Eckhart Tolle


Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual guru who unexpectedly discovered his true nature after years of crippling depression.

It got so bad that he wondered whether he could continue living with himself. This created a psychological distance between ‘he’ and his ‘self’, leading to an epiphany which triggered an inner transformation.

Tolle is undoubtedly one of the most popular spiritual teachers of this age. Oprah, owner of a vast media network empire, propelled him to stardom when she featured his book in her reading club.

A simple yet powerful method

The core of his teachings is: living in the moment, the ever-present now, rather than being lost in your thought-process. Very appropriate for one who was nearly driven to suicide because of his thoughts.

Eckhart with the Dalai Lama

Eckhart with the Dalai Lama

Becoming a witness to your thoughts and experiences is not a new teaching. Nearly every type of meditation practice calls for it. Critics have attacked him for being derivative.

This is unfair. There are truths about the human experience that will always endure, such as the “problem” of the ego, the mind.

Tolle offers an accessible technique which can help people on an every day basis and, one hopes, lead to an expansion of consciousness. He refreshed an ancient teaching for the benefit of a modern audience.

Serving a world in need

Many spiritual teachers care very little for the suffering of the world. It is all “maya”, they say — all an illusion. Why bother?

This is a mistake. It points to the failure of expressing the gifts they have reclaimed — a failure in giving that they will have to account for.

Eckhart outlines his vision for changing the world from the inside-out in his book A New Earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose. By transforming oneself you literally change the world, one person — one thought — at a time.

If everyone followed his teachings successfully, we’d be living in a far more sane world. That’s the vision. We heartily agree and commend him for it.

The reincarnation of Meister Eckhart?

Meister Eckhart - he kind of looks like Tolle!

Meister Eckhart – he kind of looks like Tolle!

Eckhart Tolle was born Ulrich Leonard Tölle. He changed his name after his inner transformation.

Born in Germany, it’s easy to assume that he is the reincarnation of the German Christian mystic Meister Eckhart. He has never confirmed it, nor has he denied it.

Tolle explains that he had a dream where numerous books he had written were displayed but with a different name: Eckhart. He somehow knew these books were his in spite of the unusual name.

He was later shocked when a psychic whom he knew greeted him as “Eckhart” soon after he had the dream! The name felt right and he decided to change it.

One imagines that publicly acknowledging his previous incarnation would only distract his followers from his teachings.

Charging a fortune for retreats; is Eckhart a hypocrite?

Tolle reportedly charges up to $1,300 for 5 day retreats, and this does not even include the cost of food and accommodations. They can include up to 500 people. That’s a lot of money for a few days of work.

He already has a net worth of 15 million dollars. This begs the question: why does he charge so much for his time?

If Eckhart’s goal is to help elevate humanity’s consciousness, one person at a time, you’d think he’d be more generous in this regard. Or, at the very least, make all retreats freely available online. Or perhaps donate the proceeds to charity. You get the idea.

How much money is enough when you have no attachments? What’s the point of accumulating more at the expense of reaching a wider audience? Imagine someone like Buddha or Jesus charging these prices!

There’s nothing wrong with making money, even a lot of money. Money is a tool. What is he using it for? No one knows.

Our rating

We give Eckhart Tolle a rating of great. He does a fantastic job of bringing an effective spiritual training technique to a wide audience. He also draws from all of humanity’s rich spiritual and religious traditions–a true world teacher.

It’s unfortunate that Tolle charges so much for his retreats, however. How much of his time is spent catering to the world’s elite, those with extra cash to burn? You’d think that he’d be interested in reaching as many people as possible. He’s got plenty of money to do so without worrying about paying rent. This keeps him from our excellent rating category.

“Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” — Eckhart Tolle



  1. Thank you. Most of all I think I like how he is not overloading the world with more spiritual products, trainings, organizational structures, etc…. I bet he is very rich, but he still seems so humble. I genuinely think he wants to help the world rather than enrich his own ego or pocket book!

  2. He has written some good books for beginners, but his platitudes are fairly inaccurate or meaningless. He is the epitome of a best selling guru, but you must be a beginner to get anything from him.

    • Agree! Also, I felt sad reading one of his books, being familiar with their uncredited original sources.

    • He was my introduction to spirituality. I haven’t looked back since. The Power of Now will likely always be the most impactful book I’ve ever read. I still enjoy looking back on it and A New Earth from time to time. Most people in the spiritual world are beginners it seems. So it’s very appropriate, timely, and necessary in our current world that his message is simple and beginner friendly. I am so grateful to Eckhart Tolle.

  3. Doubting what Eckhart Tolle is doing with his money is doubting the CONSCIOUSNESS that he IS. All the books and even the planning and execution of the retreats are the creation of that consciousness.

    There is no use trusting a Master 80%. Trust is either 100% or nothing at all. Please make a self introspection as to whether you people are conscious enough to rate gurus or not.

  4. Eckhart is my teacher. I am learning to have a day-to-day, moment-to-moment increase in consciousness by listening to his talks in my headphones as I go about my day. He is the Light, to me.

  5. Sameer, Let’s assume you know how rife with paradox form emanating from nonform is. Let’s not be so black and white about human Advaita teachers. Eckhart and/or foundation has amassed 15 million or more. What’s the purpose? I adore Eckhart message but is he now somebody’s cash cow? Looks like it. Let’s look at J. Krisnmurti as comparison. World teacher, Spoke to crowds of 2 to thousands all over the world. Operated mostly on grants and donations. Possibly the greatest nondual spiritual teacher in the 20th century. Certainly out popularized Ramana by millions. Screwed his mentors wife for 20 or so years behind everyone’s back and was derisive of close friends outside of ear shot. This is not rumor but reported by multiple sources close to him while alive. Krishnamurti was given to fancy clothes and flashy cars. Observed given to incredibly petty arguments. Yet take away his personality and personal history and his many books reveal insights that could be sequels to the Dhamapada. So please, be careful to critique the enlightened master. After all they are human as you and I.

    • Wow! that is a perspective I never thought about. Someone could be enlightened and yet be given to human fallacies. Makes me more confused about the whole concept of spirituality. Does ego keeps resurfacing time to time?

  6. Looking at the guru ratings there are a lot more gurus to add to the list living and dead looking to scientology, transcendental meditation and the Hari Krishnas
    How do the human gurus score points where is the criterion
    How to psychoanalyse and guru ?
    Guru means teacher spiritual teacher but what if that includes other beings such as angels it is known that evil angels use humans as puppets who come as false prophets.
    The question is who is a false guru how to spot one
    Check out the one who calls himself sat guru isha foundation

  7. Sorry but the dead guru can do nothing and the living one might confuse you even more especially if your new age junkie
    Addicted to guru junkie consumer books sold for profit by large corporations ?

    • Pierre, absolutely not my experience. My guru is Nisargadatta Maharaj and his body died in the 80ties. I listend and compared him to a number of living gurus and none of them could give me what Nisargadatta gives me. The dead guru did and is still doing a lot for me every day. Also, the trust and the love of the disciple does most of the work. You can be in satsang through reading the words of the master or looking at his picture. The guru is not a person. The guru is ever present. He was never born and will never die. Don’t mistake a guru for a physical body. Thank you.

  8. When something that I read resonates within me, When I say something resonates, I mean something in the depth of my being is stirred – I recognize the words as a deep AHA! moment, as Oprah is so fond of saying. I feel the writer or speaker is speaking the truth. I have been reading Eckhart for many years and I have read other people’s teachings as well but I always come back to Eckhart. There does seem to be a huge market out in the world today and publishing companies are doing very well. I truly believe that Eckhart continues to live a very simple life – doesn’t dress fancy, doesn’t drive fancy cars. loves his dog (which apparently had to be put down). He and his life partner don’t live together. they have separate apartments across the hall from each other in Vancouver. when they travel for retreats and conferences, the do share accommodation – not that I care.
    If you’re looking for spiritual teachings and someone to help you to grow spiritually, seek honestly, and eventually your teacher will appear. I believe it’s true that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

  9. I had a similar experience to his in 1995, not nearly so intense and it just lasted a few weeks. I had no idea why, how or what had happened and I’ve been asking myself ever since how to get it back, because those few weeks were bliss – total freedom from all negatvity. Then a couple of years ago I came across The Power of Now which describes exacty what happened to me. For that reason I believe in him.

  10. You are listening to yourself when a guru speaks. There is nothing else there. If you don’t like it, stop listening.

    No guru is necessary, but many seek using them. It’s ok.

    Be well

  11. Why be so concerned with the Income of anyone, be they Teacher, Guru or Messenger? Eckhart Tolle began his Teaching with his first book approximately 20
    years ago. If he or his organization or whoever has indeed accumulated a mere 15 million dollars (mere Nowadays!) by working continuously, travelling the world and so on to spread the teachings properly……this means Nothing in the great scheme of this world and as a “Generous, meaningful contribution” to ‘the poor’ or to ‘Charity’ ? 15 million dollars would be ‘a drop in a bucket’ compared to the vast, virtually meaningless and useless (to anyone, sitting in Offshore Accounts) Billions upon Billions of dollars which have been ‘accumulated’ by Truly nefarious means (in the Main) by many, many Truly selfish, uncaring people. Please, concern yourself with ‘devising some way’ to tap into These unused Trillions of dollars for the many worthy Charities and endless numbers of truly poor, suffering people in this world rather than criticising immensely Worthy people who have accumulated a comparative ‘pittance’ (in 20 years) .
    I understand that ‘Bill Gates’ is having Some success at such an effort to ‘liberate’ these very meaningful Trillions from comparative ‘uselessness’ into the opposite.

  12. I’m pretty sure the author(s) of this website aren’t qualified to rate gurus. Gave Amma a 3 and Tolle a 4. Tolle has yes reached a level of awareness but he’s not even a master or mahatma. He’s a nice guide for part time seekers but you cannot take refuge in Tolle.

  13. I totally agree with your assessment and the reason for taking off one star. The reason he has such fancy retreats seemingly catering to the richest people, with tiered seating like at a basketball game, makes me very suspicious. That said, I have derived tremendous value from the teachings themselves. On their own merit, the teaching is fantastic and helped point me in the right direction. As a man however I do think he’s imperfect in many ways. He has a predilection to riches and fancy things and he eats meat. Jnanis are known to decline eating of flesh, knowing that all beings including animals are one and the same and so it makes sense to decline the eating of flesh since it’s perfectly healthy to live your whole life without it. In other words, only pleasure would explain a preference for meat in your diet when your health would improve without it, let alone seeing animals as conscious beings capable of emotions and feeling pain.

    • If you’ve derived great value from his teachings, please follow and trust that recognition. The rest is an interpretation which is not necessarily true. Wealth is not the same as greed. It’s not true that all jnanis are vegetarian. Didn’t Jesus eat meat? There are examples of Buddhist masters also eating meat. If its a true master, his/her habits are not dictated by pleasure seeking. There are other possible reasons – for example, there are those who smoked cigarettes to ground their attention in the mundane world, and to keep their life force in their bodies (stay alive), so as to be useful to the world. A master operates from compassion, although it may not be readily apparent to us.

  14. I disagree with most of what has been written on this site about Eckhart. My life has been changed by reading his books, listening to his talks, practicing as he suggests to practice. This work has allowed me a peaceful, harmonious, vibrant relationship with my wife, deep connections with friends, compassionate, connected relationships with my daughters and inwardly a sense of oneness. It has also permitted me to reach out a helping hand to refugees and to build online courses around consciousness for teachers. My inner and outlive has blossomed due to Eckhart teachings. I would rather see this site deeply discuss the work of each spiritual leader rather than rate them (just a suggestion as it seems like the author of this site definitely has good intentions).

  15. Please correct this sentence: My inner and outlive has blossomed due to Eckhart teachings to My inner and outer life has blossomed due to Eckhart’s teaching.

    Many thanks

  16. Eckhart Tolle has some nice teachings, but after a while it gets repetitive, because he doesn’t go beyond some basic points.
    Tolle charges money for people to watch his longer videos on a private web site and now he created the Eckhart Tolle School of Awakening that promise: “Upon completion of The School of Awakening, you will receive a special Certificate of Completion signed by Eckhart Tolle and Kim Eng. ” Why anyone would need a certificate like this? Why Tolle needs all this money, this goes against his own teachings.

    The true world teacher is Jiddu Krishnamurti, look at all his videos on Youtube and the books that are available for free.

  17. While one may not be able to go to his retreats, most all of his teachings are available at no cost…..the internet, his web site, YouTube…..

    Even though some of his information is repetitive, he shares it from different viewpoints. It enables me to understand more clearly and to integrate the concepts more quickly.

    I don’t believe that he considers himself a guru. Though he is wealthy, he has contributed a wealth to the world in ways that not many can. I don’t know how he spends his wealth. Maybe he donates most of it. He wouldn’t be one to broadcast it if he does.

  18. Money seems to come up a lot for many gurus. This could be simple economics, there is a high demand and one master. Also mundane things are done by people surrounding the master. Osho was also criticized for such things.

  19. I last read that his net worth was $80 million. I looked it up after asking about the subscription rate to access some of his programs– it was not posted anywhere online, so I had to Email to ask, and I did not like the answer. The people who need his help cannot afford it. I also do not like that he plagiarizes. He has used Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Watts metaphors, which is just wrong. I still think he has a lot to offer even in the short YouTube videos, so if anyone wants to learn (free of charge), they can, via YouTube.

  20. I very much appreciate Eckhart Tolle’s insights. I’ve read Power Of Now and listen many times often to his free lectures on YouTube. I learn more each time. His message is clear and simple and find him a teacher relatable to Ram Dass or Thich Nhat Hanh. Be here now!

  21. Eckhart Tolle? Hm. I know him personally, and some of the time, he is not a nice man. He is also extremely repressed, competitive and can be extremely cruel when triggered. He’s a businessman.

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