So who is Eckhart Tolle? If you have never heard of Eckhart Tolle, you may have heard of the book “The Power of Now,” especially if you are into “new age” genre or eastern spiritual practices like Zen, mindfulness, and so on.
The book The Power of Now has influenced many people including some well-known celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, Paris Hilton and so on. However, I am not here to talk about the book, but the author behind the book. (If you want to find out more about The Power of Now, check out this article).
Who is Eckhart Tolle?
He is regarded as one of the most spiritually influential people in the world. He is recognized by some of the well-known spiritual teachers and leaders such as Dalai Lama, Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, and so on.
He has gone through “inner transformation,” “awakening,”“enlightenment,” or whatever you may call it at the age of 29.
And ever since, he has influenced many lives through his teachings.
His depressing early years…
Prior to his “inner transformation,” he suffered from deep severe depression for a long period of time. He had unhappy childhood where his parents often fought and eventually got separated. He also suffered from deep anxiety and fear.
During his teenage years, he did not attend high school but studied extensively on subjects such as literatures, foreign languages, and so on. In his early 20s, he studied philosophy, literature, and psychology, and he graduated from University of London and was offered a scholarship to Cambridge University but he dropped out soon after when he experienced the inner transformation.
When he was 29, he was already suffering from a chronic depression, but then one particular night, he felt more depressed than ever that he was even thinking about committing suicide. He said the heaviness of the depression was so severe that he felt like could not take it anymore. He recalls feeling hopeless and how much he loathed himself and his life. Even the entire objects in his room looked so hostile that he felt nothing but hopelessness, hatred and fear that night.
As he was feeling this deep emotional pain, he said in his mind “I couldn’t live with myself anymore.” But that moment, all of sudden, he felt very puzzled about what he had said in his mind and started questioning who is this “I” that could not live with this “myself?” “Is there more than one person?” Am I “two” beings? As he was pondering over this, he said something happened and felt as if everything got “collapsed” and felt as if he was sucked into a void. Then he doesn’t recall much of what had happened the rest of the night but he remembers waking up the next day morning feeling so PEACEFUL.
He recalls hearing the sounds of birds and felt as if he heard the sound for the first time in his life and how beautiful it was. Everything sounded, looked, and felt so fresh and beautiful as if he was experiencing them for the first time in his life. He went out for a walk and his feeling of peacefulness had continued and everything looked so beautiful and peaceful. He said he was in a “deep state of bliss.” And this feeling of peace and joy never left him ever since.
Ever since that day, he quit school, and for two years he spent on a park bench just “watching the world go by” in a deep state of peace and joy. He slept on a park bench or a Buddhist Monastery and spent most of the day at the park just enjoying himself and the view. His parents thought he had gone mad.
Here’s a clip of him explaining how things are different and have changed ever since the inner transformation.
After two years of spending on a park bench in a deep state of peace, people he met started showing interest and started coming to ask him about his beliefs. Spiritual seekers and practitioners were very intrigued how what they had been seeking for years and have never achieved it, but had happened to him just like that. As more people gathered to hear him, he eventually became a counselor and a spiritual teacher to these people.
He started writing about his experiences, his teachings, and his answers to questions from others during this period and eventually it became to be his first book “The Power of Now.”
The book wasn’t recognized until three years later after it was first published. But then, it was recommended by Oprah Winfrey and became viral. The book became one of the best sellers for many years after that and he had written more books which also became best sellers as well. Eventually, he got more recognition and formed a company to sell his products and became very successful.
He had never intended to become financially successful or wanted a heavily commercialized structure, but everything just happened naturally.
His teaching is mainly intended to assist people to “be in the now,” or “the presence.” By practicing and learning to distinguish your mind and your true self (the watcher), you are experiencing the awakening of consciousness. He says this is the next step to the evolution of humankind.
Through his teachings and practicing what he teaches, one can achieve more peace in his or her life, and live life through higher consciousness. And there are many claims to how his teachings had drastically changed a lot of people’s lives.
The sole purpose of his teachings are not about giving information for people to collect and analyze, but to guide people to recognize and be aware of how we are limited and caught up with our thoughts in our head. To be at peace, you should recognize your true self as the “watcher” and not be identified with mind made sense of self.
What distinguishes Eckhart Tolle from other spiritual teachings is that, he does not promote any type of rigorous trainings and over complicated mystic wordings to reach the awakening. As long as you are alert and present with his teachings, the result is pretty immediate.
He continues to influence many people through his books, seminars, retreats, and so on.
If you are interested in one of his first and the best-selling books, The Power of Now, check out this article.