The Power of Now

By Dr Rajagopal Soondron

Some scientists have postulated that the present lasts only for a few seconds – because soon we would be moving into another ‘present’ – seconds ahead of us; we, the biological thinking machine, seem to be the interface between those time tyrants. It’s as if psychological time has become enmeshed into our mind, equating most of our thinking processes with the past and the future, thereby enslaving our self with a very restless, slippery mind and thoughts.

How we remember those days when we would put on our canvas shoes and surreptitiously run away from home to join our buddies for a football match, happily forgetting every problem of this world. Similarly, how we saw our uncle enthusiastically picking up his tackle and fishing line to meet his friends for a fishing party; or can we forget those youngsters who would prepare their outing for a Saturday night dancing party?

All those players, fishermen and dancers had something in common: they were out to give a total miss to their past and future with utmost enthusiasm. The respite from ongoing time is tremendous –for we always rave to indulge in these absorbing activities as often as possible – much to the concern and scorn of the elder, wiser philosophical generation. One school of thought believes that it’s the very urge that addicts want to achieve when they get hooked to some addictions– be it alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex; it’s a slippery attempt to delete our painful past and uncertain future so as to dwell in the “Now” as long as possible. Unfortunately, it is just a pipe dream — a hallucination.

Enter Eckhart Tolle

In his book The Power of Now, Tolle opens up again our exaggerated daily preoccupation with clock time which is behind and ahead of us. He extols on what most Eastern philosophy had done long before. Followers of JidduKrishnamurtiwould be pleasantly surprised to realize that Tolle used the same principle as JK in his books – answering to questions his interviewer would ask about what is the present. In fact, in 1985 Krishnamurti talked of clock time and psychological time, which E. Tolle exploited successfully in his book.

The latter goes a step further by giving a new interpretation and twist to Jesus Christ’s preaching and parables, relative to these Eastern concepts, as being a call to his followers to identify themselves with the ‘Unmanifested’ silent Being – the Tao– which is common to all of us. It’s an attempt to draw the West nearer to the Eastern philosophies — to achieve a synthesis?So also, he mentions the relaxation technique which primes us to stay longer into the present – and which is just a replica of Hatha yoga’s teachings.

However, by simplifying Eastern philosophy ideas beautifully and concisely, Tolle has facilitated our understanding of his message.Which is to do our best to stay in the Now as long as possible, coaxing us to stretch horizontally the few seconds that the Now lasts into minutes and hours. Which all of us were doing when we ran away to play football, to go fishing and dancing.

However, we would be naïve to believe that it is Tolle’s only message, for it goes philosophically very deep into the quest of internal peace and the true self, liberated from our overactive mind and obsessive thinking, as preached by Indian gurus, Buddhist monks and Zen masters for centuries if not millennia.

The Now

Our aim, says Tolle, when we wake up in the morning to a new day is to give our past a miss; release our mind of that burden – let it be, let it not ruffle our present few seconds we have of the Now; similarly let us drop that obsessive habit of always planning for the future – as if all our happiness and life hang exclusively on that mental rut. Having decided to sublimate our thinking to the point of liberating our mind from clock and psychological time, then we would suddenly discover that our silent mind is face to face with the Now –and free to dwell in it. And what’s the Now?

It’s precisely what we feel, see,hear, smell around us at this very moment: by concentrating on these sensations, we would keep both past and future at bay. And the next step is to delete also these mental senses of sight, touch, audition and smell; let the sensations fade away – so suddenly we would find ourselves face to face with a void, with a silence permeating our true ultimate self – the ‘Unmanifested’- after having rid ourselves of our noisy mind. In so doing we discover that we have escaped from the custody of time and our senses.

Unfortunately, a mind habituated to get hooked on the past and the future since our young age, coaxed along byour educational system to analyse and dig into bygone history and experience won’t cede so easily. Tolle also warns us against a mind obsessively switching to and from between past and future,which we would obsessively adopt to reinforce and embellish the sense of our false ego. And that’s where goodwill is needed to discipline our inner thinking so as to stay steadfastly to our central preoccupation – that of staying more in the Present. Those of us who can do that would experience a tremendous relief from the burden of psychological time. That, it is supposed, should lead us to greater inner peace and happiness.

But the spiritual hub message of Tolle is that by practising that form of mind disciplining we would soon be face to face with our Being; we would discover our true self – the stillness within, the silence of our soul. Liberated, our mind would be totally free to indulge in self-contemplation; we would be able to rise above that confused subjugated mind; we would be able to gaze at it, witnessing the conflict being waged by our reasoning and emotional faculties as they swing between yesterday and tomorrow. They would battle to retain centre stage in our psyche so as to keep reinforcing the illusion of our fake self. Most of the time we would cede under the psychological pressure as part of us agrees to give up and yield to the call of the old primitive egoic forces to which we have come to identify our being.

Hence Tolle’s call for perpetual discipline to dwell into the Now as long as possible, to effortlessly widen the gap between our past and future, thereby recruiting more and more space for the present. If we can do that then we would gradually have a glimpse of the silent ‘Unmanifested’ Being — our Being – the only true, untarnished, untouched entity – the one and only central Being … the Tao.

But to stay in the NOW unconsciously would be of short-livedbenefit; instead, we must be totally aware of our self – so as to reap fully from that process.

The problem is how do we train our mind, as Tolle is suggesting, to forget our worries and not to wander irresistibly in time?How to delete our old mental demonic tendency to shuttle between past and future?A lot of probing, self-analysis and internal gazing to do.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 8 April 2022

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