attitude. Surrendering, i.e. adopting a positive attitude of absolute acceptance, removes the authority of the mind, stripping it of its self-appointed leadership position. You can continue suffering until you can’t stand it any longer, or you can consciously choose to remain present from here on out.

Executive Summary: To enjoy life, disregard your thoughts.

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Now – Chapter 9

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 9

From a broader perspective, situations and circumstances cannot be considered good or bad — they just are. And your goal, is to attain this perspective. To be at peace, you forgive and you accept every moment. You let the past dissipate to allow the present to flow in unhindered.

Drama regularly comes to those that live unconsciously. You are unconscious when you let the thinking-mechanism of the mind lead the way. This thinking-mechanism encourages you to believe in a faux-you, a scared and lonely creature subject to the ills of a hostile world. This mechanism manufactures an endless amount of fictional problems — yet your unconsciousness is the only real problem you have.

Whereas if you consciously accept everything as it is, the drama ends, there’s literally nothing to fight against. Drama is caused by resistance, and if you don’t resist, there’s no conflict. Let life happen, ride along with acceptance — watch without judgement or opposition as you go up and down and all around.

The thinking-mechanism of the mind believes that complaints can force the world into compliance. In other words, it can get what it wants through criticism — by pointing out everything wrong with the world, sharp and undesirable edges will be chipped away. But this is an incorrect assumption of the mind — a more effective path is to avoid negativity.

The only valid use for negativity is as a reminder to become present. Just like an alarm, irritation can serve to jar you awake. You cannot solve your dissatisfaction with life by pouting and complaining, by resisting. You must allow situations and circumstances to pass right through you. With this power of transparency, you cannot be ensnared.

Surrender is complete non-resistance. When you surrender, there is an end to conflict, the only option left is peace — and you attain it. Through acceptance, everything you accept becomes the greatest option possible. This allows you to find fulfillment within — you are no longer trapped on a treadmill chasing after mind-created fantasies.

The world you perceive is influenced by your perspective. If you believe in a harsh world, you’ll experience the fear and fighting you expect. The world is subject to different interpretations based on perspective and level of consciousness. Therefore, to improve the world, you must broaden your perspective and increase your consciousness.

Improving the world begins within. Without an internal change, the ills of the world would simply start again each day. Your goal is to seek enlightenment and go from there. Become present in every moment. Be the beacon of peace encouraging the unconscious to safe harbor.

Now – Chapter 8

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 8

Satisfaction with life is a state that’s achievable right-now. Waiting for a particular circumstance or condition to occur only takes you further away from fulfillment. If you chase external modes of satisfaction, you’ll remain on a perpetual treadmill of dissatisfaction. Satisfaction is an internal state, a state without fear or lack, a state without worry or neediness, a state unencumbered by negative thought.

Your thoughts have tricked you into believing that you need something. You need nothing. You are complete as-is and the entrance to satisfaction is already open — the gateway is right-now. It’s literally now or never. Even in relationships, your goal is to accept the other person as-is — without criticism or a desire to change who they are.

You’ll know you’re not enlightened if you’re not radiating love and joy — or if you quickly lose composure when tested by life’s obstacles. And the best use of these obstacles is as reminders and opportunities to enter right-now — as beacons to become aware and witness, to surrender to life unfolding.

The worse time you’re having, the more motivated you’ll be to seek enlightenment. And be careful not to define yourself by pain and suffering, making them an essential part of who you are. Never identify with victimhood, right-now is the only moment in which there is power — and in this moment you choose where to focus: is it toward pain from the past or the joy of right-now?

Thought Tolerance

Dear Rich, should I actively suppress my thoughts? That seems kinda harsh, shouldn’t I be more tolerant towards them — a bit more peace, love, and harmony? Maybe just observe them non-judgmentally?

Dear reader, have you not been listening to your thoughts? They’re straight-up evil. You can’t reason with them. They fling sh*t just to watch it stick. Being tolerant of intolerance leads to a cesspool that nobody wants to swim in. It doesn’t work, and years of Internet-based-forums has proven this point. With anything high-traffic, you absolutely NEED strong moderation.

Imagine a public restroom, now imagine some guy pinching a loaf right into the sink. Freedom of expression right? Why not? You just gotta be more tolerant bro. Or is it wrong to poop in the sink? And if that’s wrong, and a certain level of decorum must be maintained, then you shouldn’t allow your thoughts to sh*t on EVERYTHING within this world.

Your thoughts are NOT the end-product, they’re simply the byproduct of a creative mind. In other words, they’re the waste that must be disposed of properly lest that sludge pollute the environment. Don’t believe me? Just take a bit of time to watch those thoughts oozing by — notice how you feel — take ’em all in too, every last piece of pessimistic excrement.

Sick of the stink yet? Are you ready for some law and order? Then shut that sh*t down! Your goal is pure unadulterated consciousness — experiencing, without thought. Eating an apple? Then just eat an apple. “Hm, it’s an okay apple but I’m wondering…” NOPE. Shut it down — just savor the flavor. Walking down the street? Then just walk down the street. “Huh, I hope that…” NOPE. Walk — no internal talk.

And lastly dear reader, if you don’t actively control the toxicity emanating from your mind, you’re passing the burden onto everyone else. You’re like the guy randomly sh*itting in the sink expecting everyone else to just “deal with it”. If change starts within, your thoughts are ground-zero. So yes, you need to suppress that sh*t.

A Conscious You

Dear Rich, what would a more conscious me look like?

Why dear reader, that’s a very good question indeed. Why bother trying to attain a state of constant presence if there isn’t any benefit? Well in fact, there IS a plus side to being-in-the-now.

For starters, do you know all that negative rumination that tends to ruin your day? Gone. You’ll have a clear head and a clean conscience. Instead of arguing with yourself and everyone else, instead of feeling guilty and shameful, instead of forecasting the most dire consequences possible — you’ll be free. You’ll no longer be a prisoner within your own mind.

Do you know all those worries you have? Gone. What’s going to happen in the future? Who cares — not you, that’s who! You’ll be too busy engaging in the present to give any energy to false prophesies. What’ll happen five years from now? One year from now? Even five MINUTES from now? WHO CARES!

Oh boy, and did I mention the pure bliss?! Why, when you’re livin’ in the right-now you’ll be feelin’ the full joy of this moment every second of the day! It’ll be euphoric even! Just picture it, there you are, fully engaged in the activities comprising existence, and your consciousness is experiencing everything with full focused attention!

Makes ya wonder why you’re not doing it already. Well sir, no time like the present — ha! And lucky for you, the-now is literally happening right-now. Simply shut that thinking-stuff down and begin. If you believe it’s gonna take some time to put that baby to bed, you best start the work immediately — because the sooner you begin a thought-free life, the happier you’ll be.

And I hear ya, you’re thinkin: “Rich, that sure sounds good an’ all, but I’m havin a hard time swallowin what you’re sellin”. Well friend, all that skepticism is just your thoughts talkin — the precise part we’re tryin to get rid of! ‘Course it’s gonna fight back! But that’s no pal of yours, heck, your thoughts have been outright torturing you your entire life! Makin up all that scary stuff that never happened, humiliating you, frustrating you — doin whatever it could for no reason in particular.

But now it’s time for your consciousness to get its due — a thought-free turn at life. An uninterrupted experience, living without the constant commentary. Why it’ll be the life you always knew you should be livin ‘cept there was somethin holdin you back. And you’ve finally found the culprit! Those dirty good for nothin thoughts. Well say goodbye baby, ’cause you’re consciousness-realized now!

Interpretive Dance

Is the act of eating strawberries a violent and exploitative endeavor in which one organism crushes and consumes the life-energy of another? In other words, the way in which we interpret life matters. And if people genuinely disagree on whether certain things are right or wrong, then the solidity of our reality is far from set.

And if our interpretation of reality is indeed malleable, why would we ever shape it in a way that causes distress? In other words, if I find strawberries delicious, why would I ever interpret the act of eating them as sadistic? By plucking it from the bush and consuming it, I’m clearly ending the fruitful-existence of the strawberry — but why would I want to see that as cruel?

Instead, I choose to see it as a celebration of life. The strawberry and my body are part of a choreographed dance in which we coordinate to make the cycle-of-life happen. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s nothing grotesque or brutish about it. And deep down I see the entire scene as flickering pixels anyway, there was nothing truly lost and nothing truly gained (except for the entertainment value of the experience).

Yet, there’s things I do interpret negatively, resulting in an associated experience of distress. For instance, I hate cheesecake — f*ck that stuff, I’m sorry but it’s gross. Look, now I’m all upset, and it’s stupid-cheesecake’s fault! I told you that crap was no good. But the question is, why would I do that to myself? Why bother to interpret something as bad when it changes NOTHING but my mood (from good to bad)?

Stupid right? And the solution is obvious. If I want to remain in a good mood, I should simply accept life as it is and assign a pleasant interpretation to EVERYTHING i.e. The Pollyanna Approach to Life. If that’s the obvious solution, and I’m NOT implementing it, what does that tell you? It implies that I enjoy the feeling of outrage. Oops.

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, the evidence is quite clear on this matter, the defendant is a sicko that gets-off on the anger and disgust and condemnation he feels towards life’s innocent artifacts. He conjures up the most malevolent fantasies imaginable just to feel indignation surge through his body — this is the very definition of a deranged individual.

Does negativity then qualify as an addiction? Something done for the rush yet results in distress and can’t easily be stopped? Perhaps it’s time to quit the stuff? It’s time to put down the pessimism, lay off the fear, and back away from the constant criticism. Wait, just one more scare! Come on! How about a little disparagement at least? No, no, I can’t!

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask for lenience. An addiction by definition is something not easily controlled. For whatever reason I became addicted to negativity — and I’ve carried that burden throughout life. I’ve paid the price for harboring such pessimism, locked in a prison of my own making. I was blind, but now I see. I can henceforth dedicate my life to a new and better perspective. And with that improved outlook I can help others who have a similar predilection for the gloom and doom.

Nonpresent Punishment

I shall now regale you with a tale of misery. A plague brought about by the power of un-presence. Think of a powerful force in the universe… now triple it — THAT is the power of un-presence. An energy so strong that it will outright ruin your day. BOOM!

Picture it, it’s night and you’re lazily lying there. Too lazy in fact to bother with awareness — but woe to him whose lackadaisical ways lead to his own demise. If only you’d have summoned up the fortitude to remain aware. But no, you revel in sloth.

And so it happens, you’re swept away by the current of turbulent thought. Off you go, bashing against rocks as your mind blathers on. The pain is real and the wounds will last. Then the day begins and you’re weary from the abuse.

You shuffle along, barely communicating — unaware of your own unawareness. Too far gone to know you’re gone. You’re sore from the night before so anything out-of-place stings and further sours your spirit.

Interactions are exercises in tight-rope walking — one tiny sway, and its disaster either way. BOOM! You just f*cked up, tried to cover it up, but the evidence is everywhere. You finally try to scramble to the present but you’re so swept up that it’s not easily reached.

The moral of the story my friend: do not take mindlessness lightly. It is the one and only force with the power to outright end you. Do not stray far from the present lest you get lost and not find your way back.