A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purposeby Eckhart Tolle
“This book is about you. It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless.”
The purpose of the book is to transform the reader’s state of consciousness and thus transform human consciousness to create a new earth. Tolle believes that reading A New Earth can only awaken those who are ready, but with each new person who awakens, the momentum in the collective consciousness grows, and then it becomes easier for others. Of course, being ‘ready’ does not mean that this is an easy process. Awakening your consciousness takes time, effort, and a great deal of patience!
The first step in transforming consciousness is awareness. This is an awareness of the current state of humanity, the influence of our culture and experiences, and of the ego and its wants. Once we are aware of our thoughts and realize that we are not our thoughts, we can begin to de-identify with our thoughts, our ‘story,’ the roles we play, our emotions, and our bodily reactions to our thoughts. A New Earth is essential reading for anyone who wants to bring presence and authenticity to their lives and relationships, and in doing so, directly contribute to world peace!
The Flowering of Human Consciousness
“‘A new heaven’ is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and ‘a new earth’ is its reflection in the physical realm.”
Tolle wants us to understand that ‘heaven’ refers not to a location but to our inner realm of consciousness. Earth, on the other hand, is the outer manifestation, which is always a reflection of the inner. Therefore, collective human consciousness and life on our planet are intrinsically connected. An essential part of the awakening is the recognition of the unawakened you—the ego—as it thinks, speaks, and acts. Also, recognition of the collectively conditioned mental processes that perpetuate the unawakened state is vital.
Humans are hurting each other and the environment, persisting in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their destruction. People identify with belief systems (religious, corporate, government, etc.) which make themselves ‘right’ and others ‘wrong.’ There is an urgent need for transformation. It is now arising in a consciousness which recognizes that we are all connected to each other and to nature.
Actions to take
Ego: The Current State of Humanity
“The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around you.”
Words, no matter whether they are spoken or remain as unspoken thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell on you. The thought and words ‘I,’ ‘me,’ ‘my,’ and ‘mine’ eventually become a source of identity with many things, including gender, possessions, nationality, race, religion, profession, roles, accumulated knowledge or opinions, likes and dislikes, and things that happened to ‘me’ in the past. Often, our sense of worth is also bound up with our possessions, and we always want more. In addition, we identify with our bodies: strong, beautiful, vigorous, or alternatively, ill or a ‘sufferer.’ Most people completely identify with the incessant stream of mind of compulsive thinking. Most of it is repetitive and pointless.
Actions to take
The Core of Ego
“It consists of thoughts and emotions, of a bundle of memories you identify with as ‘me and my story,’ of habitual roles you play without knowing it, of collective identifications such as nationality, religion, race, social class, or political allegiance.”
The ego places a sense of self, of I, in every thought, memory, viewpoint, and reaction. It gains strength by complaining, criticizing, and resenting people and situations. Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a deficiency so that it can be put right. Instead, the implication is: they should/shouldn’t have done that or this should/shouldn’t be happening. Often the ‘fault’ you perceive isn’t even there; it’s a misinterpretation by a mind conditioned to make itself superior.
People keep grievances alive by retelling the story out loud or in their head. Judging people and situations strengthens the ego. On a collective level, the mindset of ‘we are right and they are wrong’ is deeply entrenched where the conflict between nations, races, religions, or ideologies is long-standing and endemic. Both sides identify with their own ‘story’ and are incapable of seeing another perspective. However, the very Being that you are is Truth. When you are in touch with that dimension, your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all life that you sense deep within.
Actions to take
Role-playing: The Many Faces of the Ego
“It is not the formless attention which is Presence that the ego seeks, but attention in some form, such as recognition, praise, admiration, or just to be noticed in some way, to have its existence acknowledged.”
The ego usually plays some kind of role (however subtle), to get its ‘needs’ met. These ‘needs’ may be material gain, a sense of power, superiority, or some kind of gratification. Usually, people are completely unaware of the numerous roles they play. All you need to know and observe in yourself is when you feel superior or inferior to anyone. That’s the ego in you.
Authentic human interactions become impossible when you lose yourself in a role such as customer, salesperson, government bureaucrat, etc. In a world full of role-playing personalities, those who do not attempt to appear other than what they are, stand out as remarkable and are the only ones who truly make a difference in the world. Whatever they do becomes empowered because it is in alignment with the purpose of the whole. Their mere presence—natural, unassuming—has a transformational effect on whoever they come into contact with. They are bringers of the new consciousness.
Actions to take
“The ego is not only the unobserved mind, the voice in the head which pretends to be you, but also the unobserved emotions that are the body’s reaction to what the voice in the head is saying.”
The greater part of most people’s thinking is involuntary, automatic, and repetitive. The voice in the head tells a story that the body believes and reacts to with emotions. The emotions, in turn, feed energy back to the thoughts that created the emotion in the first place. This is the vicious circle between unexamined thoughts and emotions. Unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate mind activity and/or instant reactions. In this way, they create your reality.
Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger are toxic to the body and interfere with its harmonious functioning. They disrupt the energy flow through the body, affect the heart, the immune system, digestion, and the production of hormones. An emotion that does harm to the body also infects the people you come into contact with and indirectly, through a process of chain reaction, countless others you never meet.
Actions to take
“When you don’t identify with it, the pain-body can no longer control your thinking and so cannot renew itself anymore by feeding on your thoughts.”
Because of the human tendency to perpetuate old emotions, almost everyone carries in his or her energy field an accumulation of old emotional pain, which Tolle calls “the pain-body.” The beginning of freedom from the pain-body lies in the realization that you have one. Then, more important, is your ability to stay present and alert enough to notice the pain-body in yourself—as a heavy influx of negative emotion—when it becomes active. Your conscious presence breaks the identification with it. When you don't identify with it, the pain-body can no longer control your thinking and renew itself by feeding on your thoughts. Pain-bodies can be extremely dramatic, always overreacting. Someone with a heavy pain-body easily finds reasons for being upset or angry, and these triggers bring old emotions back to life.
When you feel strong negative reactions arising in you (a negative thought-emotion cycle beginning), have an attitude of curiosity rather than one of condemnation. Being present is infinitely powerful. When you recognize that the present moment is inevitable, you can bring an inner yes to it. With inner resistance gone, you stop creating unhappiness and find yourself empowered by Life itself, at one with the nature of God.
Actions to take
Finding Who You Truly Are
“How you react to people and situations, especially when challenges arise, is the best indicator of how deeply you know yourself.”
You might say, “Peace is all I want,” until the phone rings. Bad news: The stock market has collapsed. The car has been stolen. Your mother-in-law has arrived. Your partner has left you. Suddenly there is a surge of anger, of anxiety: “I can't take this.” You accuse, blame, defend, or justify yourself, and it's all happening on autopilot. Something is more important to you now than the inner peace that you said was all you wanted. The money, the loss, or the threat of loss are more important. To whom? To the small me that seeks security or fulfillment in things that are transient and gets anxious or angry because it fails to find it. Well, at least now you know who you really think you are.
If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace and remain nonreactive and alert when confronted with challenging people or situations. You will immediately accept the situation and thus become one with it. Then out of your alertness will come a powerful and effective response which makes no person or situation into an enemy. It is at this moment that you decide what kind of relationship you want to have with the present moment and thus with life. When you are present and your attention is fully in the now, that presence will flow into and transform what you do. There will be quality and power in it.
Actions to take
The Discovery of Inner Space
“Be aware of your breathing as often as you are able, whenever you remember. Do that for one year, and it will be more powerfully transformative than attending all of these courses. And it's free. Being aware of your breathing takes attention away from thinking and creates space. It is one way of generating consciousness.”
The world cannot make you happy or tell you who you are. When you no longer have such expectations, self-created suffering ends. Non-resistance, non-judgment, and non-attachment bring true freedom and enlightened living. Once you accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, you can enjoy the pleasures of the world without fear of loss or anxiety about the future.
It is from inner space, that true happiness, the joy of Being, emanates. It comes as a stillness, a subtle peace deep within you, even in the face of something seemingly bad. This, too, will pass. From that space between thoughts emanates the peace of God.
The joy of Being is found in simple things, like listening to the rain. You find yourself treating a stranger with heartfelt kindness without wanting anything from him. There is a sense of well-being, peace, even bliss. To be aware of little things, however, you need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be Present.
Actions to take
Your Inner Purpose
“For some, awakening happens as they become aware of the kinds of thoughts they habitually think, especially persistent negative thoughts that they may have identified with all of their lives. Suddenly there is an awareness that is aware of thought but is not part of it.”
Your life has an inner (primary) and an outer (secondary) purpose. Inner purpose concerns Being, outer purpose—doing. Everyone’s inner purpose is to awaken. The outer purpose varies from person to person and changes over time. Living in alignment with inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose; it is the basis for true success.
Awakening is a shift in consciousness where thinking and awareness separate. Awareness is presence: connection with universal intelligence. Once you have glimpsed presence, you can choose to be present rather than to indulge in useless thinking. Whatever you do (even walking across the room), you do extraordinarily well because you are focused on it. Life consists of small things, and great things arise out of honoring and caring for these small things.
Your future depends on your presence now. As you become present and attentive to people, your actions are charged with spiritual power. There is inspiration (e.g., in God) and creative empowerment beyond what a mere person is capable of.
Actions to take
A New Earth
“The primary factor in creation is consciousness. No matter how active we are, how much effort we make, our state of consciousness creates our world, and if there is no change on that inner level, no amount of action will make any difference.”
Consciousness flows through you into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers. It is not what you do, but how you do what you do that determines whether you are fulfilling your destiny. That current of consciousness is what determines quality. Future success is dependent upon and inseparable from the consciousness out of which the actions emanate. That can be either the reactive force of the ego or the alert attention of awakened consciousness. All truly successful action comes from the field of alert attention, rather than from ego and conditioned unconscious thinking.
There are three ways in which consciousness can flow into what you do and thus through you into this world. These are three modalities in which you can align your life with the creative power of the universe. The modalities of awakened doing are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. Each one represents a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness. You need to be vigilant to make sure that one of them operates whenever you are engaged in doing anything at all, from the simplest task to the most complex. If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.