Early Eckhart

Today I revisited, of all people, Eckhart Tolle. I read "The Power of Now" when it first came out (per Wikipedia) in 1997, and I liked it a lot, but it wasn't meaty enough for me. Not enough to chew over (which, of course, is the whole point of the book). Still, I'm sure it had a big influence on my turn to non-duality.

Here is the YouTube I watched this morning. This is early Eckhart, from 2005. Nevermind the awful video quality — you can pretend it's a podcast. He simply works with a young filmmaker for about ninety minutes. It's lovely.

It was great to re-hear the simple message that there is just this fresh, current moment of "I," or awareness, with a multitude of things appearing in it — easy to acknowledge in one's own experience, and yet difficult to not sideline with the barrage of questions that follow. As John Wheeler worked with me, I totally understood what he was pointing to. But I couldn't let go of the questions of suffering, of human experience.

These subjects were not addressed to my satisfaction in the simple non-dual teachings of Wheeler, or of his teacher Bob Adamson, or of
his teacher, Nisargadatta Maharaj. And the questions dogged me. The traditional teaching of Advaita Vedanta seemed like the answer, since it did address all those problems that being human entails. My mistake was going too deeply into the weeds with Advaita Vedanta. Without my noticing, it became an intellectual exercise.

All of that ate up a couple of decades, and now here I am. Looked into Catholicism for the past few months, and really learned a lot. I actually learned what Catholicism is, which most non-Catholics, and many actual Catholics, don't know. Ultimately, while I respect it greatly as a religion, it has too many moving parts for me. Lots of liturgy (the rituals and such); belief in heaven, purgatory and hell; lots of words that don't really speak to my heart — just too much stuff that I don't need and don't want.

But my nature is to seek — to seek either this closeness with God that I have spoken about, or simply an understanding of the reality of what "being" really is. I have to say, Tolle really nailed it in that first book he wrote. I'm not sure what he's up to these days (I saw that he offers a class called "Conscious Manifestation" — hmm, that has "watch out" written all over it, in my opinion), but the simple concept he laid out in "The Power of Now" is really quite elegant.

It's nice to be back to simplicity, after my foray into organized religion. I'll keep you posted.