Library / 'Do-not-waste-your-time' Books

Date of review: January 2022
Book author: Eckhart Tolle
Вook published: 1997

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle (first published 1997)

The author explains how most people spend too much time thinking about the past or the future, which creates most of their problems.
I have heard about this book a few times, including Jim O'Shaughnessy's podcasts. If I am not mistaken, Jim recommended this book himself (or at least spoke highly about it). It is not a bad book, and adding it to this category may look a little harsh. The central idea of the book is actually very important. The author explains how most people spend too much time thinking about the past or the future, which creates most of their problems (at least, this is how I understood it). It was a helpful reminder to me that planning to start 'a great life' just when…(I get a more exciting job,… my children grow a little older,… I have X amount in my portfolio) is a useless strategy because this moment never arrives. You should focus on the present and start enjoying your life now.

One idea that sank into my memory is that there are no problems NOW. Indeed, if you start analysing the issues that bother you, they all relate either to the future or the past, but if you shift your focus to this very moment, you don't find these problems. The second idea is that our mind is just part of the body and not you (i.e. You are not your mind). But this is where it becomes pretty philosophical and debatable.
In general, the two main reasons I consider this book a potential 'waste-of-time' are:
A. It focuses too much on esoteric questions without sufficient scientific proof and not enough on practical advice;

B. I listened to an audiobook version, and it was not a pleasant experience (this is subjective, of course).

Speaking about the first issue, I note that there is some controversy around spiritual practices, human life, and other topics at the centre of every religion. I am not sure this is the best book to read about it. I would probably start with the Holy Book (Bible, Quran and other texts like Tripitaka, the Vedas etc.). To give some flavour of the book's content, I have provided a few names of chapters and sections as well as the epigraph:

  • 'You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are!'
  • Part 5 in Chapter 5: 'Christ: The Reality of Your Divine Presence'
  • Part 8 in Chapter 7: 'Conscious Death'
I used to read many similar books on consciousness, mind vs soul, human life, and other topics like that when I was a teenager seeking answers to the central question of 'Why we live' and 'What the purpose of life is'.

Not that I have found the answers to these questions by now, but I have a slight suspicion that a single book can answer these questions.

A reader may wonder, 'Why did I even bother writing a review of this book on a website about investing'. The reason for this is that I think keeping a clear focus and avoiding the impact of emotions is as important for successful investing as applying the correct formulae in estimating the intrinsic values of companies. Hence, I try to read books that may help me in this process, especially if well-regarded investors recommend them.

So my conclusion is that there are better books out there. But if you still decide to read it, I strongly suggest getting a text version of the book, not the audio one.

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