A few things that Tolle misses...

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A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by ekidhardt » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:47 pm

So, first I'll say that of course I'm a huge Tolle fan, pretty much at 'first read', I was hooked. Greatest books I've ever read, to date.

Part of my own curiosity though, ensured that I read not just works from Tolle, but from other sources--and as I learned more and I read more, I was able to see things from perspectives outside exclusively Tolle driven vernacular/education.

I would like to say though, that in everything I've read since his books, I, to date, have not disagreed with a single thing he has written. I was expecting something, but there really isn't anything. Tolle's work is like ballet for dance: core material.

So what I see often is strong identification with a belief system, and subsequent lack of interest to pursue education outside of said system of beliefs/philosophy--in these same people, all of their discussion has a them-identified filter in which all content flows, and little beyond what they've identified with.

Most people don't realize that Tolle has a huge education in Psychology (not just philosophy or self-generated theories) and that many, if not most, of his philosophies are corner-stone philosophies by philosophers of the past. Tolle has managed to stitch it all together, to join all the confusion into something cohesive and making great sense, from all of those who came before him. He connected the puzzle pieces.

In my own practice however, I've run into a few..hmm, challenges, regarding his philosophies.

I am a believer in creating results. I'm not a believer in being 'right, or 'wrong'---productivity is simply measured in the change of what you're intending to change. Much like sales I suppose. If I am helping someone through a tough time, out of say, depression, or anxiety etc---I measure the impact in the reduction of depression, and of anxiety etc.

So, that leads me to issue

#1 Vernacular

Tolle vernacular is not understood by people who do not know what it is. It's much like contextual academic vernacular--it's exclusive, rather than inclusive. It has a capacity to make another feel alienated. It's next to useless to explain to a friend that their 'pain body' is negatively impacting their lives. There's nothing 'wrong' with the vocab, because it's necessary, but it can most definitely be a barrier to progress. I've practically eliminated most normal Tolle vocab and turned it into something digestible for the people I'm dealing with. For example, instead of Pain Body, I'll say something like "you carry the weight of your entire history around with you every day".

#2 Limited Discussion of behavioral coping mechanisms (limited discussion of the unconscious).

This is probably where I think his works could use some major development, more than any other area. He most definitely has studied this material--it's evident for those looking, but it's simply not discussed. It's like pointing out the functioning engine of a car without any discussion of how the parts work.

I am a student of Psychodynamics and Psychoanalysis. And there is so so so much interesting information that is not mentioned at all, that would be wonderfully useful for people to understand in their process of becoming more conscious.

Where Tolle's books fall short, is that in understanding motivation. He discusses "Ego" and relates "Pain Body", but doesn't actually get into why a pain body forms, how it forms, or when the 'ego' reacts--what kind of reactions are there?

Psychodynamics explains it all, and it's absolutely a wonderful addendum to complement Tolle's material that everyone should take a glance at :) (really!).

The result of that lack of information, are unconscious expressions/feelings, and an inability to understand where it comes from, and why---beyond "the ego" and fear of "annihilation". This is much like say, working with medicine, ---where, you see a symptom, and you treat it without understanding the cause. Understanding the cause, would certainly help resolve the issue. Tolle recognizes the issue, sees 'you are sick', as a generalization--but lacks insight beyond that.

In this analogy, if you could see that 'you are sick' and further 'it's bacterial' and further 'because you're eating rotten food, out of a dumpster'---well then, you have a more comprehensive path to take for the remedy.

Coping mechanisms/defense mechanisms, for example, are almost entirely left out, --sadly! I'll name some. (these are ALL unconscious, one does not realize this is happening). I'll add the Tolle interpretation.

Displacement: Displacement is when something is bothering you, say at work, and you suppress it. Later, you go home, and your significant other does something to 'set you off'--and you take it out on him/her. The displeasure at work is 'displaced' to another target, it's redirected.

Tolle interpretation: Something at work has been judged as wrong and the ego is reinforced by the unleashing of the contribution to the pain body of that experience.


Projection: Attributing ones own undesired wants/desires to another person as a method to alleviate ones own unconscious rejection of them. Essentially, the things you don't like about yourself--you expose in others in order to cope with those own feelings you reject. Example: The secretly gay politician who persecutes gays. Or jealous accusations at another person to cover up ones own infidelity.
Tolle Interpretation: "What you dislike in others, is also in you".

Internalization: blaming yourself for whatever has happened. "It's all me and my fault!"
Tolle Interpretation: "this is part of your story that your ego clings to."

Externalization: Pointing externally to blame what has happened.
Tolle Interpretation: same as above.

Sublimation: The act of redirecting negative energy to positive production. Like, any hobby. Exercise is a great way to sublimate--a sport, soccer, or dancing, or guitar etc. An action which relieves you of stress/negativity.
Tolle Interpretation: being present.

Denial: a simple one. Not accepting reality. The wife who doesn't see the clear evidence of the infidelity of her spouse, (even if eveyrone else does).
Tolle Interpretation: "not accepting what is".

and it goes on and on...

A strong understanding of unconscious/egoic defense mechanisms has helped me understand my own self, and others around me, with far more clarity than just what Tolle has provided. With that clarity has come a wonderful capacity to reach resolutions. Tolle has provided a sort of 'core concept' with 'ego', but falls a little short in explaining the mechanisms in which it is comprised--which are extremely, extremely useful.

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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by rideforever » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:28 pm

Yes indeed, you are very wise and your deeper understanding of these things will now doubt propel you along the path very quickly.

There is no doubt that people who try to be "in the Now" are not in the correct place because that requires a great deal of experience with yourself, to see your illusions and dynamics etc...

Tolle's message is carried in his life ... being an intelligent student at a big university ... spending time in satsang with Barry Long ... feeling tormented for years on a park bench.

You cannot reduce that vast experience to "Just be Now" ... because it is only through the struggle to understand that you understand what is meant by this phrase.

There really isn't an easy solution to put everyone into Awakening - if there was it would have been disseminated by now. The problem is that although Truth is simple, the Untruth is very complicated and tangled in a personal way.

Struggling to understand creates development and this is one way of going about it - a way that requires intelligence. Another way is the Path of Love.

Most of the mystics and sages had a tremendous struggle ...even Jesus thought God had forsaken him on the cross.

So the idea that you are just going to "Be in the Now" seems a bit ridiculous on its own ... people don't know how to Be ... and people don't know where the Now is.

Although it's probably better than nothing. For my money Nisargadatta Maharaj or Ramana Maharshi explain things much better, with detailed insights, with a cross-referenced multi angled explanation (Nisargadatta) that means that you can't mistake where to put yourself. This is required.

Nisargadatta's "I Am That" I particularly recommend. It is about 400 pages of interviews. In each one a normal person like a doctor, student, family member ... comes to Nisargadatta and tries to understand what "I Am That" means. They ask him the questions that you would ask. And they are answered.

After 400 pages of questions trying to understand "I Am That" from so many angles finally you get a picture of what is intended. And when you look inside you can find it more easily.
I was proud, and I demanded the finest teacher
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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by ekidhardt » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:40 am


Good points.

You know, I've never stopped to think if I'm on a path or not. I'm not sure if I have a choice :) hah

Tolle definitely has had a lot of classical training in contemporary psychology/psychoanalysis and refers back to Jung and Freud fairly regularly--I think most people don't recognize that his philosophies/spiritual practice is VERY contemporary, and in alignment with modern psychology. For those who haven't had much academic experience in Psychology--it may not be very evident.

Re: Just Be Now
Yeah----agree, in the power of now, he very much emphasizes to 'just be', and the followup New Earth, he backtracks a bit and explains much more clearly some of the processes along the way there. Though, Power of Now is pretty remarkable, I don't think anyone could expect that it is literary perfection on first draft. I have no doubt he would revise some things given the opportunity.

"There really isn't an easy solution to put everyone into Awakening - if there was it would have been disseminated by now"

Very true. High abilities for self reflection/consciousness is quite a challenge, for everyone. If I can invent some "enlightenment in 3 easy steps!" program, I'll be doing quite well for myself. :)

No idea what the path of love is?

"Although it's probably better than nothing."

Most certainly. I visualize levels of consciousness along a spectrum. I'm not sure what the top is, but the bottom would be raging violence---and I think everyone falls along that spectrum somewhere, and with experiences, it can go up and down---but each person has a wonderful potential, limited by influences, so ---while it can't be expected that a person goes "a ha!" and is enlightened, we can probably safely assume that it pushes them along the path--and nudges just enough self reflection that they start edging one step closer..baby steps! I kind of think consciousness falls along a logarithmic line--a snowball effect. Inversely true I suppose as well.

Thanks for the book recommendation, I will take a look :)

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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by spikyface » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:50 am

ekidhardt wrote:Psychodynamics explains it all, and it's absolutely a wonderful addendum to complement Tolle's material that everyone should take a glance at :) (really!).
Your whole post was fascinating, any recommendations for someone who wants to read more about psychodynamics (preferably online or in an ebook) ?
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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by Webwanderer » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:03 pm

ekidhardt wrote:I visualize levels of consciousness along a spectrum. I'm not sure what the top is, but the bottom would be raging violence--
I've enjoyed your posts. Demonstrates a deep level of consideration. I would suggest however that 'raging violence' is not the bottom. I see the bottom as depression and a sense of powerlessness. Anger leading to violence seems to be a step up from there as it at least gives one a sense of power and purpose, albeit a problematic one.


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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by ekidhardt » Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:53 pm


You can find a lot of information by googling "psychodynamics", --I think you'll find a link that leads to a link that leads to another--and all are super interesting.

Here's a good start.


I'm considering starting a book which bridges the gap between Tolle's philosophies, and the content of Psychodynamics. Tolle's content is absolutely in line with the principles of Psychodynamics, but it's just not really talked about---and the concepts are not hard to understand--yet understanding those concepts can really change a persons life.

For example--we have a lady in our office, a secretary, who is clearly disgusted with virtually everyone that asks anything of her. Yet, when there is an interaction with you, she is extremely pleasant---so much to the point that it's well over the top. Still, she will sneer and appear exasperated with any kind of request. It comes off as very disingenuous. Most people don't like her as a result.

With an understanding of coping mechanism--I understand that with her, she is exhibiting "Reaction Formation". Which is the overcompensation in behavior of what one is really feeling. Think of a little boy pulling a girls hair because he has a crush on her. With the secretary, she very much attaches to a victim identity, internally going 'yes, yes, despite all the troubles and complications in my life, I will fax this document for you." With that approach, she becomes the self-sacrificial lamb under most circumstances, and the result is that it unconsciously steers people making requests, away from her, because 'she has enough troubles'-and further, she rationalizes it to herself because she internally believes she's doing a good deed, despite all her struggles.

The result though--is that I see what's really going on. And as a result, it doesn't bother me---understanding --> compassion.


Thanks :) --- very interesting--interesting notes on the bottom being depression/powerlessness. Also makes me think more about what I said. I haven't truly decided which is bottom--but I chose violence--because violence is purely reactionary, requiring zero thought--just action. Violence even bypasses anger as a conscious recognition. So I'd consider it the most primal of reactions.

Along those lines--humans are the only species to have sentience, self-awareness, or consciousness. That being said--all other species operate purely unconsciously. And so I think depression is a higher order of consciousness because it requires a decent amount of self reflection, and noting ones own feelings (or consciousness, conscious behavior). Depression, I believe comes from not understanding negative unconscious reactions over time---essentially not recognizing how one is feeling about a subject, and unable as a response, to process it.

I suppose violence very well could be a deliberated action--for sure. Maybe I'll qualify what I'm saying as 'unconscious violence' as being the lowest form.

anyway! Good food for thought :)


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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by treasuretheday » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:37 pm

ekidhardt wrote:I think depression is a higher order of consciousness because it requires a decent amount of self reflection
The physiological capacity for depression lies in only one part of our two-part mind, the primal mind, from which emanates instincts, & automatic defense mechanisms of pain & fear. This lower-brain primal mind was the first to evolve & it is responsible for maintaining the sympathetic mode, a.k.a., flight or fight response. From the upper-brain, higher mind, we produce reason, language, creativity. It developed later in the evolutionary time scale.

If we are depressed, we are funtioning from instinct, from our lower-brain, primal mind. Depression is essentially the quality of being stuck in the sympathetic mode and situated, neural-activity-wise, in the primal mind of the lower brain. Happiness, in the sense of infinite okayness, is the quality of being stabilized in the parasympathetic mode & not cemented, neural-activity-wise, in the lower brain.

We always have a choice of which part of our two-part brain mind to use. However, we may have to learn how to exercise that choice. I find it helpful to remember that it is easier to remain depressed & focused in the primal mind, & harder to direct thinking to the higher mind. This seems a small point to make, but I have found that when it is acknowledged that something is not easy, it calls up the will to do it.

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachndran in his book, Phantoms of the Brain, showed, "the brain is continuously updating its model of reality in response to novel sensory inputs." Ramachnandran's research with phantom limbs demonstrated in fact, that a judgment has to be made about our feelings before we can experience them.

We can only think one thought at a time and we can choose any thought we want. This is also the basis for the mantra used in some forms of meditation. We can choose the thoughts that access the part of the brain from which we want to function-the primal mind of instincts & depression, or the higher mind of creativity and reason where there is no pain or depression. We don't have to wallow around in the primal mind.
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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by Yutso » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:56 pm

http://io9.com/5937356/prominent-scient ... st-like-us

ekidhardt or anybody, what do you think of the above link. I am trying to integrate the ideas expressed in this thread with the declaration signed that animals have conscious awareness.

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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by treasuretheday » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:23 pm

Yutso wrote:animals have conscious awareness
Sentient is used today to mean the ability to feel. Many world religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism regard all animals as sentient beings, as they have the capacity to feel pleasure and pain. Animal rights groups put forth that it matters not if creatures can reason. They can feel--that's all some need to know to have motivation to safeguard and protect animals. Then, there are those who regard animals as dumb or stupid, & treat them accordingly.

I love that Eckhart Tolle regards animals as guardians of being! Imho, animals function on levels beyond thought that are more elevated in some important respects than our human modes of functioning.
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Re: A few things that Tolle misses...

Post by randomguy » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:41 pm

Seems to me that a human is an animal with the capacity for enough delusion to think humanity is special and above animals.

I find this video from De Mello who practiced psychotherapy interesting on the topics of psychology and awakening.
Do the yellow-rose petals
tremble and fall
at the rapid's roar?
- Basho

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