Reading our previous post back, our readers may wonder why we protest so much. Probably because of our own petty anxieties about intellectual appearances. But as we get towards the end of yet another re-reading of Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now and The New Earth, we feel less inclined than ever to make any apologies. These books are powerful. Tolle himself considered his teachings to be the stream where Ramana Maharshi and Jiddhu Krishnamurti meet. This may seem puzzling. What can a quiet and gentle Hindu mystic who claimed to have found God and taught mostly through silence have in common with a man who (at least apparently) rejected all religion and religious organisation and lectured at great length and in often strident and (at least apparently) obscure philosophical tones? Go into it (to use a favourite phrase of Krishnamurti’s), and you’ll see that both their teachings are the same: know thyself. And how? How else but through self-enquiry? Such teachings can be extremely frustrating to hear for those seeking guidance and help. Ramana Maharshi and Krishnamurti take you to the door to self-enquiry, kick you through and leave you to it. A bracing experience! But for modern, western minds at least, Tolle may be kinder and more helpful. He takes you to the same door – but takes your luggage and helps you over the threshold. Then he shows you round. The tour he gives reveals an extraordinary palace, full of riches. There are demons and monsters there, but angels and bodhisattvas too. You can take the tour whenever you’re ready. There’s no charge.
We never normally (we hope!) try to foist so-called “spiritual” books onto people. More than any other kind of book, they are tricky to recommend since what appears one day to the intellect as a platitude or a monstrous piece of nonsense on stilts appears the next to the soul as pure wisdom, beautiful as a flower. But in this singular case we feel we may be neglecting our duty if we didn’t strenuously recommend Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now (his other one’s good too).
We won’t review it here. The main message is in the title, the lessons are familiar from millennia of spiritual texts, there’s nothing in it you can’t get from a thousand other books, all of which will be more impressive to the intellectual colllector. By Tolle’s own insistence, he has nothing new to teach, and to the unopened eye he can seem like a New Age charlatan. But nothing we’ve read or done (even much formal meditation practice) has had anything like the transformative effect of his book. It’s all the usual old stuff, but he has a knack for making it understandable and practical and down to earth and easy to follow – and, most importantly, to realise. We know we’re sounding like ludicrous converts to a fraudulent guru, but trust us – the road is not to Waco but to happiness!
Read it all the way through to satisfy your intellectual curiosity by all means. But then put it under your pillow and read a paragraph or so a day, every day – and endeavour to put the teachings into practice. Don’t worry – it will be a pleasure not a chore! And it may be the most powerfully transformative thing you’ve ever done. The result will be nothing less than the revolution of everyday life.