A must have on your bedside table just like Oprah – 10/10
The Power of Now Book Review: The Teacher Will Appear!
Welcome to Part 2. This article reviews Chapters 6-10.
In Part 1, The Power of Now Book Review – When the student is ready! I reviewed Chapters 1 – 5 and gave you a little background in relation to my own history with the book, how it sat on my bookshelf for 20 years and why and how it eventually became part of my life again.
The proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” explains my situation perfectly.
The Power of Now book and the teachings of Eckhart Tolle have been my saving grace. The impact on my life has been profound.
I encourage you to read my first article too. You can check it out here.
Let’s get started with Part 2!
Part 2: Chapters 6-10
Chapter 6 – The Inner Body
This is one of the lengthier chapters of the book and therefore indicates the importance of the inner body.
Essentially, Eckhart explains that the body can become a conduit or to put it another way an access point into the realm of Being. And the Being is your deepest self.
He also explains that attempting to try to ‘understand’ the concept of Being mentally (i.e. using the mind) cannot be done. This is because it is beyond name and form, it is felt (experienced) as the ever present “I am”. If this is baffling to you (you are not alone) this reinforces his point.
To feel and to know (I’ll make the point here that there is a distinction here between knowing and knowledge) that you are and to abide in that deeply rooted state is enlightenment.
To live in and from Being is what sets you free from the illusion that you are nothing more than your physical body and your mind. To live in the illusion that we are only our minds and physical being results in fear.
I’ll add my own points of clarification here. Fear in this sense refers to for example – fear of not being good enough, fear of not being loved, fear of not belonging, fear of not having enough, fear of not achieving, fear of failing. I could go on and on – the list is endless. All of this of course is generated by the mind.
Take a moment to think about the fears that crop up for you. The problem with this incessant thinking (often the same stories are played over and over again over many many years) is that it takes you out presence. The stories don’t really change regardless of what you have or don’t have. Because, if we get that thing we have been striving for we then are fearful of losing it and so on. So, if we remain in the mind or at the very least unconscious of it, we suffer. We are fearful and we suffer.
Let’s get back to the body. So, Eckhart clearly states we are not our body, so then, how can the body bring us into Being?
To ‘inhabit the body’ is to feel the body from within, to feel the life inside the body and thereby come to know that you are beyond the outer form.
Eckhart explains further that this is only the beginning of an inward journey that will take you ever more deeply into a realm of great stillness and peace, yet also of great power and vibrant life.
Crucially, you are cut off from Being as long as your mind takes up all your attention.
Connecting with the Body
To become conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. A very effecting way of doing this is simply to take the focus of your attention away from thinking and direct it into the body.
Eckhart provides techniques to connect with the body. Transformation is through the body. It is the doorway into Being, into Life Unmanifested.
If you keep 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 to it – you will continue to be run by your mind. It will dictate your thinking and your behavior.
Eckhart gives us insight into the additional benefits of awareness of the inner body, such as:
- a significant slowing down of the aging process of the physical body
- a strengthening of the immune system and self-healing
- creative use of mind
- the flowering of relationships
Chapter 7 – Portals into the Unmanifested
This chapter explains further the concept of and the portals into The Unmanifested.
Eckhart explains The Unmanifested is the source of chi. Chi is the inner energy field of the body. Chi is the bridge between the outer you and the Source. It lies halfway between the manifested (the world of form) and the Unmanifested.
He uses an analogy of likening Chi to a river. When you go into the inner body you trace the course of this river back to its Source.
The portals into the Unmanifested include:
- Feeling the inner body (giving the body attention)
- Dreamless sleep
- The Now. The Now can be seen as the main portal. It is an essential aspect of every other portal including the inner body. You cannot be in your body without being intensely present in the Now.
- Silence – pay more attention to the silence than to the sound. Paying attention to outer silence creates inner silence. Find the silence between sounds.
- Space – Become aware of the space that is all around you. Pay attention to “nothing”. E.g. the furniture, pictures and so on are in the room, but they are not the room. What is the essence of the room? Space, empty space.
- Conscious Death – this opens up briefly at the time of physical death.
Chapter 8 – Enlightened Relationships
Eckhart opens by talking about how most people pursue physical pleasures or various forms of psychological gratification because they believe that those things will make them happy or free from a feeling of fear or lack.
However, any satisfaction that is obtained is short-lived. Satisfaction or fulfillment is usually projected onto an imaginary point away from the here and now e.g. “When I obtain this or am free of that – then I will be okay.”
Eckhart moves on to discuss love/hate relationships.
He postulates that unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, all relationships and particularly intimate relationships are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional.
They may seem perfect for a while, such as when you are “in love”, but invariably that apparent perfection gets disrupted as arguments, conflicts, dissatisfaction, and emotional or even physical violence occur with increasing frequency.
Love relationships become love/hate relationships before long. It gives you as much pleasure as it gives you pain. It is not uncommon for couples to become addicted to these cycles. Their drama makes them feel alive.
Eckhart makes a distinction between ‘romantic love’ and ‘true love’ (which arises from beyond the mind whenever there is a gap in the stream of the mind).
He elaborates further on examples of dysfunction.
Addiction and the search for wholeness
The reason why the romantic love relationship is such an intense and universally sought-after experience is that it seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack and incompleteness that is part of the human condition in its unenlightened state. There is a physical and psychological dimension to this state.
Eckhart explains that humans seek and desire physical connection with another as a way of obtaining wholeness. Though he states that this is short-lived and ultimately ‘wholeness’ cannot be found on the level of form.
On the psychological level he says that as long as you are identified with the mind, you have an externally derived sense of self. That is to say, you get your sense of who you are from things that ultimately have nothing to do with who you are: your social role, possessions, external appearance, successes and failures, believe systems, and so on.
This false, mind-made self, the ego, feels vulnerable, insecure and is always seeking new things to identify with to give it a feeling that it exists. But nothing is ever enough to give it lasting fulfillment. Its fear remains; its sense of lack and neediness remains.
When a special relationships comes along, it seems to be the answer to all the ego’s problems and to meet all its needs. But, the center is outside of you and your sense of self is derived outside of you.
Eventually, when your partner behaves in ways that fail to meet your needs, or rather those of your ego, the feelings of fear, pain, and lack that are an intrinsic part of egoic consciousness but had been covered up by the “love relationship” now resurface.
It’s not all doom and gloom for us in our relationships though as Eckhart goes on to explain.
From addictive to enlightened relationships
With great relief, Eckhart explains that it is possible to change an addictive relationship.
This can be done by being present and intensifying your presence by taking your attention more deeply into the Now.
Your presence needs to be strong enough so that you no longer get taken over by the thinker.
He goes on to talk about acceptance and non-judgement with the greatest catalyst for change in relationships being acceptance of your partner as he or she is without needing to judge or change them in any way. We also need to stop judging ourselves.
When we become present we end all codependency and being drawn into unconscious patterns.
We will then either separate – in love – or move ever more deeply into the Now together – into Being.
Love is a state of Being.
Relationships are an opportunity for spiritual practice.
It is possible to create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.
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 into the light. This is an opportunity to practice.
Finally Eckhart discusses how and why women are closer to enlightenment than men, how to dissolve the collective female pain-body and giving up the relationship with yourself.
Chapter 9 – Beyond happiness and unhappiness there is peace
Eckhart begins by explaining that happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive whereas inner peace does not.
He continues – when we allow things to be as they are, this ‘allowing to be’ takes us beyond the mind with its resistance patterns that create the positive-negative polarities.
He provides some examples of situations that may cause unhappiness and acknowledges that we may not be able to be happy, but it is possible to be at peace.
Further, he states that if you are able to change a situation do what you have to do, but that in the meantime accept what is.
Through acceptance and non-resistance suffering is transmuted into inner peace.
The chapter ends with discussions on impermanence and the cycles of life, using and relinquishing negativity, the nature of compassion and toward a different order of reality.
Chapter 10 – The meaning of surrender
Such an important subject matter. I think an understanding of the meaning of surrender is really important. I don’t want to generalise, however I do think there is largely a misunderstanding of what the word means. I certainly have had to surrender in my life. It didn’t necessarily come easily initially but I’m so glad I was able too (eventually). It may not have changed my life situation, but it changed my experience and freed me from unnecessary pain in the moment.
As Eckhart says many have negative connotations around what this word means exist, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic and so on. Eckhart explains that true surrender is something entirely different.
It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action.
Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.
Essentially, to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is. Inner resistance is to say ‘no’ to what is, through mental judgement and emotional negativity.
Surrender reconnects you with Being.
Eckhart elaborates further on surrender and relates this to life situations you may find unsatisfactory or intolerable, how unconscious resistance patters perpetuate situations, surrender in personal relationships, transforming illness into enlightenment and what to do when disaster strikes.
Compelled to Act
In my previous article The Power of Now Book Review – When the student is ready!, I said that I just wished everyone would read it. That sentiment still stands. I know how life changing it can be (I’m not necessarily talking on the physical level here either though that can happen. I’m talking about an inner transformation).
I can’t speak highly enough of it.
As always, I am very keen to receive your comments and any questions you may have. Please share them below and I’ll respond as soon as possible.
Please share this article if you have found it of value or know someone who might get something out of it.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Go forth with ease and just be!