Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author. His best-selling book, The Power of Now, was published in the late 1990s and translated into 33 languages. Oprah Winfrey is a big fan, saying that this book can ‘transform your thinking.’ High praise indeed, but does it live up to expectations?
The book is based on the concept of mindfulness and living in the present rather than the past or future. Tolle talks openly in the introduction about his battles with ‘periods of suicidal depression’ but omits any details. I suppose in the context of the book they are not important. Tolle explores the idea that ‘I’ and ‘Self’ are two separate entitles: these binary oppositions are key in the book and dominate the dialogue.
After coming to this epiphany, he surmises that this realisation made him fully conscious and ‘felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. Cue song birds and the enlightened state. Although his descriptions are maddeningly idealistic (the inner skeptic in me!) is is a book worth pursuing.
In the form of questions and dialogue, Tolle explores the idea that our minds, our thinking, becomes the enemy and that ‘thinking has become a disease.’ People live their lives in the past or fret about the future, and therefore we often ignore the now, the present.
What Tolle fails to recognise or discuss in this book are the importance of external factors when contributing to our ‘mind-identified state.’ For example, primary and secondary socialiastion that often plays a vital part in forming our thinking, and can be important when on the road to recovery.
The author’s conversational tone and style make it easier to digest and understand between the ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ mind and his message is an important one: Surrender and live in the present, because that is all we have. This takes practice, but mindfulness is becoming more popular in psychotherapy. It is not easy to become ‘enlightened’ and I can’t quite imagine the doves and harps when that moment comes, but persevere and it becomes an inspirational and interesting read.