March 7, 2011

Eckhart Tolle and The Power of Now

Posted in Philosophers tagged , , , at 1:01 pm by tiffanyannbrown

I recently came across Eckhart Tolle while listening to an Oprah Soul Series podcast. I was instantly intrigued for two reasons 1) Oprah mentioned that everyone who visits her home automatically receives a copy of Tolle’s book, The Power of Now and 2) prior to writing this book, Tolle was a depressed vagrant living on the streets of England, contemplating suicide until he decided that “he” could no longer live with “himself.” Upon making this statement, he suddenly realized that the “I” and the “himself” were at the same time one but not one of the same. This realization spurred an “inner awakening” and transformed his way of thinking, allowing for him to break free of his negative thought processes and embrace that which he essentially was. Tolle states:

I couldn’t live with myself any longer. And in this a question arose without an answer: who is the ‘I’ that cannot live with the self? What is the self? I felt drawn into a void. I didn’t know at the time that what really happened was the mind-made self, with its heaviness, its problems, that lives between the unsatisfying past and the fearful future, collapsed. It dissolved. The next morning I woke up and everything was so peaceful. The peace was there because there was no self. Just a sense of presence or “beingness,” just observing and watching.

Tolle writes that “the most significant thing that can happen to a human being is the “separation process of thinking and awareness” and that awareness is “the space in which thoughts exist.” Tolle says that “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” Below is an introduction from Jim Carrey:

According to Tolle’s web site, at the core of his teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists of transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. Below is an interview with Tolle from ABC News:

Tolle mentions that 98 to 99% of our thinking is repetitive and in fact, a lot of our thinking is negative. He says that the ego is habitual and compulsive; many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment. Therefore, people who are lost in their thoughts not only consumed by the ego but inevitably unable to fully and consciously enjoy their lives. He writes:

The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not ‘the thinker.’ The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.

Though nothing Eckhart’s really telling us is new, I recommend this book for anyone who needs a fresh perspective on how to achieve genuine peace and happiness in their lives. Borrowing heavily from the concepts of Buddhism, Tolle meshes together wisdom from a variety of different religions to piece together a clear and modern-day approach to understanding spiritual enlightenment.

Link to the webcasts from Oprah’s Soul Series are located here.


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