Tolle has said that he was depressed for much of his life until he underwent, at age 29, an "inner transformation". He then spent several years wandering and unemployed "in a state of deep bliss" before becoming a spiritual teacher. Later, he moved to North America where he began writing his first book, The Power of Now, which was published in 1997 and reached the New York Times Best Seller lists in 2000. Tolle settled in Vancouver, Canada, where he has lived for more than a decade.
The Power of Now and A New Earth sold an estimated three million and five million copies respectively in North America by 2009. In 2008, approximately 35 million people participated in a series of 10 live webinars with Tolle and television talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Tolle is not identified with any particular religion, but he has been influenced by a wide range of spiritual works.
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