His message is simple, and has a lot in common with other spiritual teachings throughout the ages. But the beauty of Eckhart’s presentation is that he has distilled it down to the bare essentials. But like the Tao Te Ching and similar spiritual classics, every word resonates with profound meaning.
The focus of the teaching, as the title suggests, is the present moment – that magical space in which all reality arises. Our mind and our ego attempt all sorts of tricks to keep us away from focusing on the present moment. We may be obsessed with our past, and play over past events (good or bad) again and again in our minds. We may focus on the future and the plans we have for ourselves. We may construct alternate present moments where things are “better”. But all of these keep us away from the one reality – the present moment of time.
The reason the mind and ego are so determined to keep us away from the present moment is that in this moment, if we fully immerse ourselves in it, we realize the fundamental unity of all being. This is a realization that greatly weakens our individual egos. The stories and identities we construct for ourselves become unimportant in the light of the present moment. And so we flee from it. We tell ourselves we are looking for happiness – but in fact we flee from the only place where REAL happiness is to be found – the reality of the now.
In a simple question-and-answer format, Eckhart Tolle investigates our reluctance to embrace the reality of the NOW, and gives us exercises for learning to be at home in the present moment. Along the way, he discusses the mind, the ego, our life stories, our relationships and many other aspects of being and happiness.
One unique principle in Tolle’s teachings which I have not seen elsewhere is the concept of the “pain body”. He introduces this concept in this book. A “pain body” is a collection of negative emotional energy which feeds from our own unhappiness and pain. This energy can completely hijack our conscious mind, acting almost like an alien invader, in the attempt to produce the negative energy that it craves. Once Eckhart explains this concept to you, you immediately begin to see it at work in the lives of those around you, and (if you are conscious enough) in yourself.
Buy this book for yourself or for someone you know who is seeking. It is the PERFECT introduction to spiritual living.