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.

The Power of Now – Chapter 4 – Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now

Chapter 4 – Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now

Loss of Now: The Core Delusion

  • In some rare cases, this shift in consciousness happens dramatically and radically, once and for all.  When it does, it usually come about through total surrender in the midst of intense suffering.  Most people, however, have to work at it.
  • See Trails, Snakes and Cabins
  • Knowing you are not present is a great success because this knowing is a form of presence.

Ordinary Unconsciousness and Deep Unconsciousness

  • [Ordinary unconsciousness] is most people’s normal state.  In that state, you are run by the egoic mind, and you are unaware of Being.  It is a state not acute pain or unhappiness but of an almost continuous low level of unease, discontent, boredom, or nervousness — a kind of background static.
  • We use “idols” (wme’s word) to distract ourselves from this background noise.
  • The pain of deep unconsciousness appears when things go wrong, and the ego cannot not manage the pain through it’s typical idolatries.
  • In ordinary unconsciousness, habitual resistance to or denial of what is creates the unease and discontent that most people accept as normal living.
  • The best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with life’s challenges when they come.
    • Do you become more intensely conscious, or
    • Do you ramp up your avoidance strategies?
  • It is essentially that we bring more consciousness to everyday life so that we can be prepared to deal with the challenges (Eades: Its what we do when we feel good that determines how we handle life when we feel rotten.)

What are they Seeking?

  • We are all caught up in a collective resistance to the Now.
  • We do not know what we are seeking collectively or individually.

Dissolving Ordinary Unconsciousness

  • The first step in dissolving ordinary unconsciousness is to make it conscious.
  • Monitor the state of your Being.

Freedom from Unhappiness

  • Consider why you do things that generate unhappiness.
    • ACT theory suggests that we choose to do some “unhappy” things because they reflect our values, and this is positive because it adds meaning to life.
    • However, if we are caught up in unhappy choices mindlessly, then we begin to experience ourselves as victims.
    • 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.
    • Are you polluting the world or cleaning up the mess?
    • 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?

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.
  • Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there,” or being present but wanting to be in the future.  It’s a split that tears you apart inside.
  • 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.
  • A few mind strategies that disrupt the Now
    • I’m worried about the future.
    • One day I’ll make it.
    • I need to wait for something to happen.
    • I must work to improve my life.
    • What I have is not good enough.

The Inner Purpose of Your Life’s Journey

  • [The] inner purpose concerns a deepening of your Being in the vertical dimension of the timeless Now.
  • Eades: The world’s great religious traditions say this is characterized by sacrificial love.

The Past Cannot Survive in Your Presence

  • Tolle believes it is a mistake to pursue the unconscious past.
  • The unconscious past is a bottomless pit.
  • Attention to Now will reveal as much of the past as is helpful and relevant.
  • It is not necessary to make sense of the past to live fully in the now.

Meeting 3 – Chapter 3 – Moving Deeply into the Now

Thanks again to the group for providing stimulating conversation.  We focused on one particular idea that came from this chapter:

We are obessessed with the past because we believe it defines us.
We are obsessed with the future because we believe it will redeem us.
Both are illusions.

Core Points

  1. Distinguish between psychological time and clock time.
  2. Psychological time is obsessed with memory and anticipation.
  3. Clock time makes use of past and future in order to make the best use of Now.

Chapter Summary

  1. Don’t seek yourself in the mind.
    1. The ego’s needs are endless.
    2. My thoughts
      1. Once the ego’s basic need for security is met.
      2. It then turns it’s attention obsessions with belonging, love, and power.
  2. End the delusion of time.
    1. Stop living through memory and anticipation.
    2. “[The] past gives you an identity, and the future holds the promise of salvation.”
  3. Nothing exists outside the Now.
  4. The Key to the spiritual dimension.
    1. Emergencies, or other intense situations, focus most people on Now.
  5. Accessing the power of Now
    1. Withdraw energy from past and future whenever you become away that they have no practical value in the moment.
    2. Develop your “witnessing presence” (Authentic Self).
    3. Identification with the mind gives it energy.  Observation of the mind withdraws energy.
  6. Letting go of psychological time (by using “clock time”)
    1. If you recall a mistake from the past and correct yourself in the present, you are using “clock time.”
    2. If you recall a mistake and become caught up in shame or fear, you have lost the Now.
  7. The insanity of psychological time.
    1. Many political movements have used violence to move toward some perceived, ideal end.
    2. I would say we use great violence on ourselves in order to achieve such ends (judgement versus curiosity).
  8. Negativity and suffering have their roots in time.
    1. “Usually the future is a replication of the past…. real transformation is rare and depends upon [your ability] to dissolve the past by accessing the power of the Now.”
    2. “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and a denial of the present”
    3. You cannot achieve presence to Now because you are already there.
  9. Finding the life underneath your life situation.
    1. Your life situation is the result of all that has happened to you.
    2. Your life is occurring at this moment.
    3. Again, the discipline needed is mindfulness.
  10. All problems are illusions of the mind.
    1. You cannot have a problem in the now.  Problems are all mind made.
    2. the Now (Authentic Self) always receives the moment as information.  (A fireman does this naturally…)
    3. In a true emergency, time stops.
  11. A quantum leap in the evolution of consciousness.
    1. Tolle believes there is a creation-wide evolution of consciousness occurring.
  12. The joy of Being.
    1. Living in the Now is characterized by joy, ease, and lightness.
    2. Be present to the current action rather than the goal of the action.
    3. In the Now, you can pursue goals with the illusionary burden of expectation.
    4. “Being free of psychological time, you no longer pursue your goals with grim determination, driven by fear, anger, discontent, or the need to become someone.”
    5. “When this is your state of Being, how can you not succeed?  You have succeeded already.”

Power of Now – Class 2 Summary

Thanks to all who attended this challenging discussion.  We experienced together how difficult it can be for the mind (small self) to wrap itself around the possibility that we create much more of our pain than is necessary.


Meeting 2 – Chapter 2: Consciousness: The Way Out of Pain

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!
Shel Silverstein, 1974

Review of Chapter One: You are not your Mind

Main points

  • If you buy in to your mind’s perception of reality, then you are doomed.
  • Behind the chattering mind lies pure consciousness.
  • You have the ability to put your mind in to neutral, and allow pure consciousness to emerge.
  • Emotion, which is a product of the mind, adds to the fog which obscures consciousness.

Chapter Two

  • Core idea: You can eliminate pain by remaining conscious of the Now.
  • Main points
    • You can let go of past emotional pain.
    • The physical body carries memories of pain which the mind (ss) identifies with.
    • The ss believes that you ARE your pain, so if you let go of your pain, you’ll no longer exist.
    • Instinct fear and psychological fear are not the same.
    • The ss does not trust the wholeness of the AS, so it continually draws us towards victimhood.

Deeper Points

  • Create No More Pain in the Present
    • Emotional pain that we feel is the result of the mind not being Present.
      • Past: guilt, regret, bitterness
      • Future: stress and anxiety
    • My comment: He comes close to suggesting that the AS does not experience pain
      • I’m curious about what he would say about grief and “righteous anger”
      • Still is still a distraction from his main point, that the Now is infected by the past and present.
  • Past Pain: Dissolving the Pain-Body
    • Our bodies, which includes our brains, carry the memory of pain.
    • The degree to which that pain continues to shape us is determined by how we choose to be present to the Now.
    • Developing awareness with the ss pain-body
      • Watch the emotions in your body.
      • Feel them.
      • Don’t label or judge what you feel.
      • Allow the emotions to be there.
  • Ego Identification with the Pain-Body
    • The ss, or ego, believes that you are your pain.
    • The ss wants you to identify pain with Self
      • I am a victim of abuse.
      • I grew up in an abusive home.
  • The Origin of Fear
    • Instinctive fear and psychological fear
      • Instinctive fear, which is real fear, is a response to an actual threat.
      • Psychological fear is fear of things that may happen in the future.
      • (I would add that spiritual fear is anxiety over non-being)
    • Stress and anxiety are psychological fears.
    • Mindfulness of emotion helps a person let go of anxiety.
  • The Ego’s Search for Wholeness
    • the ss struggles to acknowledge the wholeness of the AS
    • the ss says, “I can’t be okay until…”
    • the AS says, “I am becoming more whole.”

Task: Becoming a Witness

  • “Sustained conscious attention severs the link between the pain-body and your thought processes and brings about the process of transmutation.”
  • Tolle notes that being the presence of a highly conscious person also fosters this process.
  • fostering conversation between your ss and your AS
  • developing curiosity rather than judgment.

Power of Now – Class 1 Summary

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Introduction to the Enneagram,  Thursday, April 21,  5:30 to 7:00.  If you would like to attend, please email me at wmeades@gmail.com Cost will be $10 if we can get at least 20 people who want to attend.

Power of Now – Class 1 Summary

Thanks so much to all of you who came to our first meeting last Thursday evening (3/31).  Here’s a summary of what we covered, along with some suggestions for other resources.   Please post your comments, questions, and suggestions below.

Tolle begins his book by asking us to own a single core concept: “You are not your mind.” Or, to put it another way, “You are not your thoughts.”

Tolle then makes 4 sub-points

  • If you buy in to your mind’s perception of reality, then you are doomed.
  • Behind the chattering mind lies pure consciousness.
  • You have the ability to put your mind in to neutral, and allow pure consciousness to emerge.
  • Emotion, which is a product of the mind, adds to the fog which obscures consciousness.

My comments on this were:

  • These are statements of faith, not statements of fact.
  • My definition of faith is simply Living as if something is true even though it cannot be proven true.
  • Tolle’s assertions, though unprovable, are well grounded in the world’s great spiritual traditions.
  • Just like with any faith system, it will only be meaningful if you can make two commitments:
    • I will live as if these things are true.
    • I will practice the disciplines that have been effective in helping others incarnate this faith.

I then asked the question: Why is this so hard to live in to?

  • To paraphrase E.O. Wilson, The brain is a machine designed for survival, not for understanding.
    • Your brain defines a good day according to one simple question, “Am I still alive?”
    • Your brain has a very crude warning system to supposedly help you achieve this goal of staying alive: Anxiety
  • Our friends, the neuroscientists, have helped us understand how our brains develop and function.
  • The tripartite brain
    • reptilian – the most primitive part of the brain, most associated with survival.
    • limbic – the source of emotion and attachment.
    • neocortex – the source of rational thought.
      • Tolle is making the point that the neocortex, our greatest tool as human beings, ends up being our greatest challenge.
      • I suggest that this is due to the ways in which we experience and respond to anxiety.

How do we Start?

  • Your first responsibility is to become acquainted with your small self mind chatter, through mindfulness
  • One of the first chatterings I’d like you to pay attention to is critical judgment.
    • Immature people are judgmental… Mature people are curious
  • Your second responsibility is to become more familiar with the nature of your small self chatter.
    • Everyone’s chatter is unique, yet there seem to be universal patterns of chatter.
    • The Enneagram is a helpful tool for understanding the nature of your anxiety and how it is likely to be expressed in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

I explained my use of the terms small self and Authentic Self.  These terms were coined by Burt Burleson, and correspond to Tolle’s description of the chattering mind versus the centered connection to Being.  I recommend that you read The Authentic Self for a fuller understanding of Burt’s concepts.

I also would like to recommend the following books for those who would like to read ideas very similar to Tolle’s but within a more distinctly religious context:

Next class currently scheduled for 4/28.

Power of Now Study Group

Program: Study Group on Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now
Location: National Lloyds Building, 9th and Austin,  4th Floor
Dates: The last Thursday of each month, beginning March 31
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Cost: No charge (a $10 donation per meeting is requested)
Pre-Registration: email to wacopartnership@gmail.com

The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care is sponsoring a study of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The study, which will be led by Dr. Wes Eades, will meet monthly at the West Waco Public Library on Bosque. The first meeting will be Thursday, March 31, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

Since its publication in 1997, The Power of Now has been read by millions of people worldwide. Tolle insightfully summarizes the heart of the world’s most respected spiritual traditions and offers a practical approach to living out this wisdom.

Dr. Wes Eades has been studying the role of spirituality and faith in mental health since receiving his Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion in 1989. He has read widely in spiritual traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Buddism, and Islam and has great respect for Tolle’s work.

Space is limited.  To pre-register, please send an email to wacopartnership@gmail.com.   There is no charge for this study.  However, a suggested donation of $10 per meeting is requested.

What Does Prayer Do?

Darrell (see note) sent me this link: The Science of Prayer.   The author describes a couple of studies that suggest the practice of prayer shifts the attitude of the person doing the praying.  Unfortunately, there still doesn’t seem to be any research that shows how prayer can influence the Lottery, but hey, if prayer can help me reduce my knuckleheadedness, I guess that’s not a bad pay-off.



Note:  No, he doesn’t have another brother Darrell, and extra points to whomever gets the reference

Anxiety, Depression, and the Spiritual Journey slides and audio available

Thursday evening, June 18, over 50 people gathered at the St. Albans Community Outreach Center for this presentation.   I want to express my appreciation to the WPPSC Board and to all who attended for creating a very energizing evening! 

The audio and slides are now availabe HERE.  You can get the basic points by scanning the slides.  The audio offers more detail.  (I’ve noticed that when I first click play that the audio starts, but then stops after a few seconds.  When I click play again, it then plays the entire presentation.)

If you would like to be notified of upcoming presentations, please subscribe to this blog using one of the options at the top of the right hand column.


Thursday Evening, June 18: Anxiety, Depression and the Spiritual Journey

WPPSC to host free seminar on the topic

Anxiety, Depression, and the Spiritual Path

with Dr. Wes Eades

please RSVP to wacopartnership@gmail.com

Date: Thursday, June 18
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m (light refreshments served).
Location: St. Albans Episcopal Church Community Outreach Center


The short take: People often consider struggles with anxiety and/or depression to be an indication of spiritual immaturity.  Dr. Wes Eades will discuss ways in which these struggles can energize the spiritual journey.

Research indicates that 50% of Americans will wrestle with enough anxiety and depression at some time in their lives to consider suicide (source – see page 3).  Sadly, many persons have been led to believe that such struggles are a sign of spiritual immaturity.  The FACT is that such suffering is an inevitable part of a full and meaningful life.

The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care will be hosting a free two hour presentation by Dr. Wes Eades on how anxiety and depression can actually serve the spiritual journey.  Dr. Eades has over 20 years of experience helping persons overcome the life-narrowing effects of anxiety and depression.  He will be sharing some basic insights from the fields of psychology and spirituality that have proven effective for many people who wrestle with this all too common challenge.

If you, or someone you love, struggles with anxiety and/or depression, the board of WPPSC invites you to participate in this event.

PLEASE RSVP  at 254.498.7176 or via email at wacopartnership@gmail.com

WPPSC is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

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Selflessness, Core Of All Major World Religions, Has Neuropsychological Connection


The field of neuroscience is producing, at an astounding rate, fresh information about how our brains work.  Many of the findings have implications for our understanding of what it means to say we are “spiritual.”  These implications can be both enlighenting and troubling.  What follows is the summary of a recent study on the connection between the brain and spirituality.  What implications, if any, do you see for your ministry?


News release from the University of Missouri-Columbia: Selflessness, Core Of All Major World Religions, Has Neuropsychological Connection

All spiritual experiences are based in the brain. That statement is truer than ever before, according to a University of Missouri neuropsychologist.

An MU study has data to support a neuropsychological model that proposes spiritual experiences associated with selflessness are related to decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain. The study is one of the first to use individuals with traumatic brain injury to determine this connection.

Researchers say the implication of this connection means people in many disciplines, including peace studies, health care or religion can learn different ways to attain selflessness, to experience transcendence, and to help themselves and others.

This study, along with other recent neuroradiological studies of Buddhist meditators and Francescan nuns, suggests that all individuals, regardless of cultural background or religion, experience the same neuropsychological functions during spiritual experiences, such as transcendence. Transcendence, feelings of universal unity and decreased sense of self, is a core tenet of all major religions. Meditation and prayer are the primary vehicles by which such spiritual transcendence is achieved.

“The brain functions in a certain way during spiritual experiences,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. “We studied people with brain injury and found that people with injuries to the right parietal lobe of the brain reported higher levels of spiritual experiences, such as transcendence.”

This link is important, Johnstone said, because it means selflessness can be learned by decreasing activity in that part of the brain. He suggests this can be done through conscious effort, such as meditation or prayer. People with these selfless spiritual experiences also are more psychologically healthy, especially if they have positive beliefs that there is a God or higher power who loves them, Johnstone said.

“This research also addresses questions regarding the impact of neurologic versus cultural factors on spiritual experience,” Johnstone said. “The ability to connect with things beyond the self, such as transcendent experiences, seems to occur for people who minimize right parietal functioning. This can be attained through cultural practices, such as intense meditation or prayer or because of a brain injury that impairs the functioning of the right parietal lobe. Either way, our study suggests that ‘selflessness’ is a neuropsychological foundation of spiritual experiences.”

The research was funded by the MU Center on Religion and the Professions. The study – “Support for a neuropsychological model of spirituality in persons with traumatic brain injury” – was published in the peer-reviewed journal Zygon.

“Our research focused on the personal experience of spiritual transcendence and does not in any way minimize the importance of religion or personal beliefs, nor does it suggest that spiritual experience are related only to neuropsychological activity in the brain,” Johnstone said. “It is important to note that individuals experience their God or higher power in many different ways, but that all people from all religions and beliefs appear to experience these connections in a similar way.”