Sounds True author and spiritual teacher Aaravindha Himadra has filed a frivolous $250,000 SLAPP lawsuit against prominent cult reporter Be Scofield in San Juan County. The article in question explored the events surrounding the mysterious death of one of his students 13-years ago on Orcas Island in Washington.
Attorneys from a high profile Seattle based law firm are representing prominent cult reporter Be Scofield at no cost in a frivolous $250,000 defamation lawsuit. The firm is known for its staunch defense of First Amendment rights.
A frivolous lawsuit is also known as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). They are not designed to win but rather to “censor, intimidate, and silence critics” by overwhelming them with legal fees. Corporations commonly use them to harass and intimidate their critics. SLAPP lawsuits “directly attack First Amendment rights” according to attorneys Peter Kurdock and Mark Goldowitz. Economist Robert Reich says they are one of the “biggest threats” to activists today.
Several attorneys contacted by The Guru Magazine stated the article in question is not defamatory and agree that the lawsuit filed by Aaravindha and Minc Law is frivolous.
The suit stems from a January 2019 article written by Scofield about the events surrounding the mysterious death of Carla Jean Shaffer 13-years ago on Orcas Island. Scofield spent a month researching the story on the island in November and interviewed family and friends of the victim, police and county coroner Randall Gaylord for the story. She also obtained the full police report of the incident. Shaffer’s death was ruled an accidental drowning but friends and family never accepted the official version of events. The article reveals that Carla was involved in a group known “Children of the Light” (now Sambodha) and may have been trying to leave at the time of her death.
Nadeen Hayden, Aaravindha’s lead attorney, accuses Scofield of lying in the lawsuit. “Defendant knew that many of the statements made in and impressions created by the article are false or Defendant acted with reckless disregard as to their falsity.” However, Scofield says “like any other article I’ve written, I used professional discretion, carefully researched the story and used critical judgment when interviewing people. It’s standard journalistic method. If I were to ever lie in a story I would lose all credibility.” The suit also states that Scofield accused the group leader Aaravindha Himadra (Janis Briedis) of assault, murder and of being a sexual predator but no such statements are found in the article. The 10-page lawsuit doesn’t name any specific libelous or false statements made by Scofield, a tactic one attorney said is common for these types of frivolous actions.
Minc Law of Cleveland Behind Frivolous SLAPP Lawsuit
Aaron Minc’s online defamation law firm Minc Law of Cleveland, Ohio is responsible for the lawsuit against Scofield. Family Law attorney Steven Brandli of San Juan Island filed the suit in Washington State for Minc. Attorney Nadeen Hayden of Minc Law is the lead counsel representing Aaravindha in the case. During a panel discussion in May, Aaron Minc stated that he does not support Ohio’s proposed Anti-SLAPP measure known as the Ohio Citizen Participation Act, authored by attorneys Jeff Nye and Thomas Haren. Both Nye and Haren are known for their strong first amendment rights advocacy.
Minc is demanding that Scofield permanently remove the article, never speak or write about Aaravindha or the case again and enter into a monetary judgment of $250,000. Minc Law also warned, “our clients’ damages only increase as long as the defamatory Article continues to be published.”
Scofield is being represented pro bono by Ambika Doran and Tim Cunningham of the prominent law firm Davis Wright Tremaine of Seattle. Most notably the firm won a one billion dollar judgment during the Exxon Valdez oil spill for 30,000 victims. They’ve won major legal victories for Greenpeace and regularly defend journalists and activists from frivolous lawsuits and police brutality.
Plaintiff is Sounds True Author
The plaintiff in the case, Aaravindha Himadra, is an author with the well-known spiritual publishing house Sounds True. Founder Tami Simon interviewed him in 2018. Himadra’s book Immortal Selfrecounts his spiritual journey through the Himalaya’s where he claims to have lived with beings known as “Amartya Masters.” Some of his followers believe Himadra is enlightened and refer to him as a master. Himadra traveled to the Himalaya’s in the summer of 2006, just months after his student Carla Jean Shaffer was found dead on Orcas Island.
Prominent Cult Reporter
Dubbed “the anti-cult hero of the digital age” by journalist Anke Richter, Scofield is one of the most prominent journalists in the world reporting on cults. As a result of her stories, three short documentaries have been produced (VICE, Barcroft, Jezebel) and articles have appeared on The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Playboy, CNN, CBC, New Zealand Herald, Die Zeit and elsewhere. Her work has exposed widespread abuse and corruption by spiritual leaders and has led to the shutting down of several groups. Scofield’s articles have over 1 million views in the last 1.5 years.
FULL TEXT OF LAWSUIT
Note: Scofield’s former name is blacked out of the lawsuit. Her legal name is now Be Scofield.
Former Shaft and OZ actor and Wu Tang Clan graffiti artist Gano Grills is an emerging cult leader who claims to be god. He says he’s here on a mission to usher 144,000 people off the planet. He claims to do exorcisms and revive the dead. He says he’s part of a Galactic Council of 22 gods that contains four insectoids. Women who have abortions suffer catastrophic karmic debt, he believes. Kendrick Lamar is a “propagator of Lucifer” and drinking dark rum or Hennessy attracts bad spirits. He sells training programs for as much as $12,000. He also says Michael Jackson told him in a meditation that he wanted the world to know he was murdered.
Written by Be Scofield, M.Div / Represented by United Talent Agency / Author contact: [email protected]
“My job is to focus on getting the 144,000 off of the planet to be where they rightfully belong.”
“Many are called, few are chosen.” That’s the tagline of Galighticus, a group run by former Hollywood actor and Wu Tang Clan graffiti artist turned cult leader SRI Master Gano Grills. He’s not just a master though, he also claims that he is Lord Thoth and Ganesh. He was sent to Earth on a divine mission to lead 144,000 souls to ascension he claims. Grills describes his role: “These GODS have not only revealed my own GODFORM, but they have also pledged their support of the #Galighticus movement here on Earth.”
His group has a specially chosen mission Grills claims, “Our movement is the ONLY covenant given to Earth that has the power of 22 main Gods of LIGHT and an extended board of 100 exalted beings who drive the frequency of evolutions of the higher worlds. We have the keys for all that is necessary for evolution and emancipation of humanity.”
Grills claims he was given a “covenant” by Sri Lakshmi:
“Archangel Michael chimed in and said ‘Gano, your mother has given you a covenant to awaken 144,000 souls. You were destined to do that. Anyone who is seeing certain numbers, they are your initiates and students. They are seeing those numbers because they have petitioned in a heavenly court before their birth to awaken in this lifetime.’”
He tells his followers that “angels from the celestial Kingdom of Heaven are responsible for broadcasting and radiating these numbers directly into your reality.” He tells the public: “If you have been seeing 333, 1111, 444, 555, 222 YOU are being invited into, THE GALIGHTICUS STUDENTSHIP PROGRAMME of Ascension.”
Grills says he met the three gods that created the “engine of his soul,” Shango, Sri Lakshmi & Baldr. He learned from them that his mission was buried inside of him: “I actually hid this stealthy mission deep within my being to unfold ever so ephemerally at a predestined time.”
Grills’ bio describes him as a “WORLD CLASS Spiritual Advisor and Master Teacher. The title SRI Master can ONLY be bestowed by the Gods themselves.”
In this clip, Grills explains his divine status, “I am an Avatar for a God named Lord Ganesh. I’m a human embodiment of a God…Avatars have the ability to be in multiple places at the same time…I am enlightened fully.”
“Grills is definitely a success story from the world of graffiti, one of the elder pillars of Hip Hop culture.” — Source Magazine
“Have Wu Tang tagged up on your tombstone by Gano.” That’s a line from the Hip Hop song “Holocaust” by Wung Tang Clan leader RZA. Gano Grills grew up with RZA in Staten Island in the 1980s. Grills, considered a local legend in the street art scene, has had his graffiti featured in Wu Tang Clan’s music video “Can It All Be So Simple” and in “Cold World” by GZA. Grills was also involved in the founding of Wu Wear in the mid 1990s. One article says he’s “ been a part of Wu-Tang’s legacy since day one, has also done creative work such as logos for Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna, Wu Wear, and a host of other Wu-Tang Clan’s videos.” And Grills designed the artwork for the 2017 Wu Tang album “The Saga Continues.”
As a long time actor, Gano Grills has had minor roles in over a dozen films and TV shows such as Shaft, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Bomb the System, OZ, Sopranos, Hannibal and Law & Order.
“I am an awakener of the mentally dead. The testimonies from around the worlds, that is correct, WORLDS, prove this.”
Grills, based in Staten Island, began organizing meetings in homes in Brooklyn in 2013. It was at that time that he claims to have first experienced Lord Thoth and Quan Yin.
Since then, he’s used Youtubeand Instagram to build a following over the last five years, attracting thousands of followers online and around the world. His videos have over one million views. He even has an App (which costs $45) and a private Facebook group where members regularly attest to his powers and seek advice. Every “THORS-Day” as he calls it, Grills does a live stream Q&A on Youtube.
Grills echoes Bentinho Massaro and Teal Swan in the way he’s utilizing digital technology in the service of his cult ambitions.
“We are now family. We will always have each others back, we will be our greatest selves, WE will light up the darkness. WE ARE Galighticus.”
It’s hard to discern what Grills actually teaches. He has only a few blog posts on his site and has written very little. One post is about avoiding the “spirit of lack” and another tells people they have super powers. His videos are primarily a mix of his insights on death, demons, illusions, the Gods, dreams and numbers. One video references a deceased MMA fighter, “Did Kimbo Slice die because he didn’t have spiritual protection?” Another is titled, “Bringing the Dead students back to LIFE in the MYSTERY SCHOOLS as LORD THOTH.” Many videos are testimonials from his members about having their Kundalini activated by him. Gano doesn’t list any specific teachers he’s trained with or methods he’s trained in. Rather, he claims he simply recognized his own God form that was buried within.
In his videos, Grills often tells his followers about certain gods that are in contact with them. In response to a woman telling Grills that she’s been seeing visions of rams, including a half ram, half fish, he tells her “she has a strange connection with” the god Opan. He then tells her “There’s also another god that kinda likes you, the god Zeus.” He then asks her when was the last time she’s been in contact with Zeus. She says a few weeks.
Some of his more in depth offerings are available online. His HyperNTR-EL Teachings Volume #1 sells for $100. It features these selling points: “Divine timing, Cosmic beacon, The Big Guns, Hell Notes and Gano Appears as a Giant” among others.
Grills also leads workshops and trainings worldwide. He claims his upcoming Sequence of Power series in London is divinely appointed:
“The Gods have used Sequence of Power to create the galactic coordinates of the cosmos. Now for the first time, the Sequence of Power series will be offered to four audiences only. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to become a holder of divine power.”
Devotees often speak of him in divine regard. “That’s OUR Beautiful Master!” says one excited follower. Another says Grills has been given gifts from the Gods. He told him it was a “complete honor and privilege” to be in his presence and to absorb his light and love. One devotee says it is “amazing” listening to “this Master speak” and that it fills his soul with “so much information” to help him fulfill his “purpose here in the human form.”
The Galactic Council
Grills claims to be part of a Galactic council which include four “Insectoids.” In this clip he explains the council, “Galighticus is a cosmic agency of 22 beings. Some of them are exalted beings, some of them are Gods, some of them are Archangels.”
He continues, “On our Galactic council there are about 4 different Insectoids that would probably freak you out if you were to see them. They speak many different languages. They’re very powerful and they have intelligence that would rival Nikola Tesla and Enrico Fermi put together.”
“The Demi Gods that fashioned your current form also unplugged your 12 strands of DNA leaving you 97% dormant, hence the scientific term Junk DNA. As a result, Humanity as a whole is 13,000 years behind schedule. This is a grave condition to be in.”
On Abortion, Suicide, ET’s & Hip Hop
“When one is ready to blast off, they must train thoroughly before entering into the space shuttle.”
Grills claims that those who commit suicide are punished by their divine parents for “seven consecutive lifetimes.”
He says that women who get abortions suffer “catastrophic” consequences in the form of a “karmic strike” that will vex them for their entire lives and beyond (see video).
Speaking as Lord Thoth, he claims occult writer Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947, distorted his teachings. Grills/Thoth says Crowley “studied a lot of what I had to offer. He’s being punished for that and a lot of the putrification and pugnacious way in which he distorted my teachings. It’s something he will have to deal with for a very long time.”
When it comes to music, he says Kendrick Lamar is a “propagator of Lucifer,” and Lil Wayne is “lower frequency.” Instead, he prefers Jamiroquai and Earth, Wind & Fire. His Youtube videos often begin with Soul and Funk music.
Grills claims that extraterrestrials are “waiting for consciousness to expand” on earth. They are sending us books, teachings and modalities he claims, hoping that the collective humanity will reach 3% out of 100% of this new understanding. At that point “they can touch down on a football field and announce who they are. ‘We’re the Arcturians, the Andromedans, from the Vega Star system. We have a lot to offer you.’” He also shares videos of UFO’s to his Facebook group referring to them as our “space brothers.”
He also says Michael Jackson told him during a meditation that he wanted the world know that he was murdered. It’s of interest to note Grills was at Michael Jackson’s 2009 Birthday party in Brooklyn.
Grills doesn’t approve of certain alcoholic beverages, “When people drink Hennessy and dark rum they are actually inviting spirits to come that are bellicose and that are going to want to act out their desires in your body.”
He also warns of the dangers of certain tattoo’s as well. “You’re putting a contract on your body…The energy of the tattoo has a vibration all it’s own” he says. He recommends avoiding things like skulls because they become a portal for “entities to come through.”
Grills was raised a Southern Baptist but has since abandoned this “fiction” just like he gave up Santa Clause at the age of 12 he says. Jesus was not a God Grills claims and the Bible was designed to keep people “disempowered.” In response to the question “What do we do with our dead who are buried under the cross?” Grills responds, “Remove the cross for it is a contract that mandates a soul to return back into an unconscious life.”
He also tells followers that there are “dark forces” opposing their group and urges them to remain vigilant.
The Exorcist & Healer
“I was put through a battery of tests from the GODS who wished to work with us. There were 22 of them that ganged up on me in a Celestial initiation and tested my desire to help humanity grow and expand.”
Grills claims to have the power to exorcise demons and bring people back to life. In videos he can be seen holding a crystal wand over people as they shake and cry.
He says that his mother died and he used hypernatural magic to bring her back to life:
“My mother died in front of me. She bled out and I had to bring her back to life. I didn’t force her soul back into the body but there was an energy that I had to utilize. When she reanimated her face was morphing in front of me.”
On another occasion he performed a “minor exorcism” on a woman where he removed demons from her. While her boyfriend was holding her, Grills told the demons “You are not allowed to be in this body any longer and you must now leave!” They started laughing and yelled STOP! STOP! he claims. The demons wanted to hold on but they started to leave. She broke free of her boyfriend and said she wanted to assault Grills. She then went and vomited for 20-minutes while she cursed him out.
One of Sri Master Gano’s followers claims that he said a prayer over her injured ankle and healed her. Another claims “Instant healing of many issues like my nerves, back pains and over 20 years of a shy bladder.”
One member claims that Grills would start her car from 3,000 miles away when it was broken. She also claims he put his hand on a pine tree and sap began flowing, of which he used to bless her with. She then had a powerful kundalini activation experience in her third eye.
Devotees testify in group meetings to their visions after receiving Grills’ “attunements.” Some claim to have had visions of “very skinny” 30ft tall beings that are an “olive color green.” One person claims they saw the Sun morph into a headless and legless entity with a head in it’s hand. Another says “big reddish black orbs came out and were in the trees and on the ground looking at me.” Others say they’ve seen beings with huge butterfly wings, dragons or other Gods and Goddesses such as Lord Thoth, Buddha and Lord Ganesha. Several report Kali devouring them. You can hear more powerful visions his followers have had here and here.
“Many miracles have also been a result of Ganos’ interaction with the DivineWorlds.”
God at Your Service
“I am the human embodiment of Ganesh.”
Grills offers a variety of spiritual services on his site. The Karma Emancipation package costs $700-$2,500 and promises to “drastically quantify the effects of negative karma” in 1 to 3 sessions. His “Initiate” program costs $7,000. Only 144 people will be “chosen,” however. He claims it will lead the participant into “the deeper mysteries of Creation itself.” Also, only 144 people will be chosen for the Baldr Kronos program which runs $12,000 and promises to “distribute major cosmic power” to the “common terrestus” being.
SRI Master Grills really wants you to buy his Kundalini Reiki initiation, citing the collapse of Mother Earth if he doesn’t offer it to more people soon. He states, “I AM looking to initiate as many people as possible so that our dear Mother Terra, does not have to go into a cataclysmic state to rid the darkness from her surface and we won’t have to go through a very uncomfortable pole shift.” You can get “all 3 levels, certificate, manual and, pendulum for ONLY $450”
Thoth Medallions & Ancestor Money
SRI Master Gano Grills sells Thoth and Ganesh Medallions on his site. They cost $325 for the “regular” and $650 for one with “added ritual abilities.” He claims they allow “one to input a refined resonance of the Gods into their lives and build a rapport with the higher realities.” Those who have an earnest desire to own a Medallion are more likely to be blessed by the Gods he claims.
Grills also sells “Ancestor Money.” He claims to have built a special rapport with the “Jade Emperor” who has given him his blessing by adding his divine energy to this “money.” Egun, or the spirits of our ancestors, prefer regular offerings of this currency he claims. They have asked the creator for it.
Members claim to have had financial breakthroughs after burning it, “Ever since I’ve been using ancestor money, the struggle financially has stopped.”
A 2-month supply of 5 billion dollar notes costs $35 while $500 billion dollar notes run $65 for a 3-month supply. The BIG GUN $10,000,000,000,000,000 quadrillion dollar note costs $110 for 10 bills. You can, however, save yourself $100 and buy the quadrillion dollar note online for just $14.99 from another source.
He claims that buying and burning ancestor money is “one of the most loving ways” to continue honoring your dearly departed:
“Not legal tender in this dimension of reality, however in the human afterlife known as the spirit world is very similar to THIS WORLD. They have homes, cars, jobs, hospitals believe it or not. Ancestor money is a real currency that shows up in there world as MILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars. It is one of the most loving ways to continue your relationship with your dearly departed, instead of just memorializing them on a empty human level that do absolutely NOTHING to benefit them or yourselves.”
What spiritual teacher would be complete without their own line of spiritual bath products? Grills offers a Lord Ganesh spiritual empowerment bath, a Jade Emperor Money bath and a Kwan-Yin “karma booster” bath product.
He sells rituals and alters as well. If you were interested in increasing financial abundance you can purchase the “Mansa Musa Wealth RichYouAll” for $150. Get it? RichYouAll…Ritual.
There are beacons too. Divine beacons. Imperial beacons. Double cosmic beacons. ArchAngel Michael beacons. They range from $750-$2,500 and claim to be “extremely powerful HyperNTR-EL vessels of magnificence.”
Finally, in case you were wondering, the Holy Oil is on sale. And in case you had any doubts about it’s validity, the oil has been blessed by a Shamanic Lumerian priest who’s been shadowed by Mother Mary since he was 14.
The Day is Coming
“144,00 souls asked to be set free from life and death on earth and go back to the CREATOR, through a rare event known as ascension. The Galighticus will be responsible for training these souls for that event.”
In a lucid dream, Gano Grills student RizRas encountered an alien spaceship. She was in East London with Grills and a few other students. As she looked up at the stars she noticed a middle cluster of stars looked different. She looked at Gano and he said “What do you think that is?” in a “knowing kind of way” she says. She realized what it was and said “Oh my god it’s a spaceship!” It then morphed into a pyramid shape with circuitry running through it, she explains. And then the spaceship came down from the heavens and the group stood staring at it. “It glowed with warm, moon like light” she says.
Gano recorded this account and posted it to his Youtube channel. It’s one of many dreams and visions of his followers that he uses to prop himself up as a divine being. These accounts prove his claims that he is a god sent here on a special mission he says. In her dream, he knew it was a spaceship. He knows they are destined for something greater than earthly living.
When Grills speaks about taking people off planet earth to where they “rightfully belong,” does he mean actually on a spaceship? It’d have to be huge. The world’s largest cruise ship only holds 3,600 people. Or perhaps he means in some sort of group exodus end game scenario? Either way, it’s not good.
“Our movement has experienced thousands of divine occurrences…We have now been led through everything that we have done our entire lives and through these past 6 years to the doorway of achieving a monumental feat through the Golden Chariot.”
Gano Grills claims that he is God, Thoth, Ganesh, fully enlightened, a high priest, a miracle worker, a healer, a world class spiritual advisor, a SRI Master. Grills believes Sri Lakshmi gave him a mission to take 144,000 people off planet earth. He is leading them to the promise land. Grills claims he is on a galactic council of 22 gods. His movement is the most powerful on earth. He can revive the dead and exorcise demons he says. His members bow at his feet. What could possibly go wrong?
Eckhart Tolle’s books The Power of Now and A New Earth have not only sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages but they’ve earned him the title “the most popular spiritual author in the [United States]” by The New York Times. He’s gained worldwide popularity amongst the masses and widespread admiration from movie stars, celebrities and famous musicians. Annie Lennox of the Eurhythmics said that he “has some kind of special quality that I’ve never seen before.” One student of his work asked in an online forum, “has he appeared in your dreams as well?” Oprah included The Power of Now in her 2000 book club, helping to launch it to the number one spot on the NYT book list a few years later. They also teamed up in 2008 to produce a 10-week webinar on the teachings of A New Earth. Millions of people from around the world tuned in for this first of its kind techno-spiritual phenomenon. Never before was so much wisdom instantly accessible and easily understood.”
Given the central role Tolle plays in modern spiritual thinking, his ideas have world-wide implications. He is one of many modern day teachers who emphasizes internal transformation as the central most important part of global transformation. As a result he makes quite exaggerated statements about the relationship between a privatized psychological shift and the larger transformation of the planet. His solutions are simplistic and border on irresponsible, especially when so much is at stake. Understanding the details of his spiritual framework and how his personal experience of transformation influenced it sheds light into Tolle’s thinking.
Tolle’s framework and approach are shaped by a profound awakening experience he had when in his early twenties. After this powerful inner shift Tolle claims to have lived in a “state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss” for around five months. He studied spiritual texts, worked with teachers and eventually spent two years in a state of profound joy while sitting on park benches. He was realizing that his shift in thinking had peeled back the layers to reveal the “ever-present ‘I am’: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form.” Tolle had discovered something of immense value and was now ready to share it with the world.
Tolle’s Vision of Social Change
Given the profound nature of Tolle’s personal awakening and the incredible sense of peace and joy that he felt one can see why he makes a direct link between his own private experience and social transformation. Indeed, if there is a defining theme in his work it is just that: internal spiritual transformation leads to a better, more peaceful and just world. More so, Tolle identifies a shift in the inner world as the only significant factor in social change.
The primary factor in creation is consciousness. No matter how active we are, how much effort we make, our state of consciousness creates our world, and if there is no change on the inner level, no amount of action will make any difference. We would only re-create modified versions of the same world again and again, a world that is an external reflection of the ego.
This line of thinking is problematic. For example if someone were organizing to change the racist institutional structures in society but yet hadn’t changed on the “inner level” Tolle is stating that their work would be futile. Of course people with lots of inner baggage contribute immensely to the transformation of the world and similarly, those who have done years of therapy, are deeply in love with healthy families are responsible for supporting some of the most harmful policies. He proposes that once people awaken to the deepest experience of Being the world will somehow drastically change.
We are not separate from our world, so when the majority of humans become free of egoic delusion, this inner change will affect all of creation. You will literally inhabit a new world. It is a shift in planetary consciousness.
We first need to ask, when one becomes free of egoic delusion what will their positions be on abortion, health care or foreign policy? Won’t this “new world” merely reflect the views of those who describe it, like Tolle? Egoic delusion is vague and it’s unclear what this means in the context of social transformation. In an interview Tolle admits to have $4 million dollars just sitting in the bank. What is the best “ego-free” use of that money? Becoming free of egoic delusion does nothing to provide answers to the most complex moral questions we face. Thus, it is inaccurate to suggest that once we are all free of ego we will inhabit a new world. In order to believe Tolle, you have to think that anyone who “awakens” will necessarily share the exact same social, political and cultural ideology. Secondly, forget about ethical systems, community, protesting or frameworks for engaging with others, everything one needs to play his or her part in the creation of a new world can be found within. He states, “The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light.” Global transformation has never been easier.
Tolle’s bold claim rests on the belief in a “vast realm of intelligence beyond thought,” that once accessed will guide and direct the planetary transformation through humans. In short, God is evolving through us. It is in this space if Being that such universal experiences as “beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace” originate. This energy is the “intelligence, the organizing principle behind the arising form.” Tolle uses the terms Source, the Unmanifested, consciousness, God and Being interchangeably to describe this realm or force. This intelligence has designed the world through its continual unfolding. The Unmanifested flows “through human form…becomes conscious and thus fulfills its destiny. The human form was created for this higher purpose, and millions of other forms prepared the ground for it.” God created humans to fulfill God’s divine destiny.
What keeps us separated from this Source according to Tolle? It’s simple: identification with the mind. By this he means incessant mental chatter, confusing our true identity with form or labels and the obsession with the false egoic self. This is nothing other than evil. He states, “If evil has any reality — it is has a relative not an absolute, reality — this is also its definition: complete identification with form — physical forms, thought forms, emotional forms.” This false identification leads to ignorance and beliefs of separation and hence the complex global challenges that we currently face.
In The Power of Now, Tolle suggests there are various “portals into the Unmanifested” which lead beyond the limited identification with ego. They include: connecting to the body, dreamless sleep, surrender, the now, space and silence. Opening ourselves to pure consciousness via these methods, we can play our part in the unfolding of the divine will.
Without the impairment of egoic dysfunction, our intelligence comes into full alignment with the outgoing cycle of universal intelligence and its impulse to create. We become conscious participants in the creation of form. It is not we who create, but universal intelligence that creates through us.
Tolle claims that when he is speaking it isn’t him but rather the pure power of presence that is speaking through him. It’s interesting as this is an almost universally shared claim made by many other gurus, preachers and religious leaders. Many mainline Christian ministers claim that God is speaking through them. And of course Neale Donald Walsch claims in Conversations with God that God actually dictated several books worth of material to him. Yet God seems to be saying very different things to Tolle, Walsch and Pat Robertson. How can this be?
As we have seen, Tolle believes that God is evolving through us to awaken his or her divine planetary will on earth. How does he substantiate this theory? He doesn’t. The only evidence he can point to for his theology is that more and more people are abandoning “mind-dominated religions.” This is evidence, according to Tolle, that a new consciousness is arising through us. It’s not convincing. Besides, around the globe “mind-dominated” religion is spreading quickly. He gives more insight into his cosmology.
But what we are doing here is part of a profound transformation that is taking place in the collective consciousness of the planet and beyond: the awakening of consciousness from the dream of matter, form, and separation. The ending of time…On our planet, the human ego represents the final stage of universal sleep, the identification of consciousness with form. It was a necessary stage in the evolution of consciousness.
This is almost incomprehensible. How does he know what the evolutionary stages of consciousness are? What is the relationship between evolved consciousness and capitalism? When we no longer identify with form will all injustices be eradicated? If not, and if it is possible for us as a species to be “awake” while simultaneously living in an and being complicit with an oppressive industrial society then we should seriously question the social and political dimensions of spiritual transformation.
Why can’t this divine evolutionary impulse awaken us to the reality of things that actually matter like deforestation, pollution, racism, homophobia or imperialism? Why couldn’t experiencing Being and connecting to our divine source actually provide us with tangible knowledge and concern about the ravages of industrial capitalism instead of disembodied, abstract and politically neutral states of presence? Tolle and others like Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen believe that God evolves through everyone — Tea Partiers and KKK members, white liberals, black feminists, Chinese Taoists and queer activists to merely discover their deepest and truest self. Unfortunately this divine act does extremely little to actually move us towards global and planetary change. If it helps everyone equally then it empowers everyone at the social, political and ideological perspective they are based in and is essentially neutral. Aligning ourselves with an ever-present divine evolving impulse is vague, empty and will still reflect one’s social and cultural values and prejudices. It’s like going to therapy to discover deeper states of psychological truth. Of course anyone can benefit from therapy, but this won’t make them challenge the worst injustices around them. There are of course millions of Americans oblivious to the realities of racism and injustice who have done profound inner transformational work and who have connected with the “light of consciousness.”
Elsewhere, Tolle’s work is littered with unsubstantiated vague claims like, “All egoic structures are destined to collapse,” and “We are breaking mind patterns that have dominated human life for eons.” Who is the “we” and what are “mind patterns?” Where do they exist? What is an egoic structure?
Tolle’s magical thinking reveals itself more clearly when he gives examples of exactly how internal transformation can affect social transformation. He states, “The pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution: millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner space…As within, so without: If humans clear inner pollution, then they will also cease to create outer pollution.” While this may intuitively feel right, it is of course nonsense. Some of the most passionate advocates of environmentalism have lots of “inner psychic pollution.” Likewise, many people who are irresponsible with the environment are very evolved, loving and caring people who have done extensive personal transformation work. Tolle’s correlation with inner and outer pollution is profoundly abstract and vague. It’s entirely meaningless, overly simplistic and irresponsible. It’s literally no different than a right-wing conservative saying the reason why there are so many abortions in the United States is because of “inner psychic pollution.” What does this really mean?
In A New Earth Tolle goes so far as to claim all of the atrocities associated with Communism could have been avoided had their been a shift in their “inner reality, their state of consciousness.” Again, his absolutism in regards to the power of internal transformation is quite extreme. If communists would have only stilled their minds, connected to their bodies and dis-identified with their false egoic self he believes countless lives would have been saved. It’s important to understand that when Tolle is referring to shifting inner consciousness, he is specifically talking about stilling the mind, not shifting inner social or political consciousness. Of course the issues are far more complex than Tolle presents. No simple solution like cultivating presence, stillness or embodiment would have changed a profoundly complicated socio-political experience that spanned vast territory and numerous decades. Furthermore, he falsely believes that spiritual awakening supports his social and political positions.
Tolle is suggesting that what communists needed and what environmental polluters need is internal spiritual transformation — not education, training, relationship building, diversity training, political understanding, environmental awareness or anything else. Why? Because Tolle believes in an all-knowing divine power that once channeled knows exactly what to do. This universal intelligence is unfolding and working through humans. If only environmental polluters and communists were to connect with God the world would be a much better place. For those who successfully do, they are contributing to more joy, peace, creativity and happiness on the planet. Spirit is unfolding in a direction and it supports Tolle’s social and political agenda and reflects his social location as a wealthy, heterosexual, white male with $4 million in the bank and a Jaguar in his driveway.
The reason, of course, that environmental experts don’t recommend mind-body practices like meditation or yoga in order to stop worldwide pollution is because they are entirely unrelated. If we were to take Tolle seriously we should instruct environmental educators to stop teaching about pollution and start teaching about how to connect to Being. However, stilling the mind will make someone pollute less just as it would make someone a better chef. Otherwise, we’d expect anyone who engaged in mind-body practices to eventually share the exact same social and political ideology. Again, the divine will of the universe could have resolved this if it only could awaken people to the realities of social injustice — not just instill within them an abstract and politically neutral state of presence.
For Tolle the “mind” is a huge problem. He believes the reason that we have poor art, literature and music is because the world is mind dominated. It is in turning off the mind and stopping thoughts that we find salvation. This is however quite problematic. While certainly people can benefit from stilling the mind, to say that a busy mind is the cause of industrial capitalism or pollution is nonsense. There are lots of people with busy and cluttered minds who are on the forefront of social justice movements. Also, there are many people who have done lots of work to quiet their minds and yet still are supportive or in the least complicit with awful things. Inner calm is not synonymous with anti-capitalistic sentiments. Again, he is identifying a particular social/political agenda or outcome with presence. If only we turn off the mind then society will be better. Yet this is absolutely not the case. Members of the Tea Party can benefit from mindfulness just as left-wing anarchists can. Furthermore, creativity (one of the things Tolle values and is a result of stilling the mind) can be accessed by anyone for any purpose. Increasing the amount of creativity in the world won’t support the political ideas of Mr. Tolle. People can be creative in harmful ways.
Tolle believes that when the mind is still one can listen to and be guided by divine inner guidance. However, intuition is not detached from ones social and cultural conditioning. It is most certainly shaped by the values, morals, beliefs, customs and practices that have already influenced the intuitive feeling. The intuition of a KKK member in approaching issues of race is vastly different than the intuition of a Black Panther member. Any sort of universalizing divine quality that Tolle believes will speak to a particular social or political agenda is pure fiction.
What happens when you still a busy mind in Nazi, Germany? You have a still minded person living in and supporting an oppressive state. Same goes for Imperialistic countries like the United States.
At the end of A New Earth, Tolle describes his understanding of how acting in the world lines up with one’s inner purpose.
Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose — what you do — with your inner purpose — awakening and staying awake. Through awakened doing, you become one with the outgoing purpose of the universe. Consciousness flows through you and into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers it.
He names three modalities of awakened doing, which without whatever we do will “be dysfunctional and of the ego.” They are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. He believes these modalities represent a frequency of vibration and claims that we need to be in one of these states at all times. In fact, our suffering is caused by our lack of being in them.
There is a danger to Tolle’s simplistic belief that acceptance, joy and enthusiasm lead to awakened doing. It can easily lead one to believe that whatever they are doing is aligned with the creative principle of the universe as long as they are enthusiastic about it. The only compass or gauge of whether or not something is moral or non harmful is the individuals internal mind. Rather than basing ethics on dialogue, relationships or structural inequalities Tolle’s system is entirely dependent upon the cultivation of acceptance, joy and enthusiasm. These are vague and meaningless terms when trying to determine whether or something is, for example, racist or sexist.
“Resistance to the Now as a collective dysfunction is intrinsically connected to loss of awareness of Being and forms the basis of our dehumanized industrial civilization.”– Eckhart Tolle
A friend recently told me that he believed spiritual awakening would make someone become more progressive politically. I asked him how far left would it make them go? Left-wing anarchist, liberal democrat, socialist? He didn’t know. But he believed it would make them more compassionate and likely to want to serve others. Yet, these are not domains of the “left.” I know many right-wing Christians who have dedicated their lives to serving others, but yet maintain homophobic, sexist and patriarchal attitudes. There were common citizens in Nazi Germany who volunteered and did service. There are many conservatives who are compassionate. My friend, like Tolle, confused spiritual awakening or a renewed sense of love with a particular political agenda.
Love isn’t progressive, socialist or limited to any political position. People of all ideological persuasions fall in love, make love, experience love and act in love. Is global transformation really based on raising the “love” vibration on the planet? After all, Glenn Beck’s latest gathering was called “Restoring Love.” There was lots of “love” amongst Protestant and Catholic Christians in Nazi Germany. Love for spouses, children, families and God. People were kind, caring and compassionate to members of their own kind while turning a blind eye or supporting to the horrific crimes of the state. What frequency did their love vibrate on and how did it matter in the larger scheme of things? Love is not the sole property of either progressives or conservatives. If both a pro-choice and a pro-life activist group based all of their methods, techniques and actions in love who would win?
According to Tolle what is most urgently needed to address the thought addicted insane world is the cultivation of presence. Global transformation hinges upon awakening to our deepest, most essential being. How might one begin to discover this? As we’ve mentioned through stilling the mind or other embodiment practices. Also, “For some,” Tolle claims in A New Earth, a glimpse of awakening “will come while reading this book,” as it is “Designed to draw you into this new consciousness as you read.” He continues, “Again and again, I endeavor to take you with me into that timeless state of intense enlightenment.” If you were worried about the authenticity or truth of his teachings, he clears up the matter by stating his book “is not derived from external sources, but from the one true Source within, so it contains no theory or speculation.”
Like many others Tolle mistakenly conflates presence with justice. People can cultivate presence and still the mind and yet live in a society that is racist, sexist and based on capitalist exploitation. Presence is not anti-thetical to a “dehumanized industrial civilization.” There can be lots of “nice” people who are calm and do things in a “sacred” manner and yet be completely oblivious to the ways in which the surrounding culture pollutes, oppresses and marginalizes people.
As was the case with Zen Buddhism in Japan during and before WWII, the cultivation of stillness, compassion and love can co-exist with the worst fascism and imperialism. The entire institution of Zen Buddhism — the masters, monks and professors supported the cruel and colonizing efforts of the state and emperor. They defended the “wars of compassion,” gorged themselves in killing and advocated merging the small self with the larger self of the state. This was all done within the monastical, academic and ethical systems of Zen Buddhism. Furthermore, most white people in the history of U.S. have believed themselves to be loving, caring, compassionate people. Many have even engaged in spiritual practices for decades now, yet have been complicit in all sorts of racist, bigoted and Imperialistic actions in America. White people aren’t more aware of their own racism or racist past because they’ve cultivated presence or live in the Now.
Certainly Tolle has transformed the lives of many people. Millions have benefited from his teachings. The physical and mental benefits of mind-body spiritual practices are clear. Yet, this just makes the point I’m trying to illustrate much clearer. It doesn’t matter what political or social persuasion one is, anyone can benefit from individual transformative practices. To suggest that engaging in these practices is thus aligning with a certain political direction of the divine will as Tolle does is simply untrue. Again, anyone who stills the mind or cultivates presence would necessarily end up at the same social and political positions. We’d all end up like Tolle. That’s not my definition of a transformed planet.
Teachings like those of Tolle are overly simplistic and irresponsible. To say that the global problems of the world will be solved if we all still the mind, connect with Being and live in joy, enthusiasm and acceptance is incredibly naive. His ideas are based on magical thinking, not unlike The Secret and many other pop-spiritual philosophies. He claims that by just allowing the present moment to be it “will miraculously transform your whole life.” Even if one addresses their shadow through therapy or other transformative work, this still won’t lead to the global transformation that Tolle speaks of. These teachings make larger than life promises and conflate inner transformation with external transformation when in reality people with varying political positions can equally benefit from spiritual/psychological growth and still maintain their perspectives and actions regardless of how harmful they are.
Claims that the divine is working through us to fulfill the evolutionary mission of consciousness are so abstract they are meaningless. Most significantly the “will of the divine” always reflects the social, political and ideological positions of those making the claims. Saying this doesn’t mean I’m against spiritual practices or individual transformation just as me saying that poetry won’t save us doesn’t mean that I’m against poetry. Rather it is important to pull these two domains of internal and external transformation apart to clearly see what has erroneously been projected onto them.
We are already facing immense global challenges, which are seemingly only going to get worse. Getting in touch with God, love, Being or Source won’t save us now. Spiritual awakening won’t solve the problems we must confront. The issue is not lack of Being or unwillingness to be in the Now. Instead of fetishizing internal transformation as a global panacea or promoting the idea that God is evolving through us let’s build the networks of relationships and communities of resistance necessary to survive the coming planetary challenges.