How Now, Eckhart Tolle? The New Oprah Scandal!

Happy Thanksgiving, Seekers! We here at TGPDN are grateful for all of you – really – and for the Enlightenment! Why? Because to ask the question “Does God exist?” before, say, 1500, was to risk death and dismemberment. To ask it before, say, 1800, was to risk career death and dismemberment, as Galileo, Hume and Spinoza discovered to their disappointment.

To ask it today is to risk being lost at sea, which is a far, far better fate.

And speaking of gratitude, we’re grateful for a living human being, a man, who for many alive represents the pinnacle of enlightenment with a little e, the apex of awareness, the summit of spirituality – a man who may be the most credible expert on God ever, a true celebrity apprentice of the soul.

We refer, of course, to Oprah – I mean, to Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle is the author of A New Earth and The Power of Now, both of which were given the kind of support by Oprah Winfrey that a scribe can only dream about. First published in Vancouver in 1997 with a legendary print run of 3,000 copies, The Power of Now was recommended by O: The Oprah Magazine in 2000.

Since then, Tolle’s sold at least 8 million books, earning at least $25 million valuable Canadian dollars. More than 35 million people watched his 10-week webinar co-taught with the daytime diva herself on Oprah.com. Oprah later called this pedagogical test “the most rewarding experience of my career.”

Which drove prominent televangelist and Islamophobe Bill Keller to call Oprah a “New Age witch” and “the most dangerous woman on the planet.” Action hero Chuck Norris was more brutal: he called Tolle “relativistic.” POW!

What is Tolle’s incendiary idea? Well, he told the Canadian magazine Macleans: “I feel very strongly there is an intelligence at work in every flower, in every blade of grass . . .” and so on.

In other words, Tolle is an old-fashioned Pantheist, a believer in what two centuries ago was called Natural Religion. Emerson might have hugged him. Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson could have nodded through his webinar.

As my good friend John says, “What’s the point?”

Believe it or not, we have TWO! (1) We’re working our way toward a definition of “God” here, and one thing God seems to want us to do is live in the Now. (2) Even smart people are amazingly ignorant of the History of Doubt.

All these blazing spiritual arguments that seem to have popped out of the air just to tear our whole world apart – they are all echoes of echoes of disputes from the past. We’ve been here before, friends. They are older than time, deader than dirt.

Okay, mon frere, but aren’t we drifting rather far from Eckhart Tolle? Not.

Tolle’s big theme in The Power of Now is what he calls “the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.” And that “to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.” [p171]

Reviewers pointed to Eastern religions (“A sort of New Age re-working of Zen!” raved ‘The Independent‘).

In fact, Tolle’s entire argument can be found in a book by the French monk Jean-Pierre de Caussade called “The Joy of Full Surrender” (Paraclete Press, 2008).

This is not an obscure work. It’s a Christian classic, published in 1861 although written a century earlier. Tolle doesn’t mentioned de Caussade, and almost no one has noticed the obvious parallels.

Coincidence? Or yet another Oprah-worthy scandal? More tomorrow . . . .

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