Tolle meets Balsekar

Tolle meets Balsekar

An interesting story of when Eckhart Tolle met Ramesh Balsekar, an Advaita (non-duality) proponent who was a student of Nisargadatta. The author suggests Advaita and Tolle’s Dwaita (duality) are 2 possible paths to the same place. While this is true, I would suggest Tolle’s teachings are more popular because more people can relate them to their own experience.

Advaita on the other hand is much more useful after awakening when one can begin to appreciate what it really means. Before that, any concept of Advaita is meaningless as it is beyond any concept the mind can muster. Everything we experience is one thing and we are That?? I’ve even seen awake teachers confuse the inner unity of Self realization with the much vaster unity that Advaita describes, butchering it.

The story is otherwise very good.

[link updated Feb 2016]

Last Updated on February 27, 2016 by

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. Pingback: Layers and Wholeness « In 2 Deep

  2. Davidya

    You’re welcome, Masi. When saints of a common cloth come together, it can be very interesting. But when those of different lines come together, one never knows what might unfold.

  3. Ken

    Thanks for this. The current link is:

    In every talk and writing of Tolle’s that I have read, his theology or cosmology is entirely Advaitic, but his instructions are entirely practical – because if the person listening were already in an Awakened State, then they would have no need of his instructions.

    So, he will say give an instruction and then say “Of course, actually there is no ____ – but for the purpose of talking, we will say so.” – anticipating the Advaitic objection to his everyday terminology.

    I think if you asked him, he would say ” I’m not a theologian, I just help people live in the present moment.”

    1. Thanks, Ken. I updated the link.

      Actually, I’ll disagree. Tolle does speak similarly to many awake teachers around, but as I note in the article, he is more accessible and in some ways more relatable, such as in his discussions of the “pain body”.

      However, this is not actually “Advaitic” as it leaves out a big hunk of oneness. The “Awakened State” is a shift out of ego into a universal sense of self.

      Nonduality is further development when the world is also recognized as mySelf. Most neo-advaitists frame the world as illusion or similar, indicating dwaita or dualism.

      I would further add that anyone who has awakened and thinks they are now done is mistaken. Tolle may no longer be a suitable guide but this is only the kindergarten of enlightenment.

      But yes, it is necessary to use normal terms to communicate, even if they have misleading meanings. This becomes increasingly true the further you go.

      Tolle offers a great message to help people reframe their experience. Good pointers to get you started. But he doesn’t offer decent means. That becomes an impediment as the spiritual journey isn’t made by thinking about it.

  4. Ken

    You state: “Nonduality is further development when the world is also recognized as mySelf. Most neo-advaitists frame the world as illusion or similar, indicating dwaita or dualism.”

    I have not seen those definitions elsewhere. Dvaita is usually “there are two things” hence “dual”. E.G. Gaudiya Vaishnavism, with Krishna and devotee or exoteric religion with God and World.

    In Advaita, there is only one thing, Brahman. Shankara – at least in all the English translations I’ve seen – referred to the world as “illusion”. In fact, this constitutes one of the differences between Advaita and Kashmir Shaivism, quote from Wikipedia:

    “Kashmir Shaivism is philosophically similar to yet distinguished from Advaita: both are non-dual philosophies that give primacy to Universal Consciousness (Chit or Brahman).[82] However, in Kashmir Shaivism, all things are a manifestation of this Consciousness[83] but the phenomenal world (Sakti) is real, existing and having its being in Consciousness (Chit),[84] while Advaita Vedanta holds that the supreme, Brahman, is inactive (ni?kriya) and that the phenomenal world is an illusion (maya).[85] The reality and very divinity of every aspect of the phenomenal world is tied to the Tantric practices of Kashmir Shaivism.”

    1. Hi Ken
      The neo-advaitists don’t frame it as dualism but as long as they talk of a separate world, illusory or otherwise, this is not one. Obvious.

      There is a great deal of confusion about “reality” and the ancient understanding has been broken up into competing philosophies. Some of that is just mind-stuff and some of it is attaching themselves to one stage as “the truth”

      Self Realization is inherently a dwaita stage because we are the separate witness of an external world. 2 things. But because many neo-adviatists don’t recognize further development, they confuse an inner sense of wholeness with oneness. Oneness is a later stage, as I outline here.

      This is not a new issue but has been developing for a long time.

      Maya does not mean Illusion, although it’s very commonly translated that way. It comes from the root ‘To Build’ and basically refers to the world. How the world is perceived varies by the dominant Guna, as Shankara described. (world as real, illusory or divine) I discussed this here:

      It’s also useful to note that Shankara changed his outlook substantially after the divine arose in experience. Most modern neo-advaitists only look at the early teaching. I touch on this here:

      Advaita is a stage of development. Treated as a philosophy, it becomes a story of the mind that can get in the way of the lived experience. I touched on that in the above also.

      Kashmir Shaivism has also developed out of experience but has become a philosophy. It also describes a stage of development. However I’d disagree with “the phenomenal world is tied to the Tantric practices”. That suggests the practices lead to our reality. Good practices are normally designed to unfold the Reality, not create other illusions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest