In Steven Donoso’s interview “Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness: An Interview with Spiritual Teacher Eckhart Tolle,” the aim of Tolle’s teachings are shared. Tolle expresses his views on one’s spiritual awakening, individual transformation and human consciousness, by commenting how society influences one’s sense of identity through family, past experiences, technology, and belief systems. During one’s journey to establish and define his/her sense of self, one accepts that the “Now” and only the “Now” exists and thoughts are hindrances. There are truths and limitations to Tolle’s views.
One’s sense of self stems from the process of procreation, enculturation, and socialization of the family unit, which initially begins once an individual learns what his/her name is by his/her parents. Tolle gives a behavioral explanation for this, claiming an individual is conditioned to identify himself/herself under a false pretense. One’s sense of identity is shaped by the different “things that people tell [him/her] about who [he/she is]” and his/her past experiences; these “things” are labels and judgments reinforced by what one learns from others and personal encounters (6).
As consequence to other people’s perception of one’s identity, the individual has a constant need to fulfill their expectations through enhancement. Yet past experiences, according to Tolle, do not occur to an individual for he/she does not experience any passage of time, except one state called the present moment of life, the Now. Tolle is correct in the sense that family, friends, and other people shape one’s identity, although he does not acknowledge other factors that may influence one’s sense of self, such as the era one lives in nor the environment.
With these factors and many others, an individual decides for himself/herself who he/she is and creates his/her own identity, not a “fictitious creation” as Tolle describes, through expression and action (6). Tolle goes on to say that science and technology, although which fostered innovative inventions, also has its disadvantages. Tolle views that once technology, an expression of thought, is applied to human selfishness, it becomes a magnification of destruction and a component of human madness.
Thoughtful processes of scientific application for self interests obstructs alertness; “more science, more technology” produces less awareness of one’s self and place in the present moment. There is truth to what Tolle says about technology being a destructive weapon due to human’s lack of awareness. Humans are oblivious to the “human madness [that] is threatening to destroy the planet” by preoccupying themselves with continuous inventions to better human life rather than focusing on the destructive effects of the inventions on the world like in WWI and in the Iraq war (9).