On Power of Now

Birzhan Moldagaliyev
4 min readSep 19, 2017

While people have bucket lists, I have a booklist, a list of books I wish to read. The ‘Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle has been in my list for a long. Many people seem to be recommending it. So I decided to read it. Prior to reading it, the central theme of the book seemed to be well-known. You just have to live in now, what might be so difficult about it. But I was humbled by reading this book and observing author’s answers to many questions on how to live in present moment. I could totally relate to the fact some people tend to live their lives being unconscious. I remember how often I found myself regretting about my past decisions or fretting about the future. At that times I was not present, I was inside a self-made time machine.

The book reminds its readers that the present is the only thing they have at any given moment. Concepts of past and future are mostly mind constructs. This is not to say that past and future does not exist, but they exist according to their own time, not right now. Since present is only thing that one has got, it makes sense to focus all attention to the present. To the things like smelling flowers on the road, understanding problems or understanding a person in front.\\

All of these might seem obvious, so what makes a person be willing to live in past or in future? It seems to me that there are two main reasons: possessions and aspirations. It is natural for people to identify themselves with possesions they have, be it a house, a car, some advanced degree or a respect from fellow people. These kinds of things give one a sense of value or worth. And it is comforting to feel that you worth something, the higher the better in many cases. As for aspirations, the future is full of them. It is common to hear people saying, I want this in five years and that in ten years, so that I can have this and that in twenty years time. These kinds of aspirations give a person a sense of hope. For some it is important to stick to past and future. But sometimes, life demonstrates that nothing is as permanent as we think. At that moments, people tend to value the given moment. But how can one love the present moment, if most of the time, it is full of mundane tasks, unproductive meetings and likes of them. By being present, a person can turn mundane stuff into exciting experiences and unproductive meetings into an opportunities to understand people and their challenges better.

Though it might seem pretty straightforward to live in now, it might be a rather difficult thing to do. As with many things in life, its idea is simple, but implementation takes a lifetime to master. Take for instance a practice of meditation. I am not into meditations much, but it seems that through meditations people try to cleanse their thoughts to focus in the present. One could also look at yoga. In yoga it seems to be important to control your breath. Why is it so? Because mind which is rambling around is not capable of controlling the breath. But as mind calms down, it starts to feel the breath. At least it seems so. And finally, one could look at Zen masters. These people come up with challenges which test their physical and spiritual endurance to extreme. It seems to me that their challenges have something to do with not giving in to pain and hardship. They seem to be willing to transcend their bodies to reach some higher state. Perhaps this higher state is living in present, who knows.

In the book the author shares a dichotomy between happiness and peace. Most of classical texts assume that people pursue happiness. This might be true. By living a quarter of century by this time, I have experienced both happiness and sadness several times. I have found both of these states to be transitory. But there a state which is more permanent. This is a state of peace. Author seems to suggest that by living in now, more and more people will be able to enjoy a state of peace for a longer time.

Finally, there is a question of how should one learn to live in now. I would imagine this path to be a path of gradual construction of certain skills. In our society we are used to idea of building skills. We hear about people learning certain programming libraries. The more libraries you learn the more employable you become, as logic goes. But living in present seems to be a different kind of animal, according to the author. Observe that babies live in now without even realizing it. They neither worry regret their past, nor fear about their future. They just live. So, living in now is something everyone is born with. This means that one could go deeper within, rather than further up. But perhaps everyone has unique journey. Perhaps, I need to find mine. Peace.