Clients and friends are always asking me to help them sort through the array of “self help” books. I am constantly reading so I thought I would start a book review once a month of some of my favorite books. Even though this book is not new I chose A New Earth because I think everyone can identify with some portion of this book and it is timeless.
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle is one of my favorites and is so filled with wisdom that you have to re-read it because you simply can’t remember all the terrific points Tolle makes. I have tabbed so many pages so I can refer back to them. I believe that part of the popularity of it (in addition to having been heavily touted by Oprah) is that it comes at a very opportunist time. It is so relevant to what is going on in America and the world right now.
What I quickly realized is that everyone will interpret the book through their own personal lens (which Tolle also talks about). Your interpretation will vary depending on where you are in life. I would love to get thoughts and feedback from others who have read it because I think everyone will come away with a different view point.
A New Earth is a book about waking up and realizing who we are. Understanding the ego is a big part of understanding this book. Tolle talks about the shift from ego and how ego drives everything in our life. The simple definition of ego is “one’s image of oneself” or as Tolle describes it, “an illusory sense of self.” When our ego is inflated it causes greed, jealousy and inner turmoil. A few examples to understand ego better are: the name dropper, people who wear only designer labels and make sure you know it, materialistic people, always needing to consume, identifying themselves by their possessions, people who are condescending and criticize others, complainers and blamer’s, angry people, grudge holders, people who carry the past like a ball and chain and people who always need to be right. We all know someone (maybe even ourselves) who may exhibit something on this list. All these behaviors come from the ego. They make the ego feel superior and strengthen a person’s identity. Clearly it’s a false sense of identity and there is some deeper inner turmoil going on.
Many believe that a shift has already begun on the planet: turmoil that is happening all over the world due to the economy, people rebelling against their government, foreclosures, poverty, etc. All these issues affect the consciousness of humans. The way we are living now is simply not sustainable. Something needs to change. The other thing that Tolle talks about is called the “pain body” which is stored emotions that continue to accumulate. There are heavy pain bodies and lighter ones. Tolle feels that the heavier ones are the ones that seek a spiritual awakening more so because they are tortured souls and have so much inner pain. What makes the concept of the pain body even more difficult is that it’s not just about individual. It’s been suffered by humans throughout humanity by things like violence, slavery and war. The pain still lives in the psyche if humans. It makes sense when you look at different people and their emotions and the “stuff” they have going on and just can’t shake. I am sure we all know people who just attract drama and say they hate it yet are constantly surrounded by it. All the points mentioned before come from this pain body. It explains addiction, and the destructive behavior of so many people and why so many people are unhappy.
Healing the pain body is possible but it takes work. First, you have to recognize it just like an addiction; once you admit it, you are on the path to healing. The other point he mentions and this is a biggie…stay in the present moment and stay positive, because then that is what you give your pain body energy to feed on, and you are not thinking in the past. It has been said that thinking about the past causes depression and thinking about the future causes anxiety so stay present.
You will need to re-train your thoughts. This isn’t new. Great minds like Louise Hay and the late Leo Bascalia started talking about this 30 years ago. I also believe that you can read books to be enlightened and awakened until your last day but if you don’t apply them they are just fiction.
Tolle also says that becoming free of identification with your pain is important. Carolyn Myss refers to it as wound-ology. If you have ever spoken to someone and an uncomfortable topic comes up they refer to some trauma as to why they can’t move forward. For example, “I can’t find a mate because I was hurt in a relationship twenty five years ago” or “I can’t get a job because I had an abusive boss once and that ruined my confidence”. They are excuses as to why you can’t move forward and pulling out that wound keeps people at a distance and it prevents them from pressing for an answer.I will end my review with two quotes from the book that resonated with me.
“The only thing that can make you free is the present moment”
“Through forgiveness we can learn to love and heal”