You can be free from pain right now

Once you live in the present, you no longer create pain for yourself

Man sitting alone

The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.

The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgement. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind. The mind always seeks to deny the Now and to escape from it. In other words, the more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer. Or you may put it like this: the more you are able to honour and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering—and free of the egoic mind.

Time and mind are inseparable

Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.

Imagine the Earth devoid of human life, inhabited only by plants and animals. Would it still have a past and a future? Could we still speak of time in any meaningful way? The question “What time is it?” or “What’s the date today?”—if anybody were there to ask it—would be quite meaningless. The oak tree or the eagle would be bemused by such a question. “What time?” they would ask. “Well, of course, it’s now. The time is now. What else is there?”

The mind always seeks to deny the Now and to escape from it

The beginning of dysfunction

Yes, we need the mind as well as time to function in this world, but there comes a point where they take over our lives, and this is where dysfunction, pain and sorrow set in.

The mind, to ensure that it remains in control, seeks continuously to cover up the present moment with past and future, and so, as the vitality and infinite creative potential of Being, which is inseparable from the Now, becomes covered up by time, your true nature becomes obscured by the mind. An increasingly heavy burden of time has been accumulating in the human mind. All individuals are suffering under this burden, but they also keep adding to it every moment whenever they ignore or deny that precious moment or reduce it to a means of getting to some future moment, which only exists in the mind, never in actuality. The accumulation of time in the collective and individual human mind also holds a vast amount of residual pain from the past.

Freedom from pain

If you no longer want to create pain for yourself and others, if you no longer want to add to the residue of past pain that still lives on in you, then don’t create any more time, or at least no more than is necessary to deal with the practical aspects of your life. How to stop creating time? Realise deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation. Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life—and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.

Excerpted with permission from The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle, published by Yogi Impressions.


This was first published in the July 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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