THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle
THERE ARE many accounts of people who say they have found God through their deep suffering, and there is the Christian expression “the way of the cross,” which I suppose points to the same thing. We are concerned with nothing else here.
Strictly speaking, they did not find God through their suffering because suffering implies resistance. They found God through surrender, through total acceptance of what is, into which they were forced by their intense suffering. They must have realized, on some level, that their pain was self-created.
How do you equate surrender with finding God? Since resistance is inseparable from the mind, relinquishment of resistance – surrender – is the end of the mind as your master, the impostor pretending to be “you,” the false god. All judgment and all negativity dissolve. The realm of Being, which had been obscured by the mind, then opens up. Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you, an unfathomable sense of peace. And within that peace, there is great joy. And within that joy, there is love. And at the innermost core, there is the sacred, the immeasurable, That which cannot be named.
I don’t call it finding God because how can you find that which was never lost, the very life that you are? The word God is limiting, not only because of thousands of years of misperception and misuse, but also because it implies an entity other than you. God is Being, itself – not a being. There can be no subject-object relationship here, no duality, no you and God. God-realization is the most natural thing there is. The amazing and incomprehensible fact is not that you can become conscious of God, but that you are not conscious of God.
The way of the cross is the old way to enlightenment and, until recently, it was the only way. But don’t dismiss it or underestimate its efficacy. It still works.
The way of the cross is a complete reversal. It means that the worst thing in your life, your cross, turns into the best thing that ever happened to you, by forcing you into surrender, into “death,” forcing you to become as nothing, to become as God – because God, too, is no-thing.
At this time, as far as the unconscious majority of humans are concerned, the way of the cross is still the only way. They will only awaken through further suffering, and enlightenment as a collective phenomenon will be predictably preceded by vast upheavals. This process reflects the workings of certain universal laws that govern the growth of consciousness and thus was foreseen by some seers.
It is described, among other places, in the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse, though cloaked in obscure and sometimes impenetrable symbology. This suffering is inflicted not by God, but by humans on themselves and on each other, as well as by certain defensive measures that the Earth, which is a living, intelligent organism, is going to take to protect herself from the onslaught of human madness.
However, there are a growing number of humans alive today whose consciousness is sufficiently evolved not to need any more suffering before the realization of enlightenment. You may be one of them.
Enlightenment through suffering – the way of the cross – means to be forced into the kingdom of heaven kicking and screaming. You finally surrender because you can’t stand the pain anymore, but the pain could go on for a long time until this happens. Enlightenment consciously chosen means to relinquish your attachment to past and future and to make the Now the main focus of your life. It means choosing to dwell in the state of presence rather than in time. It means saying yes to what is.
You then don’t need pain anymore. How much more time do you think you will need before you are able to say, “I will create no more pain, no more suffering”? How much more pain do you need before you can make that choice? If you think that you need more time, you will get more time – and more pain. Time and pain are inseparable.
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 www.eckharttolle.com.