Can you truly know yourself? Just pause for a moment and think about it. Quite an interesting question, isn’t it?
What if I told you that the structure of the question itself is misleading? It will never give you the answer you seek.
Consider this: if there is you then who is yourself that you want to know?
The language you speak has a subject and an object which forms a duality that you apply to the outside world for practical purposes. But in the process, you also apply it to yourself.
And so you form a separate self and identify with it completely, believing it to be the absolute reality of your existence: your name, physical appearance, occupation, social class, material possessions and so on. All of these things can be a source of happiness or deep misery.
If you’re still reading this, then you might be wondering if there is more to you than that.
Well, there is.
I asked myself the very same question a few years ago when I hit a plateau in my meditation practice. I could sometimes see my thoughts, but they still controlled my behavior to some extent because of the inner resistance. I was still identified with mental concepts in my mind.
Luckily, I was looking for new books, and The Power of Now kept showing up over and over until finally, I decided to give it a try. And that was the beginning of a total transformation.
In this post, I want to show you how this book can help you find your true self or at least push you in the right direction.
The Psychological Time
How often do you look at the clock during the day?
What are you hoping to see?
Usually, looking at the clock means you’re in a hurry, you have something important to do, or you need to be somewhere else.
In other words, you’re creating a psychological time: you project yourself into the future, some perfect moment that will solve all your problems or make you happy.
It happens when your thinking mind clouds the present moment.
Time and mind are inseparable. Remove time from the mind and it stops — unless you choose to use it. To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. This creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and an unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be. (p. 48)1
The Clock Time
So how do you escape the trap of psychological time?
The first thing you can do is turn psychological time into “clock time.” That means to use time in the practical aspects of your life.
Planning your next vacation? Instead of counting your days and imagining yourself on the beach sipping cocktails, make a list of all the things you need to accomplish before your trip. Love every second you spend planning and preparing instead of hating every day that you’re not on vacation.
Made a mistake and embarrassed yourself in front of your colleagues? Instead of dwelling on that moment mentally and torturing yourself, learn from your mistake. Review every detail that led you to that situation and take necessary steps to prevent it from happening in the future.
When using clock time, you’re fully in the present moment but peripherally aware of your past and future. The focus of your attention is always on the step that you’re taking at this moment in the Now.
Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.(…) Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now. (p. 50)
Have you ever experienced resentment, hatred, self-pity, guilt, anger, depression, jealousy?
Do you know the root of these emotions?
The answer is complicated and simple at the same time. If you’re unconscious of your thoughts, they get reflected in the body as emotions.
What’s more, every emotional pain that you’ve experienced leaves a residue inside you. That residue takes a life of its own and eats away at you continuously like a parasite. After a certain stage in its development, it finds other parasites and merges to form a pain-body.
Once the pain-body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both. There isn’t really much difference between the two. You are not conscious of this, of course, and will vehemently claim that you do not want pain. (p. 38)
The Inner Body
Every time you’re overwhelmed by emotions direct the focus of your attention into your body. Feel it from within.
Feel the life energy in your hands, arms, legs, feet, abdomen, chest. After a while feel this energy coursing the entire body. Stay with that feeling as long as you can.
By doing this simple exercise, you break your mental identification with the mind and find something more real than the abstraction of thought.
If you keep your attention in the body as much as possible, you will be anchored in the Now. You won’t lose yourself in the external world, and you won’t lose yourself in your mind. Thoughts and emotions, fears and desires, may still be there to some extent, but they won’t take you over. (p. 117)
Have you seen a mad person in real life or a movie? The one with crazy eyes mumbling gibberish non-stop.
Well, you do the same thing but only in your mind. All the time.
What’s worse, you’re not aware of that voice because you’ve been living with it your whole life.
That voice got all kinds of crazy ideas. It’s always on, even when it’s not needed. For example, it might be telling you about embarrassing moments from your past, or it could be showing you a mental movie of the future where everything goes wrong.
Eckhart Tolle calls that voice the thinker or the false ego born from total identification with your mind.
Then the mind is using you. You are unconsciously identified with it, so you don’t even know that you are its slave. It’s almost as if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity — the thinker. (pp. 16-17)
So if you’re not the thinker, then who are you?
If you practiced meditation, then you know that in the process you gain the ability to see your thoughts.
Little by little the gap between you and your thoughts grows and you start to notice something more real beneath the thinker. It’s the observing presence, the silent watcher of your thoughts.
You can become aware of the silent watcher when he observes your thoughts, and you observe him. That is a process when consciousness becomes aware of itself.
Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns (…) You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind. (pp. 18-19)
The Power of Now
So can you find your true self and how do you do it?
Start by reading the book. It’s written in the form of questions and answers. The key to full understanding is this: once you can hear only one question asked and one answer given then you can be sure that you’ve absorbed the wisdom fully.
You can buy Kindle edition from Amazon, but Audiobook from Audible is the best option. If you don’t have Audible account yet, you can create one and get your first book for free. And it goes without saying that the first book should be The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Bye the way, have you started your meditation practice yet? I put together this free worksheet to help you start meditating today. You can download it by signing up below