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Category Archives: Eckhart Tolle

A Venn diagram showing the crossover of wealth coaches, new age gurus, Oprah endorsees… and Mystery the Pick Up Artist

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I was curious as to how a Venn diagram of new age and motivational coaching gurus and gizmos would overlap. Essentially, the former devotees strive for enlightenment and the latter for financial gain.

Then I decided to throw Oprah and pickup master Mystery (creator of The Mystery Method/Love Systems, and subject of Neil Strauss’s manual for men, The Game) into the mix, just for a giggle.

No expense spared.


New Age + Oprah endorsees

Dr Doreen Virtue: A “spiritual doctor of psychology”, “fourth-generation metaphysician” and angel healer.

Gangaji: Former divorcee from Texas-turned- spiritual guru.

Louise L Hay: Author of You Can Heal Your Life and spin-offs. Her company now publishes Deepak Chopra.

Indigo children: Coined by psychic Nancy Ann Tappe, Indigo children were born in the early eighties, are spiritually superior, and identifiable by their indigo auras. They are recognisable “by their unusually large, clear eyes.”

Byron Katie: American speaker and author who founded self-inquiry method ‘The Work’ after hauling herself up from alcoholism and a stint in a halfway house.

M Scott Peck: Psychiatrist and author of 1978 tome A Road Less Travelled – a personal take on spiritual growth.

Eckhart Tolle: German author of The Power of Now and A New Earth which utilise many Buddhist teachings.

New Age + Oprah + Motivational Coaching

Jack Canfield: Motivational speaker and co-creator of the Chicken Soup For the Soul books. Advocate of The Secret; founded the Transformational Leadership Council.

Deepak Chopra: A leader of the mind-body-spirit movement; a doctor with many published papers and self-help books. Time magazine opined: “Of all the Asian gurus … Chopra has arguably been the most successful at erasing apparent differences between East and West by packaging Eastern mystique in credible Western garb.”

James A Ray: Motivational speaker and author of Harmonic Wealth, advocate of The Secret. Convicted of negligent homicide in 2011 when two people died and 18 were hospitalised when a sweat lodge he was overseeing at a $10,000 per person Spiritual Warrior retreat was over-packed by participants who had not drunk any water for two days.

Vision boards: Pasting images of what you aspire to own or achieve to a bit of board.

Motivational Coaching + Oprah endorsees

Dr Phil: Former psychiatrist and current Oprah guru. In his twenties, presented Pathway Seminars with his father. Also said to take some of his ideas from Landmark Forum.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Robbins: Motivational speaker and alpha friend to heavyweight celebs. According to his own website, he has for over 30 years “dedicated his life to modeling the most successful people in the world”. Has authored the books Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement and Awaken The Giant Within and his seminars – including Unleash the Power Within (UPW) and Mastery University – utilise firewalking as a test of faith. Guest lecturers have included Deepak Chopra.

New Age + Mystery Method

Cold reading: Technique used by psychics, mentalists and magicians to deduce certain information about people by their appearance, behaviour and mannerisms.

Motivational Coaching

Stephen Covey: Motivational speaker and author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Mentored by James A Ray.

Pathway Seminars: Intensive, expensive personal development courses.

Justin Popovic: ‘Success coach’ and internet entrepreneur.
Mind Dynamics: The forefather of Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) programs – any program that portends to overhaul a person’s way of thinking and make them more wealthy in a few exhaustive days of training.

Motivational Coaching + New Age

EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique, or ‘tapping’. Involves tapping on meridian lines of body while chanting statements intended to, say, bolster income or dispense with trauma. I thought Oprah would have to be all over EFT, but when I had a search, all that came up was website after website of EFT fans wishing she’d get into it. Because think what she could achieve THEN.

Landmark Forum: Four-day personal training seminars of up to 150 people run by Landmark Education. Aggressive approach is designed to strip down psychological defenses and build a person up anew.

Motivational Coaching + New Age + Oprah endorsees + Mystery Method

Law of Attraction: Essentially, visualising health, wealth and happiness will attract them to you. The Secret is a book penned by Rhonda Byrne – Australian TV writer and producer (portfolio includes World’s Greatest Commercials and Marry Me) – that’s widely accepted as THE handbook.

NLP: Reprogramming the brain using linguistics and hypnotherapy. Anthony Robbins and Mystery use it heavily.


Alcoholic blackouts: the cheat’s guide to LIVING IN THE NOW

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Just being in the moment – like, being in the moment – without your critical mind wittering on about future or past concerns (or providing a running commentary of the moment: “this is nice, isn’t it?”), is a simple concept that’s the bedrock of much new agery and ancient philosophy… but it’s fiendishly hard to achieve.

Unless you’re one of those drinkers to whom blackouts come naturally.

Here we have a state of mind that perfectly encapsulates living in the now. The word ‘blackout’ is misleading. It suggests a limbic paintbrush obliterating your night’s doings, a blight that could be reversed with time and patience, but in actual fact it refers to something more phenomenal.

According to The Alcoholic Blackout: Walking, Talking, Unconscious and Lethal, by Donal F Sweeney, when in a blackout you cannot form even short-term memories, due to a neuroreceptor in your hippocampus being rendered useless by sheer volume of grog and failing to pass on information. Drink too fast, too hard, too soon, on too little, and you’re trying to spark a Zippo with no gas. Connections are not made; you are literally living in the now. A person in a blackout could be wandering along train tracks and notice a train is coming, but lack the subsequent thought processes needed to put two and two together. Like a goldfish, you’d notice again two seconds later, then forget.

No amount of brow furrowing, piecing together of likelihoods, second-person accounts, injured silences from loved ones, or cops standing with folded arms is going to miraculously summon forth memories you never made in the first place. But at least – for one inglorious night – true enlightenment has been yours. Take that, Tolle!


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“I don’t know what I do for a living,” shrugs Mark. “People ask me and I say, ‘I make people cry. Sometimes they fall asleep.’”

I’m back in Byron Bay, the Most Spiritual Town in Australia, back where I started my Snake Oil Skeptic quest. I’ve bought some Aphrodite Herb Tea, Maca Inca Superfood Powder, worn a floaty frock, followed the sound of steel drums and talked rubbish to the local ne’er-do-wells while staring out to sea, but really I’m here to see the healer from day one.

So far all my experiences with healers and psychics have left me with nothing but flaring nostrils and clenched fists – all except for Mark. There’s definitely something going on with him. I shit you not, when I look into his eyes I feel a bit hypnotised, like the rest of the room disappears. I’m hoping he can give me some pointers on how to become more open to spiritual experiences while accepting none of the rhetoric. I’ve felt like I’ve had a spiritual side since I was a kid without all that; I’ve felt it buzz and pulse and hum. And then abandon ship at around puberty.

“I just can’t get past chakras,” I say, as Mark sits across from me and bores his eyes pleasantly into my head. “So they’re everywhere spinning in the body… but where’s the shred of evidence? Can I get anywhere without accepting chakras as a basic foundation upon which to build?”

“I’m not interested in chakras,” Mark says. “I just know what I can see and feel; I can’t explain it and I don’t want to study it. It was drummed out of me as a child, because I grew up in a very scientific family. Then, when I reached my thirties I tried studying healing under two egotistical healers and it was a terrible experience.”

He asks if I’ve read any Eckhart Tolle. “I’ve been carrying around The Power of Now for ages,” I admit, “but I can’t bring myself to read it.” Especially in public.

“Your ego mind won’t let you,” Mark says. “But the ego mind is just a construction. Imagine it as a voice sitting on your shoulder, trying to tell you what to do. You are not your mind, you are a higher self.”

“I would call that ‘higher self’ my unconscious mind,” I challenge. And that goes for angels, higher powers, spirit guides, coming across weird ‘signs’ and ‘miracles’, and much other new age phenomena. Unconscious mind.

“Yeah, whatever you want to call it,” he says (touché!). “Just try not to intellectualise spirituality. You’re spiritual already; your ego mind just doesn’t want you to be because it wants to be in control. People study spirituality as hard as possible and think they should be here, when they’re here.” He moves his hand along an imaginary scale. “You get people wandering around Byron who look spiritual, but they’re not – they’re terrible people.”

Before I hop on the table, Mark checks out my energy by staring at the wall a few metres away.

“It’s all over the place,” he says.

“You’re not even looking.”

“I don’t have to look right at you, I can see it anywhere. I can see it remotely, around someone in another town. You’re throwing energy out but not letting any in. It’s important to forgive yourself for things. And you’re floating a metre above the ground. It’s important to stay grounded and draw up energy from the ground.”

I’m probably on the table for about 40 minutes, with Mark moving his hands around about six inches over my body. I’ve had this done loads of times in the name of journalism and felt nothing but intense irritation. When Mark does it I bounce like I’m floating on a lilo in the sun, a pina colada in one hand. There’s a subtle sense of being pulled upwards, but more noticeable are the ripples pulsing down my body from my head, finally streaming out of my feet. It’s not an Icke-style awakening, but it’s something.

I swing my legs off the table and Mark looks into my eyes. “Wow. That’s beautiful,” he swoons of my newly arranged energy, in a totally non-pervey way. I think everybody – new ager or skeptic – is secretly waiting for someone to tell them they have a stunning aura, so I’m pleased by this.

Questions I wanted to ask but didn’t, for fear of hearing vague answers that would prompt more questions:

  • Can you mess with someone’s energy as they’re walking down the street without them knowing?
  • Are the spirit guides aliens from the star system Alpha Draconis?
  • Why did they give us critical minds?
  • Why does Universal energy need human vessels?
  • If we’re made up of a higher self and ego mind, which one does the libido belong to?

Did John Butler 12-step me?*

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I was locked in a Tarago with the John Butler Trio, concentrating fiercely. They were playing Newcastle; I was leeching along with my dictaphone. Beneath all the talk of new songs, uranium mines and the importance of cracking the States, I could hear an undercurrent of something – a hidden message of some sorts.

John talked about the importance of being fully present, about putting out his intention and handing over his will.

My ears pricked up. I’d recently started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and I recognised these patterns of speech. Up till that point I’d been about as spiritual as a sock; suddenly I was the empty vessel into which talk of ‘acceptance’, ‘handing it over’ and ‘living in the now’ poured – usually in the form of a rhyme or acronym. Now John was revealing he’d heard them too. I was possum eyed with excitement. He was one of us.

Veering wildly off the interview script, I started throwing in some unusual questions. “Do you have a few drinks before you go on stage?” I asked. “What about after?”

John frowned, perhaps presuming I’d run out of Wiki ammo and was about to ask him his favourite colour. He might, he said, perhaps have a few beers. It was my turn to frown. So that wasn’t it. He must be Narcotics Anonymous.

What I had failed to realise, being a wet-behind-the-ears newb, was that while the foundations of AA may be built upon Jungian theory and cognitive restructuring, in recent years it’s acquired plenty of Eckhart Tolle-isms, mindfulness, and an appreciation of pop spirituality, like The Secret.

As Jung himself wrote to AA founding father Bill Wilson, “‘alcohol’ in Latin is ‘spiritus’ and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as for the most depraving poison.” No wonder the same spiritual path that attracted John – who has often spoken of having an awakening, aged 20 – is adopted by reformed boozehounds who have both lost their religion and had an awakening themselves.

AA wound up being a crash course for me, as I decided to home school myself after being told I was spiritually sick and unlikely to get better… but I’ll never forget that illuminating moment of identification the day I interviewed John.

* No. I snuck a peek at JB’s rider when he was on stage. He’s definitely not a friend of Bill W, but he does read The Secret.


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Puzzlingly, Oprah has never embraced Icke.

I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s description of his awakening in The Power of Now, and it’s strikingly close to David Icke’s, minus the mountain accoutrements.

TOLLE (aged 29)

“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. “Am I one or two?” If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”
I was so stunned by this strange realisation that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing”, as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It was as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.

ICKE (aged 39)

There were magnets pulling my feet to the ground, and then I felt a drill going in the top of my head and through my body, through my feet, into the ground. And then another one coming the other way. And then my arms go out at 45 degrees, for the best part of an hour. This energy coming through me. My body started to shake with it, and I had two very powerful thought-forms pass through my head.

The first one said: They’ll be talking about this 100 years from now.” The other one was: “It will be over when you feel the rain.” This energy just kept coming through me. And I kept going in and out of, if you like, awareness, consciousness, like driving a car and you go: Crikey. Where did the last two miles go?

One of these times when I came back to kind of awareness, I noticed that over the distant mountains there was a light grey mist. It got darker and darker very quickly, pouring rain on the distant mountains.

I watched this storm come out of the mountains. The cloud was a straight line. It was like drawing the curtains across the sky. This thing’s coming towards me, and as it got closer, the sun’s gone. It’s been covered. All the clouds are billowing and I’m seeing faces in the clouds. It didn’t make sense to me, but I saw faces in the clouds.

And then it’s a wall of rain. I’m watching it coming towards me. By this time I’m hanging on, you know, with this energy coming through me. Eventually it hits me – torrential rain – and everything stopped. That’s when I staggered forward and my shoulders were agony and all the rest of it.

Winner: Icke.