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The Art of Presence

by Eckhart Tolle

      Eckhart Tolle, who hails from British Columbia, first surfaced when he published The Power of Now (New World Library, 1999). In The Power of Now, Tolle described his own spiritual transformation as he emerged from a state of deep despair to self-realization soon after his 29th birthday, after which it took him ten years to understand and develop the philosophy presented in his book. Rooted in Buddhism and other meditation techniques, Tolle’s program teaches readers how to recognize themselves as the creators of their own pain, and how to have a pain-free existence by living fully in the present. Accessing the deepest self, the true self, can be learned, claims Tolle, by freeing ourselves from the conflicting, unreasonable demands of the mind and living "present, fully, and intensely, in the Now." Since publication of The Power of Now, Tolle has evolved into a bestselling author in print and audio, as well as a super guru among followers of new age philosophies, leading retreats and workshops at spiritual centers around the world. He has published twelve titles, which have been translated into thirty languages.

The Sounds True CD presentation of The Art of Presence was recorded at a weekend retreat, making it easy to listen to each of the six sessions separately, according to your own schedule. Or, if you want create your own heavy-dose at-home retreat, you can listen non-stop to the whole seven hours.

As to how the individual listener will respond, that is hard to predict. If you’ve never been exposed to Echart Tolle before, you might love him or hate him. This CD is Eckhart doing what Eckhart does, talking in his dragging monotone, laughing his ridiculous, inhibited laugh, sometimes putting some of us to sleep, but mostly pounding, drilling, drumming into us that if we want to be truly conscious human beings, we must be constantly mindful and alert and ever vigilant at practicing being aware of our own presence in the current moment, which will allow us to wake up to the vibrant unified consciousness that we share with all living things.

This presentation offers essentially the same message as The Power of Now - life is not in the past or in the future - but right now, in this very moment. If you feel like you’re missing your life, just practice paying attention, moment after moment after moment. That’s how you learn The Art of Presence.

Eckhart offers descriptions of presence, stillness, silence, strategies of the mind, and types of meditation practice. He teaches us to be aware of activity, to practice doing one thing at a time, to relate to the present moment, and to practice the state of "no mind." He reminds us to ground ourselves in the deep life of our "inner body," at the same time finding freedom from the illusion of separation, learning to be a witness or "perceiver" of our experiences, so we can each go beyond the story of our life to find the personal higher being that empowers "right action." In one fascinating session, he encourages us to be aware of our own behavior patterns in order to be in the now in relationships. Later, he re-introduces his old concept of the Pain-Body, reminding us to pay close attention to this excellent personal spiritual teacher. Tolle discusses ways to dissolve the Pain-Body, as an especially effective method getting beyond our addiction to emotional pain. One entire disc, plus a good portion of another, is devoted to Eckhart’s answers to questions from retreat participants.

Mostly this audio presentation is about right now - learning to be still in the gap between past and future - getting rid of the noise in your mind. If he doesn’t put you to sleep, listening to Eckhart will most likely serve to ground, calm, center you. If nothing else, he may cure your insomnia, but if you listen deeply, you may thankfully remember his words long after they’ve penetrated your noisy mind chatter.

The Book

Sounds True
September 2007
Audio CD 6 CDs, 7 HRs
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The Reviewer

Janet Hamilton
Reviewed 2008
© 2008