Solving a Spiritual Problem

Eckhart Tolle is the most popular writer on spirituality today. His books like “The Secret” and “The Power of Now” have sold millions. Probably tens of millions.

It’s the kind of writing that’s light and breezy, and designed to be sold in staggering quantities. You’ll see it alongside Grisham and King in Wal-Marts and Hudson News stands at every airport in America.

Detractors say the writing is platitudinous, full of half-baked pseudo-spirituality and watered-down quasi-Buddhist concepts. And it’s a fair assessment. All in all, Tolle’s work is little more than a regurgitated and modernized Tibetan Book of the Dead. My own opinion is that he’s a decidedly less original literary relative of Osho, Krishnamurti, and Alan Watts.

But people who criticize him on grounds of his originality and profiteering miss the point entirely, and there is an important marketing concept to understand here:

Yes, Eckhart Tolle is hawking barely repackaged ideas from the great Eastern spiritual traditions that go back thousands of years, usually with no credit attributed to the original source.

But who cares? This is not his market. Do you think the people reading his book are also reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead? Not a chance.

Think of it this way – Eckhart Tolle is performing a valuable service. He is taking a complex and arcane subject and making it simple.

He is doing what all entrepreneurs do. He is solving a problem and introducing new ideas to millions of people who would otherwise have not been exposed to it. And for this he deserves every penny he makes because of it, detractors be damned.

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