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Awakening Out of the Dream of Time

Notice when you tend to dwell on things that have happened or worry about what may happen. Recognize this as psychological time and return to honoring the present moment.

How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:

  1. Put aside everything you think you already know.

  2. Open your mind and heart to receive something new.

  3. Take your time going through each point.

  4. Return to any points that particularly touch you.

  5. In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.

1. The Illusion of Time

“Aren't past and future just as real, sometimes even more real, than the present? After all, the past determines who we are, as well as how we perceive and behave in the present. And our future goals determine which actions we take in the present.”


“You haven't yet grasped the essence of what I am saying because you are trying to understand it mentally. The mind cannot understand this. Only you can. Please just listen.

Have you ever experienced, done, thought, or felt anything outside the Now? Do you think you ever will? Is it possible for anything to happen or be outside the Now?

The answer is obvious, is it not? Nothing ever happened in the past, it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.

What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace - and you do so now.

The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it 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.

The essence of what I am saying here cannot be understood by the mind. The moment you grasp it, there is a shift in consciousness from mind to Being, from time to presence. Suddenly, everything feels alive, radiates energy, emanates Being.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


Eckhart says that we cannot grasp the essence of what he is talking about here with our minds. We must understand it with a deeper faculty, with our spirit.

We have come to believe that what we call the past and future are real entities existing on a timeline. However, they have no reality outside of the present moment. They are simply thoughts about what has happened (memories) and thoughts about what may happen (imagination).

Seeing this changes our perspective of everything. It's like realizing that the scary monster under the bed is just a harmless soft toy with no life of its own.

2. Clock Time and Psychological Time

"Learn to use time in the practical aspects of your life - we may call this "clock time" - but immediately return to present-moment awareness when those practicalities have been dealt with. In this way, there will be no buildup of "psychological time," which is identification with the past and continuous compulsive projection into the future.

Clock time is not just making an appointment or planning a trip. It includes learning from the past so that we don't repeat the same mistakes over and over. Setting goals and working toward them.

But even here, within the sphere of practical living, where we cannot do without reference to past and future, the present moment remains the essential factor: Any lesson from the past becomes relevant and is applied now. And planning as well as working toward achieving a particular goal is done now.

The enlightened person's main focus of attention is always the Now, but they are still peripherally aware of time. In other words, they continue to use clock time but are free of psychological time.

Be alert as you practice this so that you do not unwittingly transform clock time into psychological time.

For example, if you made a mistake in the past and learn from it now, you are using clock time. On the other hand, if you dwell on it mentally, and self-criticism, remorse, or guilt come up, then you are making the mistake into "me" and "mine": You make it part of your sense of self, and it has become psychological time, which is always linked to a false sense of identity.

Nonforgiveness necessarily implies a heavy burden of psychological time.

If you set yourself a goal and work toward it, you are using clock time. You are aware of where you want to go, but you honor and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment.

If you then become excessively focused on the goal, perhaps because you are seeking happiness, fulfillment, or a more complete sense of self in it, the Now is no longer honored. It becomes reduced to a mere stepping stone to the future, with no intrinsic value.

Clock time then turns into psychological time. Your life's journey is no longer an adventure, just an obsessive need to arrive, to attain, to "make it."

You no longer see or smell the flowers by the wayside either, nor are you aware of the beauty and the miracle of life that unfolds all around you when you are present in the Now."

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


Understanding the difference between clock time and psychological time empowers us to honor life's journey without missing out on life itself in the present moment.

Psychological time is the preoccupation we have with the past and future which interferes with our availability to be here now, where life is actually happening. Perhaps you play conversations you had over and over in your head or you stress about what will happen with your work situation or relationships.

Clock time, on the other hand, allows us to function effectively in the world by making appointments, learning from the past, setting goals, and planning for the future, all without getting caught up in these things.

Notice when you tend to dwell on things that have happened or worry about what may happen. Recognize this as psychological time and return to honoring the present moment.

3. How to Stop Creating Time

"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 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?"

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.

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.

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? Realize 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 can be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is? What can 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 starts working for you rather than against you."

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


Have you ever realized that you're creating time? By creating time, Eckhart means that we dwell on the past and future, creating psychological time, which keeps us separated from the present moment and the reality of life.

Here, we are encouraged to make a shift from spending most of our time in our minds - remembering the past and anticipating the future - to spending most of our time in the Now.

Don't be discouraged if you feel you can't do this. Everyone's experience is different, so never compare yourself with anyone else. Simply notice where you are throughout the day. Keep stopping and asking yourself, "Where am I?" This simple question has the power to bring you back to presence.

4. A Different Kind of Knowing

"A moment ago, when you talked about the eternal present and the unreality of past and future, I found myself looking at that tree outside the window.

I had looked at it a few times before, but this time it was different. The external perception had not changed much, except that the colours seemed brighter and more vibrant. But there was now an added dimension to it.

This is hard to explain. I don't know how, but I was aware of something invisible that I felt was the essence of that tree, its inner spirit if you like. And somehow I was part of that. I realize now that I hadn't truly seen the tree before, just a flat and dead image of it."


"You were free of time for a moment. You moved into the Now and therefore perceived the tree without the screen of the mind. The awareness of Being became part of your perception.

With the timeless dimension comes a different kind of knowing, one that does not "kill" the spirit that lives within every creature and every thing. A knowing that does not destroy the sacredness and mystery of life but contains a deep love and reverence for all that is. A knowing of which the mind knows nothing.

The mind cannot know the tree. It can only know facts or information about the tree. My mind cannot know you, only labels, judgements, facts, and opinions about you.

Being alone knows directly."

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


Look at a tree today. Really look at it, without the screen of the mind, and discover "a knowing that does not destroy the sacredness and mystery of life but contains a deep love and reverence for all that is."

Notice the last sentence: "Being alone knows directly." Being is the essence, the spirit of life. Only life can know life. Only spirit can know spirit. Tune into this way of knowing, this way of true connection through being fully present.

5. Breaking the Old Pattern

“You have had a glimpse of how the timeless can transform your perceptions. But an experience is not enough, no matter how beautiful or profound. What is needed and what we are concerned with is a permanent shift in consciousness.

So break the old pattern of present-moment denial and present-moment resistance. Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed. Step out of the time dimension as much as possible in everyday life.

If you find it hard to enter the Now directly, start by observing the habitual tendency of your mind to want to escape the Now. You will observe that the future is usually imagined as either better or worse than the present.

If the imagined future is better, it gives you hope or pleasurable anticipation. If it is worse, it creates anxiety. Both are illusory. Through self-observation, more presence comes into your life automatically.

The moment you realize you are not present, you are present.

Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind: the witnessing presence.

Be present as the watcher of your mind - of your thoughts and emotions as well as your reactions in various situations. Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or the person that causes you to react.

Notice also how often your attention is in the past or future. Don't judge or analyze what you observe. Watch the thought, feel the emotion, observe the reaction. Don't make a personal problem out of them.

You will then feel something more powerful than any of those things that you observe: the still, observing presence itself behind the content of your mind, the Silent Watcher.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


Are you noticing “the habitual tendency of your mind to want to escape the Now?” If so, you are breaking the old pattern of constantly denying and resisting the present moment.

Become aware of how the mind wanders off, creating the dimension of time. Take your place as the seat of awareness and practise being the silent witness, paying attention to how you respond to life’s unfolding.

6. Problems Need Time to Survive

"It feels as if a heavy burden has been lifted. A sense of lightness. I feel clear ... but my problems are still there waiting for me, aren't they? They haven't been solved. Am I not just temporarily evading them?"


If you found yourself in paradise, it wouldn't be long before your mind would say "yes, but ..."

Ultimately, this is not about solving your problems. It's about realizing that there are no problems. Only situations - to be dealt with now, or to be left alone and accepted as part of the "isness" of the present moment until they change or can be dealt with.

Problems are mind-made and need time to survive. They cannot survive in the actuality of the Now.

Focus your attention on the Now and tell me what problem you have at this moment."

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


How refreshing today's quote is, beautifully wrapping up our week of awakening out of the dream of time.

As a transformative coach, I have had the honour of leading people into presence, watching the anxiety melt away on their faces as they found their true home - freedom from the story of the mind and all the complexities that come with living as a human being on earth. For a few brief moments, they found rest. Their smile said it all.

This state of mind occurs when we awaken from the realm of psychological time. It's as though we've been watching the story of our life (in which we star) and then we turn away from the screen of projection to discover the peace and tranquility of the room we're sitting in - from complicated drama to simple reality.

"Ultimately, this is not about solving your problems. It's about realizing that there are no problems." Notice the mind's instant rejection of this statement and the compulsion to argue with it. "Yes but, what about those people who are in an abusive relationship or homeless etc?"

Even those who find themselves in difficult circumstances can find relief by focusing on the Now, because being present doesn't mean you're thinking about the events that are currently happening. It means changing your focus to what is present with you: your breath, the sounds you can hear, the things you can see, feel, smell and taste.

This shift of attention is the awakening our souls long for, and yet it’s no further away than your next breath.

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