Who is Eckhart Tolle?
Eckhart Tolle is a well-known spiritual leader, and author. He is best known for his first book titled, ‘The Power of Now.’ Tolle has authored several other books, including ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,’ and ‘Guardians of Being.’ Tolle had a troubled early life, and felt alienated from the society. After going through a short phase of depression, Tolle underwent an inner transformation. He attained spiritual transformation and peace of mind, which has stayed with him throughout his later life. He has worked as a counselor and a spiritual guide. Tolle does not practice any specific religion. He has been influenced by the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. Tolle’s teachings have been praised by the celebrated talk show host Oprah Winfrey. He is an excellent speaker too, and has conducted several webinars, with Winfrey. Tolle was named as one among the ‘Super Soul 100,’ a list of influential leaders compiled by Winfrey. Eckhart Tolle currently resides in Vancouver. He devotes his entire time to helping his fellowmen attain spiritual awareness.
Childhood & Early Life
Eckhart Tolle was born Ulrich Leonard Tolle, on February 16, 1948, in Lunen, Germany. He had an unhappy childhood, as his parents had frequent fights. When they separated, Tolle started living with his mother. During his early days, Tolle lived in the post-war Germany. The sight of destructions induced a sense of fear and insecurity in his mind. At school too, Tolle faced a hostile atmosphere.
At the age of 13, Tolle moved to Spain, to live with his father. He did not have formal schooling in Spain. He started studying literature, astronomy, and languages at home. At the age of 15, Tolle read books written by the German mystic poet, Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken, which influenced him deeply.
At the age of 19, Tolle moved to London. He taught German and Spanish for a brief period. He was troubled by depression, and quit teaching. Tolle enrolled in the ‘University of London,’ for studying literature, philosophy, and psychology.
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While Tolle was in his twenties, he suffered from episodes of depression. In 1977, at the age of 29, after a phase of severe depression, Tolle had an intense inner transformation. He experienced a deep spiritual awakening, which instilled a sense of peace and bliss in him. From a depressed person with suicidal tendencies, Tolle became a spiritually enlightened person. This profound change happened overnight.
After attaining the spiritual awakening, Tolle gave up his studies. He spent most of his time sitting in a park in Russel Square, London, in a state of bliss. He changed his first name to ‘Eckhart,’ as a mark of respect for the German philosopher, Meister Eckhart. He stayed in several Buddhist monasteries, and led a humble life. When his friends approached him for guidance, Tolle started working as a spiritual guide, and counsellor.
In 1995, Tolle moved to Vancouver, Canada. He started working on publishing his first book. In 1997, Eckhart Tolle published his first book titled, ‘The Power of Now.’ Initially, only 3000 copies of the book were published. In 1999, it was republished on a larger scale. In 2000, renowned media host Oprah Winfrey recommended the book in her magazine. After this, the sales of the book shot up, and it found a place in the ‘New York Times Best Seller’ list. It has been translated into 33 languages since then. In 2011, ‘The Power of Now’ appeared on the list of 10 best-selling ‘Paperback Advice Books,’ for the 102nd time.
In 2003, Tolle published his second book, ‘Stillness Speaks.’ In 2005, he published his third book, ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.’ This book was also a huge success. In 2008, the book reached the number one spot in the ‘New York Times Best Seller’ list. Oprah Winfrey selected the book for the segment, ‘Oprah’s Book Club,’ in her talk show, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’
In 2008, Tolle partnered with Oprah Winfrey, to start webinar sessions, based on his book, ‘A New Earth.’ Each webinar concentrated on a specific chapter from this book. These sessions were conducted weekly, and included Tolle’s discussions with Winfrey, short meditations, and answering questions put forward by followers. These sessions attracted millions of followers.
Tolle started the company, ‘Eckhart Teachings,’ to sell products based on his teachings. He also owns a website, ‘Eckhart Tolle TV,’ where group meditations and other spiritual videos are shared. His organization has not set up any ashram or spiritual center. He travels around the world, to give lectures. His talks are generally in English, but occasionally in German and Spanish too.
In 2009, Tolle published the book, ‘Guardians of Being.’ It was a picture book, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. In the same year, Tolle was selected as one of the speakers at the ‘Vancouver Peace Summit,’ where he shared space with dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama.
Eckhart Tolle is married to Kim Eng. The couple met in 1995, when Tolle was working as a spiritual guide. They are not known to have any children. Tolle rarely speaks about his personal life. He loves solitude, and is regarded by his followers, as a humble person.
Tolle does not practice any particular religion. He follows the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. Tolle admits to have been greatly influenced by people such as Ramana Maharshi, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Buddha, and Rumi.
Teachings of Eckhart Tolle have invited criticisms too. The British newspaper ‘The Independent’ one noted, “Tolle’s teachings are certainly seen by many, as profoundly non-Christian. Even though Tolle often quotes from the Bible, he does not have fans in the academic or Christian circles.”