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Eckhart Tolle In My Mail

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I received the following email from a former CUT member recommending I read the latest (2005) Eckhart Tolle book A New Earth. I think the exchange speaks for itself:

Letter:

Hey, Sean.

We’re not exactly on the same page, bro, but I did recently cancel an email some organization was sending me badmouthing you.

Anyway, I just wanted to recommend a book titled A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It’s not religion or philosophy but an amazing manual on how we work, “we” being every human being on this planet. Whether you’re a terrorist or a saint, underneath we’re all the same, all brothers and sisters. Amazing book, Sean. Check it out.

To your health and beautiful life. I send you my prayers.

My first response:

Nice to hear from you! Hope you are well.

I’ll take a look at [reviews of] the Eckhart Tolle book, but as you probably know, I’m not a fan of his. I think the new age is only slightly less destructive than traditional religion. I don’t think we’re all the same, we differ dramatically in our genes and cultures. What we do share in common are the human universals–don’t know if that’s what he’s talking about. Somehow I doubt it.

I’d appreciate it if you’d forward me a copy of the email you were sent. I have a special file for hate mail, I’m saving it for a book I may write someday.

Thanks for your good wishes and prayers. The two are, of course, one and the same.

best regards,

Sean

Her reply:

Hey, Sean. I think Tolle’s talking about basic needs—love, companionship, the many things that make us “human.” All dogs, cats, ducks, humans, all species work to fulfill their own unique needs as nature has mandated it. We come from the same seed, so to speak, the same programming, and that is what he addresses. Most importantly, it’s not his personal opinion, it’s what’s so about us. Let me know what you think, but I do encourage you to try to see it as how things work rather than as his opinion. As I’m sure you are aware, we all have to get beyond our own limiting paradigms to see things as they really are. The book has changed my life and put me more in my own driver’s seat.

I’d rather not send you the email, Sean. I put a stop to the email in order to stop the hate. If I put my attention on it, it would only infect me. Life’s too short and too awesome and too beautiful. I’m up here in ____, right now. Talk about beautiful. It’s another paradise on earth, almost as good as _____.

My second reply:

Hey,____, you got my short answer, and for some reason beyond my comprehension, you still think I’d be interested in reading Tolle. Well, here’s my long answer:

Whatever makes you feel in control, I guess. But sometimes things which make us feel better aren’t necessarily true or even good for us. Again, if Tolle is talking about needs, what could he possibly add to either Maslow’s hierarchy or the human universals? I just don’t get it. Why would anyone want to listen to the musings of a non-scientist? If I want to learn about human needs, I would (and have) explore ev-bio, ev-psych, or anthropology. Tolle and others like him are squarely in the camp of woo. They promote a watered down and ultimately meaningless new-age theology. (And of course Oprah loves him.) Don’t want to name any other names, but Deepak Chopra. Examples of other equally useless anti-science hokum would be “The Secret” or What the Bleep?. I don’t torture myself with such media excretions except to deconstruct them. And often times, I don’t even need to bother. There are plenty of others who’ve done it for me. (Please don’t tell me science is my “religion” or that I have “faith in science”–I’ve already taken that one apart.) Here’s my recent reading list of knowledge-based works (fiction excepted).

Tolle is also kind of cultish. Worse, he uses the same kind of scare tactics as CUT–like we’re all in some kind of race to obliterate the human ego and the “pain-body” before they destroy the earth. The ‘ticking clock’ once again…Bollocks. We are our egos. We hold memories of pain for a good reason–to avoid repeating mistakes.

I don’t know if you heard about the Eckhart Tolle “walk of death.” I wrote about it last year, and it’s well documented. After listening to Tolle’s Power of Now tapes repeatedly, Brianna Wilkins walked miles without warm clothing (thinking only of the present moment, I’m sure) in the middle of winter and…”Now,” she’s dead. Disgusting.

Humans are not broken–mostly just confused. We may not know ourselves so well, but we’re operating exactly as nature intended. We’re greedy, competitive, with a short attention span, seeking instant gratification. But we’re also kind, long-suffering, generous, wise, and empathetic–with the two camps always in conflict within each of us. Solutions to human problems will come from realist introspection and acknowledging of the darkness, e.g. more rationality and less mysticism. We can start that process right here, right now–with our egos and pain-memories intact–not in some future idealized fantasy world.

Change also won’t come overnight but occurs through an evolutionary process. That’s what else ticks me off about the new-age tripe: It dresses itself up in the conceit of spirituality, but actually panders to the very ordinary materialistic drive towards the “quick fix,” the effortless “new you.” Well, you don’t get something for nothing. Or much for $11.20.

I’m always very suspicious when people say something is not their subjective opinion. Such statements require extraordinary evidence and corroboration–evidence we don’t have and can’t get right now about the human mind. Human nature is variable and elusive and has been used to argue for or against many political and philosophical positions throughout the past several centuries. We have broad brush strokes of knowledge about it. But for the refinements, I’m personally willing to wait until studies of DNA and gene expression catch up to functional brain research. I’m willing to wait until human cognitive processes are mapped, simulated, and duplicated on synthetic hardware. Then and only then will we be able to say anything definitive about the question of consciousness. Intellectual giants such as Dawkins, Kurzweil, Pinker, Ridley, Dennett, Minsky, Buss, Alper and others are much closer to useful knowledge about this subject than Tolle. (Who dropped out of school at 13 and “attained enlightenment at the age of 29 after suffering long periods of depression.”) Yeesh. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

So,_____, you think you can get “infected” from an email? Ha. There’s that new age “purity” meme again. I’ve been seeing that crop up more and more–but always as a cover for something else. Why did you bother telling me about the email if you weren’t going to forward it? That’s a schoolyard tactic: “I know something you don’t know, NA-na-na-na-NA-na.” Definitely doesn’t engender my trust, nor help you be more honest with yourself about where you stand. Clearly, I’m outspoken and I have a number of detractors. I don’t have a problem if you’re protecting them. That’s a position I can at least understand. But why hide behind some kind of magical thinking about an “infectious” email? Where does that kind of statement even come from? I’m mystified.

Life is indeed short, but it’s not all love, light and beauty. Your thoughts don’t control matter, regardless of how hard you pray they might, or wish they could. You can read all the books you want and change your mind all you want and you’re still you. The more you run from your animal nature, ego, and ancestral tree, the more likely they are to cause you difficulties. Better to embrace your darkness, get to know your major voices, archetypes and conflicts, and hold the tension of these inner opposites. I’ve found there are fewer surprises that way.

Peace,

Sean

Here’s something I wrote in 2001 to illustrate how any god must necessarily include all aspects of human shadow–if such an entity existed: God Is…A Solstice Prayer

I also think you might enjoy Bravest Face by Neil Peart

There’s also How Personal Shadow Work is Integral to Perceiving Reality by morgaine


Comments (18 comments)

Black Sun Journal » Archives » Look Ma, No Ego! / August 3rd, 2007, 2:12 pm / #1

[…] After my initial recent correspondence with an Eckhart Tolle fan (previous post), I began a dialog with some of my close associates. We were wondering if there was any way we could come to accept new age thinking as a bridge from fundamentalism to a more rational worldview. Could authors like Tolle and Chopra be providing a sort of halfway-house between extreme religious literalism and humanism? Could they actually be helping? […]

David Palermo / August 29th, 2007, 8:26 am / #2

Sean, I am new to reading this site but I find it very interesting. And it makes me think – which I love to do.

What do you think about scientists affecting experiments by their mere expectations of the outcome? The “Observer Effect”.

I read about this in various places. Here is one reference from the University of Illinois:

“In quantum mechanics we learn that the behavior of the very smallest objects (like electrons, for example) is very unlike the behavior of everyday things like baseballs. When we throw a baseball at a wall, we can predict where it will be during its flight, where it will hit the wall, how it will bounce, and what it will do afterward.

When we fire an electron at a plate with two closely spaced slits in it, and detect the electron on a screen behind these slits, the behavior of the electron is the same as that of a wave in that it can actually go though both holes at once. This may seem odd, but its true. If we repeat this experiment lots of times with lots of electrons, we see that some positions on the screen will have been hit by many electrons and some will have been hit by none. The observed “interference pattern” for these electrons is evidence of their dual wave-particle nature, and is well described by thinking of each electron as a superposition of two “states”, one that goes through one slit, one that goes through the other.

To add to this already mysterious behavior, this interference will only happen if both possible paths that the electron can take are not distinguishable. In other words, if we could somehow tell which slit the electron went through each time, we would no longer get the interference. The act of making a measurement of the electrons path fundamentally changes the outcome of the experiment.”

http://van.physics.uiuc.edu/qa/listing.php?id=1228

I think some of the “New Agers” are saying that maybe our thoughts alter our feelings about life. What we think and say to ourselves obviously affects the way we feel about life. I believe this to be true and definitely not “religious”. I think the way New Ager authors write leaves a lot to be desired – too much fluffy “feel good” junk wrapped around the middle of some interesting science.

Anyway, I am not asking a question here… just commenting about what your above post made me think about.

Thanks for this site. I hope to find lots of time to read more!

And as far as Tolle’s book is concerned – I think we all create our own live’s purposes. The journey is sometimes easy and sometimes not so easy. Some of us are just too lazy to realize this and look for shortcuts and easy paths.

David

BlackSun / August 29th, 2007, 8:39 am / #3

David, this is a phenomenon that happens at the particle level only. Other experiments have shown that a form of natural selection cancels out that “observer” effect at any kind of real-world scale.

We cannot use quantum physics to generalize about the impact of our thoughts on matter. There are very quirky things that happen at the smallest scales. But they don’t translate. After all, at the atomic level, walls are virtually empty space. But we still can’t pass through them.

I do agree that our thoughts can affect reality. But they do it through our voice, our hands, and our feet.

Michel / February 8th, 2008, 11:00 am / #4

Hi.I just red that exchange concerning Tolle. Finally somebody who can see through the smoke. I red that book and I thought , wow that’s pretty neat , I’m special …I’m awakening,.. this guy is hot he knows for real what Jesus Christ , Buddha were really meaning ( guess he was there ) hey ! everybody is disfonctionnal …ego is stealling your life and conciousness away..and what is that psychological time that we should avoid . Very good to pay attention focus and slow down your compulsive thinking but that’s a bunch of pseudo-scientic mumbo-jumbo concept and affirmation , most of them taken from buddhist material…too bad the guy is going online with Ophrah.Brrrrrrrrrrr

BlackSun / February 9th, 2008, 4:19 pm / #5

Michel,

Oprah is like a politician. Whatever gets her the vote (ratings). Over and over again, bland mysticism has shown itself to be popular gold. Too bad it’s always at someone’s expense. When you’re busy reading Tolle, Chopra, or other bland New Age crap, you’re not working on yourself or your shadow. You waste time in futile efforts at ego destruction. Which is another way of saying sublimation. Voices in the psyche that we want to depotentiate have to be given their due, and then given another job.

Are people derailed by their ego, and by their wounds and past pain? Absolutely. Could people learn to control their minds better and be less of their own worst enemy? Definitely. Do they need to buy Tolle or Chopra to do it? NO, and these vague quick-fix books actually fill their heads with falsehoods and guilts that rival religion in their depth and scope.

Example: a friend of mine had a daughter with a congenital defect. The defect was surgically repaired but this friend was racked with guilt, because she was convinced that the defect was the result of her unresolved anger during pregnancy.

Now you see the freaking dark side of new age thinking.

Shirley / February 28th, 2008, 5:46 am / #6

I was so frustrated after reading “A New Earth”, I did a google search – “Eckhart Tolle is crap – hoping to find ONE other free thinking person. I found this page and just wanted to say hurrah! This long winded, overly simplified drivel being spouted and devoured by the masses as gospel is the very definition of the evils he proposes to promote. Non followers are easily dismissed as “not ready for his enlightenment”. I feel like I’m living in the children’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Everyone seems to be afraid to speak up. This Eckhart Tolle mania is no different from cult thinking. Our nation has decided to let Oprah think for us. First Barrack and now Eckhart Tolle. If only Douglas Adams were still with us to say something clever about the idiocy of the human condition.

mbabbitt / January 1st, 2009, 3:50 am / #7

Couldn't have said it better. I searched for "Eckhart Tolle ful of crap" and got this page. I have an MA in Comparative Religion and this guy is just another Chancey Gardner of neo-Buddhist/Hindu gobbleygook. He sounds insane to me. But hysterical ramblings of the end of times seem to be in vogue today and promoted by ignoramuses with little critical thinking skills. And here is a guy criticizing critical thinking abilities except where they support his drivel.

bibi / July 11th, 2009, 3:00 am / #8

Hello cyber-friend! I just got here by googling "Eckhart Tolle is crap" as well.

ucbmom / March 1st, 2008, 12:01 am / #9

I’ve been torn between buying (and reading) the Tolle book that O’s touting, and ignoring the hype and saving my money. I think that I’ve made the right choice to not make Tolle a little richer…and not buy the book. I don’t totally embrace “new age” thinking. I don’t think it really hurts very much, either. I do think that the “O” uses her celebrity too much to promote her own personal causes. Citizens who don’t have TV shows have a way to publicize their political beliefs ~ it’s called a voting booth. I will not vote for “O” on election day. She’s not on the ballot. I also will not vote for “O’s” guy. I will vote for the person that I feel is the best candidate. Maybe that is the message that Tolle is trying to get across to readers in his book, anyway. You are the master of your own life. Make the decisions that feel right to you. If you are doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, change your behavior. I haven’t read Tolle’s book. I think we should all save our money…

kwazydude / March 25th, 2008, 3:16 pm / #10

I think that all Tolle is describing is the brain’s right hemisphere in conflict with the left hemisphere. The “ego” (emotional) side clashing with the dispassionate”observer”. Captain Kirk arguing with Mr. Spock. Shut off the blood supply to the brain, and it’s all silent.

What I want to know is: who’s observing the observer?!

Marie / March 30th, 2008, 9:51 am / #11

Sean

I can’t tell you what a relief to find someone who doesn’t jump on every self help, self awakening, self whatever band wagon that comes along. Sometimes I feel so isolated because I don’t believe in an invisible man in the sky & yet I’m STILL FINE! I have happiness, and love, and sadness & pain & it is none the lesser/greater because I don’t find the bible to be divine. I don’t need to dissect my hows or whys, yet I can still be engaged& present in my life.

I don’t need to turn over my present/future to hidden forces, or someone else’s higher meaning. No one has a plan for me & that is great! No one is giving me any more than what I can handle, and that is a-ok. So many just don’t get it. It’s as if without this grand plan, the idea of there being nothing/no “god”, paralyzes them with fear: they just have to hang on. No matter how ridiculous it all seems.

Add to that all of this constant searching, constant quest to “fix me”, endless “awakening” shenanigans that so many obsessively on, WHY?? It is not that complicated, it just isn’t. Perhaps I am over simplifying others struggle: It is not my intention to be insensitive. I know there are human scars, and abuse, and terrifying experiences that can mangle a person & for them I can empathize the need to be fixed, but to all the others, perhaps the reason you are so confused & aimless, and “lost” is because of all of the organized religion that was crammed down your throats all of those year: forced to believe with no proof–perhaps it is the hollowness of those ideals that have you so conflicted now.

I’ve run on, my apologizes: I needed to vent: thank you for providing the forum to do so ~

Jessica / March 30th, 2008, 3:19 pm / #12

Dear Sean,

After reading this page and your God is…A Solstice Prayer I am wondering…. will you go out on a date with me?

Sincerely,

Jessica

PS. I just realized that I don’t know if you’re a boy or girl. But it doesn’t matter, my post is to say: I appreciate your perspective and the way in which it is conveyed.

Sam Higgans / April 5th, 2008, 2:59 pm / #13

What do you think of the newest book in sort of the same genre as A New Earth? It’s titled “Free Mind Free Body” by D R Boisse. It offers many things A New Earth does not. It demonstrates how we are stuck behind our own self limitations by our beliefs and we live in our own reality bubbles shaped by our values and knowledge with our emotions and feelings coming from our unconscious minds. Boisse recognizes a person’s beliefs are their choice and gives you insight on how your conscious and unconscious mind interact and work to shape your life. Its on Amazon and ebook is at other web sites like http://www.freemindfreebody.

I think D R Boisse’s book is going to prove to be more beneficial to the masses than Tolle’s work. I guess we shall see.

All the Best,

Sam

Dylan Skriloff / April 7th, 2008, 1:27 pm / #14

Well, what about the vibrating energy field that is going on right now.

I have at times found Tolle to be a godsend, lately I’ve questioned if I was being naive. For example, he would say that there is a “nameless” quality to things, but even that is a name. Even saying it’s nameless is just to compare it to a previous thought.

The fact that secular folks like yourself cannot argue against, is that he speaks of the energy field that does exist, and you scientific types only speak of rationality, ignoring this very alive phenomena of light and electricity that is going on right now.

I will tend toward the new-age thinking, until scientific type people start becoming actually aware of the vibrational field that science itself says exists. Everything is moving and vibrating. One can feel the field moving through one’s own body. It is a tangible thing you can feel. I believe it could even be measured with a scientific instrument someday.

Michael Hayes / May 12th, 2008, 7:10 pm / #15

Sean,
I tend to lean towards the idea that life is more subjective than most of us like to believe. Taking full responsibility for every thing that I experience has led me to realize how powerful I am and I have to attribute some credit to Mr. Tolle for putting a sense of power back into my own hands. Of course, it has always been there for me to have but I didn’t always have the confidence to take it to myself. His pointers helped me to feel my power in the here and now as the only place that I can truly be and the only place where I have any power at all. Things are easier than they look and I personally think the pattern of life is very similar as you compare microcosms and macrocosms. We all just have a bit more ‘evolving” to do in order to access what we don’t yet know about ourselves. Time/space is a process and I like it! The wider I open my vision, the more perfect everything I see becomes. Peace to you. Michael Hayes

Lano / April 26th, 2010, 8:54 am / #16

Me too, i typed "Tolle crap" with the hope that i am not alone to think it :P ANd i found you and my "ego" is satisfied now :) Thanks for this article.

Deluded Osho / November 30th, 2011, 1:55 pm / #17

Keyed in ‘Eckhart Tolle is crap’ on Google and here I am.

Have read ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’.
Both did not reveal to my ‘Ego’ anything that I did not already know of, think of or have not experienced throughout my life.

Fortunately, I borrowed the two books from a Public Library. I did not have to purchase them, so did not further enrich Tolle.

The money I did not spend on purchasing these two books will be used to buy toilet paper because it is useful and I need to wipe my bum otherwise my anus will be in pain, or my underwear becomes soiled and there is stink.

If I had purchased the above two books and after reading them I would have sought a refund from the retailer whereupon being unsuccessful in doing so, I would have neatly teared off all the pages to use them as toilet paper.

Unfortunately, these pseudo toilet papers would have clogged up my toilet and I would have to hire a plumbing professional who would charge me a lot of $ for his/her expertise in achieving an effective flush away.

Just as well, that I did not have diarrhoea and sought relief from reading and using the pages from a Tolle book while sitting on a toilet bowl for a long time.

Reading these two books also gave me Mind Constipation…

I recommend that instead everyone reads their retail dockets, their appliance manuals, their licence and registration documents, their medical prescriptions and Toddler Picture Books.

There is more knowledge, wisdom and Self Help for adults in a pictorial book written for small children than there ever will be in Adult literature.

chong / June 2nd, 2013, 10:37 am / #18

Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My website discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

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