Good evening everyone!
Today I would like to share with you my thoughts on the books of Eckhart Tolle. We published some of his titles, and I think The Power of Now has perhaps impacted the collective consciousness like no other book in recent times. As publishers of the Indian edition of The Power of Now, we received an enormous amount of mail over the years, as did Eckhart from people in India. This is truly a transformational book, as is his second book A New Earth. Eckhart dissected the ego and its inadequacies, and exposed it from every possible angle along with every mask it can wear. The books are so beautifully and thoroughly written that the teaching impacts one’s consciousness and brings about a transformation.
Eckhart is very much loved in India. The Power of Now is one of only a few Western ‘spiritual’ books that crossed over to the Indian audience in such a big way. I consider Eckhart’s work under the umbrella of Advaita and non-duality, although it may not appear to be so on the surface. In the early days, I sometimes saw criticism coming from the purest circles of Advaita (or those who consider themselves as purists). They considered that the teaching in this book involved effort on the part of the seeker, whereas the true path of Advaita is about no effort. However, this argument is relative because Ramana Maharishi himself taught the path of self-inquiry; the inquiry Who Am I? is itself a method that requires effort. Nisargadatta Maharaj taught aspirants to focus on Abide in Your Being and Be Conscious of Your Consciousness all the Time, which also is a method, so to speak.
Eckhart’s books spread like wildfire across all corners of India, and were embraced by people familiar with Indian spiritual traditions and youngsters who were not. That is the reach that these books have. Therefore, I believe that they are an immense contribution to the subject, and will perhaps be here for decades to come.
Eckhart is deeply familiar with Indian spiritual thought and tradition, including the Indian scriptures, the Upanishads, Krishnamurthy and his writings, and Nisargadatta Maharaj. Eckhart visited Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai (Sri Ramanasramam) when he visited India in 2002. Perhaps he had a pulse on the sacredness of Indian spirituality. He also was familiar with Zen writings, but his teaching resonated for Indians. I know this as an Indian and as the publisher of these books. People come up to me because they know that we published Eckhart’s books, and I can see the impact of his writing on their faces and in their hearts. It is visible, and it is quite amazing to see this.
In the early days, when Eckhart visited India in 2002, we had not yet sold 500 copies. The book had only recently been published. He gave a small talk at the Crossword Bookstore in South Bombay. It was a small intimate affair with 20–25 people, and he gave a beautiful talk that unfortunately was not recorded. I have saved a photograph of that talk where I was sitting with him on the podium. Those early days were tremendous. He also gave talks in Mumbai, Pondicherry, and Chennai, and all of these events were full houses. Since 2002, we have published his works in Hindi and other regional Indian languages, and they continue to have tremendous impact.
I would recommend anyone on the path of non-duality and Advaita to read Eckhart’s books, and even those who are not. They ultimately lead to the same path, which is the annihilation of the thinking mind of the ego.
Once we were stuck in Mumbai traffic, and it was so evident to see that one reached one’s destination despite the chaos of the Indian roads. In the Bombay talks, he remarked that “No wonder there are so many enlightened people in India, just to deal with the situations of daily living can enlighten you.” That is so true. We face so many unprecedented and unexpected challenges in daily living, which are not easy to come by in more organised societies.
So those are my thoughts on this wonderful man and his immense contribution to humankind. He is someone who walks the talk.