I said last night’s blog would be shorter as when dealing with a pantheistic notion of the universe, you can’t say much about God that isn’t said about the world. I anticipate a short blog tonight as well as we look at the view of man and realize that there isn’t much distinction here also. Nevertheless, we shall go through and see if we can find anything to comment on while trying to avoid passages already commented on.
Some readers might also note the order I am taking after seeing how Tolle handles Scripture. Those who know me and some of my heroes in the faith could recognize that by going God, Cosmos, and Man, that I am actually taking the order of the Late Ron Nash. (May he rest in peace.) Nash, in describing a worldview, said the most important questions were the nature of God, ultimate reality, man, ethics, and the afterlife. Tolle says little if anything about the afterlife so we will focus on other topics then. For his ethics, we will look at his psychology. For now though, let’s look at what he has to say about man.
As we have seen, man is part of the universe and I see no way of avoiding saying that man is God. The problem for mankind is that mankind is not aware of this and needs to reach consciousness or enlightenment. In this, Tolle is no different from many new age teachers of eastern thought. It is simply repackaged for those in a more western worldview supposedly. It’s worth noting that this is also what he says Jesus called salvation. (Yet Tolle seems silent on sin, which Jesus was never silent on and salvation was deliverance from the penalty of sin.)
On page 11, he speaks of humans “Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction.” Here is the speaking of the environmental movement. The difference here though is that destroying the environment is bad for people not because they depend on it so much as they share the same essence as it. For the record, I personally don’t place much stock in environmental scare crisis and think the crisis of unbelief is far worse than any supposed environmental crisis.
Later on page 102, we read this:
The man on the cross is an archetypal image. He is every man and every woman. As long as you resist suffering, it is a slow process because the resistance creates more ego to burn up. When you accept suffering, however, there is an acceleration of that process which is brought about by the fact that you suffer consciously. You can accept suffering for yourself, or you can accept it for someone else, such as your child or parent. In the midst of conscious suffering, there is already that transmutation. The fire of suffering becomes the light of consciousness.
Now there is some psychology in here of course, but there is a statement about our nature. It is our nature to become conscious and this is through suffering. Christianity has a similar teaching. It is where it is different that it matters. We too, see the value in suffering, but believe it is making us to be more like Christ and that God is purging all the impurities from within us. Notice the distinction. In Christianity, it is God working in us. In Tolle’s view, it is us working in us.
This is more explicit on page 116 where he says “To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself….”
Now partially, one does have to take responsibility for one’s actions, but in a Christian worldview, it is God that is reaching down and taking the initiative. We are merely following him. Saving the world does not start with us. It started with Christ. We are simply carrying on his work through the proclamation of the gospel and the Great Commission.
I honestly wish I could say more, but all that is said is about consciousness and being one. Much of it has already been addressed and I count on people who care about truth being able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the psychology of Tolle to see if he does have any wheat.