I'm guessing that I read this book for the first time in like 02-03. I remembered it, found it interesting, but very very off the wall and impractical at that time.My copy exists somewhere in the manifested universe (as opposed to the unmanifested (spiritual)), but I could not find it, so I manifested a new paperback version from Amazon to lend to someone that I believe it might resonate with.
When I first read it in I found Tolle to be "From a Galaxy Far Far Away". Fast forward past a number of personal and family crisis, meditation, lots of more mystical (and ancient) Christian teachings and DBT (especially Mindfulness), and it seems a good deal less "out there" ... perhaps "Pluto". Who knows, another couple decades and ....
The statement in the book that resonates most with me is on page 190, "I have lived with several Zen masters, all of them cats." While sometimes I find Tolle taking himself a bit too seriously, that line redeems a lot of mileage for me! One of those masters graces our home today (Ferocious Cabadocious) -- past masters include Tiger and the ineffible Dobson, sometimes fearsome sage of terrible wisdom.
His best philosophic statement is on 15; "The philosopher Descartes believed he had found the most fundamental truth when he made his famous statement: "I think, therefore I am". he had in fact given expression to the most fundamental error: to equate thinking with Being, and identity the real YOU with your mere thoughts that have far less substance than passing clouds.
If you can learn to sit quietly, observing your breath, and as your mind chatters incessantly, and and you merely OBSERVE IT -- do not judge it (and don't judge the judging which will certainly happen to some degree, at least for a time)!
Treat your chattering mind gently, like a puppy or a toddler -- ACKNOWLEDGE what thoughts are flowing by, and calmly return to focusing on your breath.You will experience Descartes error.
If you are a "natural", after a "few times", the chatter will slow and you will EXPERIENCE that you are NOT YOUR MIND!!! You HAVE a mind, and a body, and emotions -- but they are not YOU. YOU are spirit ... or consciousness if you prefer.
It is a great way to debunk one of the greatest minds in history in a slightly more metaphysical version of Dr Johnson's "Appeal to the stone".
If you are an UNnatural like me, that experience may take like "100" tries -- the early ones being Panic Attacks, or near so, with LOTS of mind shouting, THIS IS ***NOT*** working! This is stupid! Satanic! insane! dangerous! a waste of time! etc, etc
We Westerners tend to live in and identify with our minds -- it is where our ego resides. My mind was nearly my only residence for my whole IBM career and a few years after. I agree that the EXPERIENCE of being a little "i am' watching your breath, your mind and your emotions is significant, and to a degree "transcendent", possibly even "enlightening" with a very little "e", but I find that Tolle oversells anyway -- much in the same manner as a lot of other marketing.
I'm NOT saying that he is "lying" ... he may well completely believe in all he says. He IS after all Oprah Approved!, so marketing or truth, it has certainly worked. My advice would be to try DBT first -- it has a lot more research and science behind it, however if Tolle speaks to you, go for it. Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Canadian ... it's all Whiskey (or Whisky, hard to agree on anything!)
Oh, and getting out of your mind isn't quite enough -- the "real you", the spiritual you, must learn to live in full acceptance of NOW ... this moment and ONLY this moment which is where we ALWAYS exist, AS IT IS! Not as you wish it, believe it "should be", etc, etc. It is here you stand to have the leverage to change the future -- or decide NOT to change the future. The past? Well, the past you are not going to change no matter how much you invest in it. In DBT, we call that Radical Acceptance.
p154, "If you stop investing it with "selfness", the mind loses it's compulsive quality, which is basically the compulsion to judge, and so resist what IS, which creates conflict, drama and new pain." ... a little farther on, "... the greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner [or anyone you deal with] as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way."
The best reason for doing that is because the nearly 100% probability is that you CAN'T change that other person! You might bludgeon them physically or emotionally into "compliance", however unless THEY wanted to change (or they are already less "living in their minds" than you), you will only create pain and damage.
Just as in DBT, many people take this all as "giving up", or "not caring'. Not so -- in fact, you nearly MUST be outside of your mind to actually care, because otherwise, pretty much all you are doing is feeding your own ego. Your mind will continue to have lots of thoughts on lots of things -- you can share them, talk about them, carry signs for them, etc, you will just realize that they are not YOU. You are MUCH more than those things!
YOU are "not of this world" ... you have no reason to invest your ego in this world. In fact, as much as possible, your ego is to be DEAD ... either crucified with Christ, or vanished into Tolle's "unmanifested'. Your ego is your mind talking -- it's your "old address' ... like "666 Gray Matter Parkway", vs "The Now, The Kingdom of Christ -- Infinity Drive'.
While Tolle either believes, or simply wants to maximize his audience, he tries to make this book accessible to any or no religion -- although on this read, I was surprised by how much semi-New Testament he actually does include.
It's a book worthy enough at least to have someone else buy it and lend it to you!