Comparing Messages: Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Comparing Messages: Eckhart Tolle’s in The Power of Now
By Nathan Batalion, PhD, Naturopath, Triathlete
(Healingtalks) I have been reading Eckhart Tolle’s masterpiece, The Power of Now and for an important purpose. I am preparing a proposal for a book on the subject of Raw-Wisdom. For that proposal, it is necessary to review several popular books for comparison, and Eckhart’s great work is among those on the top of the list.
A Summary of the Power of Now
Eckhart’s book is a guide on how to reduce daily stresses, anxieties and personal suffering. His emphasis is especially on living in the here and now, rather than being burdened by thoughts of the past or of the future. His work is also based on a trying personal experience. When Tolle was 29 years old, he overcome states of suicidal depression and, instead, went into a state of enlightenment. This experience turned his life around and led him to become a spiritual teacher. In his groundbreaking book, he suggests various techniques of meditation, of slowing down, avoiding multitasking, and connecting with nature. Often Tolle draws on ancient traditions to support his personal transformation and to help guide the enlightenment of others, though committing to no one religion. Tolle deftly has popularized the ancient teaching of becoming self-aware and freed of our left-brain or conceptual mind’s thinking, and which has tended to become dominant. The Introduction to the book quite succinctly summarizes his intent, the wish to
Free yourself from enslavement to the mind, enter into this enlightened
state of consciousness and sustain it in everyday life …and…that in essence
there is and always has been [this] one spiritual teaching.
Tolle’s aim is to restore the transformative power of ancient, timeless spiritual teachings.
History of the Book’s Publication
Tolle’s work was originally published in 1997 by Namaste Publishing in Vancouver. It was then republished two years later by New World Library, reaching and staying on the New York Times bestseller list for several years. Tolle’s work has since also been translated into 33 languages and has sold over 5 million copies.
Critique of Tolle’s Approach
The Power of Now is a beautifully written book that can no doubt touch the readers’ hearts and can help, as with the teachings of the Buddha, to bring a person beyond a state of inner ego identification, and perpetual states of fear, pain, anger or other forms of inner suffering. As a result, one can harvest, an equanimity, inner peace and bliss.
Comparison – My Own Experience
When I was seventeen years old, and having been a math prodigy, I had the equivalent of a stroke and a left brain meltdown. I may have lost the use of my thinking mind in a more extreme way than Tolle, being unable afterwards to talk or think in whole sentences. I thus did not see the loss of the thinking mind as something entirely positive. It was a terrible shock and I cried for weeks and felt lost. Nature, it seemed to me, had a purpose in giving us a thinking mind. I actually became, like Tolle, suicidally depressed thereafter. To reiterate, this occurred after, rather than before this mental meltdown, in sharp contrast to Tolle’s experience. Otherwise, after the initial shock where I was still holding on, what was most akin to his experience was a loss of a sense of ego, likewise attached to the mind. At the same time, I lost my prior sense of purpose and direction in life. For a while, there seemed no reason to go on. It took a decade to dive back into the practical world. Of great help was living for five years in an intentional community that espoused the teachings of the late G. I. Gurdjieff. Those teachings were strikingly very similar to Tolle’s. They required a consciousness in the here and now, rising above the ordinary attachments to not only mind but body and feelings. However, what I now have arrived at and for my own spiritual guidance, want I want to share most of all with others, is certain different insights.
With the melting down of my brain’s left hemispheric functions, the logically and sequentially thinking part, I wanted to deeply understand what had happened and kept exploring my inner world, not so much retreating into the realms of the right hemisphere or a blissful and peaceful state. Still I greatly commend Tolle for bringing millions of his readers to such a place inside. I was, however, led t grapple more with seeing our collective culture suffer from social decay, health epidemics and environmental threats. Over seven billion people, and perhaps eight by the end of the decade, remain locked into what I consider a more left brain dominant state of mind which is creating these conditions. What keeps us entrenched there? I believe it is the result of the greatest of left hemispheric fruit, a proprietary cosmic worldview, a story of how the universe functions that has been left brain spun.
Overall the left hemisphere innately forms mental maps. These are convenient for knowing how to walk across a street and to go virtually anywhere. The same skill can guide us to the Moon and throughout our cosmos. Where, for example, should we best look under a microscope to find the elemental structure of things? We generally look toward atoms because the mathematical worldview so directs us. It creates macro and microcosmic maps for our consciousness.
My primary emphasis is thus to take the raw, mind-stripped wisdom that I learned, a retreating into the domains of the right hemisphere and then going to the next major step, for me the most important of all – to bring the left hemisphere, the interfering mind on board, so that it becomes again the emissary rather adversary of inner wisdom.
A method I use in approaching such topics is called Raw-Wisdom, a transcending of both the right and left brains’ input so we can guide and enlighten the other side or left hemisphere, the conceptual or ideologically thinking mind. To focus more on enlightening the left hemisphere is entirely different than focusing on retreating into the bosom of the right hemisphere. Both have immense value, but I believe the former is more instrumentally important in our modern world. With ancient wisdom schools, this was not the case. The retreat into inner bliss was more important then. Christ, Buddha and Lao Tzu did not have to deal with even a hint of the modern developing of atomic weapons, chemical pollution, Wall Street, or Monsanto’s thrusts. The kind of enlightenment they offered their cultural contexts and did have an element of timelessness, but not necessarily completeness.
When the left hemisphere also becomes enlightened, the two sides then can truly see as one, allowing us to turn around even the most dire threatening aspects of our modern world.
On My Forthcoming Book
A proposed title of my forthcoming book is thus Raw-Wisdom: Healing our Worldview, Ourselves, Each Other and the Planet. Among the most important thoughts in this work are the following:
- Left Hemisphere’s worldview - Based on revolutionary findings in brain science, we learn the left hemisphere is least and not most able to form a cogent, coherent, and best guiding vision of the depths of our world. A right brain shutdown and resulting left brain dominance actually mirrors the state of schizophrenia or the inner world falling apart. The notion is thus presented that a pure left brain worldview is not only highly dis-integrative and destructive, but ultimately death-centered. This is why it is so important to help the left-brain heal and become enlightened.
- Mathematical vision of nature – The near globally accepted mathematical view of nature, which depicts nature as atomically composed of matter and energy being math defined, a vision that since the time of Galileo has been advanced to limits of smallness and largess, is revisited as representing the highest, most supreme left brain dominant worldview, even though math-based views are processed by both hemispheres, obscuring this insight. My aim is to then teach the huge failings of this core vision , why and how it misguides our planetary culture and exactly how to repair, heal and even replace that vision.
- Consciousness defined and centered vision – Alternatively, what is presented is a core vision of nature centered around the experience of inner consciousness. For that purpose a radical definition of consciousness is provided and based on looking at consciousness from above the bi-brain divide view, what defines raw-wisdom. We can imagine having several states of consciousness in experiencing our world and rather than those states comprising our world. As consciousness can be seen as lying at the core of life, the same vision becomes a life centered vision, one which supports rather than undermines life on Earth. Currently life on Earth is threatened and dying under the guidance of an unenlightened collective understanding.
- How This Different Worldview is Presented – My emphasis is on the recent breakthroughs in a) brain science, as best summarized by Iain McGilchrist in his book, The Master and His Emissary. What this new science tells us is the equivalent of what the discovery of the telescope told us about the outer universe, revolutionizing the medieval vision of the stars and bringing us into the modern world. We now have the ability, with new sciences, to be transported into a post modern world with revolutionary insights. A second emphasis is on the new and likewise breakthrough discoveries in the science of consciousness, referring especially to the vast work of Dr. Stanislav Grof, now in his eighties, and one of the founders of Transformational Psychology. His discoveries, exploring consciousness within, dispute the truths of the Cartesian Newtonian vision, derived from the mathematical. Thirdly, I discuss the 20th century findings in regard to the rainbow’s color display, as they relate to understanding inner and outer light, and where consciousness, as inner light, has a structure displayed by the rainbow and which thus can be trans-personally understood. With such insights enlightening the mind, we can instrumentally heal first our worldview and then all else, ourselves, each other and our planet. My book also has a chapter on the history of the modern worldview molding our culture, society, health and environment. There is another chapter on Thomas Kuhn’s ideas in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, wherein his ideas are reapplied to a worldview shifts. The culmination of my book includes a re-envisioning of not only the role of consciousness internally but how this impacts the structure of our macrocosmic order – the planets, stars and galaxies around us.
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