Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 10

This entry marks the end of our study of Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.  He returns to the central them of surrender…

Chapter 10 – The Meaning of Surrender

  • Acceptance of the Now
    • Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”
    • Surrender is not the same thing as resignation.  One can surrender to the reality of a situation and still take steps to create a different path.
    • If you find your life situation unsatisfactory or even intolerable, it is only by surrendering first that you can break the unconscious resistance pattern that perpetuates that situation.”
    • Tolle uses the term surrendered action” to describe the process of letting go of judgement while seeking change.
    • The concept of “motivation” is very important in psychology.  Tolle challenges the assumption that acceptance will lead to a lack of motivation.  He observes that we can experience a more effective motivation when we surrender (wme: This is what I would call the difference between motivation via anxiety and motivation via vision).
  • From Mind Energy to Spiritual Energy
    • Letting go of resistance begins with acknowledging the resistance.
    • Be present to resistance as it arises, and notice how Mind seeks to label and judge it.
    • As we acknowledge resistance we become freer to choose our actions rather being reactive.
    • Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power. What it sees as strength is weakness.”  ( 1 Corinthians 1:27  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.)
  • Surrender in Personal Relationships
    • It is true that only an unconscious person will try to use or manipulate others, but it is equally true that only an unconscious person can be used and manipulated. If you resist or fight unconscious behavior in others, you become unconscious yourself. But surrender doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to be used by unconscious people. Not at all. It is perfectly possible to say “no” firmly and clearly to a person or to walk away from a situation and be in a state of complete inner nonresistance at the same time.
    • Surrender facilitates meaningful action.  There are times when action is helpful, even called for.  However, when we are acting from a place of surrender, we are not judging or fighting, we are simply acting in response to our values.
    • The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power.
  • Transforming Illness into Enlightenment
    • Illness is an unavoidable aspect of life.  It gains power over us to the degree that we allow it to define us in terms of past and future.
    • When we surrender to illness as a part of our reality in the Now, illness can become a part of our enlightenment.
    • Illness is not the problem. You are the problem—as long as the egoic mind is in control. When you are ill or disabled, do not feel that you have failed in some way, do not feel guilty. Do not blame life for treating you unfairly, but do not blame yourself either. All that is resistance. If you have a major illness, use it for enlightenment. Anything “bad” that happens in your life—use it for enlightenment. Withdraw time from the illness. Do not give it any past or future. Let it force you into intense present-moment awareness—and see what happens.
  • When Disaster Strikes
    • For a majority of people, some sort of disaster, or “limit-situation,” is required to break through the hard shell of the ego. (wme: Two paths toward transformation – suffering and intention.)
    • When disaster strikes, the path towards peace requires surrender.
  • Transforming Suffering into Peace
    • The practice of surrender begins with mindful surrender to each moment – saying “yes” to both what is and what isn’t.
    • If we miss that moment of surrender, then we generate suffering through resistance.  This becomes the second opportunity.  We can choose to be present to the suffering without resistance or judgement.
    • Forget about surrender for a moment. When your pain is deep, all talk of surrender will probably seem futile and meaningless anyway. When your pain is deep, you will likely have a strong urge to escape from it rather than surrender to it. You don’t want to feel what you feel. What could be more normal? But there is no escape, no way out. There are many pseudo escapes—work, drink, drugs, anger, projection, suppression, and so on—but they don’t free you from the pain.
    • When there is no way out, there is still always a way through. So don’t turn away from the pain. Face it. Feel it fully. Feel it—don’t think about it! Express it if necessary, but don’t create a script in your mind around it. Give all your attention to the feeling, not to the person, event, or situation that seems to have caused it. Don’t let the mind use the pain to create a victim identity for yourself out of it. Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in suffering. Since it is impossible to get away from the feeling, the only possibility of change is to move into it; otherwise, nothing will shift.
    • At this point, surrender is happening.
  • The Way of the Cross
    • Tolle asserts that the common understanding of the Way of Cross is misguided.  He says that it is not the suffering that is redemptive, but that suffering creates the opportunity for surrender.
    • The way of the cross is a complete reversal. It means that the worst thing in your life, your cross, turns into the best thing that ever happened to you, by forcing you into surrender, into “death,” forcing you to become as nothing, to become as God—because God, too, is no-thing.
    • At this time, as far as the unconscious majority of humans is concerned, the way of the cross is still the only way. They will only awaken through further suffering, and enlightenment as a collective phenomenon will be predictably preceded by vast upheavals.
  • The Power to Choose
    • Tolle notes that we commonly misuse the word “choose,” as in someone chooses a dysfunctional relational.  He insists that choice requires consciousness, and that our impulse towards suffering is due to a lack of consciousness… to an identification with mind.
    • Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present. Until you reach that point, you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. This means that you are compelled to think, feel, and act in certain ways according to the conditioning of your mind. That is why Jesus said: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
    • Nobody chooses dysfunction, conflict, pain. Nobody chooses insanity. They happen because there is not enough presence in you to dissolve the past, not enough light to dispel the darkness. You are not fully here. You have not quite woken up yet. In the meantime, the conditioned mind is running your life.
    • Tolle closes this book with the following exchange with the interviewer:
      • When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. You do not need it anymore. Presence is the key. The Now is the key.
      • How will I know when I have surrendered?
      • When you no longer need to ask the question.
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