Now is the Moment!
Wake up, before your day has ended
And you have wasted it by dreaming
Or the hour might strike at last
When you wake up to find it past
Wake up, if the past still confines you
Past is no more than time gone by
In the past is where it’s meant to stay
Don’t let it deprive you of today
Wake up from your dreams of the future
They’re nothing compared to the bliss of today
NOW is the Time to Live
Be sure to make it a wonderful day!
Your life is a continuous journey. Where you do your journeying is up to you. It’s your choice.
You can journey in worryland and continuously moan and complain about unfulfilled desires and expectations. You can take an ego-trip to satisfy your desires and vanity or for self-gratification. Because you want to become more than another.
You can dwell in past memories or hide in a fantasy picture of the future.
All this will lead you NO-where.
With a lot of unnecessary suffering and damage for you and for others that surround you as a result.
Or you can choose to live in the present, to live a rich, balanced and fulfilling life in the here and now. Simply by being the best version of yourself.
By being NOW-here.
It is up to you! Which YOU are you choosing?
There Are Two of You at All Times
Even now, in this very moment, there are two of you living your life.
Perhaps the most difficult concept of subjective reality is the identity shift from ego-centeredness to awareness-centeredness.
I’ll try to do my best to explain what I mean by this. However, I find it very challenging to express it in words, so if parts of this sounds gibberish or Denglish — i.e. a portmanteau of English and Dutch, referring to the increasingly strong influx of macaronic English, since my native language is Dutch 🙂 — , it’s hopefully the nature of this concept that makes it so.
There is the ‘You’ which is pure formless awareness, and there is the ‘You’ that you think you are and consists out of all the stories, history, memories, hopes and dreams, that are stored in your brain and that can be activated by triggers that provoke thought-patterns.
Another way of saying this is that you are an ‘aware consciousness’ or ‘conscious awareness’ (I prefer the latter) and that, in the same moment, you are an ego personality that exists in and because of your thoughts.
‘Ego’ refers to your objective, physical world identity. Your ego personality is your personality characteristics and all its individual trappings in the physical universe. The contents of your mind are part of your ego.
Your ego knows through thoughts and forms thought-patterns. It is thought-centered. Your ego runs the risk to idealize past and future and to live elsewhere, usually dwelling in an over-romanticized past, or in a to be desired, wanna-be future. Your ego has a hard time being satisfied and being content with the house where it lives in.
Your ego is a Doer, and needs to answer the question: ‘Who am I’ through what it has achieved in this concrete and materialistic world. Usually trying to answer this existential question through summing up all its successes in the material world. Your ego identifies itself with (your) name, personality, job, status, personal story, relationships, habits, roles, nationality, possessions, beliefs, and so on.
It’s common practice to turn our egos into our identities. I might say, ‘I am Martine’. I am a writer. This is my article. Robert is my husband. I am a vegan.’ (Well……. nowadays I would probably say: ‘I do Martine, I do writing, I do worry ……. although I prefer, I am concerned, but that’s for later :-))
So, who am I? When I started thinking about that, I realized that I can’t be my ego. Because when I alter everything, my name, career, relationships, personality, habits, beliefs, looks, I’m still just me. I do not cease to exist.
The focus of the ego goes to outer looks and superficial aspects, to ‘keeping up appearances’. Your ego in its nature is temporal and lives by the ‘grace’ of mental thought processes. Your ego can be full of drama, overreacting and suffering. It is often in conflict, full of doubt and distrust, separating itself from others and all that is.
Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego’. — Friedrich Nietzsche
The good news is, you have control over — in fact, you are the creator of! — your thought-patterns.
The ego-less YOU knows through being present. It is the essence of your being, living in the here and now, in the only house that you truly possess, your body. It is body-centered.
The YOU that is pure consciousness and formless awareness doesn’t need to answer the ‘who am I’ question. Your conscious awareness has an inner sense of aliveness, with an infinite depth. It is transcendent and identity-less and free from all attachments and identifications.
Your conscious awareness is aware of the ego and all its trappings, but it is not the ego itself. This awareness is timeless and exists only in the present. For me it means that I’m aware of the past and of the future, but my past and future selves are still ego projections.
Your conscious awareness is an Observer and looks at inner beauty instead of outer, superficial looks and things. It senses a deep connection and is harmoniously ONE with ALL that is. It it is never alone, but all-one.
It is the YOU that exists in a state of peaceful serenity and quiet equanimity.
NOW, who doesn’t want that?
Ego identification seems perfectly normal to most of us. It’s so much the default that we scarcely question it. But in many of my spiritual studies, I found that people we consider enlightened basically did just that. Free themselves from their ego personality. Becoming aware of and making the shift from ego-centeredness to awareness-centeredness.
How do we live with these two very different Me’s? How do we find a balance?
You have to live in the now, has almost become a cliché. While it contains a tremendous wisdom. In 1997 the book The Power of Now : A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment was published by Eckhart Tolle. Since then millions of copies have been sold worldwide and Eckhart Tolle has become one of the most popular spiritual teachers of our time.
Tolle was spontaneously enlightened at the age of 29, when he thought at a peak of a depression that he couldn’t live with himself anymore. At that moment he realized there were two versions of himself, a veritable one and an untrue version. That insight liberated him from his ego and brought him into a state of permanent bliss. It became suddenly clear to him how our thoughts can fool us and how we have based our identity on them.
The ego is only an illusion, but a very influential one. Letting the ego-illusion become your identity can prevent you from knowing your true self. Ego, the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do, is a backwards way of assessing and living life. — Wayne Dyer
According to Tolle, the present moment is a gateway to enlightenment. And with enlightenment I mean a higher state of presence where all your worries, fears and emotional pain disappear. We suffer, he says, because we identify with time. We sometimes carry our past with us as a leaden burden. We are worried about a future that actually does not exist at all.
‘There is never a moment when your life is not now’, he writes in his book. ‘Realize that the present moment is all that you will ever have. Make the Now the most important focus of your life.’
By living in the present you become liberated from your thinking, the continuous bombarding of negative thoughts, worries and fears. According to Tolle, the mind is a fantastic instrument. The disturbing effect only starts when you look for yourself and mistakenly identify yourself with the wrong you. With your ego personality. With all the things that are not the real you.
By identifying ourselves with our thoughts and emotions, we miss life as it now appears to us. ‘Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering,’ Eckhart says, ‘it is also the end of the horrendous addiction to incessant thinking. What a liberation!’ As soon as you are in the present moment with your full attention, you come into contact with what Tolle calls the Source or Being. He says: ‘It is an area of deep silence and peace, but also of joy and intense vibrancy.’
In the stillness of your presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the unmanifested life that animates your physical form. You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature. You look beyond the veil of form and separation. This is the realization of oneness. This is love. — Eckhart Tolle
Tolle’s message is not new. Much of it can be found in other terms in great religions and wisdom traditions such as Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. His lectures about the ego give the old wisdom a new and refreshing look and it has helped me tremendously to gain insight into the ego, the ‘I’ that we think we are and how to break through the armor of the ego that separates you from your true self.
Below is a free translation of lessons from his book about the ego and how to free yourself from it, with some additions of myself.
Realize that your ego is not your identity and that it will lead to painful separation
We all have an ego. According to Tolle, most people have so fully identified themselves with that voice in their heads — that incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thoughts plus the emotions that accompany them — that you could speak of ‘possessed by thought, by the mind’.
If you’re not fully aware of this, you use that thinker to be who you think you are. This is the egoistic mind. We call it selfish because of the sense of Self, of ‘I’ (ego), in every thought, every memory, every interpretation, opinion, vision, reaction, emotion.
Your ego identity is made up by all your mental activity consisting of certain repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions and reactive patterns with which you identify yourself the strongest. Your ego identity is also formed by what other people have ever said about you or through experiences that you have ever experienced.
These thought patterns are not always positive. The ego can show itself in the form of feelings of inferiority or feelings such as self-hatred, prolonged anger, ideas about yourself that you are not good enough, whether you are successful, or that you are a failure.
Realize that this ego is not the real you, but simply the identity that you have assumed
Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not ‘yours,’ not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you. — Eckhart Tolle
Through the thoughts and beliefs that you have come to believe about yourself in this way, an image has arisen about yourself.
Realize it is you who created this image and made it true, so it is also you who can undo it
Because your ego is selfish, it separates you from other persons. You can see this separation as a cocoon that surrounds you, literally separating you from others.
From my own experience, I know this separateness like no other and I know how painful it is. Yet, this separation also gives you an identity to hold on to, because it gives you the idea that you are ‘someone’.
In its manifestation and content, ego varies from person to person. But it all works in the same way. In other words: egos only differ on the outside. Deep inside they are all identical. They thrive on identification and separation.
Every ego struggles constantly to survive, trying to protect and enlarge itself. To boost up itself, an ego needs to downplay and discredit others. In this unconscious egoistic pattern lies the compulsive habit of mainly seeing the mistakes in others and complaining about them.
Jesus referred to it when he said, ‘Why do you look at the speck in the eye of your brother or sister, while you do not notice the beam in your own eye?’
Realize that your ego makes you complain and not accept reality
What is complaining? Usually the lack of gratitude and awareness. It is a feeling that puts you in a victim role, a feeling that ‘something has happened or is done to you’. Your ego enlarges itself by complaining in thoughts or literally out loud, about other people, about the situation you are in, or about something that happens and what should not happen. Resisting to see, and by this, not accepting reality for what it really is.
Countless people complain so regularly, that they are not even aware of it anymore. It is an unconscious habit that is part of our daily lives, which has become so normal that people even try to defend the right to complain.
See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness. — Eckhart Tolle
By nonacceptance of what is, before you know it, your ego starts pasting negatively charged mental labels on people. This is reinforced by the tendency of people to surround themselves with other people that agree with, confirm and encourage those views.
Resentment is a negative emotion that often goes hand in hand with complaining. Resentment means bitterness, feeling hurt or offended. While the wrong-doing that you see or detect in others might not even be present. It might be a total misinterpretation, a projection of the mind that is conditioned to see enemies, which the ego needs to make itself great and superior. Driving you further away from reality.
The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality — Eckhart Tolle
Realize that — for the ego to survive — it needs to boost itself up by downplaying and discredit others. A way of doing this is by negatively labeling others and by portraying others as being wrong
According to Tolle: ‘If you complain, you are of course right and the person or situation you complain about or to which you react is completely wrong. Nothing strengthens the ego more than being right.’
To be right, you obviously need someone who is wrong. So you have to portray others as wrong. Not only a person but also a situation can be made wrong by complacency and reactivity. Being right puts you in an imaginary position of moral superiority in relation to the person or situation that is being convicted. A feeling that the ego craves.
Tolle states that this mental dysfunction is the cause of separation and endless conflict between people. The cause of a lot of problems in the world.
We all know how harmful negative thinking and labeling can be. Leading to unnecessary stress, anxiety, anger, sorrow, apathy, despair and hopelessness. Not to mention hostility towards others. As a matter of fact, when you constantly think about negative things, you will attract them.
Thus, Eckhart encourages us to change this perception. Think positive to experience positive. Which will definitely keep you more healthy and will avoid a lot of needless conflicts.
Does this mean that there is no such thing as ‘right and wrong’? Not necessary. You can remain in your own truth and in the truth that you perceive, without the urge to want to reveal it to others, or to defend it. Accept that others can have their own opinions, without judging them. Each his or her own truth.
The big trick to reduce our complaining and our resentment is simple: become aware of it and observe it
Okay, so you feel frustrated over something. Realize that this frustration is just your emotional reaction to the voice in your head that you have ever come to believe. Yet this frustration is also your ticket to freedom. The moment you feel frustrated you can become aware that you are responding to your thoughts.
It is in this moment where you can choose to see your thoughts for what they really are, that they might not be the true reality. In this way, you can decide which emotions you want to truly feel in this present moment. Choose to step out of the illusion created by your ego mind and step into the bliss of the here and now.
Realize that your most precious thing is NOW
Tolle indicates that the present moment is all we have. We are so caught up in our daily tasks that we no longer notice the fleeting moments of life. According to Tolle, there is no future or past. There is only memory or anticipation.
It is not your time that is precious, but the point in time that we call the NOW. So stop fixating on the future or the past and focus on the NOW.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life. — Eckhart Tolle
Tolle urges you to be totally present in any situation you find yourself. This means that your mind should not wander. Your focus should be on the present moment and the people or activities that you are involved with at that particular time.
Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose NOW. Then accept the consequences. — Eckhart Tolle
Acceptance is not simply passive state, giving up on your opinions and surrender to the conditions around you. According to Tolle, acceptance is not defeat, it is simply peace and consciousness. When you accept the moment, you can act upon your situation.
All you really need to do is accept this moment fully. You are then at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself. — Eckhart Tolle
Complete acceptance means that you embrace your situation as if you have chosen it yourself instead of missing out on the present moment by waging an internal battle with what already exists. Surrendering to the present moment will allow you to recreate it with peace and energy.
Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. — Eckhart Tolle
By accepting what is going on NOW in your life, you are able to have power over how you respond to it. Holding on to negative experiences in the past normally does more harm than good to us. It corrupts our hearts and we can easily get lost in the negativity of the past. If this happens, we jeopardize our future.
Instead of going down this road, we are supposed to simply honor our pasts. According to Tolle, this is the first step towards forgiving ourselves. After we have done this, we are free to embrace and experience the future confidently.
Choose a Life in NOW-here Over an Ego-trip to NO-where
The ego is present in all of our attachments. The ego feeds on attachments and is always on the look out for some new thing, person or achievement to identify with and attach itself to.
Whenever you cut yourself loose from one attachment, the ego will very quickly find another. In fact, we have multiple attachments simultaneously running at any given moment.
Each of us would probably love to be free of the ego personality. If you are reading this, you are a person who is consciously seeking to be liberated from the prison of the ego.
Realize that the ego is a method of self-deception that emphasizes our separateness rather than our togetherness.
Ego is a way of being that builds up walls between our brothers and sisters, encouraging fear and judgment rather than love. We have the choice and ability to shift to our conscious awareness that is aware of the ego and all its trappings, but that is not the ego itself. To choose conscious awareness, our natural way of being, over ego personality, the human condition that seems in conflict with our spiritual essence.
So, how DO we liberate ourselves from ego?
You could approach it by working away all your attachments and identifications by letting them go one by one. You discover everything you’ve identified yourself with and work to dis-identify with those things.
This process will by itself take quite a long time to attain. Although it is an important part of the awakening process. When you set yourself every day to be less attached and less identified, the quality of your life and consciousness will instantly commence to improve.
There is another, more easy, way to free yourself from the ego: the NOW.
Awareness and Ego Cannot Coexist
The present moment — NOW — is the easiest exit point out of the ego. The ego can’t co-exist with presence. The ego only lives in past and future. When you are present in this moment, there is no past or future, there is only NOW.
So Be Present. NOW is the Time!
On your awareness!
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