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How does Tolle jive with Judaism?

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Showing 1-24 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 25, 2010 10:03:13 AM PDT
I'm curious to know how fellow Jews perceive Tolle's teachings and specifically his book "The Power of Now."

A few quick thoughts and questions to jump start the conversation:

1. His basic message about nullification of the ego and the importance of presence is also found in Judaism and thus resonates with me.

2. His frequent references to Jesus are not helpful to me, but, more generally, few readers probably find all of Tolle's teachings relevant or worthwhile anyway. Readers have to sort through what is useful or true-sounding to them and what can be discarded or ignored.

3. Are there Jewish writers who do as good a job condensing and packaging these ideas of ego nullification and presence?

4. The implication of Tolle's teachings is that organized religion is an unnecessary or even harmful form of ego identification. Can this implication be reconciled with one's Jewish identity?

I'd like to know what other Jewish readers think about these and other issues raised in the Power of Now.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2010 7:09:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2010 7:13:23 AM PDT
Joseph Johns says:
My friend,

I am no Jew, but I may have some words for you anyhow!

First, a Jew comes to mind who expresses some things like this quite well, though he is not
so Jewish in the sense of Religious tradition (at least I don't get that impression). The person is David Bohm. He was a physicist by profession, but knows of other things as well! For example, you might enjoy, on you tube, a conversation between he and J Krishnamurti "The Future of Humanity". Those two point to the same thing as Tolle.

I too was troubled by questions like yours when I started reading this book, feeling this, experiencing this.
In my case it was my identity as a scientist, my desire to create to discover. How is the teaching compatible with that? My ego is there, no? Tolle said "You have no interest in puzzles."

It is compatible, but maybe not in the way you think!
I would suggest you continue. Find what in Judaism is compatible.
Go deeply into it. Go to what it points to. That is the point of Religion.
(Indeed, "the point" of it! What it points to.)

Your feeling of "I am a Jew" or "Jesus is not part of Judaism"
are thoughts. They may seem precious to you, but there is something
far more precious still, "the very life that you are", this here, this now,
the life that flows through it, unnoticed, unspeaking. That is not a thought...
You may still have your thoughts as well, but you will also feel peace,
not needing, not grasping ...

Shalom, friend.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2010 1:01:06 PM PST
Thank you Joseph for your thoughtful response, if you'll excuse the pun.

I cannot dismiss the feeling that "I am a Jew" as a mere thought, when my ancestors endured who-knows-what over the centuries to pass on this beautiful spiritual tradition to me.

As a Jew, I find Tolle's teachings to be immensely valuable and, of course, largely truthful. However, I cannot subscribe completely to his prescription, because my identity as a Jew connects me to history and community in a way that I find to be very meaningful.

Hypothetically, if everyone attained the highest level of consciousness that Tolle describes, the human community would lose much of its rich diversity.

In the meantime, I am doing exactly what you suggest: Pursuing the points of consistency between Tolle's teachings and Jewish teaching.

Thanks and shalom,


Posted on Nov 17, 2010 6:24:43 AM PST
Joseph Johns says:
Jeff, Thanks for your kind response. Perhaps we will speak more later.

Posted on Dec 7, 2010 3:58:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2010 4:16:44 AM PST
Joseph Johns says:
Hi Jeff,

Two more comments which you may find helpful.

First, in Tolle's book "A New Earth" he mentions on page 16
Hasidism and Kabbala as examples of "schools"
that arose within an established religion which pointed towards
"a nonconceptual Truth which they then described in the context of their
own Religion." Probably you know all about these anyway, but I thought
you might find that interesting.

Second, I was just listening to a talk online by Adyashanti, a teacher
whom I trust, and you may as well after you hear him.
He said, enlightened people are not at all the same,
each person just becomes authentically who they are, but they are not at all the same.
The talk was called "Living the Truth" (and this remark occurred around the 19-27 minute mark)

I thought of you when I heard that... I'm not trying to refute your thoughts of course, but
since all us sleeping ones really don't know what we are getting into before we begin to awaken
these are helpful hints sometimes...



In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 4:47:14 PM PST
Hi Joe,

With the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death this week, "Imagine" was all over the radio waves. His suggestion that we should "imagine there is no religion" has always made me cringe a little.

I'm not suggesting that universal enlightenment would eradicate human diversity. What I'm really saying is that I would like to see universal enlightment unfold within the context of religious traditions. Enlightenment or consciousness draws us to the very best and highest aspects of both Western and Eastern religions, and those aspects include the codes of moral behavior.

In peace,


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2010 3:35:51 PM PST
L. Cooper says:
Check out Jiddu Krishnamurti he will blow your mind with the way he cuts to chase of all debate, we are simply victims of our conclusions and conditioning, a silent mind is the most powerful thing in the world. Every religion has the same potential to help but if you are not careful it will simply draw you inot the trap of duality, do this in order to attain that, go to church to be a good person and so on. Mindful awarness of our actions minute by minute, without judgement, just awarness is what is neccesary. Krishnamurti never sold a book or charged for a lecture, beware of ALL those who charge of spiritual advice, period.



Posted on Dec 17, 2010 7:14:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2010 7:18:41 AM PST
Joseph Johns says:
Hi Jeff,

I think you will get your wish: it will arise within all the different Religions (plus atheism), or it will
not arise at all. I agree, Religions have many of the most beautiful and highest visions of humanity.
I always thought Judaism was slightly wiser than many others in one respect: They emphasize God is formless, no name, no thing.

Best wishes -Joe

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2010 9:01:09 AM PST
Joseph Johns says:
Hi Lewis,

Yes it seems reasonable to be wary of all those who charge money. But then again, is that not a dualistic thought? ( big smiley face :) )

The divine moves in different people in different ways. If money was really meaningless it would seem reasonable either to charge or not to charge.
And what is helpful to people now? Many people only pay attention to what they pay for. The more they pay the greater their attention. Attention is the key.

Peace bro (I love JK too)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2010 10:05:35 AM PST
Thank you for mentioning Jiddu Krishnamurti, who I assume has been a big influence on Tolle. However, I'm not clear what this has to do with the subject of this discussion, which is" How does Tolle jive with Judaism?"

Posted on Jan 11, 2011 7:44:04 PM PST
Jeffrey, who cares besides you! judaism is just another "ism" who's original orgins come out of Egypt. the people who call themselves jew who are of eastern European orgins, are descended from the Khazars of of the Caucasus regipon of south central Euriope, who who converted to Judaism in the 9th century and have no ancients links to the holy land.

Posted on Feb 28, 2011 3:26:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2011 4:14:24 AM PST
Joseph Johns says:
Hi Jeff,

I thought you might find this article interesting.


("The sophisticate and the simpleton" in The Walrus magazine)

Also, another Jewish man with great spriitual wisdom is Leonard Cohen (the song writer and poet). There are many beautiful interviews with him on youtube. I love his song "Democracy" which I think is really about the arising of universal enlightenment in humanity, or we could say simply sanity. "We're goin' down so deep the river's gonna weep and the mountain's gonna shout Amen!"

Actually I learned recently he became "enligtened" or whatever in India a few years ago... although he was never particularly interested in "the tenants of buddhism...". He said 'I don't regard myself as a Religious man, I have no respect for such opinions
especially my own....' But he also said 'There is a hand that plays a role in our lives, but it's hard to say what that is ...'

When asked how he got interested in singing and poetry he said 'when I was a young boy in temple next to my old uncles, I had before me a kind of catalogue of all the ways we sin and die, and it moved me very much...' (I think that was a 1988 interview)

Best -Joe

Posted on Jun 13, 2011 5:44:48 AM PDT
Joseph Johns says:
Hi Jeff,

Re: question 3, perhaps Rabbi David A. Cooper would be suitable.

I saw him here:


and his webpage is here:



Posted on Jun 13, 2011 7:58:55 AM PDT
Hi Joe,

I recently read Cooper's "God is a Verb" and posted my review on Amazon. Cooper espoused similar ideas about consciousness before Tolle wrote "Power of Now."


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2011 6:58:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2011 6:59:49 AM PDT
Joseph Johns says:
Ah Jeff, you're back! I thought you might be. Thanks for the note- I'll check out your review. The more teachers I see or read who speak of the same living truth within, the more clearly I feel it within myself.

By the way, I noticed there are actually a couple more teachers
in the Jewish tradition on the website above, like
Rabbi Olivier BenHaim and Marc Gafni.

Actually the whole list of them from all kinds of Religions and points of view is heart warming to me. May the path that draws you bring you peace!

All the best, friend. -J

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2011 7:19:46 AM PDT
Thank you for referring me to Rabbi BenHaim, whom I was not familiar with. I might be interested in reading one of the books by Rabbi Ted Falcon, who is associated with the same synagogue.

I share your delight in finding that spiritual leaders and writers from many different traditions converge on ideas that do lead to higher consciousness -- and thus to peace.

Thanks again,


Posted on Apr 3, 2013 3:58:23 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2013 3:59:20 AM PDT
Gennady says:
Hi Jeff,

I found your post when searching Google for ways that i can reconcile Tolle's teachings with Judaism.

As a Jew myself, i have a strong identification with my heritage that has served me well so far in life. While Tolle's teachings touch a certain truth within me i can't seem to reconcile how i can pursue these teaching and yet keep my identification as a Jew. Specifically, your original point resonates with me 100% : "4. The implication of Tolle's teachings is that organized religion is an unnecessary or even harmful form of ego identification. Can this implication be reconciled with one's Jewish identity? "

I am wondering if you have found any answers to this problem?



Posted on Apr 3, 2013 12:05:08 PM PDT
I do have some answers Gennady. I hope you find this helpful:

Even Eckert Tolle has ego identification. In fact, he's established a very profitable identity for himself with a very defined personal narrative.

I'm not even sure the most righteous tzaddik could eliminate all ego identification. The trick, then, is to be conscious of your own ego identifications and to minimize their negative consequences. Of course, like anything else, ego identification is neither all bad nor all good, so accentuate the positive and diminish the negative, consciously.



In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2013 1:01:48 AM PDT
Gennady says:
Hi Jeff,

Thanks a lot for your reply. I guess it is hard for me to decipher between positive and negative ego identification - especially because so many of my successes stemmed from ego.

Are there any particular materials or literature you have come across that helped you resolve the conflict?



Posted on Apr 10, 2013 6:51:56 PM PDT
Hi Gennady,

I wouldn't view it as a conflict. It's a tension.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any particularly helpful writings on this issue. But it is a basic Jewish Kabbalistic belief. We need our animal souls, so long as they're tamed and directed by our divine souls. Your ego resides in your animal soul.


In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2013 8:52:47 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 12, 2013 8:56:09 PM PDT]

Posted on Jul 5, 2015 1:06:59 PM PDT
Hi all.

I just watched a video where a Jewish lady asks Eckhart Tolle why he never mentions Judaism. I enjoyed the look on Eckhart's face!

Tolle claims not to be knowledgeable about the Jewish religion, but a German claiming that is like a fish claiming not to be familiar with water.

I think the reason Eckhart Tolle never mentions the Jews is because he named himself after Meister Eckhart. Eckhart's God is the opposite of the Jewish God. Ill try to explain.

Meister Eckhart said 'I am unborn'.
Nisargadatta Maharaj said 'I am unborn'.

Isn't that amazing, two sages come to the same realization, 700 years apart, one in Germany and the other in India? This is what many realized sages tell, that the inner God dwells in all of us. Many have glimpsed the inner power.

Judaism doesn't recognise the inner God. Instead, Judaism is an outer longing for the God of the planets, the clouds and the universe. The other God is the Kingdom within. The Bible is very Jewish but there are a few Indian passages inside, like when Jesus says that the kingdom is within you.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2015 12:30:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2015 7:35:32 AM PST
LOL! says:
Jeffrey Cohan,

You say: "I cannot dismiss the feeling that "I am a Jew" as a mere thought, when my ancestors endured who-knows-what over the centuries to pass on this beautiful spiritual tradition to me. "

-Therein lie your shackles. A mature spiritual seeker commits to an uncompromising investigation of the 'notion of one's identity' and begins to move away from the type of thinking you express here.

You say: "...if everyone attained the highest level of consciousness that Tolle describes, the human community would lose much of its rich diversity."

-How do you know this? Perhaps humans would enjoy and respect each other's diversity. Perhaps cultures would no longer feel superior to other cultures, or play the victim, or kill each other over ancient delusions about special entitlements and special histories.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Posted on Feb 25, 2016 12:02:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2016 12:03:08 AM PST
The very highest teaching is to anchor yourself in the 'I am'. You are not your body. The 'I am' provides a clue. The I am in me is the same I am in you. 'Jew' is an object to the I am. The I-am is not a Jew!

The I am is your pure subjectivity, free from the body, thoughts and death. So saying 'I am this' and 'I am that' is attaching an imposter to the pure light of subjectivity, which is forever free.

Hope this makes sense?
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