Eckhart Tolle is best known as the author of the books “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose”. Since then he has written many other books and he continues teaching to this day, making an effort to reach larger audiences through video and online methods. In 2011, Eckhart was listed by the Watkins Review as the most spiritually influential person in the world. Kim Eng is his partner in teaching and living.
I was thrilled to discover Eckhart Tolle’s book, the Power of Now when it was quite new, back in the late 90s. I was living in Vermont at the time and I soon discovered that in those years, he was giving annual 5 day retreats at the Omega Institute in upstate New York. I attended the one in October of 2002. There were 400+ other people at the retreat, so a large room full of people. I guess I was particularly open or something, because his transmission during that time has deeply affected my life ever since. That was the turning point for me – the When I left at the end of the five days, I still had never met Eckhart personally, never had a conversation. I never even asked a question. But my life and psyche felt upside-down and inside-out but I also knew with great certainty that I had just received the precious spiritual gift that I had been seeking so long. In the following days I tried to put myself back together, to reconfigure some new sense of things, re-establish a new motivational structure (the old one had vanished), a sense of why I was doing things, how to relate to people and so on.
So Eckhart Tolle was the One for me. I still have never spoken with him – he’s too big and popular to have any personal followup with people. But hey, his transmission worked in amazing ways, even in a crowd, and that’s what matters, isn’t it? Now I will just take the rest of my life to learn how to live this gift I have been given.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.
What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment was written in 1997.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose in 2008.
Both were amazingly and wonderfully well received, spending many years on the best-sellers lists.
I will give you some of my background, although the intense transitions of the last few years have left me feeling like a new person. Hmm, I wrote that sentence two years ago, and it is still true today. I was born in 1967 and was a very sensitive, intellectual and dreamy child. I was always consumed by questions like, “Where did I come from?””Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” so of course, embedded as I was in a culture that sees science and reason as the source of truth, I tried to “figure out” the answers. I graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but my development of reason and intellect brought me no closer to any truth I really cared about.
I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I knew that none of the usual options life presents a Yale graduate attracted me. I went to Taiwan, learned Chinese, and soon found myself working as a translator. I spent most of my 20s there, educating myself broadly (though not at all rigorously – it was more through osmosis) in Eastern spiritual traditions. I also read voraciously: books on health, nutrition, globalization, physics, and biology. Translation led to other business opportunities, and I became familiar with this dimension of the human experience. In Taiwan, I met my dear friend and ex-wife Patsy, with whom I have three children, all boys.
In my late 20s I entered what was to be a long period of intensifying crisis. It started when all my professional work became intolerable. It became excruciating to do work I didn’t care about. Even though a million reasons told me why it was irresponsible, impractical, and foolish to quit, I eventually could not make myself do it anymore. An irrepressible feeling, “I am not here to be doing this!” took control of my life. So I entered a long period of searching. I spent time teaching yoga, learning about herbs, and teaching at Penn State’s department of Science, Technology, and Society. All of these endeavors have contributed to my present and future, but none were really me.
The next five years were much like a birthing process. The old world dissolved, and the contractions birthing me into the new took the form of a collapse of all that I once held onto. Crises in health, marriage, and money forced me to let go of a “life under control.” In my helplessness, I accepted help, discovering a generous universe that has always met my needs, somehow, in unexpected ways. I have never made much money, but I have become rich in connections to other people. Friends and strangers from all over the world write to tell me how my books have affected them; they sustain my faith and nourish my passion for my work.
In addition to writing books and essays, I have been doing a tremendous amount of public speaking. Sometimes, especially when I am tired from traveling, I wonder if the world needs yet another man performing “speaker up in front of an audience.” Why not stay at home and use technology? But I find that something happens in person that is irreplaceable. For one thing, at live events I can see the expressions on people’s faces, and I respond to that in real-time, engaging in a sort of dialog. Secondly, my speaking is not just about conveying ideas. Something else rides the vehicle of the words, even if the topic is something mundane like steady-state economics. I sometimes describe my experience as a speaker as being plugged into a field that is not my creation, but is generated by the audience and by something beyond the audience. Besides, I find that my thinking stagnates and my heart atrophies when I am in front of my computer too much. I need to interact with real people, face to face. That’s why I travel and speak.
On the other hand, I am increasingly drawn to developing the non-verbal, embodied gifts that I’ve neglected. Like many people, I have a feeling that there is a Next Step about to happen, in my work and beyond. I don’t know what it is, but I do know its revelation will come through transforming experiences that reveal and heal things I was blind to. My work, my play, my family, my deep soul connections, my wholeness, my wounds… all of these are bound up together, evolving as one.
I am now remarried as of 2011 and have a baby, my fourth son, Cary, with my wife Stella. Besides mothering, Stella practices Chinese Medicine and other healing modalities. The two teenagers, Jimi and Matthew live with us too; the 9-year-old Philip only sometimes. My favorite moments are watching Jimi and Matthew play “pass the baby” with Cary, who thinks it is the funnest game in the world. Of course we have our challenges and I have occasional moments of seeing my whole life as a father as a collision-course of errors, but overall I feel extremely lucky to have such amazing, sensitive, talented, kind children.
Lately people sometimes treat me like a celebrity, which makes me feel uncomfortable, because I know I am just me. On the other hand, it has become impossible to answer every email and say yes to every offer to interact. I have to turn down most offers to speak, travel, write blurbs for books, and so on. Also the attention focused on me can get overwhelming. I understand why real celebrities need to insulate themselves. Even receiving appreciation can be too much to handle sometimes, although it has sustained me too through periods of setbacks and doubt. I do my best to stay accessible and answer as many contacts as possible.
I can’t really tell you my plans for the future; it all depends on what is revealed to me in the next phase of my personal exploration. Besides, the world is approaching a state of flux that could easily render most plans irrelevant. I will continue writing and speaking for at least another year or two. My main interest now is in exploring the boundaries of what is “possible” according to our received beliefs, received habits, received technologies, and received ways of knowing. For humanity to take that Next Step, we are going to have to violate what is politically practical, socially practical, and even technologically practical. The same holds on the personal and relational level. I have caught glimpses of the impossible in all these realms and I am excited about what lies ahead.
Sounds True is a wonderful company that has been around for a long time and is owned by Tami Simon. They have a beautiful website which is easy to use and a fabulous collection of downloads and CDs and DVDs that you can purchase for support for your process no matter what you are working on or with.
I downloaded their iphone app, so now all my downloads from Sounds True are all easy to get and easy to find when i want to listen to them. Soo easy. This is a company you can really feel good in supporting.
Tammy Simon is also one of the most gifted interviewers I have personally experienced. She was the one who introduced Eckhart on the stage at the Omega Institute when I went on retreat with him in 2002. She has felt like a special person for me ever since.
Sounds True was founded in 1985 by Tami Simon with a clear mission: to disseminate spiritual wisdom. Since starting out as a project with one woman and her tape recorder, we have grown into a multimedia publishing company with more than 80 employees, a library of more than 1500 titles featuring some of the leading teachers and visionaries of our time, and an ever-expanding family of customers from across the world.
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The mission of Sounds True is to find teachers and artists who serve as a gateway to spiritual awakening and to produce, publish, and distribute their work with beauty, intelligence, and integrity. We treat our authors, vendors, and partners in the same way we would want to be treated. We work flexibly and efficiently together to create a cooperative, loving environment that honors respectful authenticity and individual growth. We maintain a healthy level of profitability so that we are an independent and sustainable employee-owned organization.
Eckhart Tolle TV
Sounds True is a partner in Eckhart Tolle TV, an online television service that offers members new monthly video teachings from Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now and Creating a New Earth. Eckhart Tolle TV offers free teachings by Eckhart Tolle and his teaching partner Kim Eng, plus a premium service for members that includes monthly meditations with Eckhart Tolle that are broadcast live, question and answer sessions, special opportunities to purchase tickets to Eckhart Tolle TV filmings and retreats, and a chance to dialogue with other Eckhart Tolle TV members. For a free trial, please visit EckhartTolleTV.com.
I first heard Adyashanti’s name when I was still living in Vermont. I had already had an enormously transformative change-point at Omega Institute in the presence of Eckhart Tolle, and I was floundering around trying to figure out how to live my life all over again. There was nowhere left to go, nothing to do, and all my old goals and ways of being in the world no longer worked for me.
I read a quote from Adya on an online Eckhart Tolle forum, and I loved it but I didn’t look into it any more fully.
Then I went back to Omega a year later to be on retreat with Eckhart for another five days and I was one of those people who would wait in line in the frosty morning of upstate New York in October for hours, just for the hope of sitting in the front. The person behind me was reading “Impact of Awakening”, Adya’s book that has a picture of his face on it. Somehow his face caught my attention… those awake eyes maybe. Anyway I had to say “what book is that you’re reading?” and when the woman said Adyashanti, that was it, two points make a line and I went home a few days later, searched for him on the internet, found his website and ordered books and tapes.
His talks and writings spoke so incredibly directly to the heart of what I was dealing with. He clearly named what had happened to me with Eckhart as “awakening” and talked about it as something familiar and normal. What a relief! It felt as if he knew me personally because of the way he talked about what was going on with me. I was glad I wrote that “identity switch” essay about my experience before running into Adya because he was describing my experience so exactly that I had to look back at my own writing to verify that I wasn’t a copycat of some sort.
Then I came out to California to go on retreat with him. I asked him to be my teacher and he said it was my decision not his, so I said he was my teacher. Then I said how on earth do we do that from thousands of miles away, and he just didn’t have any answer at all.
The next thing I knew I was moving to California. It just happened, what can I say. I never even decided to move. As I write this I’ve been in the Bay area for over two years already, and living a rather charmed life, working at a place called the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology as an administrator, and Adya gives all of his Palo Alto satsangs directly halfway between where I work and where I live. I don’t think I could have managed that if I’d tried to plan it! I enjoy the companionship of the wonderful Open Gate Sangha folks, and the support of a community of people like me, as I got used to this new life that I’ve stumbled into. I went to almost every bay area satsang that Adya gave for many years, mostly serving as a volunteer involved in setup, greeting people etc.
After being with Adya’s sangha for many years I started to feel like the message was repetitive and I was getting more from living my life and from sitting listening to Adya. I told him I was going to stop volunteering and going to all the satsangs and he was so lovely about it and seemed to say that I was a graduate. No holding on whatsoever. I love Adya. He is one of the most wonderful human beings I know.
For more info about Adyashanti and his teachings, go to his own website at www.adyashanti.org . He has numerous books, CDs, DVDs, retreats, intensives, and satsangs, and is traveling more and more these days. He is even doing internet radio sessions and is generally making his teaching conveniently available to people who live anywhere. I find his message can be received very well through tape, CD, DVD etc.