Eckhart Tolle , born Ulrich Leonard Tolle, February 16, 1948, is a German-born writer, public speaker, and spiritual teacher. The New York Times has called him "the most popular spiritual author in the nation". He is the author of the bestsellers "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth".
Tolle had an unhappy childhood in Germany and Spain. His depression reached its peak during early adulthood in England, until he underwent what he calls an "inner transformation". He then spent many years as a vagrant, "in a a state of deep bliss", he says, before becoming a spiritual teacher. He eventually moved to North America where he began writing his first book. He currently lives in Vancouver, Canada with his wife, Kim Eng.
An Interview with Kim Eng
By Marit van der Meulen
Spirituality month started with a lecture from the best-selling author Eckhart Tolle, known for his books ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’, among other things. He visited the Netherlands with his partner Kim Eng who held a workshop 'Presence through movement' while she was here. Who is the woman who stands next to Eckhart and what can we expect to hear from her in future?
Kim Eng enters lounge suite of the Ambassador Hotel, I feel the pure presence she emanates. All the questions I had planned to ask were immediately forgotten. I stutter, turn bright red, and cannot think of anything better than "Can you help me to do this interview in presence?" to say. We take a deep breath together and I begin to calm down. The challenge for me, literally, is to let go of expectations; to create a calm, self-assured impression, for instance.
How did your spiritual journey begin?
"I was married at that time, and attended the Christian Church with my husband looking for answers. I was extremely unhappy and fell into a depression. That led to my decision to leave my husband and the Church. That’s when I set out on my spiritual journey, mostly through reading many books on spirituality. However, as with the Bible, I tried to understand it all on an intellectual level. Until I read the book, I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj. From the first paragraph, I had the feeling that ‘I had found it’. The funny thing is that I don’t exactly remember any more what was in it, but the feeling it gave me, I remember as if it was only yesterday. I made contact with the dimension behind the words."
"Later I went to India to continue my journey of discovery. I became partially paralyzed by an illness. That forced me to look for answers within myself. From then on, my journey in God began. Before that, it was more a journey to God. Still, the books were helpful: words can help point you in the right direction. But, they are still thought patterns, they are not reality. The true answers lie within yourself."
Are you present in the moment all day long?
"Even for me it is still a journey and practice. I notice however that I have grown and become more mature. We, as people, have the tendency to lose ourselves in the outside world. You identify with the world of form and see it as your master. That’s why it is important to look for moments of silence and make contact with our essence, the divine energy. We are actually all spiritual beings on the inside. When we go out into the world, the challenge is to remain in contact with that."
How do you and your partner Eckhart deal with all the media attention and the fact that people have a tendency to put public figures on a pedestal?
"Eckhart and I spend a lot of time alone so that we stay in contact with ourselves. We are not the kind of people that continuously want company. If you put a famous person on a pedestal, you don’t realize who you truly are on the inside. Everything you look for in that famous person can be found inside yourself."
There are many ongoing crises in the world right now, including environmental and financial crises. How can you deal with these in a good way?
"Every crisis is a blessing in disguise. It is an invitation to wake up. I don’t know how far the crisis has to go before we truly wake up. Archeological finds make it clear that earlier civilizations rose and fell again. Naturally, that may happen to our civilization too. We won’t survive if we stay in the level of thoughts. The thoughts are what caused the problems we are encountering at the moment. It is important to seek out stillness and make contact with who you truly are. It is the yin-aspect that helps us to wake up spiritually and to accept the present moment completely. From that starting point the steps you wish to take follow spontaneously; de yang-energy."
"The good news is that we all have the power to wake up. However, each of us will do it in his own tempo. The one tempo is not better than the other, therefore, it is pointless to judge another. Eckhart’s process took one night, but for most of us it will be a gradual process."
But, I think it would be wonderful to have an awakening in one night.
"Look at the flower on this table. Even if I don’t know whether it is real or fake (she laughs). That flower will bloom in its own time. You cannot say to it: ‘Bloom, bloom, bloom!' The idea that you have to awaken quickly is again a creation of the intellect, a thought form. If you identify with that, you are not awakened."
Many people are experiencing awakening and yet you hear so little about it in the mainstream media.
"Eckhart and I notice that there is a lot changing right now. Before this interview, I talked to a journalist from the daily Trouw in the context of Spirituality Month. We also see that Eckhart’s books are becoming popular with a broad readership, while a few years ago, people outside of spiritual circles did not relate to them. We simply have the tendency to ignore information or reject it if we are not ready to receive it."
With your workshop 'Presence through movement', you use the body to make contact with the space behind the bodily form. How does this work exactly?
"With the body, or objects such as a table or chair, we notice the form. However, if you look through a microscope, you see that these are not solid forms. Still you can use the illusion of a form, such as a door opening, to make contact with the space behind it. Energy is meant to flow freely around the body, but certain convictions can cause blockages in the body. The energy then becomes more solid in form, like glue. This is the energy of the pain body. Dissolving this energy through yoga or Qi Qong alone is not enough to solve the problem. Working on awareness, how certain thought patterns create obstacles, is just as important. This helps prevent the problems from reoccurring."
Kim suggested we round off the interview with an exercise for complete presence. Then I tell her that the interview was very special for me, not because of the words, but because of the underlying connection. "I have the feeling that you will carry out your interviews in this way more often from now," she says. I tell her about my premonition. That she will be seen a lot in the media in the coming years. "I don’t know how things will go," Kim says modestly. Then she tells me she plans to give fewer workshops and make time to write a book. In conclusion, she embraces me warmly and I know for certain: we are going to hear a lot more from this woman! Marit van der Meulen
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