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Exploring the Power Of Now

Updated: Jul 5


A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. "I have nothing to give you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you are sitting on?" "Nothing," replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember." "Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger. "No," said the beggar. "What's the point? There's nothing in there." "Have a look inside," insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.

"But I am not a beggar," I can hear you say.


Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or

fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.


The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some super-human accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater than you. It is finding your true nature beyond name and form. The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflict within and without becomes the norm.


I love the Buddha's simple definition of enlightenment as "the end of suffering." There is nothing superhuman in that, is there? Of course, as a definition, it is incomplete. It only tells you what enlightenment is not: no suffering. But what's left when there is no more suffering? The Buddha is silent on that, and his silence implies that you'll have to find out for yourself. He uses a negative definition so that the mind cannot make it into something to believe in or into a superhuman accomplishment, a goal that is impossible for you to attain. Despite this precaution, the majority of Buddhists still believe that enlightenment is for the Buddha, not for them, at least not in this lifetime.

You used the word Being. Can you explain what you mean by that?


Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence. This means that it is accessible to you now as your own deepest self, your true nature. But don't seek to grasp it with your mind. Don't try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind is still. When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of "feeling-realization" is enlightenment." ~ Power of Now, Chapter 1


Discussion:


True Wealth and Material Wealth:

  • What does the author mean by "true wealth"?

  • How does the author differentiate between material wealth and true wealth?

  • Do you agree with the idea that those without true wealth are beggars, regardless of their material possessions? Seeking Fulfillment Externally:

  • Why does the author believe that looking for fulfillment outside of oneself is inadequate?

  • What are some examples of external sources of validation and fulfillment that people commonly seek?

  • Can you think of a time when you or someone you know sought external validation? What was the outcome? Concept of Enlightenment:

  • How does the author describe enlightenment?

  • Why does the author emphasize enlightenment as a natural state rather than a super-human accomplishment?

  • Do you think enlightenment is attainable for everyone? Why or why not? Connectedness and Separation:

  • What is the significance of feeling connected to Being?

  • How does the illusion of separation impact an individual's perception of themselves and the world?

  • What are some ways to cultivate a sense of connectedness with oneself and the world? The Buddha's Definition of Enlightenment:

  • What is the Buddha's definition of enlightenment according to the passage?

  • Why might the Buddha have chosen to use a negative definition for enlightenment?

  • How can the idea of "the end of suffering" influence one's understanding of enlightenment? Understanding Being:

  • How does the author define Being?

  • Why does the author caution against trying to understand Being with the mind?

  • How can one experience Being, according to the passage? Personal Reflection:

  • Have you ever experienced a moment of deep inner peace or joy? How would you describe it?

  • What practices or habits help you stay present and connected to your true self?

  • How do you think society’s emphasis on material success impacts individuals' pursuit of true wealth and enlightenment?


These questions aim to delve deeper into the themes and concepts presented in the passage, fostering a meaningful conversation.




"When you say Being, are you talking about God? If you are, then why don’t you say it?


The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. I use it sometimes, but I do so sparingly. By misuse, I mean that people who have never even glimpsed the real of the sacred, the infinite vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is that they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as “My or our God is the only true God, and pour God is false,” or Nietzsche’s famous statement “God is dead.”


observe it on both the mental and the emotional levels. What thoughts is your mind creating around this situation? Then look at the emotion, which is the body’s reaction to those thoughts. Feel the emotion. Does it feel pleasant or unpleasant? Is it an energy that you would actually choose to have inside you? Do you have a choice?


Maybe you are being taken advantage of, maybe the activity you are engaged in is tedious, maybe someone close to you is dishonest, irritating, or unconscious, but all this is irrelevant. Whether your thoughts and emotions about this situation are justified or not makes no difference. The fact is that you are resisting what is. You are making the present moment into an enemy. You are creating unhappiness, conflict between the inner and the outer. 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.


Either stop doing what you are doing, speak to the person concerned and express fully what you feel, or drop the negativity that your mind has created around the situation and that serves no purpose whatsoever except to strengthen a false sense of self. Recognizing its futility is important. Negativity is never the optimum way of dealing with any situation. In fact, in most cases it keeps you stuck in it, blocking real change. Anything that is done with negative energy will become contaminated by it and in time give rise to more pain, more unhappiness. Furthermore, any negative inner state is contagious: Unhappiness spreads more easily than a physical disease. Through the law of resonance, it triggers and feeds latent negativity in others, unless they are immune — that is, highly conscious.


Are you polluting the world or cleaning up the mess? You are responsible for your inner space; nobody else is, just as you are responsible for the planet. As within, so without: If humans clear inner pollution, then they will also cease to create outer pollution.


How can we drop negativity, as you suggest?


By dropping it. How do you drop a piece of hot coal that you are holding in your hand? How do you drop some heavy and useless baggage that you are carrying? By recognizing that you don't want to suffer the pain or carry the burden anymore and then letting go of it.


Deep unconsciousness, such as the pain-body, or other deep pain, such as the loss of a loved one, usually needs to be transmuted through acceptance combined with the light of your presence — your sustained attention. Many patterns in ordinary unconsciousness, on the other hand, can simply be dropped once you know that you don’t want them and don't need them anymore, once you realize that you have a choice, that you are not just a bundle of conditioned reflexes. All this implies that you are able to access the power of Now. Without it, you have no choice.


If you call some emotions negative, aren't you creating a mental polarity of good and bad, as you explained earlier?


No. The polarity was created at an earlier stage when your mind judged the present moment as bad; this judgment then created the negative emotion.


But if you call some emotions negative, aren't you really saying that they shouldn't be there, that it’s not okay to have those emotions? My understanding is that we should give ourselves permission to have whatever feelings come up, rather than judge them as bad or say that we shouldn't have them. It’s okay to feel resentful; it's okay to be angry, irritated, moody, or whatever — otherwise, we get into repression, inner conflict, or denial. Everything is okay as it is.


Of course. 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? Would you choose a thought or feeling that cuts you off from your natural state of well-being, the joy of life within? Any such feeling I call negative, which simply means bad. Not in the sense that “You shouldn’t have done that,” but just plain factual bad, like feeling sick in the stomach.


How is it possible that humans killed in excess of one hundred million fellow humans in the twentieth century alone? Humans inflicting pain of such magnitude on one another is beyond anything you can imagine. And that's not taking into account the mental, emotional and 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.


Do they act in this way because they are in touch with their natural state, the joy of life within? Of course not. Only people who are in a deeply negative state, who feel very bad indeed, would create such a reality as a reflection of how they feel. Now they are engaged in destroying nature and the planet that sustains them. Unbelievable but true. Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species. That's not a judgment. It’s a fact. It is also a fact that the sanity is there underneath the madness. Healing and redemption are available right now.


Coming back specifically to what you said — it is certainly true that when you accept your resentment, moodiness, anger, and so on, you are no longer forced to act them out blindly, and you are less likely to project them onto others. But I wonder if you are not deceiving yourself. When you have been practicing acceptance for a while, as you have, there comes a point when you need to go on to the next stage, where those negative emotions are not created anymore. If you don't, your “acceptance” just becomes a mental label that allows your ego to continue to indulge in unhappiness and so strengthen its sense of separation from other people, your surroundings, your here and now. As you know, separation is the basis for the ego’s sense of identity. True acceptance would transmute those feelings at once. And if you really knew deeply that everything is “okay,” as you put it, and which of course is true, then would you have those negative feelings in the first place? Without judgment, without resistance to what is, they would not arise. You have an idea in your mind that “everything is okay,” but deep down you don’t really believe it, and so the old mental-emotional patterns of resistance are still in place. That’s what makes you feel bad.


That’s okay, too.


Are you defending your right to be unconscious, your right to suffer? Don’t worry: Nobody is going to take that away from you. 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?"~ Eckhart Tolle


Discussion:


Easy Conversation Questions on Eckhart Tolle's Concept of Being and God

  1. How do you personally define the concept of "Being"?

  2. Do you think the word "God" has lost its true meaning over time? Why or why not?

  3. How do you feel about using the term "God" versus "Being" or another term to describe a higher power or consciousness?

  4. Can you recall a moment when you felt connected to something greater than yourself? How did it make you feel?

  5. Do you find it challenging to stay present and resist negative thoughts and emotions? What helps you stay grounded?

  6. How do you observe your own thoughts and emotions in difficult situations?

  7. Have you ever experienced a situation where you resisted the present moment? What was the outcome?

  8. What practices or habits help you maintain a clear inner space, free from negativity?

  9. How do you handle situations where you feel taken advantage of or frustrated by others?

  10. Can you share a time when you successfully dropped negativity and how it affected the situation?

Conversation Questions for Self-Observation and Emotional Awareness

  1. What thoughts usually arise in your mind when you are faced with a challenging situation?

  2. How do you typically react emotionally to stress or conflict?

  3. Can you identify any recent situations where you felt resistance to what is happening in the present moment?

  4. How do you differentiate between justified and unjustified negative emotions?

  5. Do you believe it's possible to completely accept your emotions without judgment? Why or why not?

  6. How do you practice acceptance in your daily life, especially during difficult times?

  7. What steps do you take to let go of negative emotions and thoughts?

  8. Have you ever noticed how your negative emotions can affect those around you? Can you share an example?

  9. How do you balance between taking action and accepting situations as they are?

  10. What role does self-awareness play in your journey towards a more mindful and present life?


 


"WHEREVER YOU ARE, BE THERE TOTALLY


Can you give some more examples of ordinary unconsciousness?


See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.


Ordinary unconsciousness is always linked in some way with denial of the Now. The Now, of course, also implies the here. Are you resisting your here and now? Some people would always rather be somewhere else. Their “here” is never good enough. Through self-observation, find out if that is the case in your life. Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity. No psychic pollution. Keep your inner space clear.


If you take any action — leaving or changing your situation — drop the negativity first, if at all possible. Action arising out of insight into what is required is more effective than action arising out of negativity.


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. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing. Is fear preventing you from taking action? Acknowledge the fear, watch it, take your attention into it, be fully present with it. Doing so cuts the link between the fear and your thinking. Don’t let the fear rise up into your mind. Use the power of the Now. Fear cannot prevail] against it.


If there is truly nothing that you can do to change your here and now, and you can't remove yourself from the situation, then accept your here and now totally by dropping all inner resistance. The false, unhappy self that loves feeling miserable, resentful, or sorry for itself can then no longer survive. This is called surrender. Surrender is not weakness. There is great strength in it. Only a surrendered person has spiritual power. Through surrender, you will be free internally of the situation. You may then find that the situation changes without any effort on your part. In any case, you are free.


Or is there something that you “should” be doing but are not doing it? Get up and do it now. Alternatively, completely accept your inactivity, laziness, or passivity at this moment, if that is your choice. Go into it fully. Enjoy it. Be as lazy or inactive as you can. If you go into it fully and consciously, you will soon come out of it. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, there is no inner conflict, no resistance, no negativity.


Are you stressed? Are you so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there? Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there,” or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. It's a split that tears you apart inside. To create and live with such an inner split is insane. The fact that everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it any less insane. If you have to, you can move fast, work fast, or even run, without projecting yourself into the future and without resisting the present. As you move, work, run — do it totally. Enjoy the flow of energy, the high energy of that moment. Now you are no longer stressed, no longer splitting yourself in two. Just moving, running, working — and enjoying it, Or you can drop the whole thing and sit on a park bench. But when you do, watch your mind. It may say: “You should be working. You are wasting time.” Observe the mind. Smile at ii.


Does the past take up a great deal of your attention? Do you frequently talk and think about it, either positively or negatively? The great things that you have achieved, your adventures or experiences, or your victim story and the dreadful things that were done to you, or maybe what you did to someone else? Are your thought processes creating guilt, pride, resentment, anger, regret, or self-pity? Then you are not only reinforcing a false sense of self but also helping to accelerate your body's aging process by creating an accumulation of past in your psyche. Verify this for yourself by observing those around you who have a strong tendency to hold on to the past.


Die to the past every moment. You don’t need it. Only refer to it when it is absolutely relevant to the present. Feel the power of this moment and the fullness of Being. Feel your presence." ~ Eckhart Tolle


Discussion Questions:


Conversation Questions on "Wherever You Are, Be There Totally"

  1. Have you ever experienced a moment where you felt completely present? What was it like?

  2. What activities or places help you feel the most grounded and present?

  3. How do you remind yourself to stay in the present moment during a busy day?

  4. Can you think of a time when being present in the moment helped you enjoy or understand a situation better?

  5. What are some small changes you can make to be more present in your daily life?

  6. How do you think being fully present can impact your relationships with others?

  7. Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation techniques to help stay present? If so, which ones?

  8. How do you deal with distractions that pull you away from the present moment?

  9. What role do you think technology plays in our ability to stay present?

  10. How does staying present affect your sense of happiness and well-being?

Examples of Ordinary Unconsciousness

  1. Automatic Responses: Answering "I'm fine" to the question "How are you?" without really thinking about it.

  2. Mindless Eating: Snacking while watching TV and not paying attention to the food.

  3. Habitual Complaining: Grumbling about the weather or traffic without considering the futility of such complaints.

  4. Zoning Out: Driving on autopilot and not remembering parts of the journey.

  5. Overthinking: Ruminating on past events or worrying about the future instead of focusing on the present.

  6. Multi-tasking: Trying to do several things at once and not giving full attention to any of them.

  7. Procrastination: Putting off tasks and feeling guilty about not doing them instead of taking action or accepting the choice to rest.

  8. Social Media Scrolling: Losing track of time while endlessly scrolling through social media feeds.

  9. Routine Conversations: Engaging in small talk without truly listening or connecting with the other person.

  10. Judging Others: Making quick judgments about people based on superficial factors without understanding their full context.

Questions for Self-Observation and Acceptance

  1. Can you recall a recent situation where you found yourself complaining? How did it make you feel?

  2. When was the last time you felt stressed because you were trying to be somewhere else instead of being present?

  3. Do you often find yourself wishing you were doing something else or being somewhere else? What triggers these thoughts?

  4. Can you identify a current situation in your life that you find intolerable? What are your options for dealing with it?

  5. How do you typically respond to feelings of fear? Can you observe and be present with your fear the next time it arises?

  6. What are some ways you can drop negativity before taking action in a difficult situation?

  7. Reflect on a time when you were inactive or lazy. How did you feel about it? Could you fully accept it without guilt?

  8. How often do you think about the past, and what emotions does it bring up? How can you bring your focus back to the present?

  9. In what ways do you resist the present moment? What would happen if you surrendered to it instead?

  10. How does the concept of “dying to the past” resonate with you? What steps can you take to practice this in your life?

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