Monday, September 8, 2008

Eckhart Tolle

I was pleased when the celebrant at our Sunday liturgy referred to the “Speaking of Faith” program he heard on his way to our service. I’d been listening too. Interviewed was Eckhart Tolle, who raises many of the themes in my book and blog. His deep wisdom and his ability to express what is very difficult to say has given him, in Krista Tippett’s words, “a powerful reach.” Through Eckhart Tolle, Zen Buddhist understanding is now being popularized in American culture.

Tolle wasn’t given his first name at birth; he took it from the 13th century German mystic Meister Eckhart. The first time I heard his name, I was drawn to it because I revere Meister Eckhart—not a surprise to anyone who reads my book and blog. I didn’t like hearing that Oprah Winfrey had made Tolle popular because I dislike faddishness, but I was wrong when I feared that popular always means shallow. His message distills the authentic core of spirituality.

Raised Catholic, Eckhart Tolle synthesizes core teachings from many spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, and especially Buddhism. After having spent several decades reading spiritual texts, and after a deep and dreadful dark night of the soul, he experienced a sudden breakthrough, a cathartic release, and woke up to everything looking,
precious and alive . . . everything seemed so peaceful, even the traffic. Later, I saw that phrase in the Bible somewhere, "The peace that passes all understanding."
T.S. Eliot has a parallel phrase—“the still point of the turning world.” Another term for it is “the Reign of God.” But Eckhart Tolle said he does not use the word “God” often, giving the same reason I hesitate to use it.
I use the word God rarely because it's been misused so much by the human mind. . . . when you say ‘God’ you make it into a mental idol.
[The word God] has made the timeless, eternal, that which cannot be named, the vast mystery of life itself [into] a thought form. And then you think you know what you're talking about. But of course that's the misuse of the word God. But what ultimately it points to is the essence of who you are and the essence of what everything else is.
The underlying essence of all life.

Words are so useless when we talk about this. [That's why] the first line in the Tao Te Ching is "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao."
[Tao is] the mystery. . . the great un-manifested power that is behind all life which cannot be expressed in words.
[Laughing] The book says you can't speak of it. And then it continues to speak of it.
He reminds me of how often I struggle to express the Inexpressible!

Like many contemporary seers, Eckhart Tolle sees a planetary shift in consciousness underway. There’s an exceptional readiness in the world, as the explosive response to his message attests. The whole interview is available at Eckhart Tolle's Now

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I feel the same way, but have only recently found others to discuss this with. I am quite interested to see the God is not 3 Guys book.
Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now was a huge turning point for me. I read it 3 years ago and life has never been the same. I feel great gratitude towards him and so many others who have brought the light of the great mystery to those who seek it.

Kathleen said...

Enjoyed this blog and the Eckhart Tolle interview. Thanks!