I have read a few self-improvement books but “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” stands out significantly reading on this topic.
The author, Eckhart Tolle, based on human history, is convinced that we have inherited a Dysfunctional mind that needs to be evolved to Consciousness. A Dysfunctional mind creates suffering for itself and for others.
I read and listen to Sufi poetry that revolves about the Ego as the number one enemy of a person. Eckhart Tolle has three entire chapters dedicated to the Ego. They explain content and structure of the Ego, describe many types of individual and collective Egos and detail what the Ego does to a person or to a group of people, and how not only it survives but rather thrives. The Ego lives in the past or in the future and dissolves in the present moment. This is the first book I read that provided a practical way to diminish the Ego.
Eckhart Tolle devised a new term “pain-body” in this book. It simply means a collection of negative thoughts one carries from the perception of past experiences and observations. The book dedicates two chapters on the description of pain-body and lists mechanisms to break free from it.
The author is a big proponent of living in the present moment. Being in the present moment will not only free one from the past perceptions and the future uncertainties but also will connect him/her to the Soul/God/Universe. Tolle describes techniques that a person could practice and adopt to be in the present. Subsequently, living in the present moment brings peace and harmony in one’s life but also prepares the person to concentrate fully on whatever activity he/she is doing in that moment. Moreover, when a person is an active observer of his/her mind, it can lead the person to get rid of any addictions and even come out of the cycle of any obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
This book is not the first one which emphasizes being in the present moment. The following translated verses from Rumi poetry talk about breaking free from the past and living in present:
‘Because of your love I have broken with my past
My longing for you keeps me in this moment’
The author divides the existence (material, energy, thoughts, spirit, universe, God) into two categories: form and formless, and insists for us to consider and feel ourselves as formless.
This book depicts human beings as mini cosmos; it compares inner space of human body to the outer space of Universe, and emptiness within human body (99.99% empty or formless) to the emptiness in the Universe. It really makes one feel that a human being is not an isolated entity but rather a fully integrated component of the entire Universe and, moreover, its own existence represents the Universe (a little form and rest as formless).
The stores are filled with books that offer guidance to an individual trapped in negativity and anxiety. I recently read another book authored by my friend Khalid Sohail (a psychotherapist) on self-improvement, ‘The Art of Living in Your Green Zone’. It is a remarkable book that emphasizes the reader to discover his/her passion, follow it through and make a ‘Family of Hearts’ by getting in touch with others with the same passion. The great poet of India, Allama Iqbal, also stressed to achieve excellence and leave a mark on the planet in the following verse:
‘Make your Place in this World by pursuing your Passion
Creating New Times, New Morning and Evening’
But Tolle’s book has a subtle distinction from the others as he not only discusses about individual self-improvement but stresses evolution of the entire humanity to the next level known as Consciousness. Hence the name ‘A New Earth’.
There are at least two ways to alleviate sadness and misery in one’s life. One group of people believes that permanent happiness and inner peace can be achieved through joy of being. The Saints and Sufis are content with themselves and follow this path. The other group believes in becoming. It includes writers, poets, artists, philosophers and scientists who are always striving and exploring to improve on their work to follow their passion. Their struggle to be better at whatever they do, keeps them very energetic and pleased but in my humble opinion, not always peaceful. We know about several famous writers, philosophers and scientists who had mental breakdowns because of restlessness inherent in their struggle and/or because of intense pressure against their untraditional work put on by their traditional families or societies.
Tolle belongs to the first group of people and devotes many pages of the book explaining the concept of being and its importance. But he also argues that living in the present can lead one to achieve significant better results of any activity he/she is involved with. My personal interpretation is that the author believes that the being will support peaceful becoming for someone who is conscious about the state of being.
My major takeaways from this book are the following:
- Be an active observer of your thoughts.
- Live in the present moment.
- Do not react to drama or blame.
- Adopt the following principles: Non-Judgement, Non-Attachment, and Non-Resistance to out of control situations.
I recommend this book as a must read for anyone whose mind is trapped in random negative thoughts and that applies to more than 99% of us. It is not a book to be read casually. Its text is spread over more than three hundred pages that requires serious attention. If read properly and acted upon with due diligence, it will evolve the reader’s mind from an uncontrolled thinking machine to a Conscious mind aligned with Soul/Universe/God.
Title: A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
10th Anniversary Edition
Author: Eckhart Tolle
Publisher: Penguin Books