1950s was the period in the U.S. history marked by growth, prosperity and optimism after the long depression started in 1920s. People started to get over the trauma of the hard and difficult time after the depression, started to dream for the future and started to accumulate wealth.
Alan Watts wrote this book at the very moment of prosperity and I just can’t help being surprised over and over by how Alan Watts read the world and the anxiety people felt that has risen from the very abundance they started to experience. Also, importantly, this theme still continues even in our time – one hundred years later.
The essence of the author’s message in this book is well described in The Great Stream. The anxiety, insecurity, and the seemingly unavoidable pain we human beings feel is coming from the act (or the fact) that while life has be to be lived in the present as the stream flows and changes along the way, we human beings constantly try to define life with word that is a symbol of the past, the fixed and the unchangeable, not living the constantly changing life but living in the past or the not-yet-coming future.
Ekhart Tolle was only able to awake people suffering from endless depression or anxiety of the human existence in early 21st century. In this regard, I cannot agree more on Depak Chopra’s opinion in his introduction to this book that the author is brave in his time because his message resonates even in our time.
So what’s the wisdom that the author implies? We often miss the pleasures of the moment in our anxious efforts to ensure the next moment is as enjoyable. We spend too much time trying to anticipate and plan for the future or too much time lamenting the past. In order to lead a fulfilling life, we must embrace the present- live fully in the now.