Closer walk with theeA spectral projection from a stained glass window near the interior entrance to the Sisters' Chapel, the oldest part of St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Gary Bridgman / Flickr)

To listen to Eckhart Tolle is to be reminded that anything is possible — for anyone.

I'm not talking about living a life of leisure filled with expensive cars, beach homes, and extravagant vacations, but an experience brimming with the kind of spiritual insights that not only make this life worth living but decidedly more fulfilling. The problem is, whenever you say "spiritual insight" there's often the assumption that you're talking about something too ethereal to be practical or too elusive to be achieved in this lifetime.

This is exactly the point that one of the world's most well-known spiritual teachers and authors rebuffed during a talk he gave this past February at Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education:

"Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching. They may waken simply because they can't stand the suffering anymore."

He went on to cite examples of those who have either been told that they have a short time to live or have been given an exceptionally long prison sentence. In both cases, any thought of a future has been effectively dashed, forcing these individuals into what Tolle describes as "an intense awareness" that there is only the present moment with "no more future to escape into mentally."

And what's the result? A lot less suffering:

"That is the real spiritual awakening, when something emerges from within you that is deeper than who you thought you were. So, the person is still there, but one could almost say that something more powerful shines through the person."

The good news, according to Mr. Tolle, is that in order to experience this awakening, "you don't have to wait for the diagnosis by the doctor or to be put in prison… nor do you have to do 30,000 hours of meditation or live in an ashram for 20 years. Once you get a glimpse of it you can invite it into your daily life."

For a growing number of people, it's this understanding of the always present "spiritual you" shining through that has led to significant improvements in their lives, not the least of which is better health. This would seem to indicate that these kinds of spiritual insights aren't the least bit ethereal or elusive but decidedly practical.

"Spirituality and religion belong in the healing paradigm," writes Airdre Grant in a study published in the Journal of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society). "They are determinants of health and they are factors in recovery, wellbeing and longevity."

But where do these insights come from? Is it simply a matter of wishful thinking? Or is it perhaps something more reliable, more effective than that?

"Jesus said 'the kingdom of heaven is within you,'" observed Mr. Tolle, implying that this health-inducing understanding may be lot closer than we thought:

"I think if he lived nowadays, instead of 'kingdom,' he would have said, 'dimension.' And 'heaven' refers to a sense of vastness or spaciousness. So if we retranslate the words of Jesus into modern terms [it would be] 'the dimension of spaciousness is within you.'

And then Jesus said — when they asked him, 'Where is the kingdom of heaven and when is it going to come?' — he said, 'The kingdom of heaven does not come with signs to be perceived. You cannot say, ah, it's over here or look, it's over there, for I tell you the kingdom of heaven is within you.'"

How nice it is to be reminded that the proverbial "kingdom of heaven" we've been hearing about for at least two millennia — this "dimension of spaciousness" or what I might characterize as the understanding of our true spiritual identity — is "within you." Within us all. Here and now.

I suppose all that remains is the willingness — and the humility — to put this insight into practice.


Eric NelsonEric Nelson is the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. His writing on the link between consciousness and health appear regularly in a number of local, regional, and national online publications.

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23Reflections

Reflections

Thanks so much, Trent, for getting this posted so quickly!

I recommend Tolle's The New Earth. When my spiritual practice has stagnated, reading that and Living Buddha, Living Christ has helped shift my consciosness and help me resume forward progress. Thanks for pointing to Tolle's accessible writing and speaking.

Wonderful article. We need more people like Mr. Tolle to help guide us in our practice.

Where does Inspiration come from? I believe the air is dense with spirits, swarming for soul. We've only to be still & listen.

The most appealing thing about Eckhart Tolle is his humility and willingness to share his experience of awakening. It didn't come to him from the heavens as a reward for being a perfect human being. Rather, it arose from his brokenness. That is something we can all relate to on some level. His advice to practice mini-meditations throughout the day is the antidote to the insane pace of our lives, and our manic response to our environment.

Here are some comments on Tolle. Read if you dare. A Catholic priest wrote them.
http://www.wordonfire.org/Written-Word/articles-commentaries/November-2008/What-Should-Catholics-Make-of-Eckhart-Tolle-.aspx

Even though this priest thinks he understands, he does not. Jesus taugh that the "Christ" is within each of us. What Jesus really taught was grossly twisted by the Roman Empire/Church in the 3rd century to stop Christians from refusing to participate in wars and violence since up until then they were all pacifists who would die before using violence. This article explains the events and it should be something all of the followers of Jesus should read. Namaste'
http://rcsamcgill.com/2012/11/05/early-christian-positions-on-war/

We are heaven on earth for each other. If we choose to.
If we can be heaven on earth for each other than we can also choose to be hell.

Thank you so much for sharing this interview. I've been a follower of Eckhart Tolle for several years, but there is always
something new to be savored and learned.

Have you noticed lately that karma is changing in its duration?
I believe this is an act of mercy by All That Is to help us understand the significance of our actions.
Spiritual insights that used to take years are coming within months or weeks.
Humanity is waking up. It must or it will destroy itself.

We don't know that Jesus didn't say dimension. Jesus spoke in Aramaic which doesn't translate to Greek very well which doesn't translate to English very well. Kingdom is a parochial term that was used to keep people in line and to follow the authority of the church. Other terms include Almighty Father, Lord and Master. All domination all the time. I don't see the Great Creator or the Great Spirit that way or my spirit guides that way. I reject the notion of the word kingdom wherever it is used in relation to spirituality.

Jesus is a King (in the line of David, as foretold) and he did say, "My Kingdom is not of this world." Many do not wish to acknowledge his kingship, for in so doing, one must also acknowledge their utter dependency on God for atonement. For Jesus came as the promised Savior to atone for our fallen sinful condition. However, it is easier for humans to try and save themselves, rather than humble themselves, before the King of kings and Lord of lords. In the Lord's grace and mercy, he did what you and I could not do for ourselves. And that is reconcile us back to God by removing the sin barrier. Remember what the LORD said. "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father, except through Me."

I listen to on being every sunday at noon after Church. I really enjoy the program.

Our mental commentary , left unchecked, is a thief.... stealing the present by keeping us in the future (or the past). Staying present by directing one's attention. :))

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to see this session with Eckhart Tolle. It comes, of course, at a time when I most need to hear it. Just listening to Eckhart brings me peace.

Won't it be wonderful when we reach a state of awareness to not only realize that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, but so is Eckhart Tolle.

I never get this, its confusing and annoying? Known about this for over a year, is he just making up things as he go? Does it really exist a "state" of eternal freedom and peace that lasts forever? Without ANYTHING to ruin it??

If not, then what is the point? If its not going to last.....

Dm: I feel your point, my only feedback is this: practice allowing more space (between thoughts) as much as you can, and then, practice some more. Nothing will ever become lasting without practice, that is, if anything still takes you out of your center it just means you need more practice being and allowing the moment to be as it is; to drop the resistance. More practice = more lasting effect, regardless of anything that keeps happening.

Thank you for your question, you are appreciated. Best wishes with your practice.

Eckhart touches on many human frailties, providing his version of answers, but there is a problem. Listen carefully to Eckharts words, he makes Jesus out to be an ordinary man. In his books, Eckhart suggests certain behavior modifications that can lead us toward a happier state of mind and this is good, but, at the same time, he gently pushes us away from God. In my opinion, Eckhart is a false prophet. http://truedsicernment.com/.../christinaity-today-asks.../

Its only because the religion of Christianity , formulated scriptures to make Jesus Christ , God.

He did not want the title, he understood God as a Father.

I was Christian for 30 years before I discovered www.christiandeistfellowship.com/
THE HUMAN JESUS AND CHRISTIAN DEISM ... If we look beyond the myths and theological theories that have accumulated around Jesus, we can see a real ... NOW, Eckhart

Jesus Christ said a LOT more about the kingdom of Heaven than "its within you" and the few other passages that Tolle quotes. If you want to have a much better understanding of the kingdom of Heaven/kingdom of God (these are one and the same) then you it is helpful to go back as much as possible to the 1st century Jewish context within which Jesus made these statements. For that, I can highly recommend NT Wright, a 1st century historian and perhaps the world's top New Testament scholar. here is a video where "kingdom of Heaven" is the central theme: http://www.calvin.edu/january/2012/NTWright.htm

Who said we need to "reinterpret" what Jesus Christ said? Who gave Mr Tolle the right to do so? Since he specifically denies that Jesus was God made flesh, and denies that he rose from the dead, how can anyone who considers themselves a Christian even listen to his rhetoric?