On March 3, a live 10-week webinar hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, author of "A New Earth," began. Both the book and the online course purport to be able to awaken you and our world to life's grand purpose.
Since Oprah's endorsement of Tolle's book a month ago, about 3.5 million copies of his spiritual self-help guide have been sent out to enlighten the minds of people around the globe. More than 500,000 people in 125 countries have signed up for the World Wide Web seminar.
But will this religious text and its subsequent Internet churchlike gathering really lead you and our world to God's gates of splendor? Is it merely a coincidence that Winfrey and Tolle's spiritual quest aligns with one of Christendom's most sacred times of year? To me, it is more evidence of the paradigm shift in our culture from its moral absolute and Judeo-Christian basis to a relativistic worldview, in which anything goes and everything is tolerated. The fact is Tolle's "A New Earth" is being adopted and transformed into Oprah's new Easter.
Like most self-help spiritual texts of this type, it is a blend of half-truths and half-fabrications. One easily could save the purchase price of "A New Earth" -- and subsequently avoid its misleading remarks -- by reading the Bible, which gives a much more thorough and accurate picture of life's purpose and the methods for overcoming its obstacles.
Tolle himself doesn't align with any one religion but blends tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Christianity and other faiths. A review in The Vancouver Sun said of Tolle:
"His spiritual outlook has become more complex since (his earlier book) The Power of Now, when he dismissed external reality as an illusion and made it sound as if 'living in the now' was a panacea for all the world's problems. …
"In addition, Tolle believes outer realities -- including politics, war, poverty and even the climate -- will magically be transformed when individuals change their inner consciousness. This may be true, but only to an extent."
The reason Tolle's psychology and spirituality is marketed so easily is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening and nonsectarian way. In other words, it's Religion Light, in which one can be spiritual with little down and no credit.