Must be 250-300 word answer to each discussion question. These are two separate questions.Each question should be at least 250 words.1. Discuss how Eastern Pantheistic Monism’s definition of the individual in relation to the cosmos minimizes man’s significance compared to Christian Theism.2. Discuss the concepts of karma and reincarnation. How does these concepts compare tothe atonement in Christian Theism?
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‘Life’s Purpose’ author Eckhart Tolle is serene, Critics less so.
Updated 10/14/2010 2:37 PM
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Are you weighted down by your past? Anxious about tomorrow?
Stewing over how to face today? Stop. Drop those thoughts. Breathe. Be still. Just be. Spiritual
teacher Eckhart Tolle will tell you this is the ultimate path to inner peace, available to you any time.
All you have to do is let go of all your thoughts. Of course, that’s a lot trickier than it sounds.
Hence, Tolle’s soaring popularity as a guide to living in the present un-tense. His most recent book,
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, a sequel to his earlier best seller, The Power of
Now, has sold 6 million copies. When Oprah Winfrey read it, she was so inspired that she invited
him to co-host a 10-week set of Internet seminars on how to simply be. So far, 35 million people
worldwide have viewed these “webinars.”
In July, he launched Tolle TV, an Internet channel featuring his videotaped teachings and
meditations. And his 2010 speaking tour, from Australia to five countries in Northern Europe to the
USA, winds up in Madison Square Garden this fall. Religious critics have called him the Antichrist
for claiming you can save yourself, no God or Jesus required. Secular critics call his ideas and
looping ways with language New Age twaddle. This is someone who in conversation uses the term
“is-ness” (the state of “being in the now”) who, when he says “human being,” means “being” as a
verb. “I am, you are” — and nothing more need be said.
Sort of. Actually, it takes many words to map out an earthly path to Tolle’s “new heaven.” On a
sunny afternoon, strolling in a hillside garden landscape intensely designed to appear wild, Tolle
explains how silence and stillness can lead you there. The garden, with its ponds, fountains, wind
chimes and statues, surrounds the home where he stays in the winter, a modern art-filled villa
owned by a friend who lives nearby.
Tolle and his partner of nearly a decade, meditation and yoga teacher Kim Eng, spend summers at
their home in British Columbia. Tolle, 62, is a model of serenity: a small, fit man with glowing skin
and clear, ice-blue eyes, the color of his Jaguar. Sell millions of books and you, too, can replace
your old car. But this is not a gig designed to funnel him wealth, or a new religion with him as chief
guru. Subscriptions to Tolle TV, at $14.95 to $19.95 a month, cost less than a movie and popcorn,
and a growing amount of the content —his lectures, teachings and meditations — is free. Most of
the proceeds of his books and teaching tours are plowed back into Tolle TV’s elaborate professional
productions, or the overhead for lecture halls. This enables him to reach an ever-widening audience
without forcing solitude-loving Tolle to travel constantly, says Anthony McLaughlin, CEO of
Eckhart Teachings and co-founder of Tolle TV.
McLaughlin is also a disciple and Eng’s son-in-law. Amid oak and lemon trees, cactus and jade
plants, ferns and flowers, Tolle finds an ideal setting to talk about his insights. They’re a far cry from
the Catholicism of his childhood. Born Ulrich Tolle in a small town in Germany, he spent his teen
years with his father in Spain, then moved on to prepare for an academic career. By the time
he was 29 and studying philosophy in London, he says, he was so miserable “I couldn’t live with
myself any longer.”
Suddenly he realized, “If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that
‘I’ cannot live with. Maybe, I thought, only one of them is real.” When thoughts stop As he tells the
story in his first book, The Power of Now, he was so stunned by the idea that “my mind stopped. I
was conscious, but there were no more thoughts.” This no-thought thought became the germ of a
new philosophy. He even changed his first name to Eckhart to honor Meister Eckhart, a 13th-century
German mystic who described similar insights. (Eckhart, a Dominican priest, died while being tried
for heresy.)
Meister Eckhart wrote: “There exists only the present instant . . . a Now which always and without
end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years
ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.” Tolle’s 21st-century take is that “every human has a
life situation — a personal past, a current health, and work and family and their sense of their future,
where they want to go, what they want to do. “Of course, you need to honor that spectrum. But don’t
forget their life at this moment. If you are not living this moment, you are not really living.”
Then you would be missing the beauty “that is always accessible to you,” Tolle counsels, as he
strolls with his equally serene little Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Maya, beside him. “Let your
senses take over so you can delight in ordinary miracles today, like that Sarah McLachlan song.”
Yes, he likes music. After all, he says, “the now” where he dwells is not oblivion, it’s simply today in
all its variations. Tolle can do a sly mimic of Larry King waggling a finger at an interview guest, and
he’s tuned into movies, as well. Avatar’s basic message of reality as pervaded by a field of
intelligence struck Tolle as “a very important spiritual idea brought forward in a way that people
could enjoy.”
Bill Maher’s political monologues delight him, and he laughed at his film Religulous “because there
really are a lot of weird beliefs out there.” The trouble with Maher, Tolle says, is “while he sees the
absurdity of religious expressions, he misses the values they point toward.” In Tolle’s view, “religion
and ritual can be vehicles for entering stillness. It says in Psalm 46:10, ‘Be still, and know that I am
God.’
“But they are still just vehicles. The Buddha called his teaching a raft: You don’t need to carry it
around with you after you’ve crossed the river.” Tolle quotes often from the Bible, from Christianity
and Buddhism, and half a dozen other world religions. But the words of Buddha and Jesus take a
unique Tolle spin. For example, “Your thought identity, your words, are ultimately illusionary. Jesus
knew this when he talked about ‘ deny thyself.’ Most Christians do not fully understand what that
means. It means ‘no self.’
Buddha, too, recognized the inherent unreality of our self-image” he says. By submitting yourself to
this thought-free state, you can finally recognize “The Truth” within yourself — that you already
have all the joy, creativity, energy, love you seek. You possess all the higher power, you reach your
own heaven, he says. “Was Jesus the son of God?” he asks rhetorically. “Yes. But so are you. You
just haven’t realized it yet.”
That inflames critics like the bloggers at Christian Skepticism, who call Tolle the Antichrist. They
warn believers to turn away, quoting evangelical writer John Stott’s warning that “the possibility of
self-salvation is one of the major delusions of New Age philosophy.”
He’s ‘not for everybody’ Tolle lets that all wash past. As British writer Oliver Burkeman observed
in a profile of Tolle for The Guardian, “Once you’ve told the world that you abide in a realm of
infinite equanimity, you can’t very well start getting all snippy when people don’t take you at your
word.”
McLaughlin just says Eckhart “is not for everybody. A lot of people greet his teachings with fear.
It can rattle their core values.” These ideas, McLaughlin says, “bring you a kind of fearlessness.”
McLaughlin even found that by “staying in the now,” his last days with his own dying father were ”
full of love and without regrets.”
But, like vehicle stickers that caution “your mileage may vary,” Tolle’s teachings come with the
simple advisory that your life will be affected: “Changes may occur,” says McLaughlin.Or not. Tolle
makes no promises. He can’t. His constant message is that all you have for sure is now. Be here and
see. Montecito, Calif. His popular teachings extol “being in the now.”
Tolle’s Teaching 24/7
Key points from Tolle’s writing, videos and lectures:
Take responsibility for your inner state. “Emotions and even thoughts become depersonalized
through awareness,” and no longer form your basic identity.
To find abundance, give it away. “Whatever you think people are withholding from you praise,
appreciation, assistance, loving care and so on give it to them. Soon after you start giving, you will
start receiving.”
See, hear and appreciate. “The joy of being is found in the simple, seemingly unremarkable things.
Say or think ‘I am’ and add nothing to it.”
Notice your breathing. “Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present.
Conscious breathing stops your mind.”
Don’t react, accept. “Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something
entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.”
The “awakened consciousness” rising “within you at this moment,” Tolle concludes, is the new
heaven for a new earth.
–By Cathy Lynn Grossman

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