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What makes The Power of Now?

Eighteen years after it was first published, we reflect on what makes The Power of Now an enduring classic, with Eckhart Tolle’s preface to the book:

The Power of Now continues to play its part in the urgent task of the transformation of human consciousness. Although I was privileged to give birth to it, I feel that the book has taken on a life and momentum of its own. It has reached several million readers worldwide, many of whom have written to me to tell of the life-changing effect it has had on them. Due to the extremely high volume of correspondence I receive, I am regretfully no longer able to send personal replies, but I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have written to me to share their experiences. I am moved and deeply touched by many of those accounts, and they leave no doubt in my mind that an unprecedented shift in consciousness is indeed happening on our planet.

Nobody could have predicted the rapid growth of the book when Namaste Publishing in Vancouver published the first edition of three thousand copies in 1998. During its first year of publication, the book found its readers almost exclusively through word of mouth. That was the time when I would personally deliver a few copies every week to some small bookstores in Vancouver, something I found enormously satisfying, knowing that every book I handed over had the potential of changing someone’s life. Friends helped me by placing copies of the book in spiritual bookstores farther afield: Calgary, Seattle, California, London. Stephen Gawtry, the manager of Watkins, the world’s oldest metaphysical bookstore in London, England, wrote at the time “I foresee great things for this book.” He was right: by the second year, The Power of Now had developed into an underground bestseller as one reviewer later called it. Then, after the book received a number of favourable reviews in various journals and magazines, its growth accelerated and finally became explosive when Oprah Winfrey, who had been deeply affected by the book, proceeded to tell the world about it. Five years after it first published, it reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and it is now available in thirty languages. It has been very well received and become a bestseller even in India, a country considered by many to be the birthplace of humanity’s quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Most of the thousands of letters and emails that have been sent to me from all over the world are from ordinary men and women, but there are also letters from Buddhist monks and Christian nuns, from people in prison or facing a life-threatening illness or imminent death. Psychotherapists have written to say that they recommend the book to their patients or incorporate the teachings into their practise. Many of those letters and emails mention a lessening or even a complete disappearance of suffering and problem making in people’s lives as a result of reading The Power of Now and putting the teachings into practise in everyday life. . . This does not mean, of course, that everyone responded favourably to the book. . . Any teaching that puts the spotlight of attention on the workings of the ego will necessarily provoke egoic reaction, resistance and attack.
However, despite a certain amount of misunderstanding and critical dissent, the response to the book around the globe has been overwhelmingly positive. I feel confident that in the years to come millions more will be drawn to it and that The Power of Now will continue to make a vital contribution to the arising of a new consciousness and a more enlightened humanity.’