I’ve mentioned this book for a little while now, and lately, I’ve been making an extra effort to really live out the teachings. Well maybe not “teachings”; ideas? Concepts? I must admit I was a bit of a new kid on the Eckhart Tolle block, having heard of his huge association with Oprah (is there something wrong with me if I’ve never seen an episode?), and shrugging it off as “another self-help author”, but A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose was introduced to me early in the summer, and with the path I feel I’m being called to be on lately, it was rather aptly timed indeed.
I cracked open the book one night in the bath. I don’t often take baths because I get terribly bored, and I don’t often read in the bath because everything gets terribly soggy, so this was slightly out of the ordinary. However the experience remains ingrained in memory – I’d put some on pretty music, lit some candles, and had the window half open so a breeze seeped in, refreshing against the steam coming off the bubbles. I’d grabbed a bath pillow and began to read. At first, I was a little hesitant. The first chapter was about the first flower ever to appear on planet Earth hundreds of millions of years ago, opening up to receive sunlight, marking an evolutionary transformation in plantlife. A bit New Age, if you ask me, but I kept reading the analogy, in which he refers to human consciousness – a similar transformation, which has already begun, which, if every human being decided to focus on purpose and awareness, be free of the Ego, and of all the self-imposed limitations and negativity perpetual thinking gives rise to, could bring about a “New Earth”.
Once I passed the first chapter, however, I was hooked. I carried it everywhere and found myself sitting in coffee shops nodding along as I highlighted something on pretty much every other page, wishing there was a way I could steal the words away from the page and install them into my brain where I’d forever be guided and reminded. It’s not a religious book, but the author makes reference to a variety of different religions and spiritual practices, not to add to the reader’s beliefs, but to create food for thought, and hopefully, a shift in consciousness.
One of the main notions of the book is that we, as humans, are trapped in our own minds. Our Ego wants to have an identity, whether good or bad, and we are also conditioned to thinking that if we have more, then we will be happy. Along with thinking and wanting more, comes focusing on lack – lack of money, of friends, of attractiveness, of happiness… “If the thought of lack – whether it be money, recognition, or love – has become part of who you think you are, you will always experience lack. Rather than acknowledge the good that is already in your life, all you see is lack. No matter what you have or get, you won’t be happy. You will always be looking for something else that promises greater fulfillment, that promises to make your incomplete sense of self complete and fill that sense of lack you feel within.”
The author explains, in a way different from other books I’ve read, that it’s not the Ego itself that is bad, but our identification with it that causes the most suffering. If we identify ourselves by our jobs, our possessions, even on the flipside, by our suffering or hardship – as long as we perpetuate that identification, we are not simply living in the present and accepting things as they are. The goal is to raise personal awareness of our behaviour, allowing ourselves to simply be in the present moment, rather than getting caught up in in thinking about and reacting to it, or living by the roles we give to ourselves. And aren’t we all guilty of that?
The way we go about the world is shaped, in large part, by our past experiences, by our inner critic, by our fears and by worrying about what other people think of us. We act differently, though maybe only very slightly, around different groups of people. We may act one way around our partner, another around his or her family, another around our boss, and yet another around our closest friends. We ever so subtly fall into different roles shaped by how we want society to see us, or by past hurts or anxieties. Some may have a heightened sense of Ego, going about the world in fancy suits and filling homes with expensive decor, fuelled by the notion that more is better. Some may have latched onto the other end of the spectrum, carrying the weight of their past hardships or present sufferings with a frown on their face and a cloud over their head. The book teaches it doesn’t matter what identification we have with the Ego, as long as it has an identity. And the only way to truly be at peace is to recognise that, detach from those thought patterns, detach from the material things that are ultimately ephemeral, and detach from worry about things over which we have no control.
I took a LOT away from this book, but most of all, I took away the power of awareness and acceptance. The moment you notice a pattern of behaviour that is no longer working for you, recognise it, change it, and you are on your way to becoming more enlightened and living a more purposeful existence. Instead of allowing reactive emotions to take over in response to unfavourable life events, accept them as they are. Instead of feeling wronged or holding on to grudges, just let them go. And, though painful sometimes, accepting the path a loved one has chosen even though you may believe it’ll end badly. People ultimately only learn from their own mistakes. There was a great section about peace vs. drama which is something I think we can all identify with, explaining that though we all want peace, there’s something in all of us that also wants drama and conflict. We’re not acknowledged, we have an argument, we feel wronged somehow, and the mind races to defend itself, attack, or blame someone else.
“Can you feel that there is something in you that is at war, something that feels threatened and wants to survive at all cost, that needs the drama in order to assert its identity as the victorious character within that theatrical production? Can you feel there is something in you that would rather be right than at peace?”
The Ego would rather be right than at peace, and the only way to lessen its grip is to become aware of it – the voice in our head that “comments, speculates, judges, compares, dislikes… etc.” You can catch yourself in these situations, and choose to accept and be happy, rather than insisting at any cost you be right. Since I finished the book I’ve caught myself out slipping into old thought patterns that are ultimately Ego-driven – reacting in arguments, becoming upset over situations I can’t control, worrying about things, and beating myself up. None of this does anyone any good and is never going to pave the way to being at peace, and I think this book should be mandatory reading for everyone who’s concerned at all about finding happiness, and living a good life of intent, peace and purpose. If everyone lived by the teachings of this book, the world would be a very different place indeed. But as with all big movements, they start with a small step. And if I can introduce someone to this reading material and it impacts them the way it did after it was introduced to me… then I’d like to think this was mine.
What a great review, Emily! You have actually inspired me to check out this book. I was a bit suspicious of it since I kind of don’t care for Opraph (Gasp! How un-American of me), so I kind of buck anything she endorses… This sounds like a great read, though, and something I would definitely benefit from reading!!
YAY!! I love that you’re going to read it now! Yeah I don’t really care that much for Oprah either (though I shouldn’t say that since I’ve never really given her a chance!) but this stands on its own as an inspirational masterpiece. Please let me know when you start reading it! Oh and I posted your Paris CD today 🙂
I’d heard about this book before, but I wrote it off because I thought it had religious ties (apparently I didn’t do my homework!) – but now? I’m EXTREMELY curious. I currently have a very overflowing TO DO list, but I’m adding “READ A NEW EARTH” to it.
Do it! In the next few weeks… so we can debrief NEXT MONTH when I SEE YOU. *Jumps up and down*
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for far too long. I’m almost afraid to start it because I don’t know if I’m ready, but you’ve inspired me to pick it up soon and be open to its tranformative message.
Oh yay! I’m so glad – please let me know your thoughts when you’re done!
First, I have to say that I LOVE the new look!! Great job on your re-design! 🙂
Second, there’s NOTHING wrong with you for not having seen an episode. I haven’t either. But the book, based off of your description, sounds like an interesting one so I may have to pick up a copy and check it out. Thanks for sharing your review!
Finally, happy Monday to ya! Until next time………..
Thanks!! It was a Friday night project, but it’s England and old maps and nerdy Daleks and Star Trek and everything I love 🙂 I’m glad you like it!
What wonderful ideas! That part about lacking really resonated with me and the current challenges in my life. That sounds great, I really need to take a look at that book. I’ve read Eckhart Tolle before–“The Power of Now”— and I really liked what I read, so I’m sure I can expect the same from this book. The ideas in this book sound somewhat similar to a book I just finished, Victor E. Frankyl’s “Man Search for Meaning”, which is just the type of thing I’m looking for in a book. That one was kind of heavy, so perhaps this will lighten things up for me with a New-Age freshness. Thanks for the recommendation!
And on another note, don’t ever think you write too much! With a wonderful spirit and abundant enthusiasm, you have nothing to apologize for!
Hi again new blog friend! 🙂 I haven’t read “The Power of Now” yet but it is next up on my reading list. I have a couple I’m taking with me on holiday next week I can’t wait to sink into. And 11 hours travel time each way is GREAT reading time! Thanks for your sweet words – and I’ll have to look into Man’s Search for Meaning. Though this one was full of deeper ideas, it was written in a way that’s very accessible and not too heavy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
This sounds really interesting! And I love how honest you were about not being about it at first but you kept reading. Great review!
Haha, yep, I thought it was a bit much at first but it quickly turned around 🙂
Thank you for this! I have just recieved the power of now and am very excited to read this, and the book you talk about – having never watched an episode of oprah either 😉 I loved to hear how a book has made such an impression on you!
Thanks!! I’m starting The Power of Now soon (apparently I do things backwards lol); I’d love to hear your thoughts on both!
I’ve always seen this book and kind of blown it off in favor of a piece of fiction or a hilarious collection of non-fiction essays. However, you’ve convinced me to perhaps give it a shot. Maybe my way of thinking needs to be “shook up” a bit.
Honestly, me too. I read WAY more fiction than non, but after I finished this I was convinced it was the one book EVERYONE should read – it’s just so eye-opening, and I am subscribed to the ideas and teachings for life!
New York City is filled with people who think “more is better” and it’s terribly hard to live up to. Even I find myself thinking, “I need to get this” or “I want what she has” and sometimes it makes me feel better for a little bit, but everytime I get or do something that I thought I wanted, I invariably come up with something else that someone has that I want. It really never ends.
My question to you is: I often feel hesitant to read new age-y kinds of books because I’m worried about how it will conflict with Christianity. Did you feel that this book helped promote an aspect of faith or do you think that it tried to take away from Christianity? I feel like sometimes these books make it all about the person, rather than about God (which is necessarily bad, just different).
Love the new look Emily. It is really great and original. It fits you perfectly.
As you know from my blog I am a huge Tolle fan.
What a fabulous review. I love that you are inspiring others to read this as yes, we’d all not only be happier if we understood and lived these concepts, we would create “A New Earth”.
I wanted to respond to Alison Blass’ question.
I know that when I did the online course with Oprah and Eckhart just over two years ago, (still available on Itunes and I think her website) a LOT of Christians on the message boards did not understand the teachings and thought that it did go against Christianity.
However, I know many Christians who believe that what Tolle is teaching is exactly what Christ was living and teaching.
The book is focused on the person, but it is about how a person learns to work with their own mind and how that works to bring us closer to God.
I know that the book has given me a new understanding and love for Christ, and his teachings even though I am not a Christian.
I hope that helps?
Jenny – I’m so glad we finally get to discuss Tolle! I think you can definitely see it that way – Tolle’s teachings can be very Christian, in a way, but also very spiritual or Taoist or anything else. It’s all about how you take it personally and how you choose to let it affect your life.
The thing I really enjoyed about this was how all-encompassing and holistic it was. It utilised parts of the Bible and Christianity to help support certain points, but it also used Taoism, Buddhism and a variety of other spiritual teachings to help provide examples of many of the teachings. It definitely didn’t take away from Christianity, nor did it try and preach anything or convert anyone. It was definitely very well done.
This looks like it is something I should read. Put on my to read list.
Perfect! Let me know how you like it.
I am consistently blown away by the universe, especially lately…specifically within the last month or so. My life is absolutely taking a turn for higher involvement in spirituality and every where I turn something new pops up that is in line with everything I’ve been thinking/learning about! And your review of this book is no different. These are exactly the sorts of things I’ve been thinking about lately, and where my life has been heading. It’s almost an obsession with me right now to learn about the concepts of consciousness, the Ego, the Self, etc. I am definitely adding this book to my ever-growing stack. Thanks for this review! I’m so excited to check this out. ❤
Yay!! This book was introduced to me, too, at a time when I felt my life was taking a turn for higher involvement in spirituality – I’m so excited this has come at the same sort of time for you. PLEASE let me know your thoughts! 🙂
wow this sounds really really good!! such a good point that if we’re always focusing on ‘lacking’ that it will become a habit!
I have never seen an Oprah show in my life. (I’m more of the Dr. Phil flavor! Tehehe.)
This books sounds amazing. I loved your review and can definitely relate to a lot of it. We do get caught up in what we want and not grateful for everything we have been granted. I’m noticing this more and more in my own life, and have been trying to find happiness in the little life I have made for myself, without stressing because my social life isn’t “up to par” or I don’t have the newest and latest gadgets.
Phew I’m not the only Oprah n00b! I think the more and more you notice (become aware of) something, the more capable you are to change it. 🙂
Ah I think this is too funny!! I also got hooked on this book in the tub. At first I did not like it but the second time around I was hooked. Makes ya think so much. Great read.
SMALL. WORLD. As if we both read the same book in the bath!! Haha 🙂 Definitely makes you think SO much… I insisted on D reading it immediately 🙂
You have packed a lot of wisdom into this post. It is great to hear you are so excited about what you are learning. Thank-you for sharing.
Thanks Mark! I am terribly excited about this stuff – it’s truly life changing 🙂
What a great review! I took a lot away from A New Earth when I read it a couple years ago. It was interesting to see the Oprah video-casts that went along with it. I should probably re-read it because, while I tend to remember general concepts, there is a lot more to the message.
That’s exactly what I’m finding too – every sentence is SO meaningful, I wish there was a way I could take them away instead of just remembering the general ideas. Maybe I’ll make little quotes and frame them or something 🙂
This book sounds very interesting. I think I might just want to read it.
Also? Getting bored in the bath? That sentence could have been written by me. Same reason I have never been on a beach vacation. Haha.
Never?? Haha! I don’t mind the beach so much because I am total sun-worshipper and I love to soak up the rays and read a good book. But I’m big on travel and sightseeing and seeing all the culture and history, too 🙂 I hope you do end up reading it!
Yea, that ol ego is a tricky devil. It’s strange how we can ignore consequences, go into denial, and continue to drive ourselves into the grave because, uh, we are just stubborn? And I think the part of the ego that MUST be right explains a lot of the political polarization we see today, people would rather die than admit, say, that environmentalists may have a point about global warming. There are deep rooted resentments that may actually have no ground in reality, but as long as there are others around to feed your fire, the ego just marches on with it’s holier than thou attitude, and the world becomes just one big stupid stalemate.
Thanks for posting this excellent book review!
Great points! And I’m glad you enjoyed it – thanks for the kind words and insights!
My mom is always passing along books like this to me, so sometimes it’s hard to distinguish ones that are truly helpful. I think I might actually check this one out, though – I keep hearing only great things about it.
You definitely should!
This was a wonderful review, Emily! I’ll have to read this book. Two parts really hit home for me – the quote you mentioned about the thought of lack, and the part about recognizing and changing patterns of behavior that are no longing working you so as to live a more purposeful existence. My husband, as of late, has been so hooked on everything we lack… and I’m always telling him to focus on what we DO have otherwise he’ll never be happy (even if he gets everything he’s ever wished for!). I’ll have to pass that quote on to him. 😉 And as for me, I’ve been doing a good job of recognizing things I want to change in my life, but I just have to learn to put those changes in motion.
P.S. I love the new look to your blog… and I’m excited to hear the results of the Weddingbells competition tomorrow! I don’t think there’s any doubt that you WON! 🙂
It’s so powerful when you start to recognise that when there are things you don’t like, you absolutely do have the power to change them! I would definitely recommend this book to your husband. I think it would change the way he sees things! 🙂
Thanks for the kind words on the redesign – it’s all England, nerdiness and history – my absolute loves!
I’m in the same boat (the not buying stuff Oprah approves boat), but this book has definitely peaked my interest. Thanks for sharing! I’ll put it on my Kobo reader this week!
Yay!! Let me know what you think 🙂
I’ve never heard about this book but I think I need to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation Emily!
My name is Fletcher. I live in Ellerau, Germany.I randomly stumble on proseandconstellations.com.
I just want to say that I liked your blog post about “Acceptance: A small step towards ?A New Earth? “.
my younger brother found this books helpful in his journey of finding himself and happiness and brought me a copy and it is such an amazing inspiring book that really opens your eyes to how you should be living. I also agree it is a book that everyone should read!!
So good! 🙂