Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 6

May all that is Sacred within you, encourage you to let go, and forgive.  May you grasp the Grace that is all around you, not so you let others or yourself off the hook, but so that you may take another step towards the freedom that awaits you.

Here’s a summary of my opening thoughts on the this chapter, and an experience I led the group through

  • Tolle’s greatest contributions are his simple observations (i.e., Over-identification with mind invites suffering).  As with many gifted observers, he also has a need to explain why things are the way they are.  This is where he begins to walk into the trap that he has so wisely warned us of.  I understand this, but I find myself wanting him to show more awareness of it… Perhaps he does, but I’ve missed it.
  • Body is our closest connection to animal life.
    • Animals live instinctively and reactively
    • The more we befriend our bodies, the more we are able to live intentionally
    • Virtually all religions have some strain that is very anti-body.
      • The body is seen as dangerous and in need of severe control.
      • The tool of choice is repression, rather than transformation.
  • Tolle underlines the importance of present attention to Body
    • I would add the important ingredient of curiosity
  • My guess is that those who overcome addictive impulses most successfully are those who are willing to be curious about sabotaging behavior.
    • If you have impulses that are clearly self-destructive, plain old willpower and accountability are important.
    • However, a person who never gets around the curiosity angle, and listens to Body, is not likely to get too far down the transformation road.
  • This evening I want to invite you to explore what Tolle presents as a key body issue, forgiveness, in three stages.
    • First, we will engage an 8 minute relaxation exercise from TolleTV.
    • Second, we will reflect on a key paragraph in Chapter 6.
    • Third, I will lead a meditative exercise related to forgiveness
      • If I ask you to forgive someone in your past or present, who comes to mind?
        • Imagine this person.
        • Be aware of your feelings… Mad, Sad, Glad, Afraid
        • What would it cost you to forgive?
        • How might it serve you to forgive?
      • If I ask you to forgive yourself, what situation or issue comes to mind?
        • How do you finish this sentence, “It is time for me to forgive myself for…”
        • Be aware of your feelings… Mad, Sad, Glad, Afraid
        • What would it cost you to forgive yourself?
        • How might it serve you to forgive yourself?
      • Closing affirmation: May all that is Sacred within you, encourage you to let go, and forgive.  May you grasp the Grace that is all around you, not so you let others or yourself off the hook, but so that you may take another step towards the freedom that awaits you.

Section by section summary of Chapter 6.

  • Being is Your Deepest Self
    • The physical body can be a point of connection with Being.
    • Connection with the body can help us overcome the “sin” of self-inflicted suffering.
  • Look Beyond the Words
    • Tolle acknowledges how mind can over-react to words like “sin,” and invites the reader to look beyond the word symbol to the reality under-girding the symbol.
  • Finding Your Invisible and Indestructible Reality
    • Mind can overtake virtually all awareness.
    • One way of moving past Mind is to simply attend to the body.
  • Connecting with the Inner Body
    • Tolle invites the reader to stop for a few moments and pay attention to the sensations present in the body.
  • Transformation Through the Body
    • Our bodies are our closest connection to animal life.  Human bodies serve exactly the same functions for us as animal bodies serve for animals.
    • Tolle surmises that our need to see ourselves as different from animals led to a theology of body denial.
    • Tolle says, “The fact is that no one has ever become enlightened through denying or fighting the body or through an out-of-body experience.” (He would certainly get arguments on this point.)
    • He key point, though, is “Transformation is through the body, not away from it”
  • Sermon on the Body
    • “Do not fight against the body, for in doing so you are fighting against your own reality. You are your body. The body that you can see and touch is only a thin illusory veil. Underneath it lies the invisible inner body, the doorway into Being, into Life Unmanifested. Through the inner body, you are inseparably connected to this unmanifested One Life—birthless, deathless, eternally present. Through the inner body, you are forever one with God.”
  • Have Deep Roots Within
    • Tolle encourages us to develop and maintain body awareness.
    • Tolle recommends we use moments of waiting (i.e., standing in line) to practice body awareness.  These are moments in which the mind typically offers irritation and impatience.
  • Before You Enter the Body, Forgive
    • Tolle seems to be saying that the body offer us clues regarding grievances we are carrying. So, he turns to some discussion of forgiveness.
    • Forgiveness is to relinquish your grievance and so to let go of grief. It happens naturally once you realize that your grievance serves no purpose except to strengthen a false sense of self. 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.  The moment you truly forgive, you have reclaimed your power from the mind. 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. You become present, you enter your body, you feel the vibrant peace and stillness that emanate from Being. That is why Jesus said: Before you enter the temple, forgive.
    • Tolle is equating temple with body.
  • Your Link with the Unmanifested
    • Tolle gets a bit more esoteric in this section.
    • He says that the Unmanifested is the same as Being.
  • Slowing Down the Aging Process
    • Tolle says that the inner body does not age, and that our connection with it will slow down the physical aging process.
  • Strengthening the Immune System
    • Tolle sides with many approaches to holistic approaches in asserting that the lower stress that a connection to Being brings can strengthen the immune system.
  • Let Breath Take You into the Body
    • Tolle affirms the benefits of conscious breathing.
  • Creative Use of Mind
    • Connection with Being via the body enhances creativity.
  • The Art of Listening
    • Listening to Body elevates the capacity to listen to others.
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Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 5


Well, I just realized I did not post a summary from Chapter 5, so this post will be immediately followed by the post for Chapter 6

Chapter 5 – The State of Presence

Tolle is moving more and more toward philosophical and psychological underpinnings for his perspective.  He says that the wider the time gap between perception and thought, the more depth there is to you as a human being, which is to say the more conscious you are.  I would add a third element: reaction.  In immature persons, there is virtually no time gag from perception, thought, and reaction.  As we mature, we create more space in this cycle.

  • Immature
    • Perception: That person just cut me off in traffic.
    • Thought: The person is an idiot.
    • Reaction: I offer him the universal hand signal of ill will.
  • Mature
    • Perception: That person cut me off in traffic
    • Thought: Driving can be stressful and unpredictable.  I wonder how often I cut people off when I’m not paying attention.
    • Reaction: A quick prayer for all my fellow travelers, and gratitude for the patience I seem to be developing.

Here’s a section by section summary of Chapter 5

  • It’s Not What You Think it Is
    • You cannot “think” your way to presence.
    • Presence in anchored in body awareness.
  • The Esoteric Meaning of “Waiting”
    • Waiting, in the sense that Jesus described, is not about focusing on some future situation that you expect, or hope, will unfold.
    • Waiting, in the Now sense, is being fully present to each moment.
    • Tolle asserts that Jesus’s parable’s about waiting were NOT about the end of historical time, but rather about the end of psychological time.
  • Beauty Arises in the Stillness of Your Presence
    • Satori is the Zen word that refers to those flashes of Presence which are not in themselves transformative, but provide a flash of insight regarding the experience of Presence.
    • Satori moments are flashes of “no mind.”
    • The wider the time gap between perception and thought, the more depth there is to you as a human being, which is to say the more conscious you are.
    • A mind dominated culture produces ugliness.
  • Realizing Pure Consciousness
    • Tolle offers his philosophy of Being and consciousness.
    • Being is the eternal home of “God,” and is our home as well.
    • Consciousness seems to naturally create “forms” which create the world.
    • We become attached to these forms, and lose awareness of the Being behind them (Plato’s Cave?)
    • When we are able to then reconnect to Being, the “world” ends.
  • Christ: The Reality of Your Divine Presence
    • Tolle asserts that “Christ” is synonymous with “Presence.”
    • To connect with Christ is to connect with Presence.
    • The “second coming” of Christ is a transformation of human consciousness, a shift from time to presence, from thinking to pure consciousness, not the arrival of some man or woman.