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This week we’ve been wrapping up production on next week’s show with Eckhart Tolle. One mark of a promising interview, for me, is when it continues to resonate in my head and my life in the following days. And the conversation I had with Tolle worked its way powerfully into my experience of moving these past few weeks — specifically one thing he said almost as an aside.

He was elaborating on his theory of the importance of the present moment — of being fully aware, alert, attentive to it, engaged in it. He noted that stress is a symptom of not wanting to be in the moment we’re in. On the heels of hearing him say that I realized that I was treating most of the events on my moving “checklist” as tasks to be endured. I was looking at an entire week of my life — the packing, the organizing, the moving out, the moving in — as a period I just had to soldier through to get to the other side. And I became aware that approaching it that way — in effect steeling myself not to be present — did raise a wall of stress in me, a palpable physical and emotional sensation.

But here was the surprise: I could immediately disarm that by leaning into the moment. I still had to pack that box, and it was not the most exciting task of my life, and it was tiring at times, but it was not stressful. As I kept pulling myself back to this discipline time and again across the week, I even experienced little unexpected epiphanies and joys I would utterly have missed in my practiced “just get it done” mode.

To be honest, I went into my interview with Eckhart Tolle somewhat skeptical. I’m always wary of hype, or what looks like hype, especially when it comes to religious/spiritual figures. Often that’s valid. But I’ve also learned that sometimes the people who are getting all the attention are getting it for a good reason. More from me and others on the show we’re calling “The Power of Eckhart Tolle’s Now” in the days to come…


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38 Comments

I was present at Eckharts talk in NYC .This was in October 2007,before the Oprah webnar and all the attention that has followed. I made arrangements in March of 07 after reading The Power of Now to attend the sold out Beacon Theatre.His words and approach immeditatly rang true with me. When the student is ready the teacher will appear. As you commented how it had resonated with you afterwards, his Presence and words which I find even more powerfull on his CDs as I drive to work has stayed with me ever since.I appreciate you having this program and intend to download ASAP.
Thank You

For me, it is important to realize that Eckhart Tolle is not a guru or someone to follow. He is simply a human being who has come into his own awareness and has the talent to explain it to others. He has experienced everything he talks about. I find myself becoming more aware each day as I try to "practice what he preaches." The power of now is truly powerful.

I look forward to listening to the interview. I have been a student of Tolle's teachings since The Power of Now came out. His teaching has helped me transform my life in so many positive ways. I am so pleased Oprah has introduced him to the world in such a big way & that you are continuing to help expose his teachings.

As one,
Donna

Thanks for doing this interview with Eckhart Tolle. As one who can use "scavenger hunt" as an analogy for her own spritual journey I find his reasons and methods for finding and getting in touch with (to me "The Powerfully Elusive") Now stirring and inspiring. When someone opens a door, even for a brief time of blissful insight, it keeps me in the game. :-)

My experience with E.Tolle's book is physical. I begin to read and the words grasp my mind and from there it feels like they are liquid, and expand, and a state of extreme calmness arouses me. This is difficult to describe, but I began to feel like a unity, like a solid thing all me, my thoughts and my body, very strange. Not stiff - yet material, thoughts included. Or may be the thoughts vanished? i don't really know. It's not a thinking process. I was able to journey inside my body, and feel places that i hadn't thought could be felt. -!? Sometimes i fall asleep. The effect of the contact with that reading however lasts way beyond my reading session. Not many of my friends understand what i'm referring to... I know...it's hard to explain.

Yeah, your're right, and I know what you're talking about. I know this filling, too.
By,
Attila Rimanoczy

Kathleen 10/10/2009 3:26 PM

It's exciting when you read something written by someone else that speaks your own thoughts..I tell people to read E. Tolle's book...you will be calmed..."a state of extreme calmness arouses me" (isabel)...I understand what you're referring to...."Tolle is about language not theology"(me)...new language to extol an ancient truth...truth is truth, but finds new language to express it down through the ages...Jesus most clearly speaks it to me.

I found the show with Tolle, interesting, mostly because what he is saying is resonating in many persons sense of the spiritual within them today but not being able to name it. The fact that he is a best selling writer allows me to see that what he is offering in his thoughts makie people buy his work, so he must be hitting a cord in the current society.

However, What he is saying is not new, perhaps more clarified but not "new".This leads me to think that if he is not saying a new idea, it is more about the language it is being placed in. that allows us to think it new The greatest problem with Christianity, its not its message( simular to much of what Tolle says, by the way) however, it is the language and the pathway that Tolle uses that is comforting to the people who read him. The Now is part of the sustained universal of the creator God, for God there is no time, and if we are fully alive, and although we move through time, we are constantly sustained and loved by God who is eternal. Note my nineteenth century vocabulary to say this.

Tolle is about language not theology.

"Tolle is about language not theology."

Could you elaborate on that?

Hi, Krista. I enjoy your show every week -- and the back episodes as podcasts. Thanks for making the show and the many resources available online.

About moving and the Tolle of Stress: I, too, am moving. I was listening to your program while "stressing" and painting the trim in the house we're trying to sell. So when Tolle defined stress as "a symptom of not wanting to be in the moment we’re in," I was snapped back to my moment and the simple glory of clean paint going on a faded wall. I probably should appreciate that more.

And what a coincidence: I then read your post about moving and Tolle!

Krista,

The show with Eckhart Tolle was great. It was very nourishing for me. There were a few references to Taoism in the conversation, and I want to share with you that I have "discovered" Taoism for myself in the last year, and I am finding it to be a very rich and beautiful spiritual tradition. Taoism has been called "the oldest continuously functioning religion in human history." If you find an opportunity to do an episode on Taoism sometime, I will be delighted. Thank you for all your thoughtful work and sharing.

Thankyou for your leadership . I appreciate your shows each week.
Cleveland Ohio is alive with interfaith work in the inner city, check us out at www.clevelandmurals.org

Wonderful interview Krista. Thank you.

While Tolle understands the personal part of the spiritual journey, his responses to Christa's questions regarding issues of social justice fell flat. True, those who struggle with survival do not have “happiness” on their radar screen. However, because they are connected to each of us and truly human, those who risk starvation (the Global South) deserve our attention and resources. Like us, they deserve a chance to to share their talents too. Tolle never mentions this. It is not enough that we are each transformed on the inside. Inequalities are built into our political and governmental structures, our religious and educational institutions and laws. Laws need to be changed. People need to be educated. I do not know if Tolle is educated on issues of social justice (he doesn’t speak about it) but I do know this: spirituality that remains personal & private will not get us where we need to go – which is caring for those with no voice, those who are hungry, those at risk. This is more than any individual. This requires a community, life-long committment and education.

Roxanne, good reminder for all of us as to our need to love and care for other people, all people, and I do believe that as an inner transformation occurs this can in fact become our life's work. You say that "Tolle understands the personal part of the spiritual journey", and I agree that is true. In fact spiritual by definition is just that, it is within, internal and not external. The first definition is "Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material." A person who is spiritual can then go into the world and make a difference for all the right reasons. Then the "New Earth" becomes a possibility.

Great! So Eckhart is a proponent of personal "success through internal work". But he has a cynical, nearly heartless attitude towards people who are hungry, people who are victimized by the social structures that (sotty for the expression) screw them. All he can say is "well, too bad, they have no claim to happiness at this time. See you when you are out of your poverty and hunger!"

Is there a beating heart in this man? Or is he sufficiently plied with monies received from Oprah to serve as her lapping doggie?

Chagri Lama

Chagri, my sense is that you project onto this man something that doesn't come from him at all. Your comments are, in my view, a perfect example of his teaching about the pain body. You grossly distort some of his words in order to conform to some pre-existing, cynical viewpoint that you have. The words you put in quotes are not even in the interview, unless we listened to different interviews. It feels as if you are just looking for something to justify your self righteous sense of what's wrong with the world. But Peace can never come into the world from a heart in turmoil. Ghandi said "be the change you wish to see in the world." Only then can you actually help create that change. Until then, it's just more anger.

Hi Lee, thank you for continuing the discussion. It is an important one.

I am somewhat dismayed that you ascribe to me the feelings and intentions that you do. I wish we could meet face-to-face, so at least you'd know WHO I am and HOW I am to substantiate what you say, or not.

But separately from the discussion about me, I still want to know what you say about Tolle's non-existent answer to people's real suffering from hunger, disease and repression. I am with you (and Eckhart Tolle) on the work that needs to be done internally, but where is Tolle's notions on social justice? They seem to be AWOL. It is good (and important) to talk about what needs to be done within each of us to achieve peace. But is is equally important to understand that until the least of us is strong, we (and that includes you, in person!) are weakened. That is where Tolle falls. He sounds like a non-religious, more sophisticated version of the "North American Personal Prosperity" pushed by many preachers. In these talks, the proposal is that good intentions will be rewarded by prosperity, while blissfully ignoring how much it costs others. (To Tolle's credit he at least avoids pushing "personal prosperity".)

This is where I have a problem with Tolle, and maybe you missed it in my post. I miss Social Justice in his philosophy. He goes only half the way. In addition to peaceful innards, there are social structures that must change.

Mao Zedong said, "Let one hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought content." I'm only endorsing the sentiment here. The world needs BOTH Tolles' message and actions of social activists. While serving meals at a shelter or testifying before policy makers, one can be present to the moment and task he/she is engaged in... and perhaps be more compassionate or persuasive in the process. In meditation, one may discover the inspiration they need to put feet to their spiritual practice. If I may, Jesus went out alone to pray and be, AND Jesus powerfully helped those who were needy and had sharp words for the hypocrisy of those in power. For this time, it is Tolle's work to speak to many about their inner experience of discontent and how to work with it. Thich Nhat Hanh is a good example of a teacher and meditator who ACTS to improve the lives of impoverished childre.

Hi Chagri, thanks for replying to my reply! Yes, this is a problem with e-mail forums. It's nearly impossible to read tone or intention. Sincere apologies if I ascribed feelings and intentions to you that are not reflective of who you really are. Perhaps MY pain body was acting up! :-)

But to the discussion, I understand your point about his not addressing the social justice issue directly. Two things come to mind for me, however. One is that in a way he does address it, albeit indirectly, by saying (perhaps implying would be a better word) that whatever one does, in whatever sphere one is acting, all the way from on the ground in relief efforts up to attempting to write just and fair legislation, one must NOT be acting from the stream of compulsive thinking and identification with that thought that is really the basic cause of all the social injustice in the first place. If humanity lived more fully in the spiritual dimension -- which is in fact where we DO reside when not falsely identified with the conditioned mind -- these problems wouldn't even exist. And number two is that perhaps it's just not his job to tackle social injustice directly. There are plenty of good people called to do that, and God bless them for it! But if we were all working in the same areas we wouldn't be able to do a very thorough job. Someone needs to be stationed at the deeper levels, so to speak, to make sure that we're headed in the right direction and not just causing more problems by further polarising the situation. Believe me in my life I've met plenty of angry activists for peace and justice. Activism undertaken from that mindset does not produce the intended result.

The short version of this long winded post is really just this: social structures won't change until people change. And conversely, any social change created from the same old mindset will quickly become exactly like that which it supplanted. This is human history. Tolle points directly at this source-problem and therefore, in my opinion, is the most direct type of agent for the most essential change the world needs.

I hope that answers and I welcome further comment!

Hi Lee,

First time ever for me of replying on a blog..just wanted to support your words, and the kindness and humility I sensed in them, as you responded to Chagri. Believe you are on the right track, that we can best bring about change from a place of love and acceptance within ourselves and then extend that outwards, to our relationships, our work, the world as it is.

Genevieve

Thanks Genevieve, I really appreciate your kind words! This is my first blog ever as well, so we also have THAT in common! :-)

I have found that the lessons taught through A New Earth and the webinar continue to stay with me as I muck about in every day life. I remind myself that the present is really all any of us has, which is not to say ignore the future or past, rather don't lose yourself in something that doesn't exist and don't lose the moment you are in, or that is within you. I find myself de-stressing quickly by bringing myself back to the moment and finding things for which to be grateful. His teachings are very simple yet they are deeply profound. The book and webinar really pulled together many of the "philosophies" I have been investigating and thinking about, making them easier to understand and practice. Hopefully, through my internal peacefulness and calm, I can help others to move to a better state of mind and being. Working in a middle school, this is crucial. It enables me, and others to reach out and right some of the wrongs around us, and help those less fortunate. By being centered myself, I can center others.

dear Krista,

thank you for interviewing Eckhart Tolle. i wanted to mention that i stopped by the Oprah site and looked up Eckhart and your interview is featured. i'm guessing that this will introduce many more listeners to your insightful program.

Because I, too, am moving to a new house, I stopped to listen to your interview of Tolle. I agree with his emphasis on the now and all the rest, but I found myself thinking I was listening to "Speaking of Psychology," not "...of Faith." Nearly everything he said I've heard before from counselors, therapists, or pop psychology writings, give or take a dash of Buddhism here and there. I'm happy for his personal enlightenment, I'm glad that he's helping others, I'll be better for thinking of the "now"...but I can't call Tolle a spiritual leader. Perhaps anything we devote ourselves to can be considered a spiritual practice; I'd call exercise mine. But calling these things issues of faith? I can't buy that--neither now, nor later.

To Chagri and Lee O - interesting comments. I agree with both of you - I agree with Chagri in that there are too many people talking about inner development and igoring the fact that it's a privilege affordable only to those of us who have everything we need and then some - and I agree with Lee O that Tolle doesn't talk about WHAT to do as much as HOW to do everything. What we do needs to come from a place of BEING in the here and now - or we will just create more of the same.

What difference does it make to call Tolle’s teachings anything?

Whether we call them therapy, counseling mixed with Buddhism, faith, spiritual practice or exercise does not really matter. If the truth of the Presence that he speaks of, and that some of us might have glimpsed at some moment in our lives, is of such incomprehensible vastness, of such isness, if the Now is the only moment we will ever have then all teachings, all self development systems must surely teach the same principles; the paths maybe different but the same door is open to all. Perhaps that is the reason that those of us who are hungry, poor, in the midst of war or disaster desperately need the work of people like Eckart Tolle. Nothing happens that is not first an idea and an idea propelled with the power and energy obtained through our tapping into this higher consciousness -this potential for creation to which we are all connected- surely will bring change faster than any left brained action. We must practice these techings to bring about the changes we want to see in our lives thus affecting the lives of others. Like an avalanche, in this last two hundred years it is our intellect that has brought us to this crucial moment in history. There must be a reason that many teachers, more or less enlightened, are appearing now. Whether we are ready, less ready or not ready at all we need them because they speak to us where we are. Even scientist are acknowledging the Truth that is being presented to us with such simple clarity in the teachings of Eckart Tolle.

There’s a story I heard about many years ago that seems to the point and that I’d like to share:
There was an older man in his death bed reflecting about his life. He had wanted to change the world but finding it was such an enormous task he had settled for changing his country. That turn to be just as enormous a task as changing the world so he put all his efforts in just changing the small town where had lived all his life. Seeing that through his efforts he wasn’t even able to bring change to his town he resolved to focus on changing his family. Now old and sick, in a moment of insight he realizes that the only thing he could have changed was himself and by his example he could have changed his family and in turn they could have changed the town. Empowered by these changes the town in turn could have changed the country and with its influence his country could have changed the world.

Ergo, we are never to old to embrace change, to face ourselves and recognize that we are more than what we think or do. More than our suffering, our success or lack of success. This is what for me these teachings are about.

I noticed Krista's skepticism when I listened to the show and I shared it, for a while. Tolle's message and examples of being in the present moment are so powerful that I allowed my listening of him to guide me into a wonderful experience of my day. And the next day, too.

My version of the same advice is here:
http://mayogenuine.com/blog/co...

Dear Krista
I have just listened to your discussions with Eckhart Tolle. Like you Krista I hhave a gret deal of work to do as I am clearing out my home of stuff. I was feeling very stressed at the thought of this huge task in front of me. I am doing it alone as no help is available. I read with interest your comment of how you worked through your moving experience with more ease and less stress when you followed the advice of Eckhart Tolle of being in the now and letting go of the enormity of the task ahead. I think way too much- an inherited gene I think- now I feel I can get back into the swing of clearing out with a lighter heart. I will endeavour to live in the moment of each piece I handle.

Thank you Kista for all your wonderful programs and thank you Eckhart Tolle for being you. I am English by birth and since my husband of sixty years has died- I am very anxious to return to my beloved Lyme Regis in Dorset. I have a dependent daughter of fiftyfour who is a person with Downs Syndrome. Her name is Yvonne. Yvonne loves it in England. I do hope the powers that be in immigration will grant her a visa so that we can live there for the rest of our lives.

Thank you again for all your help in my life and thoughts.

Zi

A New Earth has helped me be aware of when my EGO is driving my thoughts and actions and has allowed me to pull back and redirect my energy. It has helped me not resist what is going on at the present moment. For example, waiting, standing in line, has changed me to being more patient, being aware of my breathing rather than focusing on the time and resenting the wait. It is hard work but it is helping me to be more alert.

When we change the way we do things from "I have to do this" to "I get to do this" everything in our world lightens up. Every moment is an opportunity to experience "NOW" and really, that's all we have...so why waste our time by dreading something or resisting it. I am learning to embrace each thing that life requires I do...every moment or every day.

Of all the Spiritual teachings and Teachers I have read or listened to ... E. Tolle simply sums up the very essence of what is LIFE. I took the Silva course many years ago and it was essentially the same in so many ways. All the great teachers actually were saying the same thing when you really study world religion. From prehistoric artifacts and drawings on up/down? to now.... the same essence. God, Gawd, The All, Buddha, Allha = the real power is in the space between. Energy is what is in the 'space between' and THAT is what IT is all about. There is no seeing it, no record ... it is just IS what is at the moment - between. voila You know this and you smile.

I absolutely love Speaking of Faith. It is a marvelous program and Krista is perfect for this program. I listen to her every Sunday when I can and I find the people she interviews always leave me feeling better for having listened to her and her guests. I had hoped she would inerview Eckhart Tolle and was delighed to see she was going to talk to him. It was inspiring to listen to. Thanks so very much.

Vivienne

The Kingdom of heaven is here on earth and man does not see it.
- from the Gospel of Thomas

The Kingdom is within you. (Luke 17:20-21)

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
-T.S. Elliot

I think the three quotes above speak to the same subject as Eckhart Tolle. I, too, am a big admirer of Meister Eckhart. If I left reading Eckhart with one message, it was detach!
Detach yourself from fear and desire; detach yourself from the engine we call the ego.

Monday night I went to hear Karen Armstrong speak. This is another person a greatly admire, another I consider who has "done the work."

Krista, I place you in the same category.

Thou shalt know by experience how salt is the savor of other's bread, and how sad a path it is to climb and descend another's stairs. ~ Dante (Paradiso)

Enter the forest at the darkest point where their is no path. ~King Arthur

The above quotes are two in which I would bet my last nickel that the three of you have read, pondered, and found credence. In my personal quest, I find the further along the pathway I go the less I find a need to talk about it. I agree with Eckhart T. that any evangelizing should be a product of observation. When I heard Karen Armstrong rallying the troops to the UN effort to drum up compassion(a worthy cause), or ET's inward journey inward via Oprah, I experience a dissonance. For me, the spiritual journey is best traveled alone. And any time it has been tied to a group of any kind, it has been distorted and diluted. I think but I'm not sure that is what Dante, King Arthur, Robert Frost and others were trying to say.

This interview came as I was 1 hour from my son's 9th birthday party and 12 boys would be in my house and need to be entertained so I was stressed. After listening I felt this sense of relaxation and desire to enjoy every moment of this birthday event. Profound interview. This one I will podcast.
Everyone in this minute is more manageable than looking ahread to the rest of the day, week month...
Dee

I wanted say that the program with Mr. Ekhart Tolle touched me so deeply. I am happy, I have so much tranquility in my soul. I feel relieved.

I really appreciate the article, moving to a new house is the essence of importance of the present moment.

I think that the Eckharts point of view about definition of strees, meets the exact reallity. Thinking of it again and again.. stressful circumstances are those that we want to avoid, or that we just have to do with no sense o joy, such us moving in the case above. Seeing obligations, or other stressful factors as challenges ruther than chores, could lessen stress and improve life quality. See action in anything!