Is it me, or is Eckhart Tolle a cult leader?
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Initial post: 11 Oct 2010 19:59 BST
MP Knight says:
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Am I the only person who finds Eckhart Tolle a little scary and disturbing...?
Posted on 11 Oct 2010 20:34 BST
I've never read any of his books, but he used to write regularly in a magazine I used to read, I found his writings quite interesting.
Posted on 11 Oct 2010 21:24 BST
Is that an either/or question? because I don't know which of you is a cult leader.
Seriously, is there any evidence of his starting a cult? All I know about his stuff is what I googled when my GP recommended him. (And when I did, I lost a lot of the regard in which I held my GP.)
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2010 21:42 BST
MP Knight says:
No, I can assure you i'm not a cult leader!! :)
Tolle does concern me tho... take a look at the following link:
Tolle's work just concerns me. In his corporate promoted 'The Power of Now' he uses several devices in the introduction to rhetorically inoculate his readers against questioning. The first is a little curly-cue symbol which is sprinkled throughout the book. He says "after certain passages, you may want to stop reading for a moment, become still, and feel and experience the truth of what has just been said." Well maybe I might want to decide whether what I read made sense to me or not before I meditate on the "truth" of it. But he's preaching to the converted. People who've bought his book have already decided he's a "wise man" who knows more than they do, so they're uncritically lapping up his every word. The curly cue-symbol basically says, "pause here to be sure you thoroughly hypnotically induct yourself with this particular piece of spiritual propaganda before moving on."
Tolle is not used to being questioned. He's so convinced of his rightness that he simply "deals with" people's objections with that sickly-sweet patronizing haughtiness we've come to expect from guru types:
"questions or objections may occasionally come into your mind as you read. They will probably be answered later in the book, or they may turn out to be irrelevant as you go more deeply into the teaching-and into yourself."
In other words, "if my hypnotic suggestion's not working on you right away, give it some time and it will eventually." Then comes the flattery. Every good con man butters up his mark as he enlists their cooperation. Tolle is no exception as he pretends to the role of humble facilitator:
"I can not tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don't know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten. Living knowledge, ancient and yet ever new, is then activated and released from within every cell of your body."
Then a defense of the inevitable vagueness:
"I use words such as "mind," "happiness," and "consciousness" in ways that do not necessarily correlate with other teachings. Don't get attached to any words. They are only stepping stones, to be left behind as quickly as possible."
This guy is practically self-refuting. Don't get attached to words? That's right, if you actually read the words, (you know, those groups of letters we use to convey meaning) and process them with your mind, you might figure out that what he's saying doesn't make sense. It's the oldest rhetorical trick in the book. "Oh, don't listen to my words, they mean something different when I say them than when other people say them." It's equivocation, trying to make oneself a priori immune to argument.
If my GP had recommended him - I would report him or her. There have even been reports of recovering 'Now-ists' and people suffering with depersonalisation from his works.
Worries me that people buy into this stuff 'en masse'.
Posted on 13 Oct 2010 11:21 BST
MP Knight says:
i agree with you that concentrating your present moment is useful sometimes is useful. it's an v.v.old idea though - and i can't see why dear eckhart needed to cash in and write it.
as for "living in the present is a spiritual technique.... it may or may not have value for you.....". i'm more interested in what is actually true as opposed to a spiritual technique. while there are obvious benefits to being in the moment this seems more of a financial or pyramid sales operation with tolle and oprah sat at the top. hop online and you'll find 24/7 tolle tv to brainwash you. if you go to his website and check the FAQs you're not given any definitions of his teachings or advice - it's all 'how can i place my order?' and 'how can i get hold of tolle's books in other formats?'. spiritual? no. financial? yes. and, that's before his very sinister encouragement to not think or question his teachings. gives me the heebie-jeebies....eugh!
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Oct 2010 18:06 BST
MP Knight says:
i agree with you D.Enamu. you have to be a focus on the present - but to do that all the time and, as Tolle encourages us to do, stop thinking because as he puts it "Thinking has become a disease" is just plain wrong. in my opinion humans aren't broken, they're mostly just confused. We may not know ourselves so well, but we're operating exactly as nature intended. We're greedy, competitive, with a short attention span, seeking instant gratification. But we're also kind, long-suffering, generous, wise, and empathetic-with the two camps always in conflict within each of us. Solutions to human problems will come from realist introspection, critical thinking, rationality and acknowledging of the darkness, e.g. more rationality and less mysticism.
have i been affected by tolle as you put it? yes and no. not directly myself. but i lost someone close to me to this new-age mumbo-jumbo. a normally rational person who lost the plot and became convinced in all sorts of disproved psuedoscientific nonsense. and tolle was one of the triggers. it changed their personality completely and they became glazed over like one of those people giving testimonials on late-night infomercials...invasion of the body snatchers!!
that led me to long investigations into this kind of material. and, in a roundabout sort of way, this discussion. i'm trying to establish why people are duped by this kind of thing. at best it's buhddism lite, at worst it's a corporate cult spreading across the globe.
Posted on 15 Oct 2010 22:50 BST
Gillian Smith says:
What a relief to come across this Forum - I was beginning to think I was the only person who had serious misgivings about Mr Tolle. I particularly enjoyed MPKnight's posting of 11th October - well observed! And very accurate. I've seen Tolle, back in 1999/2000 when he first published Power of Now. He does have a strong transmission, but his work is unfortunately very naieve and he's virtually in total denial of the shadow. Unless it's to criticise it. Unfortunately this can have the result of making people feel even worse about themselves. His "joy of being" is nauseating and insulting and totally misleading. Yes, Consciousness is joy/bliss -but when appearing as phenomena (i.e. our bodyminds) it is a sacred marriage of "heaven and hell". Tolle misses out the "hell" bit and pretends we can somehow fix it. We can't.
Yes, the fact that he's a worldwide bestseller with marketing products to boot should tell any serious spiritual seeker that he's not the real deal. He's only a tiny piece of the jigsaw.
Anyone old enough to remember Rowan and Martin's laugh-in may remember the German guy who used to come out from a bush saying "velly interesting". I think of him every time I see Tolle's smug smile!
reply to an earlier post on 16 Oct 2010 16:19 BST
MP Knight says:
@ Gillian Smith.
Thanks for your comments. Don't worry - you're not alone. I'm amazed that people buy into Tolle's work. It seems so fundementally flawed. The big difference between him and other snake oil salesmen like deepak chopra is that a) he has corporate backing and, b) he very cleverly never puts himself in a position of debating someone who actually DOES know how to challenge some of his views in a public forum. you can search youtube all day and you won't find him in conversation with a qualified psychologist, let alone a harris, dennett, hitchens or dawkins.... he simply surrounds himself with sychophants or people, like oprah, with a vested interest and discourages anyone challenging his viewpoint.