Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Between Gurdjieff and Eckhart Tolle Stands the All of Anthony De Mello
Sacred Wisdom Meets Pope Benedict XVI

My entry into the world of sacred wisdom came through the New Age door of Don Miguel Ruiz. His ‘Four Agreements’, and especially his ‘Voice of Knowledge’ clearly tap into that tradition, though dressed in Mesoamerican language.

Eckhart Tolle presented for me a more systematic approach to the same tradition combined with a more ‘west meets east’ understanding. He is more important than ten thousand Oprahs (with which I'm sure she would agree although I'm equally sure he would not [when the finger points to the moon, the idiot looks at the finger and writes this sentence]).

In following their trail, I found the enigmatic Gurdjieff, who some say forms the cornerstone of twentieth century sacred wisdom, or rather the return of the same to the west. His is a modern psychological view that seems to be based on Orthodox Christian and Sufi wisdom.

But between these 20th and 21st century points, there stands a voice that speaks in both Roman Catholic and Eastern lexicon: Anthony De Mello, an Indian Jesuit priest. Reading or listening to his words, ones hears clearly the source of much of Ruiz and Tolle. Not only that, one hears the echoes of Gurdjieff. But his is even more than that. It is a synthesis of eastern and western mysticism, combining Aquinas with Buddha, and finding the elixir of enlightenment. Not that it matters, he would say, and you will ultimately understand.

One knows he must have been touching the third rail of this tradition when Pope Benedict in his previous incarnation of Cardinal Ratzinger (and his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) found it necessary to declare him, if not heretical, dangerous to the Catholic religion (the warning has since been downgraded to something more akin to strong advice).

For me, that is just confirmation of this man’s significance. Find or buy his book, 'Awareness,' and a la Gurdjieff, read it three times. It is, I believe, a truly important and foundational work, a radical synthesis of western theology and eastern insight, in all their various glories, presented in a conversational tone (it is actually a transcription from lectures), mixed with parable and story.

If Gurdjieff is the Past returning, and Tolle the new Now, then De Mello is the mystic philosophical fulcrum. Oh him truly rests the All.


Anonymous said...

I am so greatful to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah for turning me onto Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and her beautiful book ""My Stroke of Insight"". Her story is amazing and her gift to all of us is a book purchase away I'm happy to say.

Dr Taylor was a Harvard brain scientist when she had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke - where language and thinking occur - but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

What I took away from Dr. Taylor's book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don't have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. ""I want what she's having"", and thanks to this wonderful book, I can! Thank you Dr. Taylor, and thank you Eckhart and Oprah.

Veronica said...

We are so lucky to have on the scene today Eckhart Tolle someone like him comes along once in a long time like a Babe Ruth in baseball. He presents in the clearest way the purpose of our lives.