A Criticism of Eckhart Tolle and the True You

Prompted by a recent interview with Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, in the Guardian, here are a few thoughts on the subject of his philosophy – right now.
I haven’t actually read his book (as there just doesn’t seem to be enough “now” to get around to it in), but according to the article a central plank of Tolle’s philosophy seems to be that the part of you that does all of your thinking isn’t your actual self. The interview mentions Tolle stating that in his student days, in 1979, he became very depressed about what to do with his future. He reached a stage where, as he says, “I couldn’t live with myself any longer.”
Reflecting on this phrase Tolle had a revelation: “If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with. Maybe, I thought, only one of them is real.”
As a result, he found that he could stand back from his thoughts, as though he was now distanced from “the voice in my head” and he could see that the real him was the consciousness that was watching these thoughts rather than the thoughts themselves.
Tolle’s assertion is that we spend most of our time “lost in thought” and we’re never purely present in the now. As a result we miss our whole life, which, as he says, “is never not now.”

meaning-of-life-book-button

I’m not too sure about some aspects of this approach myself.
Firstly, his assumption that the fact that you can’t live with yourself must therefore mean that there are two of you – a “true you” and a you whom you don’t like very much – is open to criticism. It’s quite a common philosophical stance to assume that your “self” exists on a number of different levels of being – such as body, mind and soul – and that the “higher” ones of these are separate and superior to the lower ones. The mind (or the part of you that does the thinking) is superior to the body, while the soul is more superior still and is almost uncontaminated by the lower levels.
There are several things that I think are wrong with this way of thinking.
One is that it conveniently allows you to divorce yourself from parts of you that you’re not so keen on, which I find a little suspect. It takes away your ultimate responsibility for the more dubious or irritating parts of your personality or for the more dubious thoughts and urges that emerge in your head. Most people have aspects of themselves that they’d rather disown – so the idea that there are lower levels of yourself that aren’t the True You is a perfect way to do this.
My own position is that inner conflict and general dissatisfaction with yourself (and with just about everything else) are integral parts of being human, and that they are part of what makes us interesting. They are also among the things that motivate us to get up in the morning to try to change things. They are why we mostly live in houses rather than caves, and why we have computers that we can read things like this on. Snuff them out at your peril.

The whole subject of why we as a species are such a load of malcontents, and the positive consequences of this seemingly unfortunate state, are covered at more length in my own book on the subject, as detailed here.

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Here’s a cartoon that I drew a few years ago on the subject of finding your ‘True Self’:

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A few links:
A typical example of an Eckhart Tolle video on Youtube
Here’s the Guardian interview with Eckhart Tolle

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82 Comments

Filed under Philosophy, Religion/atheism

82 responses to “A Criticism of Eckhart Tolle and the True You

  1. Kae

    How interesting. Actually reading The Power of Now could provide some relief for you, if for no other reason than to provide at least a semblance of informed response to your opinions. For anyone who has, your point of view is so spectacularly off in left field, it’s ironic.

    Why bother to blog about the work of someone you have not even attempted to read, let alone genuinely consider? Which, funny enough, acts as a prime example of Tolle’s central position – which when/if you do bother to actually read the words of the man at the centre of your critique, you’ll discover has nothing to do little to do with a “way of thinking” at all…

    It’s just a suggestion.

    • tom gregory

      He may not have read the power of now, and so perhaps he would benefit from reading the book, but that still doesn’t mean it’s not a perfectly decent response to the guardian article he read which accurately or inaccurately summarized the book! Myself, as someone who’s experienced what Tolle has experienced, I completely agree with his warning about following the path that Tolle, like any good popular writer or salesman makes seem tantalizing and ideal. The area that I find, to be honest debilitating, about being in this state/non-state (if you get hung up on this idea of enlightenment not being a state cos it’s beyond space/time – yes this is true but i’m speaking conventionally here) is this constant satisfaction with whatever is, and just as he points out this leads to a lack of motivation to change things. Now I must say i haven’t read the power of now either, and i sincerely hope that within it’s pages Tolle isn’t in any way trying to give the reader information on how to get to the same state/non-state as him, rather i hope that it’s just a book the gives information on how to balance being and doing in everyday life for the majority of people that are too stressed out, because they don’t have enough being and have too much dissatisfaction in their lives. Based on my own experience of once being in that state of stress/ too much dissatisfaction and now being in a state/non-state of not enough dissatisfaction, I can only conclude that the ‘enlightened’ (such a grandiose sounding word btw don’t you think) state, and the so called normal beta wave waking consciousness are both insane (in a sense) and both dysfunctional, and the only sane option is to be somewhere in between the two in your day to day life. Sorry this reply is so long but if you’ll permit me one final observation, while i haven’t read any of Tolle’s books, i have seen almost every YouTube vid he’s ever done and it’s striking (to me) how he hardly ever deals with the topic of change on, as he would put it, the level of form. On one of the only vids he did on this subject, he was talking about manisfesting something new ‘once the shift had taken place’ (his way of saying once you’ve got to the same, or roughly the same state/non-state as me), and I distinctly remember him saying “hopefully there is still some will” implying that post – (sudden) enlightenment your will to change is crushed/dismantled to a large degree, and a lot of people are left with things that they need to change, and need to be guaranteed they’ll still have enough will to change them (if they can).

  2. Samsara

    Better yet, listen to the tape.

  3. Faith Booysen

    Read the book. You are way off base. You might be pleasantly surprised (as I was). What I like about the philosophy is that he does not suggest denying your feelings by pushing them away. He suggests being fully aware of them but to not add a story to them. He has changed my life. Thank you Eckhart Tolle!

  4. Chris Madden

    Thanks for your comments.
    True, I haven’t read his books, as I declare in the piece (I mentioned this as a qualification to my opinion, which is why you could pick up on it and use it as a criticism. Maybe I should have kept quiet about it!). My piece was however a response to the issues raised in a specific interview (which I mentioned and linked to), rather than to his actual writings – this obviously implies a relatively narrow focus.
    I have a friend who’s a big fan of Tolle – so perhaps I’ll pop round and borrow a couple of his books from her. Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day, so I’m not sure when I’ll get round to reading them. There are just too many books in the world to get through the lot.

    In a broader context, the observation of my limited reading of Tolle highlights a common dilemma concerning the holding of opinions in general, which is: how much knowledge of a subject should you have before you feel qualified to have an opinion on it?
    There’s always a tension here, because one can never have all of the necessary information about any subject no matter how much you study it, so taken to an extreme no one should ever form an opinion about anything. You’ve got to bear in mind that every time you read someone’s opinion you should really then read an opposing opinion in order to avoid being swayed by a seductive argument (or a seductive arguer). And once you’ve read someone’s opinion you need to read deeper into each aspect of it to try to understand where those opinions are coming from. And so on and so on. Obviously this would be a hopeless situation, with the result being that everyone would be debarred from having any opinions at all (Some people quite like this state of affairs though, as it’s a convenient way of avoiding the responsibility of having opinions, especially on tricky subjects). It has to be taken as read that everyone’s opinions are qualified, temporary and approximate, based on their present level of knowledge and insight.

  5. Rob

    Could it be possible that Chris Madden posts opinions somewhat contrary to other authors of his field in order to then try and sell more of his books?

  6. I have read neither Madden’s books nor Tolle’s–although I have read excepts from both. Frankly, excerpts from Tolle’s “Now” book was enough to tell me that it was way off the mark. Madden is to be commended for daring to challenge the current trend in “spiritual correctness.”

  7. Joe

    Having gotten heavily into Eckhart Tolle for about the last few months, I first want to commend you for providing this counterpoint. I resonate very much with what you are saying, and see it as a kind of a check to keep folks like me (who tend to get idealistic about things) from going off the deep end. But at the same time I still see a lot of value to Tolle’s works.

    The fact that you haven’t read his book is to me less of an issue; you obviously have your own experiences and depth of knowledge to drawn upon, and the passage you chose to quote does do a good job of summarizing a large part of his teachings. It’s enough to start a dialogue about some core aspects of what Tolle teaches anyway.

    I do think common ground could be found between you and Tolle’s ideas. The key is in Tolle’s acknowledgment in several places that we DO live in a world of form, of time (not just present, but what he calls ‘clock time’ – past/present/future), and of striving towards various human ends and desires. These can all be okay and even if he never explicitly states it, I think Tolle’s realizes and expects that people will continue to go on working on them ‘selves’, improving the flawed parts of their lives and personalities, and so on. I just think he emphatically is making the point that it should come from a place (a ‘state of presence’, or ‘awareness of being’ he might say) that is unaffected by the world, and at peace. This, again, is an ideal – whether it is actually achievable or intended to be achieved is up for debate.

    [[“his assumption that the fact that you can’t live with yourself must therefore mean that there are two of you – a “true you” and a you whom you don’t like very much – is open to criticism. It’s quite a common philosophical stance to assume that your “self” exists on a number of different levels of being – such as body, mind and soul – and that the “higher” ones of these are separate and superior to the lower ones. The mind (or the part of you that does the thinking) is superior to the body, while the soul is more superior still and is almost uncontaminated by the lower levels.”]]

    I don’t think he would say that one should DISLIKE the non-‘true you’, or that the true you is superior. He states that there is no right or wrong when it comes to things like this, and you are always the true you, whether you are aware of it or not, by definition. You are sometimes the false/egoic you, and that’s okay as well; but would you choose to be trapped in the ego and the unhappiness that it tends to bring if you had the choice?

    The gist of his teaching is merely that the egoic self is a distorted, false self; but nowhere does he say it’s disliked. You may recognize it more in yourself and others by meditating on some of Tolle’s or others’ teachings, but that doesn’t mean you dislike yourself or others and their egos when you notice them. They just are.

    [[“it conveniently allows you to divorce yourself from parts of you that you’re not so keen on, which I find a little suspect. It takes away your ultimate responsibility for the more dubious or irritating parts of your personality or for the more dubious thoughts and urges that emerge in your head. Most people have aspects of themselves that they’d rather disown – so the idea that there are lower levels of yourself that aren’t the True You is a perfect way to do this.
    My own position is that inner conflict and general dissatisfaction with yourself (and with just about everything else) are integral parts of being human, and that they are part of what makes us interesting. They are also among the things that motivate us to get up in the morning to try to change things. They are why we mostly live in houses rather than caves, and why we have computers that we can read things like this on. Snuff them out at your peril.”]]

    There is a lot of sense in what you’re saying. Afterall, Tolle himself (with his website, books, perhaps other various enterprises), as well as I and most others, get up every morning and go DO stuff. Just going out and using money, and transportation, and the other trappings of modern civilization implies a certain level of conflict, pressures, irritation, and the like. You can seek to minimize your deleterious impact on the world, or even try to tip the balance to a net positive contribution. But ultimately, unless you are a yogi sitting peacefully on a mountain somewhere (or as you say in a cave), how can you really be free of your troublesome, wanting, desiring, ego?

  8. Rob
    August 16th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    “Could it be possible that Chris Madden posts opinions somewhat contrary to other authors of his field in order to then try and sell more of his books?’

    What a great way to dismiss the opinions of someone whom you disagree with: accuse them of being motivated by financial gain.
    Surely if I wanted to sell books I’d jump on the bandwagon and write books that agreed with Tolle and other spiritual writers.
    Top marks though for noticing my huge publicity machine at work.

  9. Dear Chris,

    I am an avid reader of Mr. Tolle’s writings as well as a teacher of Yoga and Vedanta. All of the above try to bring out the singular aspect of human existence and that is that ‘we suffer and struggle due to identification with the body/mind/intellect (BMI) complex’. Please note the word identification which is key here. What Tolle implies by the statement “If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me:…” is that his identification moved from the BMI to something more fundamental which he calls ‘presence’. As the Kenopanishad says

    That which the eyes cannot see but due to which the eyes can see…

    Many names are given to this ‘presence’ in spiritual literature – consciousness, witness etc. There is a tremendous feeling of peace and security in the realization that the real perceiver of everything is the consciousness which the ‘seer behind the eyes, and the hearer behind the ears’. The premise behind this shift in identification is that happiness is an internal attribute which can be tapped independently of external events. When one visits Disney World, ‘the happiest place on earth’, the ticket counter does not give us a bowl of happiness for $69.99, rather our inner happiness is trigerred by the environment of Disney World. So why is so difficult to imagine that there may exist a way to tap the ‘happiness switch’ without external means. Afterall NO ONE CAN DENY THAT THE ONLY GOAL OF ALL HUMANS IS TO BE HAPPY.
    Eckhart Tolle says many times in his talks and books that this state of ‘identification with presence’ acts as an undercurrent of peace and joy even while we go about performing our daily tasks and, as you say, “get up in the morning to try to change things”. This ‘shift in identification’ allows us to easily accept the things we cannot change because, of course, we cannot change everything in spite of our best efforts.

    Much peace
    Rajan

  10. Flloyd

    Here’s the thing; Beliefs, concepts, philosophies etc. are transitory and ephemeral – if we are being brutally honest with ourselves. They change, they morph, they drift by like everything else – unless you become stuck on them, and then you’ve got a real problem.
    At some point, philosophising must become practice if it is ever to be more than wistful speculation. So… why waste the moment in ponderous debates? Is Eckhart Tolle right? Why not practise his straightforward reccomendations and find out for yourself? The teaching is that we can discover a great deal about our true nature if we begin by simply paying attention to the clamourous cacophony (yeah, I enjoyed that), which rattles around in our heads ALL the time.
    I can vouch for the fact that ‘paying attention’ in this manner, is an awakening. There is a feeling of refreshment, alertness.
    Here, now, is the simple and only place to begin. No need to spend a thousand lifetimes in pleading prayer and self recrimination, hoping (but never really believing), that we will one day be worthy in the sight of God. Every spiritual master whose teachings we have access to, has affirmed that we are, in our true essence, perfect beings of light(consciousness).
    So try it, now. Take a look at that clattering caboose, that chattering monkey. But don’t take it too seriously, after all, these are only clouds, fluffy or dark, passing across your field of awareness – they’re not really you, are they?

  11. Good point Flloyd. An ounce of practice is worth more than a pound of theory. I have personally experienced the effects of the ‘just watching without judging’ meditation that Mr. Tolle and so many others reccommend. So I will second your suggestion. Stop analyzing it to death instead just try it.
    Much Peace
    Rajan

  12. Ravi Raiou

    I am in spirituality for a long time now, and am aware of the value of living in present but it always looked very difficult to live in present.But after I read “POWER OF NOW” It has started becoming easy for me to practice living in present and I can feel myself different from what I was earlier much relaxed, much aware and very cool.God has a plan for all of us may be it is God’s plan that I read this wonderful book
    Thank God & thank Eckhart
    With Love
    Ravi

  13. brenda

    tolle never wrote for profit. he found answers to his own problems and has found peace and he wrote about it. he didnt know that oprah would read his book and make him famous. you are all speaking from your own perspective. his solutions have made him happy. you can think what you like.

  14. mukul

    read the book .what have u read u have misunderstood it sorry pal

  15. Jose

    Did you feel after writing this article how your ego expanded? Scientists, philosophers, even religious people are getting to discuss more and more from a scientific approach. And people like to build sentences, to create better arguments, to defeat the other with their reasonings. And then what? You go home thinking of the new discussion. Your beliefs and arguments don’t change you, they don’t change anybody (maybe 3 or 4 people), they don’t help anybody in a practical way. In fact, they divide people: you’re a scientist and your approach is creating division with religious people, religious people are creating more division with atheists.
    Science and religion are not separate, one can’t divide the existence. If there was God, he would also have a chemical composition, he could be analyzed from science. They’re not separate, but kids play with toys and “smart” people with belief systems. It’s stupid.
    This is not Tolle’s philosophy, it’s not the result of his thoughts, but his experience. He didn’t invent this, all oriental traditions have been teaching it for thousands of years.

  16. I just started reading this book. My little lady suggested it was a good read and might cleanse me of my insecurities. I’ve always been partial to turtle wax myself.

    But wait.. how about that statement.. so what if I become a coronary candidate coming up a flight of stairs, so what if I can’t afford my insulin shots, so what if my shoes talk more than my mouth, so the f what?!

    I mean it’s only “myself.” And of course my thinking self, according to Eckhart it’s always an egoistic self living in the past and future. I mean it’s so obvious. I find it amazing he makes this jump and proves it nowhere… well nowhere yet.

    I suppose the subliminal experiences from living a joyous life of no responsibility from park bench to park bench gave him this epiphany. He’s not preaching religion, so there shouldn’t be any faith involved. Supposedly this idea is self-evident from the ground-breaking logic he’s spewing to millions.

    Besides not proving his point. I’m always surprised when people never acknowledge the obvious with these spiritual healers. He’s not the first person, and he won’t be the last person to say we all need to live in the present moment, or something similar.

    But really I ask you this. Are we in some kind of science fiction novel or something? Are we all taking the red pill?

    Who the hell actually lives in the past?!!!
    And I’ll be damned if I make it through the day! I mean I certainly cheated on my car’s inspection.

    People, we have no choice. (unless you kill yourself right after you read this post) We all live in the goddamn right now, whether we like it or not.

    Oh and I suppose it makes it much easier to accept your woeful situation instead of working hard to improve it.

    Congratulations folks .. your enema has arrived

  17. Sagredo

    I used to define myself, limit myself, by the litany of past experiences that seemed to justify what I already believed about myself. I held my self back from life because the past “told” me that this or that achievement was not in my realm of possibility. A rather circular argument, but that’s where I was. Similarly, the past influenced my present experiences with other people. I was neglected emotionally as a child, and so overcompensated by needing romantic relationships to make me feel whole. I would also often recall moments when I may have behaved poorly, or when someone had wronged me, and vividly relive the shame or anger as if it was happening now, which of course it was. This is what is meant by living in the past.
    I used to have much anxiety about the future. I very often experienced a vague sense of impending doom. I worried about the bills; about losing a client, or my job. I worried about all sorts of permutations, none of which was any more likely than any other outcome, even (gasp!) a positive outcome. I tended to put off things pending some future favorable circumstance- “I’ll start saving for retirement when I’ve paid off the car… I’ll get a gym membership when things slow down at work… I’ll start writing that book/painting that seascape/writing more songs just as soon as… yada yada yada.” This is what is meant by living in the future.
    Of course we all *exist* here and now. That’s pretty obvious. What was not so obvious to me was that Here and Now are all that *does* exist. The past and future exist solely in our minds and have no substance other than what we give them. They are memories and projections. Phantoms. Awareness of this simple truth is extremely liberating. I highly recommend it.

  18. I find it an extremely difficult claim to disregard causality as phantoms in the mind.

    In fact I’m pretty sure Mr. Rabbit understands that basic tenet of “existance” as well. “Hey I got away from the Ms. Wolf last time, but maybe this time I’ll save my energy and chillax … the power of now baby!” No no, I’m very convinced the rabbit wants to experience more now moments at some future engagement with a strawberry field. This time however maybe Ms. Wolf, in anticipation of a delicious spoonful of Rabbits foot stew, wisened up and fedexed Eckhart Tolle’s publications to Mr. Rabbits humble briar patch (along with a couple O Magazines); hoping to catch Mr. Rabbit in the most joyous of moments on a park bench laying in ecstatic enlightenment.

    Now if you’re claiming something that’s not obvious, the burden of proof is on you. Check out some David Hume. But when you’re done please check out Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure reason.

    Hey, it could be the case I was never born, ya never know these days…

  19. Sagredo

    No one has suggested that causality is a phantom, that cause and effect are illusions, or that it is folly to act prudently in anticipation of potential future events. No one has claimed that we do not experience time, or even that time does not exist. The central claim of Tolle’s work is exceedingly obvious: you can not experience anything other than the present moment. You can take no action at any time but the present moment. Is this not a fact? Most of us go through life reliving our past and seeking satisfaction in some future moment. We’ll really be happy when we find the right career or spouse, when we start a family, when we have enough money, or the right car, the right friends, when we have a fit body, when we become whatever it is that we think we want to be. We are in the “becoming” business, always waiting for the next moment, which we’re pretty sure will be so much better than this moment, right now. And since now is all that we can experience, being perpetually dissatisfied with it does not seem very rational or sane. In fact, that is the root of virtually all our suffering. The way out of suffering is by improving your relationship with the present moment. If you feel there is something you should be doing, get up and do it now. If the present moment is unpleasant in some way there are only three rational choices: change the circumstances to something more favorable; remove yourself from the situation; or accept the situation as it is, completely and without resistance or judgment. You’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway, for example, running late for an important meeting. This situation is making you furious. You can’t change it because there is no faster alternate route. You can’t leave it because not showing up leads you to an even worse scenario. So you can either get increasingly agitated, shouting profanities, raising your blood pressure and getting extremely stressed out, or you can accept what is. There’s a traffic jam. This is what is happening now. I have no control over it. There’s no blame to assign. No one to be angry with. No use putting my mind and body through the stress. Now, is this concept too esoteric? Have I made any extraordinary claims? Would Wittgenstein or Russell take issue with my logic? I hope these words have been useful to you. May we each deepen our relationships with the present moment to find that “peace which surpasses understanding.”

  20. I apologize for misinterpreting your point.

    I suppose now, however, the problem with Tolle is if it is true he’s is taking weaker claim, that we must accept there is nothing but the present moment, and not expressing anything that wasn’t already completely obvious, then what else is completely obvious is there’s nothing extraordinary to his claims.

    That’s my original point. We’ve been learning the lessons of Tolle since we learned how to walk, and could first reflect on our existence at all.

  21. james

    Hi Chris, i first read Tolle about five years ago, firstly i hadnt a clue what he was talking about, but there was eventually a recognition, a kind of opening. The danger was i started believing that i was right and every that didnt hear his words were wrong, i went around for about two years thinking i was a ‘spiritual person’. When i finally started to come out of this dream, i saw that this was going to happen to alot of people, and it is happening. The problem with Tolles teaching is that the person can actually think that they can be in a state of ‘now’ and think that everyone else is not in this state. This can cause difficulty in relationships, marriages and friendships, imagine thinking you are more spiritual than your wife?? The truth is and now its easier for me to see, that i am not more spiritual than anyone, so that in turn makes me equal to everyone, wether others will see this or not i do not know, as Ug Krishnamurti once said; ‘A saviour is one who leaves a mess behind’! Is Eckhart a saviour? and if so is he going to leave a mess behind??

  22. Will

    It is amazing that so many words have been written above and will continue to be written attempting to either support or discredit the state of enlightenment claimed to be attainable; the state of being to which Tolle “points” cannot be accessed by the intellect or explained in words. The thinking mind is the problem; we believe it is the only way we know who we are, yet it is being used as the tool in all of the discussionshere. It cannot reach outside of itself. Before anyone attempts to explain “presence”, I suggest you practice on explaining to someone who has never eaten an avocado how it tastes.

  23. Doug

    Mr Eckhart Tolle’s writings have helped me in my own life. I understand everything he had gone through. Anybody can read the book with words, but you “really” have to use your mind and soul to make this work. I work every day and night, trying to make myself a better human being. I have gone through recovery..which is really one of the greatest gifts on earth. Along this journey Mr Eckharts teachings of helping you become happy and really trying to find the real you…really does work. With all the love in the world. I hope each and every person in this world can actually find that place I have. I knew there was always a devil, but never knew where this happy place was, and now thanks to Tolle, I have.
    Love,Peace,and Joy

  24. Tyler Holt

    I find it extremely humerous that Chris hasn’t read his book. Most of Chris’s reply about people and opinions seems to me as so much fluff for not reading his book. Anyone can have an opinion on anything…but what validates that opinion? It’s funny this internet pissing match that goes on amongst these blogs. The idea that Tolle advocates in ANY way that we can just shirk our responsibilities is just laughable. In fact it’s the opposite, being present in the moment is all about accountability, taking responsibility for our thoughts, actions, etc. What does it matter what form something takes if it’s a vehicle for the betterment of the human condition? Just because you don’t agree with it (which how can you if you haven’t even read it?) what does “proving” that it’s “wrong” or that you’re “right” what does that do? Where are we now? I personally believe that there is great truth in much of what Mr. Tolle has to say, and yes Buddhism has been saying it for about 2500 years now and Hinduism even longer, so no it’s not new but how or why does that even come into it at all? And what agenda might you (Chris) be alluding to that Tolle could possibly have by advocating living in the now? What does he possibly have to gain? Have you ever heard of the Landmark Forum, anyone? And oh please spare us the “There’s only 24 hours in a day” crap there is plenty of time during our days we just have to prioritize it to what we want to fit in. I am an active duty military member, a father of 16 month old twins, a full time college student, have a regular exercise schedule….and guess what I can read any book I want, I just have to manage my time wisely. That’s about taking responsisbilty, and no I didn’t learn that from Tolle.
    Love, Tyler

  25. Tyler Holt

    PS I got a good laugh out of your cartoon.

  26. Marina

    Theres a famous anti nazi american 40s film called the 49th parallel
    about 4 german U-boat sailers on the run across america, in a scene towards
    the end, they meet up with an art loving gentleman anthropologist played by leslie howard
    who after giving them hospitality and succor in the wild, only to have them attack him and destroy his art music books and his manuscript about a warlike native american tribe called the Blackfoots whose worst method of overwhelming their victims will, was with repetition, endless unwearying repetition mind numbing repetition, he draws a parallel [ged it, boom boom] with hitlers oratory. Its a great scene. I felt like one of the Blackfoots victims after wading through the power of now. Im very familiar with new age theory , nothing new here just repetition repetition repetition, all the way to the bank.

  27. Marina

    The cartoon is very amusing

  28. Clark

    The cartoon is great, but I don’t think you know enough about Tolle and his teaching to seriously criticise it. I understand your opinion, but I can also see how it’s been formed without having fully understood the subject.

  29. Sergey

    Thinking and thinking and thinking… about something… is just more thinking… you cannot find anything new in thinking.

    Go beyond thinking… but don’t think about going beyond thinking… then you find something new even though you may not understand what have you found.

  30. Christa ayers

    Is there a moment in which you can stop thinking? Thought patters can be like a snowball running downhill. What eckhart tolle suggests is not that your mind is ultimatley an enemy, instead, he’s suggesting the mind is not the totality of who your are. Discovering the place in which the thoughts arise gives a balance to your life. Basically, your mind can act as a filter to actual reality. I bet even now you experience brief moments of peace. These moments come when thoughts subside, when you let your life situation just be. Having space between thoughts allows you to enable a creativy far greater than the mind can produce. The very act of art or inspirational writing, for example, for practical reasons uses the mind. However, the actual inspiration comes from a place far greater than the mind. Eckhart tolle does not see the form of the mind and the formlessness of your being as seperate but as a whole. But when the balance is lost with the rest of your being the mind can go out of control; producing in form hatred, envy, greed, and war. You might want to check out eckharts book. Its not a new belief system rather a book the works as a mirror to see your self further than form:).

  31. Bellus

    Tolle has been described as an enlightened one, a philosopher, a teacher. He’s also been described by critics as a phony, a quack. I call him smart! He’s taken parts of Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity and cashed in on them. His supporters claim that his financial success was an accident, but even so, he continues to sell books, audio and lectures and these have made him a very wealthy man. The fact that Oprah Winfrey introduced Tolle to the world is no small thing nor is it a surprise. Winfrey could sell moose droppings as candy and her followers would buy it! Mr. Tolle has lured even Christians into his web of lies and trash. “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” (Mark 13:22)The bible tells us that God is the Great I Am; Tolle says that [we] are i am. Who died and left Tolle in charge of changing God’s Word!? Tolle tries to get us to not personalize Christ. He attempts to put Jesus on the same level as mystics and enlightened masters. But Mr. Tolle fails miserably when we look at the fact that Jesus, unlike all these so called “enlightened ones” does something that no one else has ever done. Jesus told his disciples that, not only is He the Son of God, but that He would be crucified, die and rise again on the third day! And He did! Tolle may deny Christ as the one and only Saviour, but he will not deny Him when he is before Him on his knees. But then it will be too late and all those who were led astray by the likes of Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey will also have to face this reality.

  32. Malcolm

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. ?however, because you believe you are right, the other opinion is not necessarily wrong, just different. I read Tolle’s works and had to re-read much of it to understand where he is coming from. Don’t believe he says anything that a born again Christian should be angry about. The teachings of Jesus have been interpreted “creatively” since translation from the original scripts.
    Didn’t really see the point Tolle was making about thinking, thoughts, beliefs being the cause of so much discomfort for people until I read some of these blogs. The need to be “right” is why there is so much suffering for us. Then again maybe I’m wrong and Tolle should be flogged for his blasphemy. If Bellus believes Jesus’ teachings literally then we’ll all be on our knees before him along with Tolle and Bellus. Tolle did not say anything derogatory about Jesus or any other enlightened souls, so why the anger? Perhaps if we all go to our quiet space and accept others as part of ourselves and our self as part of the everything, we can agree to disagree without starting any more wars over who’s God is the bigger God. Then again my opinion as stated here is just a jumble of thinking that is swirling around my unconscious mind. I’d like to spend more time living in the NOW as the future for the human race looks a little grim……

  33. Johnathan Reyes

    Madden Is brave for making a counter point. But still To not have read ones book and think that you can make a an accurate argument is just silly. Madden states that having these human qualities is what made us live in houses and not in caves. But are these not the same qualities that made us build such horrible things like the atom bomb. If you believe the world is at peace than Madden’s literature will make perfect sense. But those of us who know otherwise and can actually see what is…….well that’s another story.

    • Edward PenDyke

      Very well put. My feeling exactly. I also limited myself by my history and sought salvation in the future…. Both illusory.

      I also looked for “acceptance” in my romantic relationships as a way to ease the pain of my past and to help confirm the person I thought I was. They ALL ended in fierce EGO battles.

      Eckharts said it perfectly: ” relationships are not the cause of pain.. They simply expose the pain that already exists within you”

      Thoughts are nothing but wisps of smoke but look at the power we give them to influence our lives.

  34. yuray

    Where to begin………..I see a lot of academics in here bandying about a lot of $10.00 words, dropping names such as Russel, Hume, and unbelievingly Kant (whos Critique on Pure Reason is the most confounding load of crap out there, as suggested) ….sorry, I digress……..my point being that I do not have to read Hitlers Mein Kampf to write a critique on it. Watching an interview with Hitler qualifies anyone to write a critique. Incidently, Kants greatest critic, Schopenhauer, provided Hitler with some sound ideas.

  35. Funny comments here. Tolle’s main theme is that logic and thinking can’t understand what he has written and that the words in his books are just sign posts. For example seeing a sign that says “New York City” only points towards a reality (the city) that must be experienced to be truly understood.

  36. Oops, and here’s the rest of my comment. 🙂 If you do try what Tolle has written and it doesn’t resonate with you, simply stop trying it. However if you become uneasy about his advice for whatever reason, then you might want to read his book again. haha! 🙂

  37. In other words Tolle is saying, step into the “moment” because that is all there is…the past and future are in our minds only as our inability to not let go (the past) or create false expectations (the future). We need to be here, now! Now, this moment is all there is and its a perfect place to be… all other life forms on earth live according to this reality. Why shouldn’t we? The brain is simply an instrument that is to be used when needed, we do not always need our brains to think…in fact it gets in the way of communication with our true selves and who we really are. Try it… be still for two minutes and you’ll feel the difference. Now you’re getting closer…

  38. susan

    I don’t believe his theories about there being a change in planatory concoiusnes etc etc..and thankyou to Chris for pointing out to me that his historical data may be inaccurate. However, the main thing to remember is that eckharts books have changed millions of peoples lives for the better. Before reading his books I was angry agressive unhappy anxious and not a particularly nice person to be around. I would now describe myself as peaceful,happy and much more productive. His books arn’t for everyone. Different things are of benifit to different people. Chris, it would be great if your book could be of real practicle assistance to as many people as eckharts books have been. Best wihes.

  39. all good comments. IMO Tolle gives us a good starting place to help change paths in a chaotic maze of thought patterns that have existed since our thinking minds have been at work. In other words, leave the thinking behind and just experience, starting with small steps until feeling is experienced.

  40. Darby

    Tolle has taken universal truths that we all intrinsically understand but are generally not disposed to and then he has capitalised on them. Its a perfect model for all cottage industry religions that start in good faith and end as a means of socio-financial fulfilment.

    I personally arrived, quite independently, at the same arguments as Tolle’s some eight years before his “spiritual awakening” in my own lifetime and have never felt the need to intellectualise, preach or render the concept in flowery language for mass consumption.

    My opinion is this: If you need to be guided then you are not ready for it. If you need to practice this simple bag of old recycled psychological tricks then you can only ever hope to be a pretender to enlightenment.

    If you become enlightened then congratulations on reaching the pinnacle of self-denial.

    And before you dismiss this as the views of an unreliable narrator, I’m doing just fine being alive, thanks. It has its ups and its downs.

    “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” – Friedrich Nietzche

  41. Craig

    Your defensiveness is really saying it all.

  42. Your defensiveness is really saying it all.

    Kindly explain.

  43. Craig

    Hi Chris,
    IMHO a good place to start is a better understanding of what Eckhart calls “The Mind Made Self”, or “Egoic Self” or others call the “False Self”, all of which need to be defended.
    Osho has an excerpt from a book that really helped me with Ego and True Self. A Google search of “Deoxy.org/egofalse.htm” should find the article.
    Check it out and see if we can find a common ground from which to explore.
    Craig

  44. Rita

    A lot of Ekhart’s ‘teaching’ comes from Barry Long ( now dead) who managed without profiting ( I do note Tolle offers discounts to low waged for the exhorbitant cost of his semniars) to pass on practical tips to achieve the state Tolle calls presence or being. Much of Ekharts words are verbatim from Barry and that is OK but it would have been good if Ekhart had acknowledged Barry which he didn’t in his books-very odd as it is evident to all the people who attended Barry’s endless seminars until 2002.I am a fan of anyone who is moved to make an effort to point others in a direction that will help them identify where their lives aren’t working (usually the overheated, over- chatty incessant unconnected mind’ patterns of behaviours, blame, unresolved hurts and above all not taking responsibility for own lives, that keep them trapped).There are many many people who have experienced that state Tolle describes but they do not ‘go public’ with it or are not as eloquent. Tolles teaching is an educated assembly of not only his own direct experience but the experiences and teachings of many others. Giving him superstar status probably misses the point- he is a human who has suffered, found a way out of suffering and shares it with anyone who will listen. His work is timely as many people are waking up to the shallowness of ‘the regular material fuelled life’.
    The main thing is he continues the age old prctice of pointing people towards their own self awareness, self awakening-that can’t be bad. To really get the practical tips to bring it about not just as an idea but a living reality check out Barry’s endless books and tapes.

  45. The Ancient One

    Master Tolle is a fraud. Try my own brand of enlightenment, folks; available now at cut-price rates with discounts for the elderly. Buy now while stocks last ! Estimates free !

  46. derek

    I love Chris Madden…finally someone hits the nail on the head.
    Be Here Now came out in ’71; a great book buy Baba Ramdass. Tolle took all the content and rewrote it in terms even Oprah Winfrey could understand.
    Madden’s arguments are coherant and intelligent. It is time for people to wake up and question things.

  47. Craig

    To all the “nay-sayers”, I would think you’d be happy for those that “get it” no matter where they “get it”.
    In the words of Sleepy LaBeef, “It ain’t what ya say, it’s the way that ya say it”.
    I must say you all sound rather small and jealous.

  48. Mandy

    I have found Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” almost a life-saver through a very difficult time. I am reading it the second time and getting so much more out of it – putting the simple teachings into practice can have a profound effect. I do feel that re-reading the book reminds you of the bits that you have pushed aside or forgotten – such as the danger of thinking you are more “spiritual” than another. Here is a quote from A New Earth that Eckhart got from an ancient Zen saying “Seek not the truth, just cease to cherish your opinions”.

  49. Premanand

    Sir,

    With all due respects to you, you missed the main message. Mr. Tolle is also to blame for this for not revealing the full facts in the spiritual quest. I suspect he is doing this because he is afraid of losing his huge fan base. He is cautious and selective in what he says.

    But whatever Mr.Tolle is saying is correct. He said there is only one Self in you.(as well as in others) Mr Tolle says there are not 2 selves, one the Being and one the thinker. The thinker is the imagined self and the trouble maker and is only present when thinking goes on. He or she is never present at any time at all except as a thought.

    But your being or the real YOU which is yourself are present without a break irrespective of your thoughts. So the thinker and his thoughts are not the Self or Being at all at any time. So there is no question of 2 selves or 2 “I’s” being present at any time.

    This being which is your Self is perfect and is beyond birth and death. This real self is eternal and is the only Self present in you. The thinker comes and goes and is transitory, meaning coming to life only during thinking. Please examine this yourself.

    The self or person or individual that you wrongly take yourself to be is non existent, and is real only as your thoughts when you think. Otherwise it is non existent. This continues to be the case because of non enquiry. Self enquiry puts an end to this illusion or confusion that you are a person and a body or your thoughts.

    But right now you are identifying yorself with the thinking process which calls itself I and has a name called Chris Madden. So you keep identifying yourself with this imaginary self known as Chris Madden created by the mind or the thought process and ignoring your true Being in the process.

    But if you inquire deeply you will realize that you are the Being only on which this body/mind is appearing, because in deep sleep this imaginary self merges completely in your true Being or true Self. It is only upon waking, that this imagined entity comes back to life. In dreams while sleeping the same confusion/illusion of the waking state continues but with less intensity, only slightly less.

    If you were really your body/mind called Chris Madden then it should continue to appear as such in deep sleep also. But it does not. But your Being is present both in waking as well as in sleep. Do you say you did not exist in deep sleep? No. That which is real (your being) is always present. That which is unreal (the imagined person) comes and goes.

    Also Mr.Tolle rejects both the good and bad parts of the mind or thoughts as not his true Self. He does not identify only with the good parts of his mind and rejects only the bad ones. What Mr.Tolle says is he is not his mind but his pure consciousness which he prefers to call “the Now” or the “present moment”.

    So what Mr.Tolle means is there is only one Self in you which is your Being but the constant thinking in the brain makes one feel that they are the imaginary person, the thoughts have created. The thoughts make one feel the Being itself is imperfect which is not the actual case at all. This Being is just the pure awareness “I am” and not the thoughts” I am Chris Madden having a physical body and so on.

  50. Cecilia

    The funny thing is, I have long been aware of about every single thing Tolle ever talks about… The message is as ancient, as it is timeless and essential, I don’t think anyone can deny that Eckhart isn’t adding anything new to it. Some deep pieces of art, such as music, poetry, literature, painting, even some movies, etc. have had the ability to make us “feel” it in our hearts. That thing which Tolle calls “the deepest truth of human existence” has to be so profoundly sacred and unnamable that we can’t do anything but pay our respectful reverence to it, and if blessed by its awareness, feel a profound, overwhelming gratitude. I do agree that every human being is able to have glimpses of it, therefore can and should have direct access to it. The first thing that really bugs me about this man is that he talks about it in such a way that he vulgarizes it. There is a reason that art, symbols and myths exist in this world. Something as subtle and profound that cannot be named can’t also be tagged by some repetitive words or “pointers” as he loves to call them, and shouldn’t ever ever ever have a face tag on it, let alone his ugly face or his creepy voice. He would probably agree that “THE GREAT UNNAMABLE TRUTH” cannot be explained to the human mind, that’s what his WORDS say… Yes, but hey, isn’t this a bit contradictory? Don’t his words speak directly to our minds? To our limited egos? Doesn’t the analytical way in which he explains things that should be unexplainable ruin it a bit for us? I mean, don’t zen masters use paradoxical phrases that cannot be understood to free us from our minds? Well, Eckhart Tolle gives us the chewed up, spitted out version of the truth he has found. I thought that every great teacher wasn’t supposed to give the straight forward answer to a student when asked a meaningful question, but instead give him the clues that would allow the student to find it within himself. This man does not do that. He says he has no ego, but he lets his followers depend on him, he doesn’t free them from him. They go to his gatherings, like sheep, asking questions, accepting his answers. This is worship. How can such a “master” not be aware of that? I sense some lack of wisdom here, from his part, because he doesn’t seem to see that he is doing exactly what he says that shouldn’t be done. He says that attacking the ego will only make it stronger. Agreed. But isn’t he doing just that? Notice how people that follow him keep saying “ego this, ego that”, and become so obsessed with ego that don’t seem to be able to transcend it. “Truth cannot be explained in words.” Well thank you for trying to explain it in so many words then! He kind of ruins the magic for me. The manifested universe is infinitely diversified, there are so many words in the english vocabulary, notice how most people that are into Eckhart start using the very jargons he uses. If something can’t be explained in words, why not try to keep trying different words to describe it? Why stick to the same few? “Spaciousness… Pain body… Arises… Unfolding… Stillness… Pointers… BLAH!” What’s most disturbing is that I look at him, and I don’t see a good presence there. I don’t sense any fire inside him, the ‘fire’ that a very evolved being emanates that others instantly perceive, making them look at him and feel inspired. I look at Eckhart and I still see the depressed man, his little hunchback, seems like he has a hole in his chest, his little hands that move back and forth in repetitive motions… I do not feel inspired by looking at him! I don’t sense much warmth in him, he feels cold and alien to me! The presence behind his words doesn’t make me want to become that! If awakening makes that to a human being, then I don’t know if I want to be awakened! And did he just stop evolving? Is he in a suspended state of ‘no time’ forever? Last time I checked, a physical body was still part of his reality… Doesn’t this mean he should still be evolving somehow? Is he at the ultimate top of the human evolution? Of course I’m also projecting all this on him, of course my vision is partial and biased, but please can anyone tell me if they resonate somehow with anything I’m saying here?

  51. Why did you post this?

  52. Don Boyd

    Eckhart Tolle’s refelections are certainly not new or
    particularly profound. But like most books there are still some things worth considering. (like monitoring the constant self talk in the mind) But I find it hard not to use the mind to try to follow his line of thought. It doesn’t help me to step back and watch myself reading his book and follow his attempts at crafting some eastern philosophies of the self into a palatable western dish to feed the hungry.
    But I become very annoyed when an author takes the words of Jesus ( or someone else he can misrepresent) and tries to make them support his proposition.(see page 71 on ‘A New Earth’
    He quotes Jesus’ words in the New Testament book of John 14:6 to make Jesus seemingly agree with him.
    Eckhart says midway on page 71 that you (the readers of my book) are the Truth. The very Being that you are is Truth. Then he quotes Jesus.
    Friends, Jesus was not talking about us, He was talking about Himself, not me,not Eckhart, not you.
    Jesus is talking about His unique role in connecting us to God if we believe Him and follow Him
    He is the Way to God, the Truth of God and the Life of God. Jesus goes on to say (and this Eckhart
    conveniently leaves out) ” No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In context Jesus was responding to a question from one of His disciples. Why doesn’t
    Eckhart honour the context of the Bible passage instead of forcing it to appear supportive of his position? Why> Because of he were to do so it would argue against, not for his proposition. Nuff Said

  53. Keith

    There is no sense in trying to decipher your mind with all of its erroneous thinking by arguing about Eckhart Tolle’s book. He says, I paraphrase, the words are but a tool to point you in the right direction. Go beyond the words and if you are ready you will understand what is going on.

  54. Zoe

    I listened to a tape and watched a few videos…..I already knew deep down everything he said. It’s true. Being aware of the present moment gives you an alertness that you normally don’t notice. There is only the present moment so we should live in it instead of always thinking about the next moment or the next hour, day, year, etc. Thinking in this way eliminates stress and creates a feeling of happiness. I’m going to listen to more from Eckhart Tolle! Obviously, we need thought aswell, but this approach allows another lever of being and calmness, it’s so simple, we all know it already, he’s just reminding us in a great way! x

  55. George

    Let each person hold his own council because those that have ears to hear will benefit while those that are not ready can not. Eckhart has made the mistake of throwing pearls before swine. But I happen to be very happy with the good news he shares.

  56. Kali

    About Eckhart Tolle

    I have read the book Eckhart Tolles books–biggest waste of my time EVER–and I agree with the writer of this article. I think Eckhart Tolle’s philosophies are not his own. It’s as if Tolle took the high points and catch phrases from numerous world religions and funneled them out into pink fluffy goo and served them on a Hello Kitty plate next to a fortune cookie to be consumed by idiots who aren’t smart enough to think for themselves or are too week to do the true work it takes to recover from the traumas of life. I think this is why so many drug addicts, deadbeat parents, abusers and bipolar people are drawn to his “philosophies” because, for the first time, there’s a book that preaches that it’s okay to behave like you are not responsible for the chaos you have created in your past. Hooray!

    Tolle believes people should just take the bad experiences from their pasts and put them in a photo album of pictures (taking the physical and emotional and putting them in the context of the inanimate…isn’t that a key trait of serial killers? Hmmm…) and file them away because that is not “the now.” His followers (think Manson or any other cult, people) are nothing but low vibrations of calm that listen to Tolle’s boring, boring voice (and wouldn’t you be a low vibration if you listened to his slow, stuttering voice for more than 10 minutes) and are directed to just behave as another person, because that person who ran through his ex wife’s bank account on a heroine bender is not you. That person who abandoned their child and doesn’t pay child support is not you. That douche who did these things who you happen to look like and share a name with, that is not you. Yeah, all I can say is don’t drink the Kool-Aid, Tollehouse cookies.

    I personally love Tolle’s belief that humans do not think because thinking happens to us. Wow, if this is true then this makes people so much easier to brainwash because they don’t think, right? They are sitting around waiting for thinking to to happen to them. And how well that can happen for these people who 25 to 50 bucks a book. A thought just occurred to me; it’s so easy to dig through someone’s wallet when they are not thinking. Wow, I’m not responsible for this thought, like I said, it just happened to me–I have no control. And, there’s also supplemental materials that could run you up to hundreds of thousands of dollars to train you not to think (I feel like I need a trademark sign just to type this sentence). I mean, it’s not cheap to have a guy with an Oprah sticker teach you that it’s okay to let go of all personal culpability. Don’t we all feel better now. Oprah said we should feel better and she has more money than God so we can trust her.

    The idea that feelings don’t have stories is the most insane thing I have ever heard in my life. This disorder is called denial, boys and girls. Experience is based on narrative and narrative is story. We are all our stories and our stories are directly connected to our emotions and feelings. We are the narrators of our own lives and responsible for our own stories. However, we are not alone in our narrative. We have reoccurring characters and guest stars who make special appearances, yes. But, living by nature is an emotional investment…like a banking account. You must appreciate the loses as much as the gains. And, you must work to secure your invest by replace the losses that you caused. This is entirely up to you. I’m sure if you ask Tolle for a loan he’d have the cash, but I’m fairly confident he’s not going to lend it to you. This is the best analogy I think I could come up for Tolle’s complete essence–which I’m sure reeks of yoga mat sweat, soy products, cash, desperation and the crushed hopes and dreams of millions of simple-minded cattle (I mean people).

    The only way to be a fully actualized individual doesn’t include breaking your identity into a perfect person in the present and disassociating yourself from the the part of your identity you don’t like like a pair of old shoes (And that was for free people). This is called compartmentalizing and it is not healthy, and another trait of serial killers–I’m seeing an eerie trend here. Compartmentalization is also a trait of traumatized people who cannot, for various reasons, work through their trauma and live happy and healthy lives. This work cannot be done by reading a couple of books and cutting yourself off from yourself–Man, the more I type it the more bipolar it sounds.

    In the end it’s all about semantics. You can listen to and pay for an idiot to pontificate a bunch of ideas that weren’t original thousands of years ago or you can think for yourself and be self actualized. But, that takes work, and it’s so much easier to pay to have someone else clean up the mess we as individuals make. I’ve never been afraid of work, but I have discovered through my life that most people are afraid and ashamed of who they really are. Maybe I could be a guru. I have no credentials outside a childhood of poverty and abuse, a degree in psychology and common sense–well, the common sense factor might screw me, but I still think I could be a guru. Who wants to send me 50 bucks so I’ll know for sure.

  57. This debate about Eckhart Tolle is fascinating. Whatever the rights/wrongs /truth/or falsehood which may or may not be contained in his teachings he has certainly by default got a whole intellectual debate raging around the world. It may not have been his intention but it certainly provides a forum for expression and we grow through such forums.

    I knew Eckhart Tolle as a close friend for four years and as a spiritual mentor for a few months during which I lived in his house. This was before his rise to fame and fortune as a celebrity New Age Guru. During the special time I spent with him he was sweet, serene, joyful and kind. He did have periods of withdrawal which he claimed would not be understood by others. He claimed to me he would be a spiritual teacher as in his own words “there is nothing else for me to do.”

    We parted in September 1993. We met again 3 years into his rise onto the New Age world stage. He boasted to me about lecturing to over 300 people, I believe this figure runs to over 3000 now. He had changed, already the adoration and sychophants around him had affected him. After all who would not be affected by rising from obscurity into a mega spiritual guru within a few years. After all he is only human. Or is he? He may not have forseen this or acknowledged wanting to make mega bucks but I have yet to see him giving free teachings or personal time to seekers for free. So I was rather fortunate in meeting him before fame and fortune entered his life, I could not have afforded the time he freely gave me from 1989 to 1993.

    Clearly he does have an ego. “We teach what we most need to learn.”

    The part of Eckhart that he has not acknowledged because perhaps he is not aware of it, is the part that others have taken advantage of, perhaps becoming wealthy and well-known by association. In other words, his need for fame and status due to his childhood difficulties has been hi-jacked by commercial interests.

    My own book is freely available on my website as are all my articles. I received all I learned on this path free and I give it freely to others.

    However someone once said to me that things that are given free are not valued. But I do not believe that.

  58. nathan

    Great article. I read The Power of Now and I think Tolle has a long way to go in the development of his ideas. I think the author has taken one of Tolle’s ideas and expanded on it in ways Tolle has not.

    And to the people who want to cut down the author of this article- Please, enjoy Tolle as much as you want to, but don’t be so foolish as to condemn someone who disagrees with him, just because their new opinion makes you uncomfortable.

  59. Anthony

    I agree with most of you that the teachings are the same however the concept of “Life Situation” , “Pain Body” put forth really impresses me. When I analyse my life these concepts seem very true and how I think that I am superior(EGO) to others. This book personally has benefited me, being a compulsive thinker have started to watch my thoughts and this has helped in creating gaps and stillness.I feel relaxed and also Agree with tolle that the human mind has only created destruction for us

  60. Monsters From The Id

    Killing the ego can prove to be dangerous over time. You go from positivity to indifference, the stuff evil is made of. NOW, how you use that power makes all the difference. I think the book is out there to produce ‘THE WORLD’S NEXT TOP AVATAR,’ whom not everyone will follow. GOD HELP US ALL!

  61. John

    I’m not interested in endorsing or defending Eckhart Tolle with regard to any of his writings. In the end, every single word Tolle has either spoken, or written, is just his opinion. Tolle really dosn’t know anything for sure. But in order to live as fully as he possibly can, he has surrendered himself to certain philosophies which he believes are right for him to live by. The rest is just Tolle sharing his experience with us. His hope is that someone will follow his lead.

    Chris Madden is like most people in the United States: Full of words, but no real thoughts. I will give Madden one thing: He’s really good at expressing idiotic opinions. Maybe you could get a job writing Donald Trump’s speeches Chris, you’d be perfect for the job.

  62. Anonymous Please

    I am writing in response to another here(Avril)–who also knew Tolle way back–before the fame tidal wave carried his EGO into enormous heights. Suffice it to say, I, too, was a friend of Tolle until he got too big for his own good. The man is a monster. Sorry to shatter anyone’s illusions, but it is unfortunately true. He failed the most important test, in my humble opinion, and that is, to truly, stay low to the ground and serve the Divine, at all costs, Not Self!–a Dalai Lama he is not!

    Now He (D. Lama!) is, indeed, the real deal. I say, read him–and oh, and he would never say this nonsense about “being in the now”, instead, he would and does talk “being a compassionate and caring person” and being true to the Golden Rule. Tolle never says this–although, he gives a bit of lip service in his NEW EARTH follow up–but believe me, I know first-hand who this man really is. Not that what he says isn’t helpful, but when you see the fraud that he is in his interpersonal relationships, the natural response is to recoil. And very few people really and truly know him. We were friends for a number of years–and he became a monster when Oprah came calling and subsequently, dropped me cold. Avril, you are correct in what you say about sharing openly and freely, your spiritual wisdom. Thank you, also, for coming forward.

  63. Jester

    Accidental messiah to crowd: “you all are individuals”
    Crowd in one voice: “we all are individuals”
    Except Dennis: “I am not”
    From the Monty python series

    I guess Tolle’s supporters will never buy any kind of insurance. And maybe they are not interested any longer in studying history or biographies. And maybe when they kick the ball while playing football, they have no intention that the ball has to reach the goal evading the keeper. I also wonder how they find things they left lying around or how they manage to get back home in the evening. Causality maybe non existent in Tolle’s universe, since only ‘presence’ exists.
    Apparently there are millions (going by booksales figures) of these interesting Tolleian creatures on this planet. Where can I find one to study?

  64. tom

    It is true that your mind is not the totality of what you are. That’s why Eckhart creates a “space” between himself and his thoughts. This is a great thing, but it shouldn’t go without note that all awareness of yourself and the world – also comes from your mind – just a different part of your brain. It doesn’t take an enlightened person to be able to think about themselves and their behavior, everybody does that daily. It does however, take a smart, peaceful, and emotionally intelligent person to be able to examine their THOUGHT processes and recognize that they are not reflective of reality and are only causing them suffering, and be able to detach from them to a degree. There is not a person this earth who doesn’t have ego, who can totally dis-identify with thought, as these are all survival advantages of hard-wired human beings that have evolved over millions of years. Transcending this would not be human. We all have survival instincts, and every thing that we do, conscious or not, is an effort to satisfy those instincts – just like every other living thing.

    That said – Eckhart Tolle is a smart, peaceful, good natured guy who shares a good message. I take bits and pieces of what he says and try to apply them to everyday life. Of course you could find flaws in things that he says, but what he is teaching is beyond words and beyond thinking. It’s very hard to articulate this, and he’s bound to contradict himself and not say things perfectly. The heart of his message is very simple- your thoughts make you suffer unnecessarily, and the past and future are only imaginations of the mind. Only the here and now is real, this moment.

  65. matt

    Exactly tom!! Tolle is a wonderful guy who is both (VERY) emotionally and intellectually intelligent.

    However, he is as unconscious as anybody else, as he is at the mercy of his instincts. He wants to avoid pain and increase pleasure – all survival instincts. There is a reason we have an “Ego”, just as there’s a reason we have a pancreas. Everything any human does , even if they are aware of it, is to satisfy these instincts engrained in us (many of which USED to increase our chances of survival, but aren’t necessarily productive or healthy in today’s society – for example irrational fear and anxiety, ect.) THIS IS WHAT WE TRULY ARE. This will always be the case as it’s the nature of evolved species. If it wasn’t the case, the species wouldn’t exist as they would’ve died off!!!!!!!!

    However, is it possible for humans to recognize that certain attributes that helped the species survive in the past no longer serve them well and are actually hurting them? and thus evolve into a Tolle like state and beyond, with high emotional intelligence and awareness? This will only be the case if survival depends on it. If so, then it will happen, but it will take a A LONG TIME

  66. matt

    it would take a long time because it’s not a society change, it’s a biological change…..those who don’t fit the mold will actually need to evnetually die off. and it’s not like every superficial or emotionally intelligent person will suddenly die in a generation or two. it may be that tolle has a .00001% survival disadvantage, so we’re talking hundreds of thousands of years. though i don’t see how he does any actual survival advantage, if anything the fearful and anxious person does, though they’re certainly not enjoying life as much.

  67. Tommy

    Look… not everyone is going to drink the punch. Some people feel the need to follow others’ guidance when it comes to spiritual guidance, whereas others do not. It doesn’t mean they don’t have meaning in their life, it means they disagree with the lamb mentality and feel they need to figure it out on their own. Swallow it and accept it for what it is…not everyone will agree. It’s their OWN truth.

  68. KA

    What I gained from The Power of Now is a sense that I no longer have to cling to my past experiences to define who I am. The troubles and pain in my childhood subconsciously dictated my sense of myself—my insecurities, my weaknesses, how affected I am by someone’s hurtful words or impatience with me. I never fully consciously realized how much Self I derived from my past and that each day of longing for “happiness” was directly related to the pain and confusion I felt from those past experiences that I keep with me, side by side, as my main form of identifying WHO I am. “I am my past” I said, without ever saying it at all, but it spoke in every act I performed in the present moment. I clung to that pain because it was how I defined myself, it’s what I knew to be true, it’s what shaped who I am, my thoughts of myself and the world around me, my instincts, reactions, etc. And now that I have listened the audiobook I am seeing clearly how almost all interactions are based upon this same principle for everyone. Anyone who is blatantly rude or cold for no reason, insecure, jealous, afraid of failure or judgement is also living in their past, which has caused them to create a defense system that lashes out for apparently no reason. What Eckhart teaches is that there are no true victims because if we are aware of these facts we cannot be victimized because we know that those who lash out aren’t doing so consciously. It in fact has nothing to do with YOU at all, but merely the threat you present to this person because of their own imagined shortcomings, which are defined by their past. This has opened a new door for me to not become upset and defensive when someone is rude or short with me because I realize it’s not, in fact, a personal attack on me, as I had previously taken it before. It has nothing to do with me at all. It also makes me more aware of what and how I react so that I am not forcing my own past negativity unfairly on others because of what makes me feel threatened by them or a particular situation. There are many gems to be found within the book, and while I am an eternal skeptic and questioner, I can still appreciate it when someone shows me a new perspective I had not considered before, or even knew existed. This book can be very helpful to anyone. Take what works for you, and disregard the rest if you so choose.

  69. george bremer

    true there are many roads to heaven but choose one. tolle’s ramblings will create not a road but a maze. how can a mentally disturbed person on LSD have a spiritual experience? aka Tolle. He should be exposed for the fraud he is

  70. main

    Upon criticizing another we criticize ourselves as humans. Do we not? If I critsize then we see the ego or image responding, attacking what it doesn’t understand which is itself, which in-turn is another. Think on this; if we criticise is that a response that signifies understanding of that which I am or have become? Or is it a rejection of another human kind which is a reflection of an image? An image is, of course, an abstraction. We always attack that which we don’t find in common, familiar, safe, securing, or traditional–we’re unable to accept it because the ego/image is fearful of identifying with itself which is fear. We don’t want to see that fear, expressed as lonliness, insecurity etc. so the mind or “I”, “me” which needs protecting and is the content of ourselves, lashes out in a form of rejection/criticizm. We see this in arguments/debate/war etc. Why? Because to see it would mean we would have to do something about it, such as quit sweets, salt, coffee, being right, religious, stop smoking/drinking, start exercising, going to war, in general, all our petty comforts and securities that our social environments have conditioned us with. Are we not a world of legal and illegal habits/addictions? When the mind is truly in a place of “now” it’s experience or expression doesn’t reach back into the memory for yesterday or tomorrow for its reality, because in the memory we remember to hate, lie, kill, reject, retaliate, overpower etc. Do we see this in ourselves? We’re not justifying, just looking. Or do our opinions, knowledge, debate and theory get in the way of this observance? There is plenty of theory/debate about anyone who is perceived as a teacher or leader who stimulates a reponses–they will surely contradict our sense of security, knowledge and truth. However, we can’t merely theorize about a living organizm it must be observed in its actions and responses to understand and live with. Is the mind alert when it is thinking or when aware and watching? Find out as we build an environment in which to see.

  71. Steve

    Tolle’s basic premise that we have an underlying formless being that permeates the entire universe in the present moment is spiritual mumbo jumbo with no evidence. It relies on personal experience and faith just like any religion and could be described as a delusion (just like “The God Delusion” described by Richard Dawkins). He reached this conclusion from a thought he had: “I cannot live with myself” which itself came from his brain and not some mysterious cosmic being. Sure we have a conciousness which is able to be aware of our surroundings, our selves and the thoughts we have but this is just another function of the brain, just like the thoughts our brains come up with. Is anyone’s conciousness actually able to observe their thoughts at precisely the same time they are happening. Doesn’t that awareness come slightly after you actually have a thought suggesting that they are both just functions of the brain that can’t happen simultaneously? He says somewhere I read or watched that no thoughts will come if you let that conscious awareness keep watch like a guard (or something like that). Sure, there can be some value in taking a step back and observing and reflecting on our thoughts and this is something that is used in cognitve therapy. There is also some value in being present in the moment as form of relaxation as is used in mindfulness. But to take his ideas to the extremes he has and just “be” is only any use if you want to sit on a park bench like he did or be a spiritual guru like he is NOW which has given him status and POWER (the true POWER of his NOW).

  72. My Feedback

    Christopher Madden, I haven’t actually read your “Criticism of Eckhart Tolle and the True You,” which I know is at the top of this page, but I would like to write my reaction to what your text might be about or what I expect it to be about. I actually intend to ramble on about my perspective of things rather than talk about your Criticism of Eckhart Tolle or even Eckhart Tolle. At the end of my comments I will then post a link to my book….

  73. Pingback: Reflecting on the truer than true self | grindingrail

  74. Jeffree

    It seems to me that Eckhart Tolle is providing a message, although articulated many times and in many ways before, that is presented in a manner totally appropriate to this time and place and circumstance.
    It is obvious to me that ego, the personal identification of our thoughts and feelings as our essential selves to be fearfully defended at all cost, is the basis for the depraved and insane manipulation of the material world, including all life forms, especially human. To counter this horrific degradation of life effectively, I believe that it does require the use of all the means of modern technology and communication capabilities available and in a manner that appreciates the value of the almighty dollar, as that is what gains the attention of the mass market of ideas. In modern public relations, it is referred to as a “back door” approach.

  75. Sabine

    Eckhart pointed to the Moon and Sailor Bob Adamson took me to the Moon with his pointers. So-called I lives in ever fresh presence-awareness ever since. Psychological suffering dropped away; there is no past or future, only That what Is – Oneness with all. Unconditional love and emptiness. If all humans realized it, the life would never be suffering. There is no-one to suffer. There is only life and there is no-one who lives it.
    Thank you – my 2 ‘guru-s’. The world is awakening slowly…

  76. The author of this article is an idiot

  77. Tanny Tanny

    You are basing your opinions of his book based on what you may have “heard” from other people whose own views about the book might be distorted without reading the book yourself.
    In his book, Eckhart Tolle says that words are only “pointers” to a reality and NOT the reality itself. They are only a way of attempting to lead you to the realization or experience of that reality to which the words point. The reality itself is beyond what words can express and needs to be experienced to be grasped fully. Its essence cannot be understood by intellectual thinking and incessant analysis. Read the book with an open mind and try out his teachings for yourself- don’t just get hung up on the words. My point is- don’t just read and form opinions without even trying to implement. Trust me you’ll start seeing a difference. Experiencing it yourself will give you far more insight than lengthy discussions spawned by none other than the thinking mind.

  78. jenn smith

    i dont find much solace in tolle’s writings or understandings. Most of what he says has already been taught in eastern philosophy and religion. Much of what he says too is elementary and stupid. It’s for people who aren’t aware or haven’t awakened.

  79. edward pendyke

    I’m afraid that you have completely missed critical points Eckhart was making.

    I think you’d find that actually READING his books and listening to his video posts on line would allow you the space you need to better understand this amazing and transformative sage.
    He is the voice of a lifetime.

    • Hi Edward.
      I mention somewhere earlier in these replies that I have now indeed read the book (and I pointed out that my original post wasn’t about the actual book but was about a newspaper article about Tolle). Since reading the book I’m afraid that I still maintain that he isn’t a sage.

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