July 18th, 2014

Eckhart Tolle - Too Popular To Be Wise? Maybe, Maybe Not.

Eckhart Tolle (/ˈɛkɑrt ˈtɒlə/ ek-art to-lə; German pronunciation: [ˈɛkaʁt ˈtɔlə], born Ulrich Leonard Tolle on February 16, 1948) is a German-born resident of Canada,[1] best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth. In 2011, he was listed by the Watkins Review as the most spiritually influential person in the world.[2] In 2008, a New York Times writer called Tolle "the most popular spiritual author in the United States".[3]

Tolle has said that he was depressed for much of his life until he underwent, at age 29, an "inner transformation". He then spent several years wandering and unemployed "in a state of deep bliss" before becoming a spiritual teacher. Later, he moved to North America where he began writing his first book, The Power of Now, which was published in 1997[4] and reached the New York Times Best Seller lists in 2000.[5] Tolle settled in Vancouver, Canada, where he has lived for more than a decade.

...... Tolle's father did not insist that his son attend high school, and so Tolle elected to study literature, astronomy and languages at home.[8][10]

At the age of fifteen Tolle read several books written by the German mystic Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken, also known as Bô Yin Râ. Tolle has said he responded "very deeply" to those books.[10]

At the age of 19, Tolle moved to England and for three years taught German and Spanish at a London school for language studies.[12] Troubled by "depression, anxiety and fear", he began "searching for answers" in his life.[10] At age 22 or so he decided to pursue this search by studying philosophy, psychology, and literature, and enrolled in the University of London.[10] After graduating[10] he was offered a scholarship to do postgraduate research at Cambridge University which he began in 1977 and from which he dropped out soon after.[7][8]

One night in 1977, at the age of 29, after having suffered from long periods of suicidal depression, Tolle says he experienced an "inner transformation."[7] That night he awakened from his sleep, suffering from feelings of depression that were "almost unbearable," but then experienced a life-changing epiphany.[10] Recounting the experience, Tolle says,

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.[12]

Tolle recalls going out for a walk in London the next morning, and finding that “everything was miraculous, deeply peaceful. Even the traffic."[10] The feeling continued, and he began to feel a strong underlying sense of peace in any situation.[6] Tolle stopped studying for his doctorate, and for a period of about two years after this he spent much of his time sitting, “in a state of deep bliss," on park benches in Russell Square, Central London, "watching the world go by.” He stayed with friends, in a Buddhist monastery, or otherwise slept rough on Hampstead Heath. His family thought him “irresponsible, even insane."[12] Tolle changed his first name from Ulrich to Eckhart; by some reports this was in homage to the German philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart,[8][9][13] although according to other reports he was drawn to that name coincidentally.[14]

After this period, former Cambridge students and people he had met by chance began to ask Tolle about his beliefs. He began working as a counselor and spiritual teacher.[7] Students continued to come to him over the next five years. He relocated to Glastonbury, a major centre of alternative living.[12] In 1995, after having visited the West Coast of North America several times, he settled in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he met his wife to be, Kim Eng.[7][10][15][16]

Tolle's first book, The Power of Now, was first published in 1997 by Namaste Publishing.[4][6] Only 3000 copies were published of the first edition. Tolle: "I would personally deliver a few copies every week to some small bookstores in Vancouver ... Friends helped by placing copies of the book in spiritual bookstores farther afield".[4] The book was first published under copyright by New World Library in 1999.[4][7] In 2000, Oprah Winfrey recommended it in her magazine, O.[13] In August 2000 it reached the New York Times Best Seller list for Hardcover Advice.......

....... beginning in May 2008.[25] The weekly webinar sessions included discussions between Tolle and Winfrey, silent meditations, and questions from viewers via Skype.[8] Each webinar focused on a specific chapter of A New Earth.[8] The third webinar attracted more than 11 million viewers.[8]

.................. He also travels for various speaking engagements, such as seminars and retreats.[15][27] In a 2003 interview with the Telegraph Magazine, Tolle indicated that he had no intention of creating "a heavy commercial structure", nor of setting up an ashram or centre. He believes one "could develop organically"[12] and said "one needs to be careful that the organization doesn’t become self-serving".[6]

........ His most recent book, Guardians of Being, is a picture book illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the comic strip Mutts.[6][32]

Tolle writes in the introduction to his second book, Stillness Speaks, that "A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth ... The words are no more than signposts."[19]

Tolle says that his book, The Power of Now, is "a restatement for our time of that one timeless spiritual teaching, the essence of all religions".[33] He writes that religions "have become so overlaid with extraneous matter that their spiritual substance has become almost completely obscured",[33] that they have become "to a large extent ... divisive rather than unifying forces" and become "themselves part of the insanity".[34]

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".[35] Tolle says that "the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it".[36]

According to Tolle's official website, "at the core of Tolle's 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 in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet".[15]

In his book A New Earth, Tolle describes a major aspect of the human dysfunction as "ego" or an "illusory sense of self"[37] based on unconscious identification with one's memories and thoughts,[38] and another major aspect he calls "pain-body"[7] or "an accumulation of old emotional pain".[39]

Tolle often talks about the relevance of figures in intellectual or popular culture. In A New Earth, he quotes Descartes, Sartre, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Albert Einstein.[3][13][21] He has spoken of movies such as Groundhog Day, American Beauty, The Horse Whisperer, Gran Torino, Titanic, Avatar, Being There, and Forrest Gump,[13][28][40] and musicians such as Mozart, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He arranged an album of music in 2008 entitled Music to Quiet the Mind including work composed by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy and The Beatles, and music by contemporary artists such as Deva Premal, Jeff Johnson and Steve Roach.

According to a 2009 article in the New York Times, Tolle is "not identified with any religion, but uses teachings from Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism and the Bible".[7] Tolle has said "I feel actually that the work I do is a coming together of the teaching 'stream', if you want to call it that, of [Jiddu] Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi".[10] Tolle himself has mentioned texts such as the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita and other Hindu scriptures, the Buddhist scriptures, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and A Course in Miracles; he has mentioned various individuals such as Zoroaster, Lao Tzu, Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Jesus, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, Hafiz, Rinzai Gigen, Ralph Waldo Emerson; and he has emphasized the mystical schools within religions such as Gnosticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Hasidism and Kabbala in Judaism, Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism, and Zen and Dzogchen in Buddhism. He has met and spoken with Barry Long and Don Miguel Ruiz, and he wrote a foreword for The Diamond in Your Pocket by Gangaji.[4][10][13][21][27][41]

............... John Stackhouse, a professor of theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver, says that Tolle "gives a certain segment of the population exactly what they want: a sort of supreme religion that purports to draw from all sorts of lesser, that is, established religions".[6] Stackhouse has described Tolle as one of several spiritual teachers who "purport to have investigated the world’s religions (quite a claim) and found them wanting, who routinely subject those religions to withering criticism, and who then champion their own views as superior to all these alternatives".[46]

...... Tolle's theology "is only a footnote to the therapy he holds out to his audience".[47].......

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, New World Library, October, 1999 ISBN 1-57731-152-3 (HC) ISBN 1-57731-480-8 (PB)
Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises from The Power of Now, New World Library, October 10, 2001 ISBN 1-57731-195-7 (HC)
Stillness Speaks: Whispers of Now, New World Library, August 2003 ISBN 1-57731-400-X
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, Dutton, October 11, 2005 ISBN 0-525-94802-3
Milton's Secret: An Adventure of Discovery through Then, When, and The Power of Now, Hampton Roads, 2008 ISBN 978-1-57174-577-4
Oneness With All Life: Inspirational Selections from A New Earth, Penguin Group, November 2008
Guardians of Being, New World Library, October 2009 ISBN 978-1-57731-671-8
The Flowering of Human Consciousness: Everyone's Life Purpose, Namaste Publishing, Inc., 2001 ISBN 1-59179-154-5
Practicing Presence: A Guide for the Spiritual Teacher and Health Practitioner, Eckhart Teachings, 2003 ISBN 1-894884-45-0
Eckhart Tolle's Findhorn Retreat: Stillness Amidst The World, New World Library, 2006 ISBN 1-57731-509-X
Finding Your Life's Purpose, Eckhart Teachings, 2008 ISBN 1-894884-52-3
The Doorway into Now, Eckhart Teachings, 2009 ISBN 1-894884-37-X

Eckhart Tolle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mirabai Starr: New Age? Old Soul!

Mirabai was born in New York in 1961 to secular Jewish parents who rejected the patriarchy of institutionalized religion. Intellectual, artistic and socially conscious, they were active in the anti-war protest movement of the Vietnam era.

As a teenager, Mirabai lived at the Lama Foundation, an intentional spiritual community that has honored all the world's faith traditions since its inception in 1967, and where she holds lifelong membership. It was at Lama that Mirabai encountered many of the leading teachers and timeless teachings of diverse spiritual paths: Hindu; Buddhist; Sufi; Jewish; Christian and Native American. She was especially influenced by Ram Dass, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and the teachings of Murshid Samuel Lewis. This ecumenical experience became formative in the universal quality that has infused Mirabai's work ever since.

Mirabai has been an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos since 1993. Her emphasis is on making connections between the perennial teachings found at the heart of all the world's spiritual paths, in an effort to balance action with contemplation and engage in a life of conscious service.
Amazon.com: Mirabai Starr: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Samuel L. Lewis - "Spiritual Leader Of The Hippies"

Samuel L. Lewis (October 18, 1896 – January 15, 1971) was an American who became a mystic of the Sufi Chisti order. A student of Inayat Khan he was given the name Ahmed Murad in 1946. Samuel Lewis now Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti or Sufi Sam as he was popularly known devoted his life to peace through action. To this end Sufi Sam worked to develop drought resistant grains, safe organic fertilizers and salt water conversion.[1] Later in his life he was recognized as Murshid the Arabic for "Exalted Teacher". As a spiritual leader he founded the movement: Dances of Universal Peace. The Dances of Universal Peace continue to be practiced and shared by the murids of Sufi Sam, most notably Wali Ali Meyers.

Lewis was born to Jewish parents. Lewis' father Jacob Lewis was a vice president of the Levi Strauss jeans manufacturing company. His mother was Harriett Rosenthal, the daughter of Lenore Rothschild of the international banking family.

To his parents' dismay Lewis showed a keen interest in religion and spirituality from an early age and later rejected their attempts at a business career for him. Lewis studied mathematics at Columbia University in 1916.

In 1919 Lewis entered a Sufi community in Fairfax, California where he met Murshida Rabia Martin, a student of the Sufi teacher and musician Hazrat Inayat Khan. A year later he began Zen study with Sogaku Shaku, a disciple of the Rinzai Zen Buddhist Abbot Soyen Shaku. The twin spiritual influences of Sufism and Zen were to remain central to him throughout his life.

Lewis remained in the Fairfax Sufi community through the early 1920s. In 1923 a vision of Hazrat Inayat Khan lead Lewis into initiation by the Pir-O-Murshid. In 1926 he collaborated with Nyogen Senzaki, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk, in opening the first official Zen meditation hall (zendo) in San Francisco.

Lewis continued to study Sufism and Zen, as well as yoga. He developed an interest in horticulture and promoted seed exchanges internationally.

In 1956, he visited Japan, India, Pakistan and Egypt, seeking the company of other mystics and teachers. In 1960, while visiting Pakistan, he claimed he was publicly recognized as a Murshid by Pir Barkat Ali of the combined Chisti-Qadiri-Sabri[ orders, founder of Dar ul Ehsan. Following the death of Nyogen Senzaki in 1964 Lewis assumes the position of librarian of the "Mentorgarten". In 1966, he was ordained a "Zen-Shi" (Zen Master) by Korean Zen master Dr. Kyung-Bo Seo.

In 1967, whilst recovering from a heart attack in a hospital Lewis claimed that he heard the voice of god say, "I make you spiritual leader of the hippies." For the remainder of his life Lewis traveled around California developing and teaching the Dances of Universal Peace, which draw on all the spiritual traditions he had encountered. The movement he created continues today in a formal way as Sufi Ruhaniat International, as well as informally through the wide adoption of the Dances of Universal Peace by many other Sufi and non-Sufi groups.

His brother died in 1970. Though Lewis had a strained relationship with his brother through most of his life, they had finally reconciled six years earlier in 1964.

Lewis died in January 1971 as a result of a fall one month earlier.[2]

"no mechanical means, no rules, no rituals, nothing controlled by man alone can liberate man"[2]
"The Sufi dervishes, using their feet...rid their minds of useless luggage. The ridding of luggage is more important than the method. What is needed is a method that works, not a philosophy about method which can be very confusing."[2]
"Words are not peace. Thoughts are not peace. Plans are not peace. Programs are not peace. Peace is fundamental to all faiths. Peace is fullness, all inclusive...and must be experienced."
"One of the reasons I am teaching this music and dancing is to increase Joy, not awe towards another person, but bliss in our own self. This is finding God within, through experience."

Pir Moineddin Jablonski
Pir Shabda Kahn
Murshid Wali Ali Meyer

In the Garden (ISBN 0517524120)
The Jerusalem Trilogy: Song of the Prophets (ISBN 0915424037)
Sufi Vision & Initiation: Meetings with Remarkable Beings (ISBN 091542410X)
Spiritual Dance & Walk: An Introduction to the Dances of Universal Peace & Walking Meditations of Samuel L. Lewis (ISBN 0915424134)
This is the New Age in Person Published by Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society (1972). Omen Press (ISBN 0912358130)
Murshid - A Personal Memoir of Life with American Sufi Samuel L. Lewis by spiritual secretary of Samuel Lewis, Mansur Johnson (http://www.mansurjohnson.com/ - ISBN 0-915424-16-9)
Samuel L. Lewis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Roger Housden: "A Tremor Of Recognition"

"......The poet Rilke urged us to live the question rather than settle for easy answers. To live the question in this regard surely means being willing to feel and explore that eternal itch -- to experience its poignancy, its pleasure and pain -- and then the awe, the wonder, the beauty, the deep peace and fullness that may come as the wave hits the shore -- without either dismissing or explaining away any part of the cycle.

The fullness I refer to has nothing to do with thinking or believing. It is a spontaneous emergence of clarity, peace, aliveness, connectedness -- truth and beauty if you will -- and all for no reason. We might justly call it an authentic expression of the human spirit; and as such it is the source of spirituality, unbound by any religion of any kind.

The intuition of a larger life which embraces everything that lives and breathes is a felt sense rather than a thought or a concept. Reason, after all, is just one kind of knowing; felt sense, another. The one, more objective, gives rise to secular humanism, while the other, more subjective, can give rise to a personal and secular form of spirituality. Both can arise independently of external beliefs, and both are the fruit of a questioning mind......".

Roger Housden: Secular Spirituality: An Oxymoron?