Presence is the key

THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle

NOBODY CHOOSES dysfunction, conflict, pain. Nobody chooses insanity. They happen because there is not enough presence in you to dissolve the past, not enough light to dispel the darkness. You are not fully here. You have not quite woken up yet. In the meantime, the conditioned mind is running your life.

Similarly, if you are one of the many people who have an issue with their parents, if you still harbour resentment about something they did or did not do, then you still believe that they had a choice – that they could have acted differently. It always looks as if people had a choice, but that is an illusion. As long as your mind with its conditioned patterns runs your life, as long as you are your mind, what choice do you have? None. You are not even there.

The mind-identified state is severely dysfunctional. It is a form of insanity. Almost everyone is suffering from this illness in varying degrees. The moment you realize this, there can be no more resentment. How can you resent someone’s illness? The only appropriate response is compassion.

So that means nobody is responsible for what they do? I don’t like that idea.

If you are run by your mind, although you have no choice, you will still suffer the consequences of your unconsciousness and you will create further suffering. You will bear the burden of fear, conflict, problems and pain. The suffering thus created will eventually force you out of your unconscious state.

What you say about choice also applies to forgiveness, I suppose. You need to be fully conscious and surrender before you can forgive.

“Forgiveness” is a term that has been in use for 2,000 years, but most people have a very limited view of what it means. You cannot truly forgive yourself or others as long as you derive your sense of self from the past. Only through accessing the power of the Now, which is your own power, can there be true forgiveness. This renders the past powerless and you realize deeply that nothing you ever did or that was ever done to you could touch, even in the slightest, the radiant essence of who you are. The whole concept of forgiveness then becomes unnecessary.

And how do I get to that point of realization?

When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. You do not need it anymore. Presence is the key. The Now is the key.

How will I know when I have surrendered?

When you no longer need to ask the question.

Adapted from The Power of Now, copyright 1999 by Eckhart Tolle. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA, 800-972-6657 (ext. 52). Visit

Editor’s Note from Joseph Roberts 
This column is the final monthly instalment of Eckhart’s first book The Power of Now. It has been a joy to carry Eckhart Tolle’s message to our ¼ million readers in print, and others via The Power of Now, Eckhart’s first book, published originally by Namaste Publishing, deservingly became a bestseller and inspirational companion for readers, including me. Eckhart visited my office when Common Ground was on Broadway where we would chat and meditate. I was fortunate to be the first person to reviewThe Power of Now, and Common Ground’s review was used to get other media attention, including Harpo Productions, Opera’s company. I appreciated Eckhart Tolle’s work now as I did then. Common Ground looks forward to offering more inspiration to you, our loyal and precious readers. Now its time for you to tell us what inspires you. Thank

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