Eckhart Tolle and "A New Earth"

by May 13, 2008

3.5 million people have bought his book, and 2 million people have tuned into his “webinar” with Oprah.  How do his ideas compare to God’s revelation in Scripture? Two resources can help. Pastor/theologian Greg Boyd reviews A New Earth here. Excerpt:

Both in his book and on the Oprah show, Tolle claims he is not promoting a “belief system” (17). This is why he and Oprah claim his book — and his course — is compatible with whatever belief system a person might already have. Whatever you believe, Oprah says, Tolle’s technique to become self-aware and live in the moment will make it better — “like seasoning on a meal,” she says. In fact, Tolle claims we are entering a new age in which we will witness the end “not only of all mythologies but also of ideologies and belief systems” (21). For, in keeping with Krishnamurti’s life-long teaching, Tolle believes that belief systems are ego-centered interpretations that we impose on reality and that therefore hinder our pure awareness of reality. To the extent that one attains pure awareness in the present moment, one transcends beliefs.

Ironically, every page of Tolle’s book contains beliefs — that is, interpretations of reality. For example, the belief that belief systems are ego-centered interpretations that we impose on reality is a belief. So too, when Tolle announces that the belief that “God is love” is incorrect, he is obviously announcing a particular (mistaken) belief.

Along the same lines, a couple of sentences after prophesying the eventual demise of all belief systems, Tolle announces:

If evil has any reality – and it is relative, not an absolute reality – this is its definition: complete identification with the forms – physical forms, thought forms, emotional forms (22).

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be a (mistaken) belief about the nature of evil.

Another pastor/theologian and friend, Erik Thoennes, speaks on the Haven Today radio broadcast about why Tolle’s ideas are so appealing: because they allow us to create God to look like whatever we want, and that removes the possibility that we’re wrong. Listen with the player below or by clicking here.