I was going to hold my summary comments until the end of the classes, but there are a few interesting points that are clear enough now to discuss. What Tolle is trying to impart to his readers/viewers is that the ego stands in the way of living life to the fullest. It blocks the joy of life and creates burdens where none need exist. His approach is not really a spiritual path to awakening as much as it is a psychological path to happiness and well-being — a sort of self-help manifesto on how to live better. The real spiritual awakening is what happens when the ego fully dissolves. This can happen in short time span at an early age to those that have a great need (sometimes a life or death need) to be freed from their inner turmoil. For the rest, it will likely take a lifetime until, at old age or on the deathbed, that one finally relinquishes the ego in its entirety. What Tolle suggests, being more present in the moment, will make the journey to that final release more bearable but it will not speed up the process.
Tolle’s expertise in the “power of now” is that as a fully awakened person, without an ego structure, he lives fully in the moment as default. Without the ego structure, there are no distractions from immediate awareness. He uses his own model of non-ego to convey the intricacies of ego and how it blocks awareness. This is, of course, a good thing that he is doing. But I wish he would not call it spiritual awakening. It is typical of many that go through a traumatic breakthrough of awakening to describe the end result of that breakthrough rather than the process that caused it. It is as if they think that by emulating their end-state, that somehow the spiritual aspirant can bypass the traumatic ego dissolution. This is a fallacy.
The real awakening is like childbirth. There is no escaping the labor before delivery. The trauma of spiritual awakening is followed by the joy of life, where the chaos of ego and conditioning is replaced by inner peace and expanse. It is exhilarating and joyous and the painful process to arrive there is soon forgotten, just as the mother forgets her labor trauma as soon as she holds a new life in her arms.
I sent an email to the Oprah/Eckhart crew on some of these points, which are covered somewhat in Chapter Nine. With any luck we will have some face to face discussion on the awakening issues.