Friday, February 11, 2011

Secular Prophet - Eckhart Tolle

I am not certain what to make of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

I question anything especially if it is endorsed by a successful business person and marketing expert like Oprah.

I found the writing in the first part of the book brilliant if not pure genius. Is this “new age” philosophy a clever distillation of ancient eastern philosophies and religions?

For one who has tried to understand Buddhism, I have to agree with the critique below that this is a “re-working and synthesis of traditions” that makes for me, a greater understanding of the subject. I do not know if you have ever tried to understand Buddhism.  Understood it or walked away. I do not know if anything else he is talking about will touch you.

Tolle’s words and writings and ideas are from a “feel” part of ourselves that is beyond words, writing and ideas. He has definitely tapped into that part of me. It is hard to describe why I am reacting this way to his writings in the first chapters of “The Power of Now”.

There is an energy in this work, a hidden energy of the mind – and perhaps too of the soul.

In all fairness to what I have read so far, I have slowed down half way through the book when Tolle puts Jesus under a prism of understanding or perception using his unique way of seeing things. A different perspective of Jesus and the concept of “Now” compared to certain lines of the gospels is interesting. I will comment further in the future if his Jesus measures up to my Cultural Christian view of the Man Jesus.

I do recommend the first part of the book. Too much to explain here in one simple blog. Perhaps ET is just another clever new age hack. Perhaps he is opening a door to understanding that the human race have been trying to fully open for thousands of years.

In the You Tube piece below, the first time around may sound like a lot of mumble jumbo even after having read what he is talking about. I better channeled into Tolle's reading and his ideas on the second view.

Perhaps you can do some Doctor Andrew Weil breathing exercises in between listens as I have done to get into the proper and new sense of the Now.

It makes me think that Jesus may not have communicated well to the average person in the street on the first round of parables to a crowd. Those in the first crowd that came back a second or a third time were perhaps the people he chose as apostles especially when he saw the light of understanding in their eyes.

Eckhart Tolle
Some critics characterize Tolle's books as unoriginal, or even derivative. A 2009 New York Times article said he is "hardly the first writer to tap into the American longing for meaning and success". Sara Nelson, the editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly said Tolle's writings have been successful due to surging public interest in books that tell you "how to be happier, how to live the life you want, how to be at peace, how to be a more successful human". In an article in The Observer, James Robinson called Tolle's writings "a mix of pseudo-science, New Age philosophy, and teaching borrowed from established religions".

Others praise his re-working and synthesis of traditions: Professor and author William Bloom wrote that "Tolle is offering a very contemporary synthesis of Eastern spiritual teaching, which is normally so clothed in arcane language that it is incomprehensible" thereby providing "a valuable perspective on Western culture". Publisher Judith Kendra says, "The ideas [that Tolle is] talking about have been in existence for thousands of years in both Eastern texts and with the great Western mystics, but he's able to make them understandable".


Dave said...

East/West..and never shall they meet? He may be a starting point for many seekers and that is not such a bad thing to be. Don't anoint him just yet but worth study as a clearer picture of Eastern thought is a good thing to have inside all of us. A friend used his philosophy to succeed coming out of jail..rebuilt his life and he now wants to help others do the same. True story. Who am I to argue with success. Follow your bliss......

Mike McShea said...

Starting points are always good especially to those who have never before dreamed of or untook a journey.

Mike McShea said...

undertook (spelling)

Dave said...

Good to see you writing again Mike. Expressions of the soul are important events. Keep rolling..

Mike McShea said...


Pine Mountain Walker said...

I know more about Eckhart Tolle than anyone really does about Jesus. Also, Jesus was "sponsored" by a Roman Emperor eventually--still no evidence in their contemporary history of the existence of Jesus.
I say this, not to detract from Jesus, or those who follow him, but to point out that those being cautious in "following" of Eckhart's teachings seem to be doing it because they don't want to be see as a groupie or a fool if it turns out he's simply swindling everyone.
It seems more relevant, though, to see how practicing his teachings impacts your daily life. If it is positive, the rest doesn't matter so much. For me, the same goes for any teaching no matter how old or venerable it may seem. They all started somewhere, and being old does not make them any more relevant.
What Eckhart teaching is just a pointer. Each one is ultimately following their own path.
Thanks for the article, the more the merrier!