When I watch Richard Rohr speak, I feel as if I am looking at a Godly man, doing his best to heal the sicknesses in HIs Beloved Faith and the collective diseases of the body of Christ. When I watch Eckhart Tolle speak, I don't seem to be looking at him at all, but looking at my own consciousness through him. Presence arises! And WHOOSH - I am here, and I am happy. And I am writing a blog about two popular spiritual authors. Why?
Because I am a Christian still, even if a wayward one. And like Richard Rohr, I agree: Eckhart Tolle is a friend of the Gospel. When I entered the monastery, it was suggested I read Tolle's The Power Of Now. "He is genuine," the Abbott said. "His experience is authentic." The book changed my life. (Of course, if you are going to read a mysticism guidebook by a guy who integrated his enlightenment experience by living poor and sitting on park benches, it really helps to be in a monastery.)
The language of Tolle, though, is far from Christian or religious. Nor is it exactly New-Agey. It reads more like a common vernacular for awareness itself. For me, it provided a human tangibility that balanced out the more celestial language I chanted in the monastery's daily liturgy. Most importantly, it helped me process my way into Contemplation. So much theology deals with how God is instead of dealing with how our distortions affect the way we see God. Luckily, Tolle's presence and words, as well as my own inner work, allowed me to break through the chains of language and social conditioning. I am grateful that it was Christians who turned me onto the book.
The other Eckhart, Rhineland mystic Meister Eckhart, once famously said "God, deliver me from god," implying that language and culture had placed his concept of God in a tight box. He was praying for the God of all "god boxes" to shred all these pesky language boxes. That didn't go over so well in the Church. Luckily, though, centuries later, when another Eckhart makes a go at essentially the same thing, there is a jolly and accomplished Franciscan Friar who speaks up on his behalf. Thank you, Richard. Thank you, Eckhart. Thank you, Lord.