Re: Eckhart Tolle "advaita"
Date: February 20, 2009 02:29PM
I don't know where to begin to comment here. I am not exactly versed on this site and rarely do I participate in chat rooms. I just want to add some information about Eckhart Tolle here. I have read over some of the discussions with much interest. I am delighted to see so much good common sense at work! For much of these suspicions are right on target.
I have known Eckhart since the fall of 1993. I met him through mutual friends back in England. At the time, Eckhart was a nobody. But a nice man and extremely intelligent. He lived very modestly after moving from London to Glastonbury (where I met him) and he was just the nicest person. He went by this name way back then. As far as his real name goes, it is Ulrich and he changed it after that life-altering experience he had--during the many years that went by where he started to study spiritual thinkers like Meister Eckhart. I think he changed his name because he was drawn to that teacher. And he also wanted to break from the former, unhappy person he was.
As far as speculation about his past, he did attend Cambridge as a PhD candidate in Comparative Lit. His emphasis was in Latin American Literature. (we later reconnected when he came to Northern California where I got to know him much better). His father lived (now deceased) in Mallorca. His mother lived (also now deceased) in the Black Forest--in Baden Baden. He went to see them every year at Christmas. His dad was a real character--a free-thinker, a former journalist,leaving Germany after he divorced Eckhart's mother when Eckhart was about 12 or so.
Eckhart is a very emotional and complicated person. Believe me, I knew a whole different side to him. Kind, thoughtful, and very sincere in his rich interest and devotion to spirituality. I recall, at a mutual friend's, he and I ended up having about a five hour conversation on everything from Latin American fiction writers to various mystics and eclectic thinkers. That conversation flew by. He is a very engaging, humorous and social person and it came as a surprise because normally, he seems so reticent and shy. Anyway--I remember when he was writing his first book. We were talking on the phone and he told me that he started writing this book--all in long-hand, mind you. We continued to have a very pleasant friendship and a year or so later, he ended up moving to Vancouver, BC because it was difficult for him to emigrate to the U.S. He had no relatives here, and no real external purpose for coming here. He just wanted to try out the "new world". Again, he was such a pleasure to be around in those days. We also kept in touch when he moved north to Canada. He was funny, he was a joy to talk to-- even on the phone.
To make a long story short--Tolle started out very modestly. Truly. This woman he met in a small class he was giving to business people in downtown Vancouver ended up speaking with him here and there after class and one day, Tolle asked if she would read his book--which was still in manuscript form. She did and later he asked her if she ever thought about the publishing business before. She considered what he said, and they pooled money together ( he owned a piece of property in London and I remember him going back to London at some point, so he could have some $ to live!!) (He never really lived on park benches, by the way. But he did drop out of that graduate program and meandered--with not a lot in the till so to speak.)
Once this woman brought out his first book, things slowly picked up. Tolle made as many appearances at every Canadian bookstore he could. He very gradually achieved his success. We kept in touch and always, he was happy to get together with me when he was in this area in the early days of his success.
Things changed. Without saying too much about myself, I too, am a writer, but I am not in his field. I am a fiction writer. Though Eckhart and I shared interest in things spiritual and he being a former student of literature, we had these things in common. But I would disagree (and still do) with my old friend on many things. Not that I outright told him this, but I never thought highly of the New Age/ Feel Good genre. I am not a fan of these books, although, I do think there are some exceptions and I absolutely loved his first book, the Power of Now. And I still think it's his best. I also think Eckhart is gifted in his talks. Some of them are amazingly brilliant. But I have to say the last time I heard my friend was several years ago before things got to where they are today!
Here it is: My old friend has become obsessed with his own success and I need to say, monstrously so. He has shown a side to me that scares me. He is determined to get as far up the mountain (exceeding his competitors like Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukov, all those other souls out there that crank out these books!) as he can go. I am afraid for him and a little afraid of him. He is no longer recognizable to me. Some say this is not unusual for these "guru" types. That sooner or later, things come tumbling down, thanks to a lot of hubris and just ego-overkill. That's right. Ego-overkill. Tolle--and I noticed this many years ago--we were out one day and ended up walking into a bookstore where Tolle knew the guy behind the counter--I busied myself browsing the books, but Tolle came off with an arrogance and know-it-all-ness that surprised me. I had never seen this side of him before--but I blew it off and didn't give it a lot of thought as he rarely acted this way with me. ( I am a woman, by the way.). Now it seems Tolle is all ego. And yes, it is horrendously ironic how he has made the ego anathema, when he has become an ego-maniac himself. I am sad to see it all unfold the way it has.
Sadly, being a true friend, a real friend, was not as important to Tolle as his voracious ambition. Let me tell you something , if I could, in my own modest experience at being human myself, Tolle is very unhealed. Some have speculated about his past relationships. I know of a woman in London; I believe he lived with her, but this was when he was in his 20's. I do believe he had that spiritual experience. That is true, but the weird thing is, it didn't really change the core person. It seems that Eckhart was one of those "know it all" students. He is extremely smart, and that is the problem. Smart and arrogant, if given the ground on which to become so. Know what I mean? When he was outside that academic milieu of a school like Cambridge, he was a nobody--and it was probably better for him. Let me put it to you this way: Hitler could have a spiritual experience, but would his nature really change?
I realize that sounds like a strange question. And normally, people will assume that the person having these beautiful spiritual experiences is a good person, but you know what? It's not necessarily so. And I know this from so many years of knowing Eckhart. But I also know this about other spiritual teachers and their dark sides and I am sure many of you out there know a bit about this, too. For example, Krishnamurti could be very curt with people, especially young people. But also, there's a book that was written by the daughter of a woman who was Krishnamurti's secret mistress for many years and whom he treated abusively, punitively. And there are people who will refuse to believe this and I am sure there are those who will not want to see the truth about my old friend, Eckhart.
But if I could continue--about this aspect of him being unhealed. In all my years being alive I have come to see that there is a huge discrepancy between this "spirituality" so many seem to be seeking and unhealed inner emotional issues. It's strange. But the two shall never meet or mix. This seems to be very true about people no matter their spiritual path. And it's true about Tolle. He had a very complex relationship with his mother. His father was a much better parent to him. But his mother was another story. There were times when he spilled his emotions out to me, and it saddens me because he's really a very lonely person. An extremely, and I want to say, dangerously isolated individual, who has become worse, far worse since his fame.
Eckhart tells the public that this woman Kim Eng is his "partner". She's not. She is a more like a pupil/disciple. There is no relationship there except this "arrangement". She has been with him for many years, as an assistant and contact person for his trips and talks and in exchange, he has shown her the ropes and now she goes out and does these talks and seminars. It's odd, but Eckhart doesn't like women, men, anyone, really. Not enough to shack up with! He is afraid, though, of woman coming after him. And I really know about this. I am not just making it up. He has made some kind of arrangement with Eng, an agreement of sorts so he could feel comfortable on a pubic level.
He did seem to have an interest in me back in the early days...but nothing ever came of it. But it was very sweet and nice. Until fame got the better of him and he showed me that he was not going to do anything for anyone unless it benefits himself. This is all I can say.
I think, though, the unhealed issues in him are at the root of what motivates him in what has become a monstrously unfathomable ambition. ("Napoleon Complex", anyone?) Frankly, he's a homely fellow. He looks like "Despereaux the Mouse". He's a little guy, in a little body, with stooped shoulders that no woman would bat an eyelash at back in the old days. Yes, he was nice friend, but I had no interest in him otherwise and I think he had a lifetime of that. He was forty-five when I met him.
The heart is a lonely hunter, "spiritual teachers" notwithstanding. Ya know?
Anyone remember the "man behind the green curtain"?
As in: "I am Oz. And I am the all -powerful, Oz! No one dare go against the all-powerful Oz! Now don't pay attention to that little man behind the green curtain!""
Of course, we all know what happened next.