By Jonathan 70 Comments

Eckhart Tolle Is a Looney Feminist In Disguise: A Review of ‘The Power of Now’

The Power of Now
The Power of Now

If you haven’t heard of The Power of Now before reading this article, chances are you would have eventually. It’s become a bit of a phenomenon you see, well beyond the level of your average “new age” book. This is due to author Eckhart Tolle’s apparent lack of religious affiliation, and a huge amount of word of mouth marketing, now doubt helped along in more recent times by Oprah Winfrey’s discovery and endorsement of the author.

I myself came upon it on the unlikely recommendation of my father, who is a born again Christian.

I was somewhat surprised to have him recommend such a book to me, and it is perhaps because of that fact that I even gave it a second thought, let alone purchase the book, as I did.

The basic premise of The Power of Now is that we human beings are unhappy because we live our lives constantly thinking about the past, or the future, thereby neglecting to enjoy the present. Were that all the book had to say, I would contend that it was very true, and that learning to enjoy every moment is a skill we should all endeavour to have. Naturally such advice would make for a very short book, and in itself does not sound very profound, so by necessity Tolle’s message is far more complicated than that.

The book opens with a short personal history from the author in which he tells us about how miserable his life was until the age of 30 when he magically had some kind of breakdown, blacked out, and when he woke up he was in a state of pure joy which prompted him to spend several years doing nothing except sit on park benches being happy. For the first 163 pages Tolle, in a most repetitive fashion, explains how the key to happiness is to be. That is, to become aware that there is no past or future, only the now, as he calls it. He says that we as humans cause ourselves pain by not living in the now, and instead constantly thinking about the past or the future. If this sounds too esoteric, you can blame Tolle for over-complicating something that is really very simple: You cannot be happy if you are dwelling on the past, nor can you be happy if you place all your hopes in the future, which hasn’t happened yet and exists only in your imagination. You must learn to enjoy and live only for the present moment, because that is all that every really exists. Up until this point, despite Tolle’s meandering and repetition, and sometimes ‘liberal’ interpretation of various religious texts, I was really enjoying the book. I truly was finding it insightful and inspiring.

That all changed on page 164 with a section that details why women are closer to enlightenment that men. As a man, I was naturally a bit put off by this sweeping and seemingly unfounded statement. Tolle justifies this with some claims relating to the Chinese Tao. The Tao it seems is described as being the mother of the universe. Tolle says that “Tao” can be translated as “being” therefore women naturally embody “being” which Tolle uses a synonym for God, or the Universe or, well, take your pick.

From this point on, the book seems to have an increasing disdain for anything masculine, or perhaps it did from the beginning and only became evident at this point. The mind, for instance is viewed by Tolle as negative, and also as male.

“What does remain true, however, is that the energy frequency of the mind appears to be essentially male. The mind resists, fights for control, uses, manipulates, attacks, tires to grasp for control and so on. This is why the Traditional God is patriarchal, controlling authority figure, and often angry man who you should live in fear of, as the Old Testament suggests. This God is a projection of the human mind.”

He then goes onto a section about dissolving the female pain body. The pain-body, according to Tolle, is a false body the mind creates as a collective memory of everything bad that has happened to us. Everyone supposedly has one constantly being fed by the mind in order to keep us in an unhappy, unenlightened state. He contend that women in addition to their own pain-bodies, have a collective pain-body.

“Every woman has her share in what could be described as the collective female pain-body – unless she is fully conscious. This consists of accumulated pain suffered by women partly through male subjugation of the female through slavery, exploitation, rape, childbirth, child loss, and so on, over thousands of years. The emotional or physical pain that for many women precedes and coincides with menstrual flow is the pain-body in its collective aspect that awakens from its dormancy at that time.”

Huh? Did men not suffer as slaves as well? Is child loss something only women must endure? How is childbirth the result of male subjugation of the female? Is it not simply a biological fact of life? Men can no more be held responsible for the design of the human system of procreation that can women be blamed for the intense pain a man can feel when he crosses his leg the wrong way and crushes his scrotum. And did he just blame the existence of PMS on the world’s patriarchal history? My oh my.

Then he comes out with this decidedly offensive whopper.

“In the quest for enlightenment, is being gay a help or a hindrance, or does it make any difference?

As you approach adulthood, uncertainty about your sexuality followed by the realization that you are “different” from other may force you to dis-identify from socially conditioned patterns of thought and behaviour. This will automatically raise your level of consciousness above the unconscious majority.”

Excuse me? Did he just say that gay people are automatically more spiritually enlightened than the rest of us? I have no issues with gay people, I don’t think it’s immoral or wrong or sinful, but to say that homosexual people are somehow more enlightened than others is not only ludicrous, it’s downright offensive if for no other reason that it is obscenely arbitrary.

In the end the book, which starts out with much promise, becomes yet another disappointing new age fluff fest littered with material that seems carefully devised to appeal to the main consumers of this type of book: well-meaning but ultimately misguided people with an unfortunate resentment to anything deemed to be in the realm of maleness, which in Eckhart Tolle’s view includes such things as rational thought.

In the end, I’d say it’s worth a read for curiosity’s sake, but ultimately most would be much better served by the superior Conversations With God, which presents much of the same ideas, as well as many, many more, while being inclusive and dispensing with the anti-male crap.


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  • Jasmine says:

    It’s okay if you don’t quit understand what he is trying to communicate. It’s not the easiest to grasp on a intellectual level, but a femmist? He’s an enlightened humanist.
    May you discover the essence of who you truly are and be the light

  • Janet Archer says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I enjoyed your article on Tolle. I found it while looking to see if I could find anyone else who was put off by what I can only describe as Tolle’s “mindless irrationalism.”

    I didn’t find what I was looking for but I did enjoy reading you “take” on Tolle. Your caution re the feminist bias of Tolle was quite eye-opening I have to say. I have noticed recently that I am intentionally seeking out more men for friendship because I am encountering so much of what Ken Wilber calls “Boomeritis” among my women friends. Wilber define Boomeritis as relativistic pluralism + narcissism. I my experience it manifests as really fuzzy thinking on spiritual issues as well as attitudes on politics and the environment that strike me as what I can only describe as “anti-intellectual irrationlism.” In any event, I just wanted to tell you I enjoyed your article

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Janet,

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

      If you read the other comments, you probably saw I took a lot of heat on this from the anti-intellectual crowd who seemed to take my criticism of Tolle very personally. So it’s refreshing to hear from someone who agrees.



  • Krista says:

    Interesting post. I was Googling for the Tolle quote about homosexuality, that I vaguely remembered from reading his book, and your site came up. With all due respect, and whether or not you agree with Tolle’s basic premises, I found his remarks about homosexuality in Power of Now to be coherent and not at all offensive. I fail to see how his remarks about homosexuals thinking outside the boxes of social conditioning creates any threat to non-homosexuals whatsoever. His point is consistent with his overall message, which is that our mental formations and our psychological suffering is intrinsically related to how strongly we cling to false constructs. He is simply saying that, because homosexuals realize very early on, at some level, that they are “different”, they more readily shed psychological constructs of “normalcy” that keep other people constrained. Seems very logical to me. For what it is worth. Cheers.

    • Jonathan says:


      What he said is that homosexuals are at a higher level of consciousness, a.k.a. “enlightenment” automatically as a result of being gay.

      This is not at all the same as “more likely to shed psychological constructs” which, I grant you, he also said (in slightly different terms). And if he’d left it there I’d have no issue.

      But he didn’t.

      • Tim Garcia says:

        Is it perhaps that you are confusing “being more enlightened” as “better” or “more worthy?”

        I’m not offended knowing that there are people more enlightened than I am; I take it for granted that that is the case.

        Also, I read what he said as a generality, not as an absolute certainty, i.e., being gay makes one more prone to being more aware (more “enlightened”) simply as a consequence of being more likely to question the status quo, but it doesn’t guarantee that a randomly chosen gay person is automatically more enlightened than a randomly chosen heterosexual.

  • Ben says:

    I’m strongly against 3rd age feminism but I don’t think that tolle is in any way affiliated with these types of people (the types that thunderf00t and sargon of akkad are calling out for their insanity)

    Eckhart tolle in fact makes MANY statements that completely destroy “identity politics” in fact he even points out the pathology in people who “make an identity out of some cause” I’m not sure if this is in a new earth or the power of now.

    • Jonathan says:

      I don’t think so either, doesn’t mean he doesn’t share some goofy theories.

      I wrote this long before I was well aquatinted with modern feminism, my reaction to Tolle’s words was purely instinctual; I had no idea how much worse things would get.

  • Mari Pehkonen says:

    This whole discussion here is so full of ego that clearly Tolle has failed in his attempt to enlighten. Maybe that specific chapter of the book can be viewed as a challenge for both men and women equally to unidentify with their mind-made notions of gender. Like one commenter said, Tolle is indeed reinforcing them by equating the mind to the male and the body to the female. It creates nothing but confusion as the first part of the book is spent explaining how all being is the same essence. I thought I could follow his logic as our mind or the voice in our head, whether we are male or female in body, is influenced by our male-dominated culture. But the conclusion that follow are in contradiction to his own primary assertions. As a female it is also somewhat disturbing to witness a male trying to describe and dictate the female experience. I don’t know where he could possibly have learned this.

    Jonathan – without judging you or your viewpoint I want to point out to you how you have expressed your bias. You said about Tolle that he is ashamed of his masculinity “or what is left of it.” This is a typical utterance is culture that values male over female. You see being male as something inherently good and to be lacking in maleness is an insult that you are using. Thus you are not gender-objective.

    What is also coming across to me is a very strong reaction to what at some point in time by few individuals was called feminism. It’s the same as looking at terrorists and thinking that their version of Islam is the pervasive one. Nothing could be further from the experience and beliefs of the average Muslim. I hope this can further the discussion here and point it away from the ego-driven divisiveness.

    Jonathan Says: Sorry, I’m not interested in discussing anything with pseudo-intellectuals, especially those who spew feminist talking points while pretending they aren’t “judging”.

    • Mari says:

      So you enjoy posting your opinion and viewpoint on the internet and when someone expresses something that you disagree with you refuse to discuss it. That doesn’t seem very productive. When someone agrees with you you are eager to talk further. You go so far as to attack me and label me as pseudo-intellectual. Nothing good or useful has come out of that.

      • Jonathan says:

        You must be confused. You seem to think you have a right to post your opinion on my blog. You don’t, I offer you the privilege.

        I didn’t label you, I described you, based on your own words.

        Your particular viewpoint has already been discussed in this comment thread. There is no need to discuss it again because there is zero chance of either of us changing the other’s mind. So, in fact, discussing it further is what wouldn’t be productive, not the other way around.

        Once upon a time I would have wasted my energy and indulged you. Those days are long gone so you will have to content yourself with reading my replies to others who shared your view. As I said, “life is too short”.

        Bye bye now.

  • JW says:

    I want to openly say that I find some positive things in his works. I mean that. I do find it intriguing that he (Tolle) makes it clear that if you don’t get it then it is you … not him. He can’t be wrong because he said so. If you don’t understand or don’t agree then you just aren’t ready. Just take his word for it.

    What I also find interesting is the degree to which the Tolleites defend any negative (oh gosh … did I just have a negative thought … my ego is getting the best of me) outlook on his books or thoughts. Didn’t Tolle himself say something about what is going on when you label someone? or name calling? Didn’t I just see a Tolleite just basically depict Jonathan as a mad troll almost with a sinister look about him … just because Jonathan didn’t agree with him.

    What about the notion that making yourself right and someone else wrong is the ego trying to strengthen itself … If you disagree with Jonathan’s perspective … why bother correcting him. It doesn’t matter. By entering the debate you step on the slippery slope of are you just trying to strengthen your ego or are you really right. Who is to decide? Well Tolle decides. He decides by what I mentioned above. You can’t disagree with him. If you do … you just don’t understand or your not ready.

    Let’s look also at a guy that has a 15 million dollar net worth. How many times has the world used greed and profit as a reason to bash and devalue the efforts and teachings and preachings of others. “Well they can’t be genuine. They are making millions off this.” Something to consider here. Let me assure you I am not one of those people that is going to be calling any toll free number soon to give to some evangelical. I’m not defending these people … I’m just pointing out how this has been used to question the true intention of other teachers. It may not have been valid for them just as it might not be valid for Tolle. Others sure thought it was a valid criticism.

    I realize it sounds like I’m totally against what is said in his books. That isn’t true. I have found things of value. I have naturally witnessed my life evolve towards a mentality that says … I want to live for things that are going on now. I want to just live that. While the past can linger … it shouldn’t direct us and I agree that those things can be problematic. I believe he has exposed some good coping mechanisms and healthy ways to try to address people’s reaction to things.

    I fear any system … I question any system that believes is has all the answers. I also see this rabbit hole and it leads to significant conclusions that must follow …. one of them…. why did I even bother to write this and why should anyone even bother to read it … Just my two cents worth but then I guess it really is just my ego’s two cents worth and the only reason I wrote this was to make myself right and someone else wrong and to make myself feel superior. That evil free thinking … corrupt ego … it has its own volition and just basically a mind of its own …. hmmm

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks JW.

      I too think there are positive things in Tolle’s books. In fact I think the overall message is indeed very powerful and true. Unfortunately these are not Tolle’s original thoughts, but a rehash of what others have already written, this time in a nice little mass market package with a healthy dose of male shaming thrown in for no good reason whatsoever.


  • Steve Iwan says:

    Ekhart Tolle is a good man but his message falls short. In many ways he is the guru to the stars. He constantly says there is no psycholigal time yet he always says if you have a problem then all you require is more suffering. More suffering involves time and it that very time that makes it so easy for us to change later. This releases the mind to continue its ways for really as long as one wishes. If we are serious about psycholigical change it must be immediate. If you put off immediate change like Eckhart teaches you are condemened to repeat over and over and probably never change. Truth requires immediate change not yesterday or tomorrow but today,now

  • John says:

    Finally some truth about this walking disaster and poser. In my humble opinion he is, like Oprah, contributing to the intellectual and spiritual devolution and enslavement of us all. And to be frank, to be as materially successful as he is, especially within a capitalist context, removes him immediately from spiritual enlightenment. You cannot be spiritual and be rewarded by the system at the same time. It’s in-congruent and it is a practice based on fear. All true present and historical mystics, shamans, teachers, enlightened beings and so forth have this in common. To consume or won more than one needs is the act of a child. And there’s the rub, not only does he promote feminist group think political ideology, he scams gullible people into believing that reading or following him will lead them to spirituality; when in fact it requires years of hard work and sacrifice. But he appeals to children, and we all know that children want what they want and they want it now. THAT is the power of now! Thanks you for your article.

  • Owen says:

    I know I come to this months after some others’ comments but have only just discovered your site.

    I was also disappointed with that aspect of Tolle’s book (both the comments re. male v. female and gay v. straight). It seemed to me to be a piece of dogma that was strangely out of place in what was otherwise quite a useful and practical guide to maintaining present-time awareness. To be fair to Tolle, as well as pointing out what he sees as the possible advantage of being gay in ‘disidentifying with socially conditioned patterns’ he does also point out the pitfall of simply replacing that with identification with gayness. I am gay myself, and I can appreciate that it may indeed heighten a sense of dissonance with the commonplace lines of thinking, but so might so many other things, and I am not sure why that is singled out. Flattering as it may be to the egos (!) of women and gay men to think that they have some great head start on the path to enlightenment, I am not sure that such assertions, unproven and unprovable as they must in any case be, helps anyone much, and I am very sympathetic to your irritation with them. I also agree wholeheartedly with you about that wing of feminism that is basically a hate movement and appreciate your calling attention to it – something that I believe needs to be done more. The same goes for your comments on the injustices suffered by men as men, which so often go ignored. In my view, those are all part of the same tree of which the oppression of gay men is also a branch.

    I’m glad you haven’t deleted all your writings as I saw in one of your pieces you had considered doing, because I have been very glad to see the ones I have read so far. I look forward to seeing more.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Owen!

      Thank you so much for your comment. It’s never too late, I always read my comments no matter how old the post is.

      It’s always nice to hear from someone who is glad I haven’t deleted my writings. The thought still crosses my mind from time to time, just as the thought crosses my mind occasionally to delete all my Tweets. A symptom of perfectionism, I suppose.

      I also can maybe, sort of, if I try really hard see where Tolle is coming from. But if I stop trying to hard, and just view it as it is, it’s clear Tolle is ashamed of his masculinity (or what he has of it) and can’t help but inject that shame into his writing.

      • Owen says:

        Hi Jonathan

        Thanks for your reply. It is always good to come across a man who is interested in the concerns of men as men, and for me the slanders and lies of a certain kind of man-hater are only part of it – although they should definitely be contradicted. I think there is so much to be done about the position of men overall, and a lot of it would be helped by more of us noticing these things and valuing ourselves and each other more, regardless of what anyone else might say. For example, it is incredible to me that in a number of countries of Europe even today there is mandatory military national service for young men only (not sure if you have that in the USA?). Can you imagine the reaction if something similar were required of women only (whether military or not)? However, even in several supposedly egalitarian countries this seems to be scarcely noticed as rank sex discrimination. It is also just part of a bigger picture where violence against men (whether from women or other men) rarely has much attention paid to it and is certainly not taken anywhere near seriously enough.

        I think it’s urgent to start bridging the divide between men of different sexualities too. It certainly doesn’t serve men that we have hostility between gay, straight and bisexual. I think sometimes gay men don’t notice how relevant men’s issues overall are to them and that straight men don’t notice how gay oppression feeds their own either.

        Anyway, I shall hope to stay in touch with you and your site and look forward to reading more of what you have to say about things.

        All the best,


        • Jonathan says:

          Hello Owen,

          I have the good fortune to be Canadian, but as far as I know, neither of our countries have any form of mandatory military service at the present time. I could be wrong about the USA though.

          I believe we as the HUMAN RACE need to stop oppressing our fellow human beings in general, be they male, female, gay, straight or otherwise (although ‘otherwise’ is one heck of a can of worms).

          Really glad to have you as a reader, Owen, and thanks so much for your comments.



          • Owen says:

            Yes, I noticed straight after I had posted that message that you are in Canada! Don’t know why I assumed USA – you guys must get so fed up with that! A thousand apologies! I do appreciate that there is a very significant difference.


          • Lyric Lacourte says:

            I appreciate you not joinungin on the sexist rant from Owen. Feminism is NOT about superiority, it is about equality. True feminists are not man gating. That is just how some women choose to perceive feminism in a misguided way that does more harm than good, for those of us who are working hard to do away with the idea of feminism as a male bashing concept. I am not just feminist, I am also a humanist. You make a good point about the draft. And as for Tolle…meh, no one who has studied theology, pstchology, or philosophy should fail to see how he blatantly plagiarizes every writer’s works he has ever ome into contact with including Buddha, Freud, Jung, etc.

          • Jonathan says:

            1 out of 5 people will feel raped by your spelling and grammar.


  • Nicole says:

    LOL! Your defensive rant totally proves Tolle’s point. Hilarious… and a little tragic.

  • Jonny says:

    I am so glad i have read the above comments. I have tried to read this book twice now, and have had to stop each time. I just did not feel “connected” with the text, and now i see why. I shall pursue other avenues and authors.

  • Annie says:

    I didn’t read much of the comments here, but I actually believe that what Tolle wrote in this chapter was anti-feminist, not feminist. There is no way that he, as a man, can understand the female body, and to tell women that PMS and all the emotions we experience during our menstruation are not us? How does he know that women all feel a part of a collective pain-body? Is he a woman? Does he inhabit the body of a woman? No. He is perpetuating myths about the female body, and telling us what to do with it, and how to experience it? He is sending the message that the female body is abnormal – that is certainly not feminist.

    Or to say that male = mind, female = body? C’mon… I really couldn’t believe he was saying this. This belief is one of the oldest, sexist views on the planet. He is a hypocrite when making these comparisons because he is attributing a physical form to energy…. didn’t he just state in the preceding chapters, that we must reject form and reject the mind in order to become Enlightened? How the hell can an energy be female or male? If we are meditating our energy has no form… because we are not inhabiting the mind or body while accessing “Being” right? So if you are male/female/other it doesn’t matter one bit.

    How you grew up in society affects your pain-body. Whether you are a minority or not, you still have a pain-body. Yes women have suffered for centuries, yes we can be angry about that when injustices happen, yes we formed a movement called feminism. But we are not inhabiting centuries of pain…. wouldn’t that be true for black people, or gay people who have been persecuted? Just because I have a uterus doesn’t change my energy… or my pain-body… and to say otherwise is foolish

    I can see how you are offended because he said you will have a harder time reaching enlightenment… yet again… he is coming to the conclusion that our body changes our energy – it is a very limited view. It hurts both men and women as well as transgender people — by reducing us to a body creates the very separations that Tolle argues against… it makes us identify with the mind and with form. I don’t believe it has anything to do with misguided feminism. Feminism is believing in equality, and Tolle is creating a difference here that is unequal.

    It is actually creating a divide here in the comments on your blog post. You believe that women shouldn’t be upset about injustices (which are still institutionalized just like racism and homophobia) because Tolle believes we’re all suffering this collective pain-body… well, who to believe? Women, or Tolle. Tolle is doing a huge disservice to feminism by reducing it to a bunch of women complaining about centuries of abuse. Which is entirely untrue. Our PMS is not about this. We complain when injustice HAPPENS. Our base emotions have nothing to do with a collective rage. That is really insulting. Feminism is not collective rage. It is a movement that promotes equality in the PRESENT.

    The fact that he only acknowledges male/female relationships as the only relationship – because there are only these 2 parts of a whole (what makes 2 females in a relationship NOT whole?? if both are enlightened there isn’t a difference, right?) is extremely sexist as well. He is SO DATED…

    I couldn’t believe what I was reading in this chapter… stunned. I think the first half of the book is great, but everyone should just skip this chapter because it is so outdated and sexist.

    • Jonathan says:

      The only thing I’d like to say is that I think you are wrong when you say feminism is about equality. It is not. Humanism is about equality, Feminism is about furthering the rights of one gender at the expense of the other. Feminism is downright hateful for the most parts.

      “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas

      “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin

      “Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.” – Catherine Comins

      I realize that this is a side issue, not directly relevant to Tolle, but I couldn’t help but respond nonetheless. As for whether Tolle’s comments are feminist or not, I maintain that he intended them to be. He clearly failed miserably at it in your eyes.

      “You believe that women shouldn’t be upset about injustices (which are still institutionalized just like racism and homophobia). Feminism is not collective rage. It is a movement that promotes equality in the PRESENT.”

      I am not sure where I ever implied that women shouldn’t be upset about injustices in the world. You are definitely putting words in my mouth here. But on that note, Feminism has nothing to do with racism or homophobia. And I’d argure that for the most part it is indeed just collective rage, often from people who have no idea about what or why they are raging.

  • Maya says:

    The aliens made a mistake. They either kill us all or help us all.

  • James Thomas says:

    Johnathan I agree with you 100% except for the gay thing. Eckhart Tolle is and always has been a plagiarist, using teachings from all over the world, making it look like his own. I have read some of his material and did make the effort to E-mailed him my observations, some years ago, (he did not answer). Some of his material is almost verbatim from other much older teachings but delivers it in such a manner and fashion as to give the novice the impression that he has reached the sublime place of peace.
    His soft tone and demeanor give him the appearance of being enlightened, but in actuality I believe he is gay, and is using this as a crutch to come to terms with this aspects of his character. I have nothing against being gay, I am myself, but what a laud is someone using their effeminate side to play at being at peace.
    I have studied metaphysics for over thirty years, and know of many of the things Echkart believes in, but when society speaks of him as this new age guru, I almost fall over laughing because of their ignorance, and sometime stupidity, in assigning to him this mantel of “The peaceful enlightened one”.
    He is a self marketer, just as is almost all other humans, but with a penchant toward self aggrandizement !!!

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks James.

      It’s been a long time since I read the book. I have often told myself I am going to re-read it to see if my perspective has changed, but I can never bring myself to do it. In the end I just found the book very offensive and insulting more than anything else.

      I can understand why people like it. If you have never heard these ideas before, they can bring about a sense of peace. They did for me, back in the day, depsite my overall distaste for Tolle himself.


  • Jason says:

    The menstruation theory is the only thing original in Tolle’s book. The rest of it is a dumbed down re-hash of Vedanta and A Course in Miracles. Tolle is well-meaning, but he is the last person I would follow if I wanted ‘enlightenment’.

    • Jonathan says:

      One day I will have to revisit the book with a more critical mindset. I have not completed the course in Mircales, but I have participated in education based on it, and I can see how Tolle’s work is very similar indeed, but with the added layer of misandry.

      • Jason says:

        Having time to reflect I have found a number of points where Tolle contradicts A Course in Miracles principles, and these are not fluid concepts you can take or leave – it is a very carefully structured metaphysical system.

        For Tolle there are levels of reality, we can become more or less ‘real’, more or less ‘conscious’. He presents an evolutionary model of enlightenment completely at odds with the philosophy that he borrows from A Course in Miracles. The Course is very clear that truth and illusion are complete opposites -the world we percieve is completely unreal and there is nothing in it that is not a product of the insane ego. Practicing the kinds of techniques Tolle describes (ie. imagine you are transparent to negative criticism and let it pass through you) do not bring one any closer to the ‘truth’, because they are just attempts to manipulate the illusion, or in Course terms they are ‘magical thinking’. Tolle has garbled Course concepts in my view. I could go on but would bore you I guess.

        Anyway it is quite worrying to me that someone who has obviously had some kind of spiritual experience can construct a jimcrack system of ideas around what are some very simple and profound truths. And so he misrepresents and trivialises the very truths he aims to promote. He claims to write from a state of ‘timeless presence’ not from the ‘ego’, but there is no evidence at all of lack of ego in his book. It is highly concept driven and weighed down with quotes from almost every spiritual tradition. Tolle is expressing his opinions based on a combination of experience and ego-based intellectual thought. He wants his audience to believe and behave otherwise, and in that sense he is self-deluded at best, at charlatan at worst.

        • Jonathan says:

          Not boring at all, Haorb.

          What really got to me about Tolle was his supposed mysterious backstory, which is completely unverifiable by anyone.

          An all to common trait among so called “gurus”.

          • Jason says:

            I was too harsh suggesting Tolle might be a “charlatan”. I don’t think he claims to be directly chanelling divine truth. Nor does he rely on his mystical experience as proof that must be accepted without question. In fact he states in his first book that the reader should investigate the ideas for themselves. I agree and salute him.

            My main beef is that I think he wrote a mediocre book, not that he has misled anyone. It’s the way it’s packaged that irks me – the message is artifically smooth and shiny and all difficulties are erased. He appreciates ‘being’ and ‘presence’ which are profound realities of our life as human beings, but at the same time I feel he lacks appreciation for human frailty and limitation. It reminds me in some ways of Anthony Robbins and his ‘do it or die’ school of human improvement.

            Lastly, you write that most gurus’ backstories are “unverifiable by anyone”. You could say that about most experiences. Ultimately it depends on using reasonable standards of evidence suited to the issue at hand. Science is a materialist system and as philosopher of mind B. Alan Wallace writes, “there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness”.

            Tolle is not claiming anything supernatural. He was not visited by aliens or ‘ascended masters’ . His mystical experience is one we can find throughout history. I suggest we can observe his behaviour and see if it supports or contradicts his claims. Ultimately the only way to verify his message is to test the mystic experience for oneself.

          • Jonathan says:

            It’s been far to long since I read the book for me to offer fresh critique in a fair manner. I do recall reading somewhere that Tolle had created some kind of mystery around his early life, and that not much was known about it. However upon making a vist to Wikipedia I see that that was not really true.

            So I suppose I am in agreement with you, my only real beef with Tolle is that I think his work is really not that good. That of course, and the feminist nonsense he supplies along with it. He’s certainly a much more honorable man than the likes of Joe Vitale, whom I have written about elsewhere on this site.

  • Chara says:

    Thank you Jonathon for this article, giving me the opportunity to learn more about Tolle from a critical perspective without reading his book.

    I think of the self as a conscious living being first, then the other characteristics follow being influenced by random chance, biology, genetics, hormones, upbringing, interactions, experiences, culture, etc. I don’t think the soul, spirit, or god has a gender, ethnicity, height, weight, or a preference for indie rock music. Gender, distinct from biological sex, is socially constructed to be a seen as a major distinguishing and divisive form of identity to which the ego may attach, not unlike skin color, religion, or age.

    The quotes you gave of Tolle’s evaluative stance on the superiority of what he sees is feminine and bashing on his idea of masculinity is him attaching these ideas with the values and perceptions of his ego (formed by his experiences, culture, emotions, past hurts, observations, identity, etc.). I sense unresolved resentment from him, prompting him to have such a view. Why does he feel that way; Maybe patriarchy has harmed him, maybe he has not forgiven the men in his life, who knows? Knowing this about him, you can choose to listen to him or not, up to you! Hooray, you have the power!

    That being said, I would also say that your reaction to his attachment is a sign of your own attachment to your ego’s identification of being male. I honestly don’t judge you as a bad person for this. I know how it feels to want others to acknowledge or understand inequities that I face and it can become anger, prejudice, resentment, or jealousy. I see that this hurts me and creates more division rather than less. This debate of which gender is superior or which gender is more oppressed has less to do with justice and more to do with the ego attempt to heal its insecurities. Actually, O_o probably every serious debate about superiority has to do with ego, hehe.


  • Andrew says:

    He is a new age con pandering to women because single, impressionable females are easy to dupe and of course, buy his book, making him lots of money. He sold his soul to oprah. Nothing good can come from him….

  • Robert says:


    First of all let me congratulate you for a very insightful article. I realise I am coming pretty late to this party, but I wanted to add my 2 cents nonetheless. My comments in particular are directed at those posters above (i.e. Steve) who claim that you just “don’t get it”.

    I will begin by saying that I think Tolle’s work in the main is wonderful. I am a big fan of his books and his teachings. I would echo the sentiments of those who encourage you not to give up on him and keep exploring his teachings. They will absolutely have a profound effect on your life, for the better.

    Having said that, I must state that I categorically agree with the premise of your article, namely that in some parts of The Power of Now, Tolle clearly adopts a strongly feminist position. Its not just that he elevates the feminine, but he actively disdains anything male, ascribing to it a litany of purely negative states of consciousness, whereas the feminine is idealised as something pure, wonderful and infinitely more “powerful”. In the context of what had been a wonderfully uplifting and inspiring book, I found this kind of negative gender sterotyping to be jarring and just plain incoherent. I don’t have a problem with the idea that God is not a man, as I personally believe that God is genderless. However I do have a big problem with the outright denigration of one sex at the expense of the other, in this case the attack on maleness.

    As I was reading the chapter you quoted from above, I was forcibly struck by exactly the same thought that occured to you: I felt I was reading a tract of anti male feminist propaganda, equating femininity with the divine and myopically railing against the “subjugation” of women by an abusive patriarchy . To those who accuse me of acting from an egoic state of consciousness and “missing” what he really said, allow me to quote Tolles own words:

    “Women are closer to enlightenment than men….the number of women who are now approaching the fully conscious state already exceeds that of men and will be growing at an even faster rate in the future.”

    Hmmm. At first glance, this seems an odd assertion. Where is the evidence for this? Absolutely none is given, its simply stated as though it were fact. On closer consideration, its an even more bizarre proposition. Tolle quotes freely from various sources, enlightened beings and holy texts to explain and support his teachings, including Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, The Lord Krishna, The Bhagavad Gita, The bible…..see any pattern here? They are either male, or written by males! And lest we forget…..Tolle himself is a man, an irony which I hope hasn’t escaped his readers lol. Now, I am not suggesting that men are MORE enlightened than women, but to suggest that females are soaring ahead of males in the enlightenment stakes is quite nonsensical. But okay, lets trudge on.

    “What does remain true, however, is that the energy frequency of the mind appears to be essentially male. The mind resists, fights for control, uses, manipulates, attacks, tires to grasp for control and so on.”

    Here we have the EXPLICIT link between mind and maleness. Clearly this statement refutes Henrys view that Tolle somehow has a benign view of the mind. In all of Tolles books that I have read, the mind is implicitly and explicity regarded as something at best neutral when used properly, but mostly its effects are negative, presenting an obstacle to enlightenment that must be transcended in order for growth, joy and happiness to occur. I concur with this to a large extent.

    But to then suggest that this equates only maleness….eh, hello? Controlling, using, manipulating, resisting etc etc are exclusively (or even primarily) male qualities?! Is anyone seriously positing the notion that females do not display these qualities in abundance? I love women, and I have had many relationships so far in my life, but I can categorically say that women share ALL of these characteristics and in some respects to a deeper degree than men do. How many women try to “change” (i.e. control) their man, versus the opposite? I rest my case. So it seems an utterly ludicrous proposition with no basis in fact. But he doesnt stop there:

    “To go beyond the mind and reconnect with the deeper reality of Being, very different qualities are needed…..all these qualities are much more closely related to the female principle. Whereas mind energy is hard and rigid, Being energy is soft and yielding and yet infinitely more powerful than the mind.”

    So there we have it. The female energy, which he equates to Being energy is infinitely more powerful than its male counterpart, Mind energy. So if we accept this bizzare thesis, could someone please explain to me how the “infinitely more powerful” feminine came to be “enslaved, subjugated, and exploited” over the ages by the weaker male, as he posits elsewhere? These are two irreconcilable positions. I am sorry but you cannot have your cake and eat it. Its either one of the other.

    In summation, I was disappointed to find this denigration of the male in what is otherwise a profoundly enlightening set of teachings. Your article hit the nail on the head in relation to its gender bias. I also agree that I find the passage on the link between female pain body and mentruation to be off the wall. It appears that men are not only responsible for all the suffering and misery in the world, they are also partly to blame for the pain of menstruation. Not even the most ardent man-hating feminist would dream of making such a preposterous claim. I do think that Tolle has lost the plot in this regard. No doubt there are those who would accuse me of “not getting it”, despite the fact that I have quoted Tolles own words on the subject. If you want to refute my interpretation, please do the same. Statements of “you don’t get it” are totally inadequate. My reaction was not one of anger or outrage, but rather of incomprehension at something that I intuitively know to be wrong. I guess even spiritually advanced beings are not infallible.

    • Jonathan says:

      Thank you, Robert!

      I couldn’t agree with you more!

    • RyoGTO says:

      I have been reading this book, and the teachings in it have rung quite true throughout. Some of his lingo I have to set aside a bit, but for the most part the book has really helped me reclaim my Vipassana practice. On the other hand, when I got to this chapter just now, I really just lost a lot of respect for Tolle. Don’t get me wrong, I think he had a lot of great stuff to say, but as soon as I read this nonsense I realized quickly just how “unenlightened” Tolle still is. It is clear he has a huge aversion towards males and male energy for whatever reason. To say that female energy is infinitely more powerful than male, that is just totally ludicrous, how would that even be logically possible, if you consider that all is one? How could one half be infinitely more powerful than the other? None of this makes any sense. If the mind is what separates things into duality, how can one half of this duality be the totality? Clearly he has lost his own message within his own resentments–how he did not have the proper judgment to remove this chapter before publishing is beyond me.

      I kept waiting for Tolle to redeem himself throughout the chapter, but it just went more and more down hill, eventually I could hardly get into what he was saying. I tried observing the feelings inside me and realized that what he was saying was simply harmful and untrue, and should not even been said (even if it was true, which it most certainly is not). To say those negative qualities are of a male energy is totally ridiculous. I think women are just as guilty of manipulation as men, why use these crazy semantics to glorify one sex over the other? I really wanted to tear out this chapter of the book and pretend that he didn’t actually try and make this point.

      Being in the now, not identifying with the mind or the body, observing sensation–Sure, I can agree with that, Buddha and other spiritual teachers all taught this. All this feministic nonsense? Sorry Tolle, but I think you have some issues to work out inside you still–these statements are totally uncalled for and categorically untrue. He could have redeemed himself had he balanced out the chapter by then talking about the male struggle for enlightenment and how males have an equal chance at becoming enlightened, but no, he didn’t. He just glorifies women, bashes men, gives no actual evidence or logical reasoning for it, and moves on.

  • Dezian says:

    yeah eckhart can say some pretty whacked out stuff sometimes…. sometimes i think he has no idea what he is talking about and he just likes to hear himself talk….

    mostly though is is amazingly clear i find…

    if you asked him, he’d probably admit to saying the same thing over and over again in a million different ways… thats what most spiritual teachers do…

    the truth is that there are no problems… if we want to pretend there are problems we can… until we get tired of pretending… then the problems go away

    (so… the external situation does not have to change for our problems to be negated… one second they are real and havey and oh so terrible… the next *pooof*… gone… and nothing has changed)


  • Jessica says:

    All persons, regardless of their gender, face hardship in life. As a woman, I would never presume to fully understand the male experience nor would I deny its challenges.

    Likewise, I think its very hurtful for you to assume you understand the feminine experience and for you to discount the extraordinary difficulties related to womanhood.

    Your statement “I specifically reject the idea that women in modern North American society are subjugated. If anything the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction” demonstrates an alarming lack of empathy.

    If you were able to live as a woman for one day, you would understand the subtle discrimination which we consistently endure. Have things gotten better in the last 40 years? Of course they have. Is there equality? It breaks my heart, but no. Not even close.

    I guess I can’t expect you to understand what its like to be female, but I simply ask that you refrain judging things that you can’t possibly know about. Walk a mile and then you can judge the relevancy of Tolle’s comments on gender inequality…or PMS for that matter. Which, incidentally, I found to be very helpful in learning to manage this difficult time.

    • Jonathan says:

      If you were able to live as a woman for one day, you would understand the subtle discrimination which we consistently endure. Have things gotten better in the last 40 years? Of course they have. Is there equality? It breaks my heart, but no. Not even close.

      If you expected to sway me without providing a single shread of evidence, then you failed. Sorry.

      I have to say there are plenty of female commentators who also reject the idea that our society is somehow unjust towards women. For recent example, read Barbara Kay’s column in the Globe and Mail regarding the Liberal party’s “pink book”.

      Frankly, if you were man, you might also find yourself discriminated against in subtle and not so subtle ways. Just ask any man who’s been through the family court system, or who is afraid to give his own children a bath for fear of being accused of child abuse, the man who’s ordered to pay alimony to an ex wife who cheated on him with multiple men. Or the man who’s suffering spousal abuse but *can’t* tell anyone about it for fear of being ridiculed or simply not believed. That’s the reality of being a man, but I’d be willing to bet you don’t have any empathy for that, in fact I suspect your advice would be to shut up and stop whining. Which luckily for you, most men do.

      If you want me to feel empathy for your supposed mistreatment by our society then you better start by showing me specific examples of just how our society wrongs you on a daily basis. The way I see it, women in our country can do pretty much anything men can do, and without restriction.

      It’s high time the sexes stopped competing against each other and started realizing that we are simply different, and our differences are a strength, not a weakness.

  • Henry says:


    I think that you’re overassuming a bit. Even though Tolle is talking about the collective pain women carry with them, he’s not denying that men have collective pain too, that men have been (and are being) mistreated.

    One could, perhaps, say that the oppression of women is easier to point out, easier to define, considering that it’s not been too long that women have even been considered equally human.

    Also, I think the part about gays is basicly stating “the ones who most get beaten up by their surroundings, have the most experiential material for transformation” – that is, the more pain you have endured, the more likely you are to search for answers and alternatives.

    I also did not feel that Tolle is per se attacking the mind or declaring it “wrong” or “negative” – my impression of Tolle’s viewpoint, which I agree with, is that he’s just defining the ways that the mind tries to control, lie and cheat to keep its self-image constant. However, used properly and cooperated with, the mind is a great tool.

  • Jonathan says:

    Simon, I respect your point of view, and I certainly did not find the book to be a total waste of time, I believe the specific examples that I mentioned above present a very clear bias.

    I specifically reject the idea that women in modern North American society (the primary target audience of his book being North America) are subjugated. If anything the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.

    And connecting it to PMS is just outright strange.

  • Simon says:

    It also seems to me that you have completely missed Tolle’s premises. I don’t believe he is saying that Gay people – or women – are more enlightened. Only that because of prejudices, these folk often have the ability to question damaging social norms and attain a broader insight. I too suggest you read this wonderful book again. Living in the moment is enlightenment.

    • Jonathan says:

      And I say his premise is ludicrous on its face, but that’s just my opinion. You are entitled to yours.

      • Al Forit says:

        Well you just revealed the problem that a lot of people on here are trying to get across to you……….Your only looking at it from its face and not the deeper meaning , larger picture , wider view, etc……..I think your capable of doing that cause you seem like an intelligent person……well with all the big words you use and all….. Or maybe you just want to argue and or debate people.

        Not sure what your agenda is cause the points that are being made here are pretty elementary and obvious and even if you don’t agree with them you should be able to get the gist of what they are trying to convey…………..Or maybe you really are just very self centered and only look at the surface of things and face value without trying to understand any further past your nose or inside your heart……..heheh……..just a joke ….not trying to hurt your feelings

        In any case books like these are nice to read over again cause they impart new understanding that you didn’t notice when you read it the first time……….That’s because as you allow your understanding to expand and let go of holding on to all the baggage we all have it allows us to see and understand things we didn’t notice before …………try it :)

        • Jonathan says:

          Hi Alforit,

          With all due respect, you are wrong.

          I totally get the deeper meaning Tolle is trying to convey, I just disagree that such a deeper meaning exists, or if it does, that it is relevant.

          I strongly disagree with Tolle’s assessment of the relatively superior spiritual enlightenment of gay people and women, not because I am self centered, not because I am unintelligent and incapable or finding deeper meaning, and certainly not because I wish to spend all my time arguing and debating people. I disagree with Tolle’s assessment because I disagree with it. Full stop. No deeper meaning or hidden agenda here. Why must I repeat myself?

          And then I get to deal with presumably “well-meaning” people such as yourself who stop by and offer up passive aggressive commentary on the invalidity of my opinions, all the while pretending that they are “not trying to hurt your feelings”.

          Well, pardon me if I call BS on that.

          Perhaps you should be asking yourself why you feel the need to engage in such obnoxious behaviour?

          I wrote a review expressing my opinion. I think I was fairly clear in doing so, and in explaining my reasons for holding such an opinion. Inevitably some people have stopped by and made an effort to change my mind, put words in my mouth, or set me straight in some way. While I welcome and appreciate the feedback (it’s nice to know when my articles are being read) I am un-swayed. As I mentioned above, you are entitled to your opinion, so long as you accept that I am entitled to mine.



          • Al Forit says:

            WOW ………..what a tangled mess you have weaved in your head and are arguing with it at the same time…………..LOL good luck bud


    • Cartesien says:

      Prejudice against gay people? Prejudice against Women??? My God, in which country do YOU live?
      I understand why you want to destroy your ego. You might need to see somebody, don’t you think?

      • Jonathan says:

        Actually it’s Eckhart Tolle who is prejudiced against non-gay men. The only one I’m prejudiced against is Eckhart Tolle’s and his whooey bullshit.

        I personally love women and gay men. If I didn’t then I would have no one to cook my dinner or cut my hair.

        You clearly have a reading comprehension problem. I’d see someone about that.

        Thanks for the comment.


        P.S. The above was mostly sarcastic. I thought I better explain that to you because I know I used a lot of big words.

        • Cartesien says:

          Jonathan, I’m so sorry. My comment was not for you but for Simon who see prejudices all around himself, and that is ridiculous! And yes, Eckhart Tolle book is a compilation of bullshit. That book was written by a smart opportunist for stupid and confused people. Tolle is making money on the back of the confused and the weak… It’s pityful.


          • Jonathan says:

            Oh my , I guess I really hit the trigger finger in a hurry there, didn’t I?

            I’m tempted to delete my previous reply out of embarrassment, but on the other hand I’m pretty pleased with how that sarcasm came out…

            Apology accepted, and please accept mine. :-)

  • Steve says:

    You havent ‘gotten’ the jist of his message. Your reactions to his answers comes completely from your ego-identified sense of self. That your a man ‘so naturally you take offence’..blah blah..

    his message is basically, who you think you are is nothing but a self-construct made up of thought and emotional interpretations of things that happened, are happening, or ‘may’ happen. Therefore your attention is engaged in a tug-of war of past and future because its the backdrop of your form idenitfy — in your case ” Jonathan – a guy who doesnt hate gay people blah blah ,who grew up over here, went out with such and such, expects and believes such and such…all that is based on past ‘occurences’ that have conditioned you.

    Who you truly are is ‘spacious conscious ‘unconditioned’ intelligence’ That underlying ‘awareness’ That, I am that I am, not I am Jonathan, etc…That unconditioned conscious awareness is more essentially who you are, and who everybody is. That consciousness can manifest in 2 forms as you and me – and then get lost based on our form identity – boy/gir/gay/str8.. and that’s were the joys and sorrows of duality lie.

    Read his book again.

    • Jonathan says:

      Read my review again, clearly you didn’t get my message either.

      • Sajjeev Antony says:

        Jonathan: I’m afraid Steve is right. Tolle’s message is nothing new. You will see the same message from Christ. We Christians wear Jesus as part of our ego and so miss His real message which was as simple as Tolle’s. In fact we have created images of Jesus and heaven in our own minds, and we are looking for something “profound” so that we miss the truth.

        We are looking for a Christ performing magic tricks. We think that if we keep saying “Praise the Lord” that is all that is required.

        Sometime back I visited a born again church which had all music and videos and people were so nice and loving etc. But the essence of Jesus seemed to be missing there. Then I found out why. They are ignoring the real message of Jesus. They were quoting the Gospel of John everywhere and completely ignoring the others, particularly Matthew.

        • Jonathan says:

          I don’t really see any connection between Tolle’s work and the Bible, but I’d certainly be curious to see the part where the Bible says gay people and menstruating women are more enlightened.

          • Sajjeev Antony says:

            Jesus’ teachings are about looking within ourselves for the truth. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” “Kingdom of God is within you.”

            Now, if you look at the Gnostic gospel of Thomas, it is even more explicit: “When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.” (verse 3)

            “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.” (v: 4)

            You see, Jesus, like other mystics, taught at different levels. We Christians got stuck at the lowest level.

            Reading Gospel according to Thomas could be very revealing.

            There is nothing wrong with the four canonical gospels. They are just the beginning.

    • Cole says:

      It’s so ironic how all of Johnathan’s points come down to “BUT, BUT I’M ENLIGHTENED. BUT I’M THE CHOSEN ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!” It’s painful to see him rant from his ego when that is the very thing Eckhart is trying to help him destroy. It is, however, interesting to see the POV of someone who willfully misinterprets the book to further his already in-place beliefs.

      • Jonathan says:

        Why would I want to destroy my ego? What a distrubing thing to want to do.

        [ee-goh, eg-oh]
        noun, plural e·gos.
        1. the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

        You’re just trolling of course (or is it tolle-ing?) but nevertheless I challenge you to find any evidence of me ever claiming enlightenment.

        Sorry for causing you so much pain though. I do hope you find a way to heal.

      • Stephen says:


        I was thinking the same thing. Jonathan, your ego puts automatically puts you in a defensive mode at the suggestion that you are not paramount in all respects. Let go of the obsession of self. You are not a woman nor are you gay (context clues) so why are you concerned about what Tolle has to say about those groups? Our egos are so full of self that even conversations not about us wound us.