Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 9

A consistent theme in all great spiritual traditions is the struggle the human has brain with accepting that there might be something better than happiness….

Chapter 9 – Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness there is Peace

  • The Higher Good Beyond Good and Bad
    • Accepting things as they are is a first step in experiencing peace.
    • Move beyond the dualism of good and bad, and assume that every circumstance, even the painful ones, can move us toward peace.
    • It seems that most people need to experience a great deal of suffering before they will relinquish resistance and accept—before they will forgive. As soon as they do, one of the greatest miracles happens: the awakening of Being-consciousness through what appears as evil, the transmutation of suffering into inner peace.
  • The End of Your Life Drama
    • Most “bad” things in life are created by the ego’s need for control.
    • We can create drama when we battle with other egos, and we can create drama on our own, battling with our own ego.
    • When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries.
    • WME – For the conscious person, competing points of view are simply information.
    • Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story is their identity. The ego runs their life. They have their whole sense of self invested in it. Even their—usually unsuccessful—search for an answer, a solution, or for healing becomes part of it. What they fear and resist most is the end of their drama. As long as they are their mind, what they fear and resist most is their own awakening. When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries. You cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. An argument implies identification with your mind and a mental position, as well as resistance and reaction to the other person’s position. The result is that the polar opposites become mutually energized. These are the mechanics of unconsciousness. You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack. So it won’t turn into drama. When you are fully conscious, you cease to be in conflict. “No one who is at one with himself can even conceive of conflict,” states A Course in Miracles. This refers not only to conflict with other people but more fundamentally to conflict within you, which ceases when there is no longer any clash between the demands and expectations of your mind and what is.
  • Impermanence and the Cycle of Life
    • Although physical pain can be a reality, all suffering is created by the ego’s resistance to accepting things as they are.
    • There are cycles of up and down in all of life.  It is the ego that defines such things as good and bad.
    • The down cycle is absolutely essential for spiritual realization. You must have failed deeply on some level or experienced some deep loss or pain to be drawn to the spiritual dimension. Or perhaps your very success became empty and meaningless and so turned out to be failure. Failure lies concealed in every success, and success in every failure. In this world, which is to say on the level of form, everybody “fails” sooner or later, of course, and every achievement eventually comes to naught. All forms are impermanent.
    • All the great spiritual traditions speak to the importance of not becoming attached to the cycles of life, and of defining the goodness or badness of life in terms of these cycles.
    • When we begin to move with the cycles of life, we find an “ease” to life.
    • The happiness that is derived from some secondary source is never very deep. It is only a pale reflection of the joy of Being, the vibrant peace that you find within as you enter the state of nonresistance. Being takes you beyond the polar opposites of the mind and frees you from dependency on form. Even if everything were to collapse and crumble all around you, you would still feel a deep inner core of peace. You may not be happy, but you will be at peace.
  • Using and Relinquishing Negativity
    • The ego uses negativity to try and manipulate reality.
    • Tolle says that humans are the only life form on earth that knows negativity, and we use it to pollute our environment.
    • When we sense negativity arising, we can choose to be present and “wake up,” and let go of the mind games.
    • Tolle encourages us to be mindful of the little irritations that crop up in life.  He notes that when we examine these irritations we will discover they are manufactured by the mind, and serve no useful purpose (I would say that some if not many irritations are indeed useful.  They might point to important information about something that needs tending.  For instance, that irritating sound I hear when I drive my car might be signaling a problem with the car that can be repaired.)
    • When you begin to accept what is, then every moment becomes the best possible moment.
  • The Nature of Compassion
    • Some believe that detachment can lead to disconnection from others.  Tolle insists that the opposite is true.  When we are free of expectations, then we become free to move towards others with genuine compassion.
    • True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life.
  • Toward a Different Order of Reality
    • This is a difficult section to summarize.  Tolle acknowledges that there is deep suffering in the world.  For example, there are large numbers of people who are starving.  He recognizes that it is valuable to address these practical issues, but insists that we will never make headway unless we recognize that the core issue is the general state of unconsciousness  He refers to several spiritual teachers who refer to the salvation of reality as some form of universal consciousness.
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