The Power Of Now Ch. 1 Summary

As I began reading chapter one a flood of emotions rose to the surface. I stopped and addressed them, and continued reading with a smile arising inside myself. As I finished reading the first chapter, it dawned on me that it contained the whole teaching.

What Is Enlightenment?

Don’t even bother trying to figure out the answer to this question. It will only lead to more mind stuff, and enlightenment will just turn into another image in the head that you have to live up to. I used to believe an enlightened person didn’t drink coffee or wine, but I realized this was only holding me back and created another limiting belief.

The Story Of The Beggar

I’m a beggar? Don’t take it personal. You become one the moment you mistaken a thought for who you are. Your true self lies within, and there are many treasures to reveal. Even if they cause you pain at first, when you truly see it with the heart a diamond cannot compare to the jewel of the spirit.

Enlightenment As An Accomplishment

When you see enlightenment in this way it ceases to be enlightenment. This would imply that your salvation lies in the future, and it can only happen in the now. It’s not a reward at the end of a game, or something you win because you worked so hard. On a side note, if you are working hard at your practice then you may need to reevaluate your approach to it. Enlightenment is not a thing that you can own, it is who you are.

What Enlightenment Is Not

This is a great start to anyone’s spiritual journey. This is the one piece of advice I give to most people that ask me about spirituality. To me it meant knowing who I wasn’t would only lead to who I am. My journey began when I started to hate what I was becoming, or how I was reacting in relationships. I didn’t want to be a jealous person who manipulated people that I love. Knowing who you are not will steer you in a better direction if you find yourself veering.

Being Can Only Be Felt

Being cannot be understood by the mind. It is an inner knowing expressed in the body. Even if you believe you aren’t a body, you are still stuck in one so you might as well use it to become free. Believing that you aren’t a body doesn’t free you from it, so let it become a vehicle for transformation.

“Being is the eternal ever present one life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.”

I Think Therefore I Am

Equating thinking with being only leads to identification with the mind. This is like comparing a drop of water to the ocean. It has become normal to turn something that happens without any volition on your part into an identity. Everyone else is doing it, so it must be right. It’s easy to believe that you are a thought especially if there is a strong emotional charge attached to it. This will only cause a fragmentation within the self, and where there is division there is suffering.

The Mind Is An Instrument To Be Used

Quite often the opposite is true. The mind has become a task master, and if you aren’t present, it uses you to replenish itself and rule your life. It has become a separate entity, but it isn’t your enemy either. Our role is to restore the balance that was lost many thousands of years ago. Your weakness is its strength, and it will not yield without a fight. Our best tool is non-reaction, and to watch the mind as often as possible to restore balance.

“Just because you can solve a cross-word puzzle doesn’t mean you are using your mind.”

Watching The Thinker

I hear a voice in my head. Whenever I state this fact people often look at me like I’m crazy. This “voice” is very overactive and constantly lives in the past or future. It also begs for attention, and remembers every painful thing that ever happened to you. It uses this to draw you into unconsciousness. If little attention is in the here and now, it becomes a tormentor that drains you of life energy, and weakens the immune system with an influx of stress, cortisol, and adrenaline. Listen to the voice without judgement as much as possible. When you observe the mind you draw power away from it and restore your own. Then notice the gaps of no mind.

Create A Gap In The Mind Stream

By keeping attention in the present moment you generate awareness that takes you out of your head. You become highly alert of what is. Another way is to pay attention to everyday activities, which are often performed on autopilot. I can recall times when I forgot that I had already put something away, but didn’t remember actually doing it. Observe the flow of your breath in the midst of actions. This is an effective means of deepening the state of being, and using what you have and already do as a vehicle for awakening. Turn something that is normally a boring, and tedious activity into a deeply fulfilling one. Try some movement meditation.

Learn To Dis-identify With Your Mind

Smile at the voice in your head. Don’t take thoughts too seriously. Whenever you notice that you aren’t present, you are present. The mind was meant to be a tool to be put down when not being used. Constant thinking has turned into an addiction. It gives you a false sense of pleasure to help you pass the time away. Addictions begin with pain and end with pain. Pleasure in itself is not bad, but when it is a means to escape from pain it will inevitably end with pain. It’s a release. You receive a payoff much the same way a drug addict does when they are injecting something into their veins. The present becomes a means to an end. The now is the key to freedom. Rise above thought. Oscillate between thought and stillness.

Mind Includes Emotions And The Reactive Patterns

Emotions arise when the mind and body meet. Emotions are the body’s reaction to the mind. Threats cause a negative reaction in the body. The more you identify with thinking the stronger the emotional energy charge. Being disconnected from the emotions isn’t the solution. This can manifest as an external event. Some people invite attacks because they carry a lot of anger within, and they attract it because they want to fight, or may say something to trigger someone else’s pain. The word emotion comes from the Latin emovere, which means disturbance. A source of pleasure can easily turn into a source of pain. Both are a part of the underlying pain of the mind identified egoic state of consciousness. Paying attention to an emotion is the same as watching a thought, and just as important. It can help you realign yourself when there is an energy imbalance, and you don’t need the mind for this, either. The emotion is allowed to be. Ask “What is going on inside me at this moment?” Then proceed without analyzing. You are less likely to make a story out of it.

Cravings Are The Mind Seeking Salvation In The Future

This, that or the other will make me whole, happy or at peace, but it is very short-lived. It temporarily gives you some relief from psychological pain, but you will eventually seek something else once it disappears, or you will convince yourself that this new thing is the one true solution to your feelings of lack. Maybe it’s that new teacher, method and so on. Nothing outside of yourself can ever make you happy. Don’t try to end desire, either. That is just another form of resistance. Pain is inevitable when you’re identified with your mind.

In Conclusion

I invite you to revisit some of these practices. This is a great way to start afresh, and possibly become reacquainted with an old friend. Notice your body whenever emotions start flooding in. Are you watching the reaction? Is it just unpleasant energy, or are you making a story out of it? See if you are smiling inside the next time this happens.

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