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.
Called by Love Institute is a new organization in 2016-17. It has been established to support our collective evolution in consciousness, coming from the Christian perspective within the Unity Church. It has particularly grown from the life experience of Marj Britt and her Unity Church community in Tustin California, where Marj minister for many years. Before joining the ministry she was deeply immersed in a career in public education. It will be exciting to see this new organization grow to fulfill its wonderful mission combining a deeply spiritual viewpoint with educational expertise.
The educational programs they will be offering spring from the Christian tradition, but they will definitely be on the most open minded and freethinking end of the Christian spectrum we see in the world today.
The Mission for Called By Love Institute is:
“To harness the Power of Love as a Revolutionary and Evolutionary Force in Healing Lives, Building Dreams, Realizing Purpose, Destiny, and Legacy, Connecting ordinary and Extra-ordinary People to their fullest potential, Bringing Awareness and Light into the world.”
It was inspired by a quote that Dr. Marj Britt read on a card during her first year in seminary:
“Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity, We shall harness for God the energies of Love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin
Called By Love Institute supports an evolution in consciousness and a Vastness in understanding creation. It’s an exploration of God as Love, seeing Love in All, and responses to being Called By Love. Join our Worldwide Campus of Consciousness and help create a Field of Abundance that sustains and benefits us all.
CALLED BY LOVE
Called By Love supports the evolution of consciousness using a unique step by step methodology that explores ‘What it means to live from love and as an expression of love.’
LIVING, LOVING, LEGACY
Living, Loving, Legacy brings you together with some of the most significant explorers of the maps of consciousness on the planet, people who have devoted their lives to their own transformation and that of the world. They will model for you how to manifest these qualities in your own life.
Sacred Activism and the Conscious Elder John Robinson www.johnrobinson.org
This is a time of collective initiation. Conscious elders, startled into a shocking new historical era, now face profound and unexpected tasks, gifts and responsibilities. This is not our old familiar world and we cannot go back. But this horizon holds the potential for a psychological and spiritual renewal unprecedented in human history, one that will produce a quantum leap forward if we participate meaningfully. As Howard Thurman advised, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive!” This is a time for discerning what makes us come alive and then doing it!
In depth psychology, the shadow, trickster, or devil archetype often unleashes huge transformational energies. In many respects, Trump represents our collective shadow – all the repressed, censored, dark, eruptive energies we have buried inside. But as Jung told us, the shadow is 90% gold! Jeremy Taylor, a teacher of Jung and dreams, recently wrote, “…the ‘hidden gift’ in the colossal projected shadow of Donald Trump is potentially granting us all ‘permission’ to explore and manifest our deepest creative energies and responses to the world.” Trump may be the unwitting precursor of an enormous change in the collective psyche.
As Philosopher Grant Maxwell observes in his new book, The Dynamics of Transformation, the evolution of genuinely new ideas and forms is typically unpredictable, disruptive, and shocking. He also suggests that some great and as yet unknown archetype may now be constellating in the depths of the human psyche. In other words, this disruption may be opening a new chapter in the history of democracy and civilization, unconsciously inviting us all to participate in a more vital, creative and engaged citizenship. Something deeper is at work here, a new expression of the human enterprise and a new worldview.
If conscious elders are going to light a path through the darkness of this time, we need to understand where we are and how we can respond most maturely. In the psychological dimension, we need to stay together and work through our feelings rather than react blindly, collapse in despair, or drop out. And we need to realize that anything we feel deeply holds the potential for transformation, releasing new energies and creative insights for positive action. Crises bring us back to the liberating reality of the present. I remember an old friend of mine telling me about the day her house burned down. She suddenly found herself feeling incredibly free, free to create a new life, to release the shackles of her old identity and pursue a new adventure.
In the spiritual dimension, we need to ask ourselves bigger questions and about the meaning and purpose of this time. For example, “What are my ultimate spiritual beliefs about why this is happening?” “How would my personal spiritual heroes respond to this situation?” And “Where is God in this upheaval?” And we need to return to our spiritual practices to stay centered and grounded.
Last, but not least, we need to call upon the mystical dimension, spending time in the Presence and letting its nature and consciousness expand our awareness and response capabilities. We are so much more than we think. We need to pray and ask for divine guidance. This awakening to the divine dimension in aging is not about escape from our obligations to the world—but a powerful shift to a new level of engagement. If we wish to transform our current human crisis, we must return to the mystical consciousness of a divine being in a divine world, an experience that becomes increasingly available in sacred aging.
To me, as a mystic, in this moment of awakening, it feels as if I touch the infinite surface of Being, which I envision as the smooth, rubber-like surface tension of a vast black lake. I am convinced that touching this surface sends vibrations throughout the whole cosmos, like pounding a huge drumhead sending oscillating waves across Creation. I can actually feel myself striking this great drum with both hands – boom, boom, boom – and sending powerful undulations of love, meaning and possibility through the immensity of time, reality and consciousness.
Like the surprise experienced by my friend when she lost her house, what is being evoked in us is likely to be something much larger and more creative than we would have imagined. Indeed, it may be the doorway to the next state of human consciousness. This is a time to deepen our awareness of eternal values, recognize the world as Self, join others, and then act from the deep oneness of Being. Everything we’ve ever done in our lives has led us to this moment. And together, we call on everything we are to pound our drums as one great loving force. As the echoes of our drumbeats return, their rhythms overlap with new ones. We are building a new Creation.
Check out John’s new book titled “The Divine Human”.