I joined a new book group last night that will be reading and discussing Echart Tolle's best seller, "The Power of Now." I started this book once before and I disagreed with a lot of what it said. This is typical of me... I'm a huge devil's advocate. It's one of my communication faults that can be particularly annoying in group discussion. I've decided it might be better to discuss the things I take issue with out here on a blog. They say blogs are better when they're controversial anyway. I'll take a chapter a week and tell you what I liked and what I didn't like.
In the first chapter, "You Are Not in Your Mind," Tolle describes concepts such as enlightenment, the state of Being, freeing yourself from your mind, and explains emotions.
What I agreed with
I agreed with Tolle's description of consciousness; this ability to "observe the thinker."
"The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence."
I think being aware of our thoughts and letting go of fruitless negative thoughts is a skill that's worth learning. I also agree that we are much more than our thoughts. And that sometimes our thinking and analyzing takes us away from the present which should be relished. We need to learn to enjoy and savor what is happening in our world right now.
"The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly." I agree with this statement completely.
What I disagreed with
Though Tolle states "that the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly" he follows that up by telling us that our thinking is vastly negative and will bring us nothing but pain. Even our pleasurable thoughts he claims are simply the "short-lived pleasure side of the continually alternating pain/pleasure cycle."
One of the paragraphs I most disagree with is this:
"The very thing that gives you pleasure today will give you pain tomorrow, or it will leave you, so its absence will give you pain. And what is often referred to as love may be pleasurable and exciting for awhile, but its an addictive clinging, an extremely needy condition that can turn into the opposite at the flick of a switch."
I agree that we feel sad when we lose something that we once loved. We grieve that loss. Some people get angry. Those are painful emotions. I don't think the solution is to not think about the past. I think the solution is to know that the love and beautiful things we had in the past are still with us. In fact, we need to keep them with us. We need to look at our photos of past pleasures and know that those memories will be with us forever. No one can take those away. We need to know that those people that once were in our lives will always be in our lives for how they influenced us positively. We need to learn from our past and recognize what mistakes we may have made and figure out ways to grow.
I don't think the key to pain is to only live in the now and to let go of our past. I think the key is to understand ourselves and our thoughts -- both the negative ones and the positive ones. Don't let your mind dwell on regrets or worry or anger about things are out of your control. But don't cut your mind off from memories.
If someone you love dies, there is no denying that you will grieve and it is sad and painful. It is the hardest emotion ever. But should we no longer think of that person so that we don't have pain? Instead, I want to hold the most beautiful parts of them with me and pass those on to others. I want to remember the essence of that person...the traits I admired...and keep part of their spirit within me.
Let your memories serve to remind you of the love you have in your life. Even if it was in the past, keep it with you in the present.