The Power of Now

The author of one of the hottest-selling spirituality books
claims many people’s relationship to time is creating misery in
their lives. In The Power of Now (New World Library),
Eckhart Tolle advises us that the way to regain psychic health is
to live as fully as possible in the present moment. “You cannot be
both unhappy and fully present in the Now,” he says. The Now is
also the doorway into the divine, the connection point with the
great state of calm power that Tolle variously calls the
Unmanifest, Presence, and God.

The trouble is that the human mind loves to spoil the party by
returning us to the punishing world of what Tolle calls
“psychological time”–our internal sense that past and future
constitute our identity. He points out that the past and future are
not real–just projections of current fears and hopes–but we
nonetheless dwell in their illusory realm, endlessly rehashing past
errors, endlessly anticipating future goods, and missing the Now
entirely. “The power and infinite creative potential that lie
concealed in the Now are completely obscured by psychological
time,” writes Tolle, “Your life then loses its vibrancy, its
freshness, its sense of wonder.”

Tolle’s answer is to respect and use “clock time”–the external,
nontoxic time we need to carry on our days–but banish inner, or
psychological, time from our lives through a loving cultivation of
the present moment. Constantly refreshed and reconnected with the
calm power of the Unmanifest, and untormented by inner time, we can
experience clock time peacefully.

Tolle, a German-born ex-academic who studied in London and
Cambridge, began exploring the spirit after undergoing a
spontaneous mystical experience–a dark night of the soul that
catapulted him from anxiety and depression into, as he puts it, “a
state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss” that has continued at
varying levels of intensity ever since. His plain-spoken blend of
mindfulness and mysticism, oriented toward immediate psychic change
and unencumbered by any guru trappings, seems to have struck a
chord. The Power of Now was a surprise word-of-mouth
bestseller in many bookshops, including Banyen Books in Vancouver
(where Tolle lives) and Seattle’s East West Bookshop; and it’s
turned into something of a grassroots spiritual movement in the
four years since its publication, with Tolle study groups springing
up from Vancouver to Omaha to Atlanta.

–Jon Spayde

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