Born in 1948, Eckhart Tolle lived in Germany, Spain and England before settling as a Canadian resident. He says that his early life alienated him and he was generally unhappy growing up in the war-ravaged town of Lünen, near Dortmund. In his teens and young adulthood, he suffered from bouts of depression. However, also at this time, Tolle moved to Spain and began to read works by the German mystical teacher, Bo Yin Ra, otherwise known as Joseph Schneiderfranken. His words had a profound and long-lasting impact on him. Later still, while working in the UK, Tolle started to study spirituality and philosophy more deeply, enrolling - but not completing - a postgraduate course on it at the University of Cambridge. In 1977, Tolle would experience something of an epiphany, or realisation, that helped him to overcome his negative thoughts. He has since devoted much of his life to explaining this 'inner transformation' to others in the form of books, DVDs and lectures.
In the past, any definition of spirituality would have been very tightly correlated with certain religious beliefs that focus on the godliness or spirit within people. In other words, spiritual people would have been seen as devout, pious and as someone concentrated more on sacred or metaphysical matters rather than earthly ones. These days, however, a more extensive definition of spirituality is accepted, which includes broader traditions that lead to personal growth. Examples of this could be the sort of inner journey that many people take from meditative practices and non-religious activities like transcendentalism and perennial philosophy. Some people consider themselves to be spiritual but not religious, as they perhaps do not feel a sense of belonging to a religion or agree with what it stands for.
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