Best-selling The Power of Now author Eckhart Tolle is due to speak at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah theatre on September 8.
The 70-year-old German-born Canadian resident, who doesn’t identify with any particular religion, is a favorite of both the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey. He is often called one of the most influential spiritualists alive and is cited almost daily as the modern obsession with mindfulness as a cure for modern psychological ailments grows.
In a recent article on The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson called Tolle the kind of spiritual writer “who has basically jumped off the deep end and is writing from a position of something like enlightenment.” He also puts him, however, in the same category as the 1960s icon Ram Dass, for seeming “upon close inspection, to be the real deal. Which, you know, only makes us more skeptical”.
Tolle has said he struggled with depression during the early years of his life until a pivotal moment one night at the age of 29, after which he changed his name from Ulrich to Eckhart – reportedly in a nod to the German theologian Eckhart von Hocheim – and then changed his entire life.
“I didn’t know at the time that what really happened was the mind-made self, with its heaviness, its problems, that lives between the unsatisfying past and the fearful future, collapsed,” he told the Telegraph Magazine in 2010. “It dissolved. The next morning I woke up and everything was so peaceful.”
Tolle acknowledges his family thought he was “insane.” He and friends personally distributed some of the 3,000 first-run copies of The Power of Now to bookshops in 1997, before it was given a wider distribution two years later. In 2000, came the important Winfrey endorsement.
He went on to sell more than eight million copies of his frequently-cited books, The Power of Now and A New Earth.
In 2008 Tolle hosted a live web series with Winfrey that drew 35 million people. And although he set up a website, sells products, speaks internationally and has famous fans, for the most part Tolle has stuck to early goals that he wouldn’t sell out commercially.