Tag Archives: Eckhart Tolle

Namaste for the Gods, the Guru, and Kelly Ripa

I was watching Meg Ryan on the Regis show and as her interview ended she signified her departure to Regis’s co-host Kelly Ripa by bringing her hands together prayer-like in front of her forehead. That is to say, Meg presented the sign meaning Namaste.

Namaste means “my soul and your soul are one,” according to nonduality teacher Dr. Jean Klein. Further, Klein points out in the video Discovering the Current of Love, that when the hands are held at heart level it is intended for your neighbor and all people. When the hands are brought to forehead level it is a namaste for the Guru. When the hands are held over the head, Klein says, this is namaste for the gods.

On the Regis show, Meg Ryan brought her hands to forehead level, signifying to Kelly Ripa that this namaste was for “the Guru.”

So, what Guru do Meg Ryan and Kelly Ripa share or recognize? More broadly, what is the spiritual connection between Meg Ryan and Kelly Ripa?

How deep, diverse, and widespread is the teaching of nonduality throughout Hollywood? I think it is prevalent and takes the forms of Tibetan Buddhism, Eckhart Tolle-ism, Kabbala, and open Christianity ala A Course in Miracles. That’s only a few.

It’s all over the internet that Jeff Goldblum is reading Talks with Ramana Maharshi.

Acclaimed British actor Terence Stamp has voluntarily read the audio version of David Carse’s most nondual Perfect Brilliant Stillness.

Legendary Richard Beymer has written the wild and penetrating nonduality book, Impostor, a creation that should be made into a movie.

Since my work in nonduality over the last ten years has been to bring nonduality to “the people,” it makes sense that I would try to gauge how nonduality has penetrated the lives of people within certain groups. The mass entertainment group is interesting since it could spread the teaching of nonduality very broadly, if, perhaps, not too deeply.

Initiation vs the Aha Moment

What is an aha moment? How does it compare to initiation?

An aha moment is a sudden stumbling into a deeper truth. Suddenly you see a connection previously unseen. Suddenly what made no sense, makes sense. An aha moment is a turnaround. Disliking someone for a certain quality and suddenly realizing you dislike yourself for that quality, is an aha moment. Not wanting to go somewhere or do something, but saying yes, going and enjoying yourself, qualifies as an aha moment. Solving a difficult problem upon waking up in the middle of the night with an answer, is an aha moment. Being shown a bigger picture that you missed seeing; realizing you were doing something incorrectly all the while, are aha moments.

Oprah makes a big deal about aha moments. On Oprah’s website Julia Louis-Dreyfus describes an aha moment she had upon listening to Bobby Kennedy, Jr. speak about the environment and how our caring for the environment bears on caring for our children. Her aha moment was the seeing of that connection and the realization that she had to do a lot more to support the environment.

Juliette Binoche also describes her aha moment on Oprah’s website. I didn’t bother reading it. I just like saying her name. She’s the new face of Lancome, in case you didn’t know.

For purposes of the nonduality work, an aha moment is the realizing of a connection with your sense of being, with your sense of existence. Suddenly you realize the importance of the apparent fact that you exist. That’s a real aha moment. I read in the New York Times that a woman had an aha moment upon realizing she didn’t need to live in a building with a doorman. O-kay. Unless the doorman was Eckhart Tolle in a diaper, we really don’t need to dwell on those kinds of aha moments.

An aha moment happens without apparent assistance. An aha moment is like spotting a rare bird in a tree.

Initiation is like someone pointing out to you where the rare bird is located. But you still can’t see it. So the initiator takes your head in hands and directs it toward the rare bird and also points in the exact direction and say, “See?!” And you see.

The initiation is more personal and powerful than the aha moment because the force of the hands on your head and the precisely pointing finger never leave. Therefore you have been shown and are forever guided. Initiations are always long-lasting. Aha moments may be long-lasting, but usually they are more superficial. Initiations strike you at the cellular level. They change you from deep within. Aha moments strike at the level of personality, feelings, emotions, mind, and aren’t as penetrating.

A depiction of the aha moment experience:

Aha moments are new directions. Initiations are redirections. Aha moments add to your inventory of spiritual experiences. Initiations discard a mess of spiritual experiences. Aha moments take you in many directions. Initiation takes you in a single direction. Aha moments form a rainbow. Initiation is a beam of white light. You can sell aha moments. No one really wants an initiation. Aha moments are fascinating. Initiation can be frightening, painful, and sickening, since there is often resistance to the process of initiation. Aha moments are usually pretty cool. Initiation isn’t cool. You can share an aha moment. It’s hard to talk about an initiation.

A depiction of the initiation experience (see the difference?):

That’s all I really wanted to show, the difference between an aha moment and an initiation. I tried to include at least one aha moment. And it’s all initiation, right? Every letter.

Branding Nonduality: Part Two

Since I posted the first part of this article on January 9, 2008, Eckhart Tolle and his particular teaching of nonduality have been raised in public consciousness.

In the earlier article I asked whether Eckhart Tolle was as strong a brand as Deepak Chopra. At this point it is clear that the name Eckhart Tolle is a very strong brand. A few months ago I might have thought that “The Now” was a stronger brand, but I no longer think that. Although the Deepak Chopra brand goes back decades, in current times Eckhart Tolle is as strong or stronger a brand name.

Also in the earlier article I felt that the Ken Wilber name was a stronger brand than the Peter Fenner name. I don’t think that’s as true any longer. Fenner’s Radiant Mind — the book and course — is becoming more well known. And I feel it is easier to find one’s way from Tolle to Fenner, while not so easy to find a bend in the Tolle road that leads straight to Wilber.

The other update is about the 9choirs.com site. It has improved its look and name and thereby strengthened its branding. Now the site is called SoulsCode: Everyone’s a guru. I like the site and branding much better, although I still don’t easily grasp its focus or niche.

There are hundreds of other examples in the nonduality field that could be discussed in terms of branding. I’m only giving my impressions and have no hard evidence to back them. My main purpose is to get you to think about the business of nonduality in terms of branding. The question you might ask is whether you are optimally branding your work in nonduality.

Nonduality needs to be run as a business in order to communicate it worldwide. Take the most low-profile nondual people in the nonduality racket, for example a guy like david carse who doesn’t teach, doesn’t encourage personal contact, doesn’t even copyright his popular book, Perfect Brilliant Stillness: beyond the individual self: he still has to run a business, ship books, advertise, deal with publishers, printers, distributors, banks, etc.

And I have to say, if david has a brand it is david carse himself, the reclusive Vermont carpenter who writes brilliantly about the nondual state and claims no ownership of his writing. What a job of branding!

Branding Nonduality

Who is doing a notable job of branding in the nonduality genre? Ken Wilber has a solid two-part brand: his name and the term “Integral.”

Recently Peter Fenner has been branding Radiant Mind very clearly with both a book and a course of the same name. “Peter Fenner”, the guy, is less of a brand than “Ken Wilber”, in my opinion.

Deepak Chopra is in Oprah territory with his branding.

Eckhart Tolle? He sells a lot of books, but how’s his branding? Is Eckhart himself as strong a brand as Oprah or Chopra? The “Now” was a budding brand, but has he followed through with it? Compare Tolle to Oprah and Chopra and you decide on the strength of his brand, or even what his brand is.

Dennis Waite is doing an excellent job of sticking to “Advaita” as his brand. His books have Advaita in the title. He is a moderator of the Advaitin email forum. His website is advaita.org.uk. He writes for other Advaita websites. Strong, smart branding. When you think of Advaita, you think of Dennis Waite (among others, of course).

A branding effort that has me puzzled is that of a new and beautiful website, 9choirs.com. It is truly a mainstream nonduality website. They have cool articles. But when you first land on the site, do you know what it is about within the first two or three seconds? 9choirs mentions beliefnet.com and yelp.com as the types of websites they do not want to be like. However, if you land on either of those websites, you will know within a couple of seconds exactly what they are about. 9choirs, in my opinion, could use stronger branding. A brand has to stand for something immediately identifiable.

A purpose of branding is to effectively and efficiently distribute the information your audience wants and needs.

That concludes this brief series on branding.