Milton's Secret - Eckhart Tolle and Robert S. Friedman
“That night, Milton couldn’t get to sleep. He was thinking about what happened—and what would happen when he ran into Carter next time…The more he thought about all of this, the more frightened he became. He thought about it so much that he became more and more scared until he completely forgot that he was in a warm bed in his little room.” – From Milton's Secret

In the new book Milton’s Secret, bestselling author Eckhart Tolle brings his message of the liberating power of Now to young people.

Co-authored with Robert S. Friedman, Milton’s Secret uses the backdrop of school bullying, as well as a dog attack on a beloved pet cat, to weave a compelling story about a cheerful, bright boy named Milton who encounters these situations—and what happens when he becomes preoccupied with the possibility of harm on the schoolyard. 

Concerned the past and worrying about the future rob us of our peace and joy.

Milton discovers that although his cat Snuggles had just been attacked by Brutus the Doberman, the furry pet was able to curl up on Milton’s chest, purring blissfully. Wondering about this, Milton asks his Grandpa how his cat can be so happy after just being beaten up. Grandpa replies:

“Milton, cats are not like humans. Snuggles can easily let go of what happened yesterday, and he doesn’t worry about tomorrow. He lives in the Now. That’s why he’s happy even though not long ago Brutus was attacking him. Most people don’t live in the Now because they think of yesterday or tomorrow most of the time. And a lot of the time they are unhappy.”

After dinner, Grandpa notices that Milton seemed troubled and asks him about it. Milton admits that he’d been fearful because a sixth grade bully named Carter pushed him down that day—and he was afraid he’d do it again. Grandpa then explains to Milton that worrying about Then and thinking about When are all in his mind—because they are not here Now.

That night in bed, Milton thinks obsessively about what Carter did, and what he might do next time.  He then dreams about Carter and Brutus, who have him trapped in an alley. Weak with terror, Milton then notices a door that looks like an entrance to a store. “Enter Now”, the sign says—so Milton quickly opens the door.

The ice-cream shop and the kind ice-cream lady he knew from his waking hours had been transformed. She offers his a ball of glowing white light on an ice-cream dish. No, it’s not the sundae-of-the-month choco-cadabra—it’s something much better: a light bubble that pops into a glowing shower of sparkles.

The ice-cream lady explains that the light is now “hiding” and asks Milton if he can find it. He hears a strange noise like a little engine—it’s his cat, Snuggles, purring happily! She then explains that this “light” is a sense of aliveness that is felt only  in the Now—that it’s in his cat, the flower in the counter, herself…and Milton, too!

While Grandpa showed Milton what the “outside” of the Now looked like (Then and When), the ice-cream lady in his dream demonstrates the “inside” of the Now that is experienced from within. She explains:

“…when you feel the light inside your body, you are in the Now. And you’re not scared anymore. The light helps you feel strong.”

A timely message for those who worry incessantly and anticipate worst-case scenarios, Milton’s Secret is a wonderful introduction to Tolle’s teaching on the power of Now—yes, even for adults!

My husband and I had just been teaching our 10-year old son about the Now, especially since he tended to worry about past “mistakes” and obsess about “inventing” in the future. We reminded him that every moment he spends beating himself up over perceived imperfections or anticipating a future life as an inventor, he was missing precious treasures found only in the Now—the love from his cats, the beautiful fall leaves, the warmth of his clothes, the joy of smelling, and so on.

When we first read Milton’s Secret, he was amazed. “This is what you’ve been telling me, Mom!” he exclaimed. Sure enough, it was! And how wonderful that Mr. Tolle and Mr. Friedman birthed this collaboration that can aid parents and caregivers in demonstrating why Now is all we really have—and how worry and anticipation can rob us of the only thing we’re ever guaranteed…the present moment.

Disguised as a children’s book, Milton’s Secret is a wonderful book for adults, as well. However, the scene on bullying, as well as Snuggles the cat getting a chunk torn out of his ear, may be too frightening for younger children. When my son first tried to read this book on his own, he seemed uncomfortable, saying that it was “dangerous”. I then read it to him, and he understood that it was actually a realistic story about things that could happen to someone (or some cat)—and how we can deal with it while still maintaining our peace and sense of well being.

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