Friday, December 25, 2009

What to do about this book ? - "The Power of Now" enigma ...

This review is about Eckhart Tolle first and fundamental book "The Power of Now". Eckhart Tolle is German-born Canadian spiritual teacher. But unlike other spiritual teachers he does not belong or even relates to any existing religion, even though he often cites Buddha and Jesus. He came to the today's fame (almost all celebrities are fascinated by his teachings) through quite unusual life. Despite almost 10 years old refusal to acquire traditional education, he was admitted to the University of London and matriculated at Cambridge in 1977. It was in this year when he felt into depression and came out of it after undergoing, what he describes as enlightenment or "inner transformation". In 1995 he moved to Vancouver, and soon after, in 1999 he wrote "The Power of Now". As the book became later the New York Time bestseller, his fame started to grow. His frequent performances with Oprah Winfrey and admiration of many celebrities positioned him among top spiritual teachers of the western hemisphere.

He promotes his message through a company he created and named "Eckhart Teachings"....

His history and fame could easily make my mind very suspicious about the quality of his message. But, I must admit, here comes a great surprise. The message is very simple, very basic and obvious - and expressed in such sincere and explicit words, that we should read it with attention. In a most concise description, the message is about the discovery of our inner consciousness, the silent "I" which is not reduced to our mind, thoughts or even our ego.
He beautifully describes it as the "no-thing", as the background of our thoughts and perceptions.
The discovery of the true inner center of our awareness, reveals also all negative consequences of mind domination - both on personal and also on social level. His analysis of the concept of pain-body which describes the negative emotional component of our life - is really deep and profound.

I also found his basic advice or "tool" one can use to self-wake up as very interesting - it is attempt to live in the "now"- in the Present. The past, and future are mental creations, the first through memory, the second through imagination. The focus on our "Now" on things and thoughts that matter for presentness - opens us to the awareness of the deeper level of existence, to true being, or "is-ness" - the another term, Tolle uses in an interesting way.
Even though I disagree with the apparent diminishing of the importance of the past, I must admit Tolle analysis of time is convincing.

In some sense, Eckhart Tolle rediscovers the truths well known to almost all meditational traditions of the world, however he does so in truly universal way - in language that the modern world can understand and can accept. It rediscovers what almost all religions of the world were telling us for centuries, but what was forgotten or maybe simply obstructed for many by the organizational or even political aspects of many religions.

Finally, even though many aspects of Tolle career are not what I like the most, he, by no means can be called "revitalised New Age mumbo jumbo" as it was done by Independent in an article published on June 21, 2008.

If I was about to point some weakness in his teaching it is in his forgetfulness of the importance of unchangeable past, our freedom and grounds for moral teaching. Paradoxically if one extends his basic teaching of awareness - the foundations for these concepts are there !

It is also funny, how I found this book and Eckhart Tolle teachings. It was thanks to Raymond Harrison who posted some comments on my blog about time and its dimensions. He pointed out to me Tolle teachings and I'm grateful to him for this reference...

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Mirek - I am thrilled you have read and reviewed this wonderful book. I think that your comments are important. Tolle seems so unbalanced because we are not present in the Eternal Now. But all modes of time are significant. I am especially now interested in creating a vision of the future that could almost be seen arriving over the horizon - one of economic sustainability, natural preservation, international peace, aesthetic beauty, artistic creativity, and spiritual harmony. It has been a joy to find a kindred spirit who loves reading and discussing good books. Check out Jean Gebser - The Ever present Origin. This is a deep book that takes much time and thought to read. Best wishes for the New Year - Raymond Harrison

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  2. Raymond, I will read Gebser book - thanks for the tip. I wanted to tell you that I find links between Tolle teaching and recent linguistic discoveries. For example Steven Pinker in his "Stuff of thought" (my review: http://sopekmir.blogspot.com/2009/09/steven-pinkers-stuff-of-thought.html)
    shows that we do not think in words, in language. He shows that the stuff of thought is very different from the "language content".

    How close from this is to Tolle stress on "gaps" between words, thoughts ...

    Best wishes to you too...

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  3. Raymond - after the Power of Now I listened to his increadible lectures recorded as "Journey into Yourself".

    All in all he is very convincing, but I'm a bit worried that his message, classified by many as "mumbo-jumbo" will fade out. The reason is that there were many real "mumbo-jumbo" pseudo-spiritual heroes.

    Take Rav Berg and his "Kabbalah Center" that has, first - nothing to do with true Kabbalah, second - is focused on the business side of his "teaching". I know this first hand, from people who do know Kabbalah, but would never perform such an enterprise liek Berg. I guess there are many more examples of such lunatics...

    The simplicity and frankness of Tolle is a guarentee for me - but - is it for all ... ???

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  4. Anonymous10:37 PM

    One has to have had some direct spiritual experience - meditation, transcendental awareness, shamanic journey, archetypal dreaming, synchronicity, etc. to truly connect to his teachings. Ken Wilber has noted that only 2% of the world's population function at the highest level of consciousness. yet 25% are immediately beneath and ready for a transition to this higher consciousness. It is to this emerging group that Tolle speaks. I have suggested this book to several others with no direct spiritual experiences and they could not find anything there in his teachings. As Chogyam Trungpa noted, there is a great deal of spiritual materialism present in the world, but I feel Tolle's message is genuine. The experience of transcendental consciousness is difficult to capture in words and may not be able to be comprehended through human reason alone. For those with direct spiritual experience, his message rings true. As with all that I read, I must pass his wisdom though the filter of my own consciousness. When I do, I find his words reveal important truths. Raymond Harrison

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  5. Mike!
    You won the Vonnegut give away from my blog! I need to know how to get this new book to you! Please let me know. My email is on my site.
    I have read "The Power of Now" and would love to embrace the principles. I'm about as far away from it as possible..unfortunately!

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  6. Kris - I did send my address to kristinadaniel@hotmail.com

    If you had any problems with receiving it, drop a message here.

    I am delighted for winning the give away !!!

    ReplyDelete