The picture above, taken with my iPhone, is the view from my desk on a rainy day. The flowers in the vase are fake, the vase itself a left-over from Mitch Hanley’s wedding, the artifacts hard to make out on the shelf include an amethyst and a piece of old tile from a town on the Croatian coast called Opatija; one of the pictures too backlit to make out is a photo of Albert Einstein with Rabindranath Tagore.
I took this photo of the view I see before me even as I type (though it is brilliantly sunny today) to remind me of something. The something is, to wake up to what is before me; to not become inured by habit into thinking any moment of my day need necessarily resemble the previous moment; to remind me to throw off the routinization to which I am so prone, and in which I take equal amounts of dread and comfort.
Being alive to the present moment, which Ram Dass gave us decades ago as the injunction to Be Here Now isn’t a new idea, but it’s back in a big way and it has a massive new audience because of the work of Eckhart Tolle, whom Krista interviewed recently, in a warm and wide-ranging 90-minute conversation we are about to produce into an episode of Speaking of Faith that will be distributed on August 14th.
It’s a change up for us to interview someone so much in the limelight of popular culture as Tolle, thanks to the exposure of his new book A New Earth in Oprah’s Book Club and in several web seminars with Oprah. Normally, to be honest, we seek out people who are somewhat under the radar, whom we feel a duty to bring to public attention, given the significance of their story, their thought, their work. People like V.V. Raman and Ingrid Jordt, who may never become household names but have incredible intellectual and spiritual wealth to share. We also do interview big names: Jimmy Carter, Elie Wiesel, Rick Warren, Barbara Kingsolver all come to mind.
In this case, as Krista and other staff members sank into his work, we felt it was an opportunity to explore the mind of a genuine spiritual teacher and philosopher who is having an unprecedented experience of celebrity, to hear the story of his own spiritual development, and the effect of his unexpected fame. We found this understated man to be fun and warm, and we’re excited to offer up our very particular conversation with him. I’m reminded in the conversation with Tolle of our recent conversation with Kevin Griffin, who says in that program on spirituality and addiction that after all there is nothing difficult about being mindful except remembering to be mindful. That’s the hard part. And, to complete the circle, I love this nugget from Ram Dass which is cited by Tolle: “If you think you’re so enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.”
Stay tuned for our delightful program with this thinker, philosopher, and teacher.