'Guardians of Being': A Collaboration Between Patrick and Eckhart Tolle
The book Guardians of Being is a collaboration between spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and MUTTS creator Patrick McDonnell. It joins original words by Eckhart with delightful illustrations by Patrick. This uniquely heartwarming book teaches us about finding inner peace by living in the now, the transformation of our consciousness, and the arising of a more enlightened humanity.
The primary signposts in this new book are all of nature and, in particular, our beloved dogs and cats. Guardians of Being reminds us why we love our companion animals. It illuminates for us their divine purpose. While we are lost in our thoughts and busyness of everyday life, they have become the key to the present moment, our guardians of being.
What inspired you to collaborate with Eckhart Tolle?
I was compelled to pick up The Power of Now when it first came out in 1999. It just knocked me out and I was taken by its directness, its simplicity, and its deep truth. Over the years, I followed Eckhart. I was thinking off-and-on, “Boy, it might be interesting to do something together with him some day.” What really inspired me was seeing a photograph of Eckhart and his dog, Maya. My wife and I went through all of his CDs, audiotapes, DVDs, and books and started compiling quotes that talked about nature. I put a few of them together with some of my cartoons.
My book agent is also the agent of Elizabeth Lesser, who runs Omega Institute and was one of its founders. She’s had Eckhart there teaching, and she knew him. She was kind enough to give him this little dummy I had done of the book. We were very pleased when Eckhart said he’d be happy to do it. That’s how the book got together. I gave him the quotes and the cartoons. He reworked quotes and added some new ones.
Author Alice Sebold described your artistry as having a “Zen-like clarity.” All your comic strips have illustrations with text that is deceptively simple, but there’s always an important big theme, a spiritual message. What inspires you to choose these themes?
After a while, when you do a daily comic strip, a lot of who you are has to come out. For me, one of the things I loved about comic strips is their simplicity and directness — you have so little space to play in. I compare them to Haikus or poetry. You have to get to the essence of something fast. That’s sort of a Zen-like quality, to say as much as you can, with as little as possible. In one of Eckhart’s books, Stillness Speaks, he talks about his writings being like sutras. That’s at the heart of comic strips. You really have to get right to the point.