Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Power of Now

A quoted summary of Eckhart Tolle's book. 

All that arises passes away(A Buddhist monk)

Chapter 1: You are not your mind

"The word “god” has become a closed concept. The moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created."

"Does it point beyond itself to that transcendental reality, or does it lend itself too easily to becoming no more than an idea in your head that you believe in, a mental idol?"

"It is only a small step from the word Being to the experience of Being."

"Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal."

"This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering."

"Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking."

"The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly – you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is a disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken over."

"Have you found the “off” button?"

"You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken."

"Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease."

"When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of 'no mind.'”

"Create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking. This is the essence of meditation."

"There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within."

"So the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this: learn to disidentify from your mind. Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger."

"About 80 or 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true. It causes a serious leakage of vital energy."

“This kind of compulsive thinking is actually an addiction. What characterizes an addiction? Quite simply this: you no longer feel that you have the choice to stop. It seems stronger than you. It also gives you a false sense of pleasure, pleasure that invariably turns into pain.”

“It is always concerned with keeping the past alive, because without it – who are you? It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment there.”

“No-mind is consciousness without thought.”

“The simple reason why the majority of scientists are not creative is not because they don’t know how to think but because they don’t know how to stop thinking!”

“The more you are identified with your thinking, your likes and dislikes, judgments and interpretations, which is to say the less present you are as the watching consciousness, the stronger the emotional energy charge will be, whether you are aware of it or not.”

“If you really want to know your mind, the body will always give you a truthful reflection, so look at the emotion, or rather feel it in your body. If there is an apparent conflict between them, the thought will be the lie, the emotion will be the truth. Not the ultimate truth of who you are, but the relative truth of your state of mind at that time.”

“Often a vicious cycle builds up between your thinking and the emotion: they feed each other.”

“Emotion literally means ‘disturbance.’ The word comes from the Latin emovere, meaning ‘to disturb.’”

“Emotions, being part of the dualistic mind, are subject to the law of opposites. This simply means that you cannot have good without bad.”


Chapter 2: Consciousness: The way out of pain

“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.”

“The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is.”

“The mind cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.”

“The accumulation of time in the collective and individual human mind also holds a vast amount of residual pain from the past.”

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”

“You can assume that virtually everyone you meet or know lives in a state of fear.”

“The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ – and find that there is no death.”


Chapter 3: Moving deeply into the Now

“Dysfunction sets in when you seek your self in your mind and mistake it for who you are.”

“To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation.”

“The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. Life is now.”

“All forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

“Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now.”

“Find out if you have any problem at this moment. Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now. Do you have a problem now?”

“Problems are mind-made and need time to survive. They cannot survive in the actuality of the Now.”

“It is impossible to have a problem when your attention is fully in the Now.”

“As there are no problems in the Now, there is no fear either.”

“You cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.”

“In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of ‘consecrated action.’”


Chapter 4: Mind strategies for avoiding the Now

“To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment.”

“Anything unconscious dissolves when you shine the light of consciousness on it.”

“Your unhappiness is polluting not only your own inner being and those around you but also the collective human psyche of which you are an inseparable part.”

“The pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution: millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner space.”

“Once a mind pattern, an emotion, or a reaction is there, accept it. You were not conscious enough to have a choice in the matter. That’s not a judgment, just a fact. If you had a choice, or realized that you do have a choice, would you choose suffering or joy, ease or unease, peace or conflict?”

“How is it possible that humans killed in excess of one hundred million fellow humans in the twentieth century alone? Humans inflicting pain on such magnitude on one another is beyond anything you can imagine. And that’s not taking into account the mental, emotional an physical violence, the torture, pain, and cruelty they continue to inflict on each other as well as on other sentient beings on a daily basis.”

“Once you realize that a certain kind of food makes you sick, would you carry on eating that food and keep asserting that it is okay to be sick?”

“To complain is always non-acceptance of what is.”

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake.”

“Are you worried? Do you have many ‘what if’ thoughts? You are identified with your mind, which is projecting itself into an imaginary future situation and creating fear. There is no way that you can cope with such a situation, because it doesn’t exist.”

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”

“Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity. It cannot come in the future.”

“When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don’t forget: The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment.”

“The sooner you realize that your outer purpose cannot give you lasting fulfillment, the better.”

“Only the present can free you of the past. More time cannot free you of time. Access the power of Now. That is the key. None other than the power of your presence, your consciousness liberated from thought forms.”

“What is essential is your conscious presence. That dissolves the past.”


Chapter 5: The state of presence

“Understanding presence is being present.”

“Zen masters use the word satori to describe a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence.”

“No civilization has ever produced so much ugliness.”

“Egoic mind has become like a sinking ship. If you don’t get off, you will go down with it.”

“’The teacher and the taught together create the teaching.’”

“Silence is an even more potent carrier of presence; to listen to the silence, wherever you are, is an easy and direct way of becoming present.”

“If you are drawn to an enlightened teacher, it is because there is already enough presence in you to recognize presence in another.”


Chapter 6: The inner body

“The ‘illusion of the self’, as the Buddha calls it, is the core error: to believe that you are nothing more than your physical body and your mind.”

“Don’t get stuck on the level of words. A word is no more than a means to an end. It’s an abstraction.”

“If you focus your attention in the body as much as possible, you will be anchored in the Now.”

“Unless you stay present – and inhabiting your body is always an essential aspect of it – you will continue to be run by your mind. The script in your head that you learned a long time ago, the conditioning of your mind, will dictate your thinking and your behavior. You may be free of it for brief intervals, but rarely for long. This is especially true when something ‘goes wrong’ or there is some loss or upset. Your conditioned reaction will then be involuntary, automatic, and predictable, fueled by the one basic emotion that underlies the mind-identified state of consciousness: fear.”

“What matters is not whether you can attach a mental label to an emotion but whether you can bring the feeling of it into awareness as much as possible. Attention is the key to transformation – and full attention also implied acceptance. Attention is like a beam of light – the focused power of your consciousness that transmutes everything into itself.”

“Place your attention on feeling the emotion, and check whether your mind is holding on to a grievance pattern such as blame, self-pity, or resentment that is feeding the emotion. If that is the case, it means that you haven’t forgiven. Non-forgiveness is often toward another person or yourself, but it may just as well be toward any situation or condition – past, present or future – that your mind refuses to accept.”

“Yes, there can be non-forgiveness even with regard to the future.”

“Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life – to allow life to live through you. The alternatives are pain and suffering, a greatly restricted flow of life energy, and in many cases physical disease.”

“Non-forgiveness is the very nature of the mind, just as the mind-made false self, the ego, cannot survive without strife and conflict. The mind cannot forgive. Only you can.”

“Feeling will get you closer to the truth of who you are than thinking.”

“When you inhabit your body, it will be hard for unwanted guests to enter. ’Flood’ your body with consciousness.”

“Don’t just think with your head, think with your whole body.”

“When you are listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen. That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving the other person space – space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give.”


Chapter 7: Portals into the unmanifested

“Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be.”

“Everybody pays attention to the things in space, but who pays attention to space itself?”

“Pay attention to ‘nothing.’”

“Nothing could be more awe-inspiring and majestic than the inconceivable vastness and stillness of space, and yet what is it? Emptiness, vast emptiness.”

“When you are utterly and totally present, you encounter it as the still inner space of no-mind. Within you, it is vast in depth, not in extension. Spacial extension is ultimately a misperception of infinite depth – an attribute of the one transcendental reality.”

“Buddhist saying: ‘If there were no illusion, there would be no enlightenment.’”


Chapter 8: Enlightened relationships

“You are waiting for an event in time to save you. Salvation is not elsewhere in place or time. It is here and now.”

“True salvation is a state of freedom – from fear, from suffering, from a perceived state of lack and insufficiency and therefore from all wanting, needing, grasping, and clinging. It is freedom from compulsive thinking, from negativity, and above all from past and future as a psychological need.”

“It is easier to recognize the source of negativity in your partner than to see it in yourself.”

“The romantic love relationship seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack, and incompleteness that is part of the human condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state.”

“On your physical level, you are obviously not whole, nor will you ever be: you are either a man or a woman, which is to say, one-half of the whole.”

“Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”

“Intimate relationships do not cause pain or unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you. Every addiction does that.”

“The greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way.”

“The bond that connects you with that person is the same bond that connects you with the person sitting next to you on a bus, or with a bird, a tree, a flower.”

“True communication is communion – the realization of oneness, which is love.”

“Whenever your relationship is not working, whenever it brings out the ‘madness’ in you and in your partner, be glad. What was unconscious is being brought up to the light. It is an opportunity for salvation.”

“The relationship then becomes your sadhana, your spiritual practice.”

“If you react at all to your partner’s unconsciousness, you become unconscious yourself. But if you then remember to know your reaction, nothing is lost.”

“Never before have relationships been as problematic and conflict ridden as they are now.”

“If you accept that the relationship is here to make you conscious instead of happy, then the relationship will offer you salvation, and you will be aligning yourself with the higher consciousness that wants to be born into this world.”

“When your partner behaves unconsciously, relinquish all judgment. Judgment is either to confuse someone’s unconscious behavior with who they are or to project your own unconsciousness onto another person and mistake that for who they are.”

“To relinquish judgment does not mean that you do not recognize dysfunction and unconsciousness when you see it. It means `being the knowing’ rather than ‘being the reaction’ and the judge. You will then either be totally free of reaction or you may react and still be the knowing, the space in which the reaction is watched and allowed to be.”

“Instead of fighting the darkness, you bring in the light. Instead of reacting to delusion, you see the delusion yet at the same time you look through it.”

“Being the knowing creates a clear space of loving presence that allows all things and all people to be as they are. No greater catalyst for transformation exists. If you practice this, your partner cannot stay with you and remain unconscious.”

“If you both agree that the relationship will be your spiritual practice, so much the better. You can then express your thoughts and feelings to each other as soon as they occur, or as soon as a reaction comes up, so that you do not create a time gap in which an unexpressed or unacknowledged emotion or grievance can fester and grow.”

“Learn to give expression to what you feel without blaming. Learn to listen to your partner in an open, non-defensive way. Give your partner space for expressing himself or herself. Be present.”

“Accusing, defending, attacking – all those patterns that are designed to strengthen or protect the ego or to get its needs met will then become redundant.”

“Giving space to others – and to yourself – is vital. Love cannot flourish without it.”

“When you have removed the two factors that are destructive to relationships – when the pain-body has been transmuted and you are no longer identified with mind and mental positions – and if your partner has done the same, you will experience the bliss of the flowering of relationship.”

“Instead of mirroring to each other your pain and your unconsciousness, instead of satisfying your mutual addictive ego needs, you will reflect back to each other the love that you feel deep within, the love that comes with the realization of your oneness with all that is. This is the love that has no opposite.”

“The light is too painful for someone who wants to remain in darkness.”

“When the mind took over and humans lost touch with the reality of their divine essence, they started to think of god as a male figure. Society became male-dominated, and the female was made subordinate to the male.”

You are responsible for your inner space now – nobody else is – and that the past cannot prevail against the power of the Now.”

“If a woman is still holding on to anger, resentment, or condemnation, she is holding on to her pain-body.”

“The stronger the ego, the more distant you are from your true nature.”

“If you then develop a sense of identity based on your gayness, you have escaped one trap only to fall into another.”


Chapter 9: Beyond happiness and unhappiness there is peace

“Seen from a higher perspective, conditions are always positive. To be more precise: they are neither positive nor negative. They are as they are. And when you live in complete acceptance of what is, there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in your life anymore.”

“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs? (Marcus Aurelius)”

“Through forgiveness, which essentially means recognizing the insubstantiality of the past and allowing the present moment to be as it is, the miracle of transformation happens not only within but also without. A silent space of intense presence arises both in you and around you. Whoever or whatever enters that field of consciousness will be affected by it, sometimes visibly and immediately, sometimes at deeper levels with visible changes appearing at a later time.”

“You dissolve discord, heal pain, dispel unconsciousness – without doing anything – simply by being and holding that frequency of intense presence.”

“Most of the so-called bad things that happen in people’s lives are due to unconsciousness. They are self-created, or rather, ego-created. I sometimes refer to those things as ‘drama.’”

“When you feel guilty or anxious, that’s drama.”

“Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story is their identity. The ego runs their life. They have their whole sense of self invested in it. Even their – usually unsuccessful – search for an answer, a solution, or for healing becomes part of it. What they fear and resist most is the end of their drama. As long as they are their mind, what they fear and resist most is their own awakening.”

“Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cannot exist without the other.”

“All conditions are highly unstable and in constant flux, or, as the Buddha put it, impermanence is a characteristic of every condition, every situation you will ever encounter in your life. It will change, disappear, or no longer satisfy you.”

“The most essential kind of knowledge is not yet widely accessible.”

“Happiness and unhappiness are in fact one. Only illusion of time separates them.”

“The whole advertising industry and consumer society would collapse if people became enlightened and no longer sought to find their identity through things. The more you seek happiness in this way, the more it will elude you.”

“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.”

“Being takes you beyond the polar opposites of the mind and frees you from dependency on form. Even if everything were to collapse and crumble all around you, you would still feel a deep inner core of peace. You may not be happy, but you will be at peace.”

“If ‘you’ – the mind – did not believe that unhappiness works, why would you create it?”

“Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry, or hard-done-by person. You will then ignore, deny, or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. It is also insane.”

“No other life-form on the planet knows negativity, only humans, just as no other life-form violates and poisons the Earth that sustains it.”

“I have lived with several Zen masters – all of them cats. Even ducks have taught me important spiritual lessons. Just watching them is meditation.”

“Occasionally, two ducks will get into a fight. The fight usually lasts only for a few seconds, and then the ducks separate, swim off in opposite directions, and vigorously flap their wings a few times. By flapping their wings they were releasing surplus energy, thus preventing it from becoming trapped in their body and turning into negativity. This is natural wisdom, and it is easy for them because they do not have a mind that keeps the past alive unnecessarily and then builds an identity around it.”

“Yes, recurring negative emotions do sometimes contain a message, as do illnesses. Any changes that you make, whether they have to do with your work, your relationships, or your surroundings, are ultimately only cosmetic unless they arise out of a change in your level of consciousness.”

“What is the purpose of irritation? None whatsoever. Why did you create it? You didn’t. The mind did. It was totally automatic, totally unconscious. Why did the mind create it? Because it holds the unconscious belief that its resistance, which you experience as negativity or unhappiness in some form, will somehow dissolve the undesirable condition.”

“Somebody says something to you that is rude or designed to hurt. Offer no resistance. It is as if there is nobody there to get hurt anymore. That is forgiveness. You become invulnerable. You can still tell that person that his or her behavior is unacceptable, if that is what you choose to do. But that person no longer has the power to control your inner state. You are then in your power – not in someone else’s, nor are you run by your mind.”

“Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”

“When you accept what is, every moment is the best. That is enlightenment.”

“At the level of Being, all suffering is recognized as an illusion. Suffering is due to identification with form. Miracles of healing sometimes occur through this realization, by awakening Being-consciousness in others.”

“Compassion is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures. You share the vulnerability and mortality of your physical form with every other human and with every living being.”

“One of the most powerful spiritual practices is to meditate deeply on the mortality of physical forms, including your own. This is called: Die before you die.”

“Nothing that was real ever died, only names, forms, and illusions.”

“On the level of form, you share mortality and the precariousness of existence. On the level of Being, you share eternal, radiant life.”

“To have deep empathy for the suffering of another being certainly requires a high degree of consciousness but represents only one side of compassion. It is not complete. True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life.”

“Teach through being, through demonstrating peace. You become ‘the light of the world,’ an emanation of pure consciousness, and so you eliminate suffering on the level of cause. You eliminate unconsciousness from the world.”

“Who you are is always a more vital teaching and a more powerful transformer of the world than what you say and more essential even than what you do.”

“Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit.”

“Make sure that you carry no resistance within, no hatred, no negativity. ‘Love your enemies,’ said Jesus, which means ‘have no enemies.’”

“Once you get involved in working on the level of effect, it is all too easy to lose yourself in it. Stay alert and very, very present. The causal level needs to remain your primary focus, the teaching of enlightenment your main purpose, and peace your most precious gift to the world.”


Chapter 10: The meaning of surrender

“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.”

“Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being. Resistance is the mind.”

“A visual analogy is this: you are walking along a path at night, surrounded by a thick fog. But you have a powerful flashlight that cuts through the fog and creates a narrow, clear space in front of you. The fog is your life situation, which includes past and future; the flashlight is your conscious presence; the clear space is the Now.”

“If you find your life situation unsatisfactory or even intolerable, it is only by surrendering first that you can break the unconscious resistance pattern that perpetuates that situation.”

“Surrender is perfectly compatible with taking action, initiating change, or achieving goals. But in the surrendered state a totally different energy, a different quality, flows into your doing. Surrender reconnects you with the source-energy of Being, and if your doing is infused with Being, it becomes a joyful celebration of life energy that takes you more deeply into the Now.”

“Through non-resistance, the quality of whatever you are doing or creating is enhanced immeasurably. The results will then look after themselves and reflect that quality. We could call this surrendered action. It is not work as we have known it for thousands of years. As more humans awaken, the word work is going to disappear from our vocabulary, and perhaps a new word will be created to replace it.”

“No truly positive action can arise out of an unsurrendered state of consciousness.”

“In the state of surrender, you see very clearly what needs to be done, and you take action, doing one thing at a time and focusing on one thing at a time.”

“Acknowledge that there is resistance. Be there when it happens, when the resistance arises. Observe how your mind creates it, how it labels the situation, yourself, or others.”

“Negativity, unhappiness, or suffering in whatever form means that there is resistance, and resistance is always unconscious.”

“If you were conscious, that is to say totally present in the Now, all negativity would dissolve almost instantly. It could not survive in your presence. It can only survive in your absence.”

“Through surrender, spiritual energy comes into this world. It creates no suffering for yourself, for other humans, or any other life form on the planet.”

“Non-resistance doesn’t mean doing nothing. All it means is that any ‘doing’ becomes non-reactive. Remember the deep wisdom underlying the practice of Eastern martial arts: don’t resist the opponent’s force. Yield to overcome.”

“The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power. What it sees as strength is weakness. So the ego exists in a continuous resistance-mode and plays counterfeit roles to cover up your ‘weakness,’ which in truth is your power.”

“Time and pain are inseparable.”

“Choice implies consciousness – a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice.”

“The mind, conditioned as it is by the past, always seeks to re-create what it knows and is familiar with. Even if it is painful, at least it is familiar.”

“The mind adheres to the known. The unknown is dangerous because it has no control over it.”

“As long as your mind with its conditioned patterns runs your life, as long as you are your mind, what choice do you have?”

“How will you know when you have surrendered? When you no longer need to ask the question.”

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