If you are an Oprah fan then you will know who Eckhart Tolle is and you will be aware of his book “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment ”. If you’ve never heard of him, or his New York Times bestselling book, then read on…
Who is Eckhart Tolle?
Eckhart Tolle (pronounced Toe-Lay) was born in Germany in 1948. He lived with his father in Spain from the age of 13 until he was 19. Between the ages of 13 and 22, he received no education as he refused to go to school, finding it a “hostile environment”. However, he studied literature, languages and philosophy on his own and graduated from the University of London. He then commenced a Doctorate at Cambridge University but didn’t finish this. He suffered from suicidal depression until the age of 29 when he experienced an “inner transformation”. He claims that the first books that he read after his awakening, which deepened his understanding, were the New Testament, the Bhagavad Gita (an important Sanskrit Hindu scripture, revered as a sacred scripture of Hinduism), the Tao Te Ching (an ancient book central to Chinese religion) and teachings of The Buddha.
He has lived in Vancouver, Canada, since 1996.
The Power of Now
This was the first of Tolle’s four books. It was a number one New York Times best seller and has been translated into over 33 languages. It was slow to catch on but when Oprah Winfrey announced on her show that it was one of her favorite books, it shot to the top of the bestsellers list. Many have called it one of the most important spiritual books of our time.
The main message of the book is that to find the path to happiness and enlightenment, we must learn how to live in the here and now. The idea is not a new one but Tolle is great at explaining complicated concepts in easy-to-understand language. The book teaches you how to stop thoughts and emotions acting as a block to finding peace – and therefore happiness.
There is a lot of information to take on board, including the source of chi (according to Chinese culture, this is an active principle forming part of any living thing and frequently translated as “energy flow”), how to enjoy enlightened relationships, how to use the mind in a creative way and how to understand the cycle of life. If that sounds like quite a challenge, Tolle has included ‘break times’. When you reach one of these, he advises that you put the book down and think about what you have just read, to help it sink in.
Tolle’s Other Influences
Anton Schneiderfranken – (who became known as Bô Yin Râ following his enlightenment). An author on spiritual matters and painter who claimed to have painted Christ as he actually saw him.
Meister Eckhart – Eckhart von Hochheim, (c. 1260–c. 1328), a German theologian, philosopher and mystic.
Advaita Vedanta – a sub-school of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.
Sufism – the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.
The poetry of Rumi – a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic jurist (a professional who deals with the law), theologian, and mystic
Zen Buddhism – Zen Buddhists believe that all creatures that can feel have ‘Buddah-nature’ – the inherent wisdom of universal nature. The aim of Zen is to find Buddha-nature within each person by means of meditation and the consideration of what has happened during the day. Practitioners believe that this gives fresh insights on and perceptions on existence, which will ultimately bring enlightenment.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986), a renowned Indian writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects.
Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950), an Indian sage who taught by remaining largely silent. This stilled the minds of his followers who were attuned to it.
Barry Long (1926 –2003) an Australian spiritual teacher and writer. An advocate of stilling the mind and controversial because of his views on relationships and tantric sex.
Whether you already like Eckhart Tolle from seeing him on Oprah or dislike him, his books are required reading for anyone with an interest in spirituality. With influences like the list above, they have to be at the very least, fascinating!
Other books by Eckhart Tolle
- Practising the Power of Now – a collection of extracts from the original book ‘The Power of Now’.
- A New Earth – this was chosen by Oprah for her book club and had Tolle as a guest on her Soul Series. The book topped the New York Times bestseller list in March 2008.
- Stillness Speaks: Whispers of Now – emphasising the art and importance of attaining inner stillness.