In this excerpt from the May/June issue of Spirituality & Health, bestselling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle explains why the most important time we will ever have in our lives is happening right now.

Q: Why are people so focused on the notion of enlightenment?

If people are focused on enlightenment—or whatever word they are using to describe self-realization or awakening—at least they’ve realized that the answer does not lie in external things. They have realized that the answer lies within rather than in obtaining more possessions, or achieving this or that, or changing the world out there.

So it’s a good thing. It’s a transitional stage from the normal state of consciousness, where all the solutions and problems are seen as external, to realizing that whatever we experience as our external reality is a reflection of our inner state of consciousness.

But even for those who are beginning to awaken, the old mind pattern—the deeply ingrained pattern that always looks to the future for fulfillment and salvation—still tends to operate.

Q: So, even when we are “searching,” we are still looking toward the future?

Yes. This mind pattern assumes that the future is going to be more important than the present. It ignores the present moment, does not honor it, and does not give it its due. I have met people who have been spiritual seekers for twenty years, have read hundreds of books, attended workshops, gone to ashrams in India, and they are getting frustrated, asking, “When am I going to get it? When am I going to get enlightened?”

The actual experience of awakening can only be in the present moment.

The future does not exist, because nobody has ever experienced it. You can only ever experience a present moment.

The future is a mental projection that you are having in the present moment.

I’m not talking about the practical aspects of the future, like booking a flight or planning what you want to do this year, but the psychological future. That’s where we can get trapped. If you are always focused on the future, you miss the reality of life, which is the present moment.

When people get very old, there isn’t much future left, so they tend to focus mainly on the past. But they are still not in the present moment. Life is now.

To read the rest, pick up the May/June issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, in stores now! Positively Positive fans can also get this issue free by subscribing here

Spirituality & Health magazine is dedicated to exploring personal transformation, creating effective connections with others, respecting the natural world, and building a better world to live and work in. Featuring in-depth interviews from spiritual luminaries in every issue, including Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Brene Brown, and many more. Subscribe now!


*Photo Credit: Kevin Steele