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.

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