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Updated: Apr 19, 2023

The common problem shared by RD Laing and Eckhart Tolle is that both men retain a progressive view whereby their spiritual perspectives will change the world and change it for the better—and this leads them to deny that strife and competition are both necessary for existence. The idea is that if everyone withdrew their projections—their splitting and repression—that universal peace and harmony would reign. I don’t think it would, simply for the reason that if you accept everything you also have to accept that there is war and violence. Yet it seems Tolle and Laing can’t accept that.

In a way, it’s easier to accept Aids victims, the homeless, and refugees than it is to accept that strife and war both constitute essential elements to existence—to help people seems easy enough to accept. To accept the straggler and the outcast is actually not so hard as to accept the necessity for war, strife, and competition. It’s easier to do because when you do it you look good and can feel virtuous—despite what people say about “the outcast poor”. Yet if you accept war and strife as necessary then you cannot feel such easy virtue—nobody is keen on a person who says, “I accept the necessity for war”.

If the necessity for war and strife is accepted, then you cannot have an ameliorative view of the world—just to “accept everything” and to “live in the now” would not mean an end to warfare and violence. The natural world must go on, whatever state of mind you live—though it must be admitted that most soldiers and people who perform violence do not accept it (they are also detached from experience). So to be awake is really an internal change, whereas Laing—Laing especially, in his political phase—and Tolle think it can change the political and social world. Yet the change of heart will not change the world—not in the sense that all wars will cease.


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