Today I happened upon a forum on a site called www.RickRoss.com, and on there the Cult Education Forum. The message thread I was looking at was about Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle (although it focused primarily on Katie). It was titled Byron Katie (the Work) and Eckhart Tolle Legit?? You can view it by clicking here. (warning, there are 96 pages of discussion!).
Byron Katie is the teacher of what she calls The Work. As far as I can ascertain this is essentially a process of self-enquiry that revolves around four questions and what she calls “a turn-around”. You can find out more on this at www.thework.org.
Eckhart Tolle is the author of numerous books, the first and most populate of which is called The Power Of Now. He is a spiritual teacher who is very popular and was made increasingly so when Oprah Winfrey took up his cause and promoted his teachings and online courses with him.
I have read through about 10 of the 96 pages of discussion on this topic. I read these because I found it very educational to gain insight into some of the ways in which people approach teachers like Katie and Tolle (and many others), and how certain people view the work and teachings of such teachers and authors. Please take the time to read through a few pages of the forum thread I am referring to in order to get an impression of what I am talking about.
I discovered what appears to be as a form of collective co-dependency. It’s a collective form of what’s called the co-dependant triangle. This is a model of how co-dependent relations tend to involve three positions or rolls. These rolls are Victim, Aggressor/Victimiser, and Saviour. Co-dependant people will take up all and any of these rolls when relating to other people, events, situations, and the world in general.
On the forum at rickross.com I see people who take up the roll of saviour and who are projecting onto the world the roll of victim, and onto these teachers the roll of victimiser. The basic assumption is that people who attend a Byron Katie workshop, or even buy one of her books, are falling pray to her abuse of their gullibility, or something to that effect. Similarly, people who get into Tolle’s teachings are falling pray to victimisation by him. That he is taking advantage of them. If people get more deeply involved in the activities of these teachers then they are getting caught up and victimised by a “cult”.
What I observe here are people who at some level are quite probably harbouring a deep pain-filled feeling of being a victim. A victim to what, I can not say. It is only an educated and intuitive guess that this is what’s going on for them at all, but I’d be surprised if it was not.
The basic madness involved here is the notion that people who decide to go to a Byron Katie workshop are not powerful enough to use their God given free will in a way that is ultimately in their own best interest. Even if Katie and Tolle are complete fraudsters who only wish to rip people off a make lots of money, it is completely irrelevant. Each person has the capacity to determine what is right for them in this moment. They may discover in the next moment that their awareness/consciousness has shifted and The Work or The Power of Now is no longer their cup of spiritual tea. They can then choose to move on. They can also discover why they choose to get into something that ripped them off (assuming that’s what they discover).
I have not met Byron Katie, but I am aware of her process, and it is almost identical to one I developed myself by the time I was 20 or so. This was a process or approach to reality I have effectively used to free myself from suffering in when such arrises. It is the most effective tool I have come across so far, and is included in one of my forthcoming books (Empowering Relationships). In fact, I first heard about Byron Katie a few years ago when I was explaining this particular healing approach to reality to a guy who subsequently assumed I must have studied with Byron Katie. At that time I’d not heard of her. Since learning about her process I see we essentially came up with the same thing. So, to put it simply, I have no issue (in principle) with the crux of what she is teaching.
With regards to Eckart Tolle, I don’t agree with everything he has to say in his books, but in principle I find his approach to be very closely aligned with wholeness. I think ostracising the ego, as he does, is a mistake made all too often by far too many spiritual teachers and teachings, but perhaps this is what many people need to hear in order to grow and free themselves, before they discover the ego is simply the seed of the Presence (or “I” of God) within them. That point aside, what little I’ve seen of Tolle’s work I feel is innately empowering for people and nothing to be afraid of. Yet even if it was dark and abusive, no one is a victim to that. People make choices and then experience the consequence of those choices. If the consequences are painful they have an opportunity to wake up and be more conscious. This is life.
I am drawing your attention to this so-called cult bashing because I feel it highlights a number of very significant human dynamics that are playing out in this world, and which have been playing out for many thousands of years. Particularly:
- The global victim mentality
- Co-dependency and projection
- The fear of change
- The insanity of the collective mob trying to resist people breaking out of their social conditioning
My father asked me “how do we get through to people like this” (those who are found in this forum thread). I said that I don’t think I need to. They are free beings, and they are free to get up in arms about whatever they like. It is only them who will reap the consequences, and grow accordingly and to their particular capacity in any given moment.
May we all remember to accept and honour each person’s approach to life and reality.