The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
I received this gift at a time of many changes in my life, in August 2008 at my going away party. I was leaving Toronto for Manchester to do my Masters for a year. 3 years later I am still here, enjoying life in an oddly beautiful and rainy city. The book is a gift from Ligia, Claudia’s aunt. Claudia is one of the first people I met in university and we have been friends ever since, through university, jobs and across different countries. I knew of the author and I meant to read his work for a while but I kept slacking off. Ligia had a great sense of timing in giving me this as a going away present. A few years later I have finished after a second try at reading it and I can say that the journey of this lecture is quite close to my heart.
At the time when I first read it, my experience with spiritual readings was slim. The concept of well-being, self help, self discovery or self improvement books was relatively new to me. Growing up, the literature I have spent time with was very much focused on the classics. It could be that I just didn’t pay attention to the books around me. I was busy analyzing situations, histories and interactions with family, friends and people rather than introspection.
My spiritual journey started in a very common setting. It is probably rooted in the religious teachings I received as a child. I never really thought too much about the role of religion on a social and political platform while I was living in Romania. There was no reason for me to think about it or challenge it since I was surrounded by people of the same religion. I was there during the time when Romania was coming out of communism, a period when religion wasn’t to be bragged about or talked too much about publicly. After the revolution everyone was happy to celebrate religious holidays and follow masses with their grandmothers, when needed.
Things started to change a bit when I moved to Canada and realized that religious beliefs are strongly related to geography. In the pool of people in Toronto where everyone is from someplace else, everyone has different beliefs. This for me created a strong correlation between someone’s place of birth and religious beliefs. It seemed like the majority of people, me included, are of a particular religion because of a specific context and not as a result of pure consciousness. This implied that if I would have been born in another place there could have been a chance that I would not be a Christian Orthdox, as I am currently. A dotted line was being drawn between religion and spirituality. It seemed to me that some of us intertwine spirituality with religion. Some of us choose spirituality and distance themselves from the institutional element of religion. Some don’t care. To each their own. I started falling in the category of respecting the non-intrusive and non-exclusivist religious traditions and interpretations but in no way feeling that they are better than other of the common religions and starting to let myself wonder spiritually without any particular aims.
Late 2007 I bought “The Secret”. I kept playing in my head the same record with “Nothing goes according to my plan”. I knew that sometimes it would work out better but I kept agonizing over the times when I was disappointed. I read the book quickly and I was happy to discover the simple concepts of the Law of Attraction. More than anything I realized I was a negator of a negative for example: “ I don’t want to have debt”. From logical laws this leads to a positive but in day-to-day life it was just a way to focus around negative aspects. I found it a useful exercise to control and change that about myself since there was no particular usefulness in it. I also enjoyed this idea of asking the universe for things I wanted and then letting go… in one freaky episode it worked with ridiculous accuracy. To conclude it made perfect sense for me to read it at that time. It was quick, written very simply so that anyone can relate to it and try to apply it. I was happy with it but I knew this was a surface view on something deeper. It is worth mentioning because it was one of the first times when I made a self-realization rooted in a literary experience rather than personal.
The thin layer covered by “The Secret” was a useful introduction for “The Power of Now”. I started reading it when I was again in search of answers or of piece of mind. The simplicity of its truth and the reduction of the inherited and self-created complexities of my life and of me in general were absolutely incredible. It all made so much sense and it felt right. With all that said I didn’t finish it then, in 2008. Maybe I was just not ready. I picked up again a couple of months ago and went through it again, this time finishing it entirely.
The ideas and the truths portrayed in the book are not new and they are deeply inspired from old spiritual teachings and philosophy. On some level I knew all of these things, I knew them from those random moments of absolute bliss. I just never identified or explained them in any way so it felt like someone just told me the most sensible thing. The brilliance of the author was not in the concepts but in the approach, a gentle and non-patronising one. It doesn’t challenge your current religious beliefs, it doesn’t force you to accept the present moment it doesn’t force anything. It reminded me that the only absolute truth or possession that I have is the moment Now, the actual timeless present moment.
I often identify myself with me as the person born in Romania, with a rich and at times tumultuous family and personal history, moved to Canada and had various experiences. But I know that is a story that can be told in many different ways and through many different perspectives. Sometimes it can have many things or very little things in common with the inner and pure ME. The ME as a spirit, the energy field, the peace, the silence, the watcher, the never-ending story of the universe. Letting ME breathe freely outside the pollution of my ego, is a beautiful and fun journey.
On the back of the book, there is a quote from Oprah, saying “ It can transform your thinking”. I can see what she means but don’t be mistaken this will not change how you think. It shouldn’t. If this is the a good time for you, then it will remind you of a truth you already have in you, it will make you want to let your I breathe. I was ready to read it on paper and understand through a language that I use everyday, rather than just having odd glimpses of it randomly and not knowing what it is. It was a great stone in my spiritual teachings lectures, one that brought positive realizations.
I now find it very important for me to keep reading books, which either reiterate what I already read or portray it different ways. I am also curious to read more religious teachings. Speaking of which, my friend James just sent me another book that I must read. He mentioned Eckart Tolle may have been largely inspired by this author.
This is it for now or NOW ☺