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Eckhart Tolle
Tolle in 2003
Tolle in 2003
Born Ulrich Leonard Tölle
(1948-02-16) February 16, 1948 (age 76)
Lünen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Allied-occupied Germany
Occupation Writer
Language English, German, Spanish
Genre Spirituality, metaphysics, self-help
Notable works The Power of Now (1997)
A New Earth (2005)

Eckhart Tolle (/ˈɛkɑːrt ˈtɒlə/ ek-ART-_-TOL; German: [ˈɛkhaʁt ˈtɔlə]; born Ulrich Leonard Tölle, February 16, 1948) is a German-born spiritual teacher and self-help author. His books include The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997), A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (2005) and the picture book Guardians of Being (2009).

Early life

Ulrich Leonard Tölle was born in Lünen, a small town north of Dortmund in the Ruhr region of Germany in 1948.

In 1961 he moved to Spain to live with his father, where he "refused all forms of formal education between the ages of 13 and 22, preferring instead to pursue his own creative and philosophical interests". At 15, he was "heavily influenced" by a gift of the five spiritual books by the German mystic Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken.


When he was 19, Tolle moved to England and taught German and Spanish for three years at a London language school. After attending the University of London, he enrolled in a postgraduate program at the University of Cambridge in 1977.

Spiritual experience

One night in 1977, at the age of 29, after having suffered from long periods of depression, Tolle says he experienced an "inner transformation". That night he awakened from his sleep, suffering from feelings of depression that were "almost unbearable," but then experienced a life-changing epiphany. Recounting the experience, he says,

I couldn’t live with myself any longer. And in this a question arose without an answer: who is the ‘I’ that cannot live with the self? What is the self? I felt drawn into a void! 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. It dissolved. The next morning I woke up and everything was so peaceful. The peace was there because there was no self. Just a sense of presence or “beingness,” just observing and watching.

Tolle recalls going out for a walk in London the next morning, and finding that “everything was miraculous, deeply peaceful. Even the traffic." The feeling continued, and he began to feel a strong underlying sense of peace in any situation.

He stopped studying for his doctorate, and for a period of about two years after this he spent much of his time sitting, “in a state of deep bliss," on park benches in Russell Square, Central London, "watching the world go by.” He stayed with friends, in a Buddhist monastery, or otherwise slept rough on Hampstead Heath. His family thought him “irresponsible, even insane." He changed his first name from Ulrich to Eckhart; according to some reports this was in homage to the German philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart. A 2012 interview article states that he saw the name Eckhart on one of a pile of books in a dream, and knew he had written the book; soon after in real life he ran into a psychic friend who called him Eckhart out of nowhere, so he changed his name.

Career as spiritual teacher

Former Cambridge students and acquaintances began to ask Tolle about his beliefs. He started working as a counselor and spiritual teacher. Students continued to come to him over the next five years. He moved to Glastonbury, a center of alternative living. In 1995 he moved to Vancouver.

The Power of Now, Tolle's first book, was published in 1997 by Namaste Publishing. The book was republished on a large scale by New World Library in 1999.

In 2000, Oprah Winfrey recommended The Power of Now in her magazine O. In August 2000, it reached The New York Times Best Seller Advice, Miscellaneous and Hardcover list, reaching number one two years later. By 2008, the book had been translated from English into 33 languages. In July 2011, it had appeared on the list of the 10 best selling Paperback Advice & Miscellaneous books for 102 weeks.

His second book, Stillness Speaks, appeared in 2003. That year, he stated that he had no intention of creating "a heavy commercial structure", nor of setting up an ashram or centre. He believed one "could develop organically" and said "one needs to be careful that the organization doesn't become self-serving". Nevertheless, his website sells his books and "a dizzying range" of materials offering spiritual guidance, and a separate website streams video of monthly group meditations and sells photographs and fundraising courses.

In 2005, Tolle published A New Earth. In January, Oprah Winfrey selected it for her book club, and high sales followed. In the four weeks following the announcement, 3.5 million copies were shipped. It was ranked number one on The New York Times Best Seller list 46 times by the end of 2008.

In 2008, Tolle partnered with Winfrey to produce a series of webinars, each one focusing on a chapter from his books, with discussions, silent meditations, and questions from viewers via Skype. The third webinar attracted more than 11 million viewers. By October 2009, the webinars had been accessed 35 million times.

In September 2009, he appeared with the Dalai Lama at the Vancouver Peace Summit. The same year, he published Guardians of Being, a picture book illustrated by Patrick McDonnell.

Personal life

In 1995, after visiting the West Coast of North America several times, Tolle settled in Vancouver, British Columbia. There he met his future wife, Kim Eng.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Eckhart Tolle para niños

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