Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eckhart Tolle's Ego

Someone gave me A New Earth to read when I was walking in darkness earlier this year. Parts of the book spoke to me and I began to realise it was because those parts were bowdlerised Buddhism. His own theories such as the'pain body' struck me as nothing short of absurd. My biggest objection would be his presentation of the ego as something akin to demonic, a tormented flaw of the mind. In my experience, the ego is a child - an easily frightened one - and yes, if let run rampant can certainly behave demonically even as a child can; but, like a child, it needs a firm and gentle hand, compassion and understanding, reassurance and guidance. It is not the enemy. It is that part of consciousness which allows us to navigate material existence and it needs to be both strong and flexible to face the 'slings and arrows' of life. The other thing that strikes me about Tolle (aside from the fact that I find him creepy) is the amount of money he is making while supposedly awakening the world. Of course one has a right to earn a living but he has already made millions, why does he need to keep making more? For example, why charge for his online television? If he really wants to help people awaken, why not allow them to view the television free? And when he is speaking, why does he not insist that his promoters provide a certain amount of cheap seats for people on low incomes? Do they not need to awaken also? Mother Amma does not charge at all for her hugs and darshan, yet she raises huge amounts of money for hospitals, schools, charities and so on. I have a name for certain New Age gurus like Tolle and all those shark-teethed smooth-talkers of The Secret. Remember the commercial salesmen who used to cross America in wagons selling magical elixirs that cured everything? Snake oil merchants.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love - the Movie

Read this book last year. My sister Pat gave it to me. There was no point passing it on to my women friends as they had all already read it! So now I'm just back from seeing the film to which I brought my friend Sherron for her birthday present. I've put the book cover here instead of either of the trailers as, quite frankly, both of them nearly put me off the movie! It's as if they went out of their way to find the few times Julia Roberts was not convincing as Liz Gilbert, the author. I'm also glad I ignored the critics and the general word on the street which claimed the film was rubbish and didn't have the depth of the book. (I've sworn off all film criticism after I was convinced not to go to Avatar and then bought the DVD and discovered what I had missed.) Anyhoo, contrary to the lousy trailers and the word on the street, the film is FANTASTIC and I would highly recommend it. As far as I'm concerned, it is very true to the book and has the same emotional and spiritual depth as well as the same gorgeous feast for the senses in terms of food, fun, frolic and luscious scenery.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Book of Dreams Ending

From time to time, readers email me to say they are unhappy with the ending of The Book of Dreams because it isn't clear what Dana and Jean choose to do at the end. Now I'm not calling anyone thick, because you couldn't possibly read a 700 page book if you were, but I do have to say there's a failure to think here. (I blame television.) All the clues are right there in the Postscript:
1) It's a year and a day later. Throughout the series it is repeated that a year and a day is the time period for ending a spell or enchantment. Ok, that one is subtle and could be missed.
2) Grandfather won't go to bed and is gazing out the window into the night as if he's expecting visitors. Ok, this could be cancelled out by Roy saying they've made their choice, we've got to let them go, but who's the medicine man here and knows more than everyone else in the book? Yes, Grandfather.
3) Roy has a dream that he's playing soccer in the Northern Lights with Jean and Dana and then he plummets out of the sky, like a falling star. "Did the others fall with him?" asks the book. Ok, I don't answer the question, but doesn't asking it give a pretty big hint?
4) Finally - and could this be more obvious? - Roy wakes up to the sound of voices talking and laughing outside, feet crunching on the snow, and then a knock on the door. Ok, you could argue this might be two Mormons or the Avon Lady, but then why is Roy jumping out of bed, pulling on his jeans and yelling with excitement? Hmm?
A failure to think, that's what it is. To quote my beloved CS Lewis's Professor Digory, "I wonder what they do teach them at these schools." (Photo credit: Wolf Summer, Norwegian film)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Printer Perfidy

Thank God for the Internet. It really does help you fight corporate malfeasance (great word) and all forms of product deception that try to make you buy things you don't need. When your printer says you have used up your ink - don't believe it! And when it says you will damage your printer if you keep printing without changing the cartridge - don't believe it! And then, later, even months later, when it insists that you have really used up ALL OF THE INK NOW and the printer seizes up but then tells you, one assumes by law, how many times to press the Resume button to get it going again while threatening THIS IS IT, FINALLY, YOUR LAST WARNING I WILL REALLY BREAK THIS TIME IF YOU DO THIS - don't believe it! And then several weeks or months later again, when your printer really and truly is out of ink, it will stop printing, probably mid-page. Then and only then do you need to replace the cartridge. I found all this information online from many users who insist that their printers are still running fine after ignoring the increasingly hysterical attempts by their printer to make them change the cartridge before it needed to be changed. I can also say this is my experience too. It's now two months since my printer first started warning me that I was out of black ink and two weeks since I fiddled with the Resume button to get it going again after it seized up. Yep, there's still ink in the old boy yet. Truth is - printer companies make their money out of cartridges, not printers, so they will do anything to convince you to change your cartridges as often as possible. The perfidy of the corporate world.