When you recognize the unconsciousness in you, that which makes the recognition possible is the arising consciousness, is awakening. You cannot fight against the ego and win, just as you cannot fight against darkness. The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light. – Eckhart Tolle
This book is all about Consciousness. Eckhart refers to this awakening of human consciousness as A New Heaven, a shift that will bring about A New Earth, which is its physical manifestation.
It provides us clear pictures of the current state of humanity based on ego-consciousness, and how transcending this is not only essential to our happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the lessons we can glean from A New Earth:
It is important to realize, however, that fear, greed, and the desire for power are not the dysfunction that we are speaking of, but are themselves created by the dysfunction, which is a deep-seated collective delusion that lies within the mind of each human being. Fear, greed and desire for power are not the ultimate causal factors. Trying to become good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high-minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. This is because it is still part of the same dysfunction, a more subtle and rarified form of self-enhancement, of desire for more and a strengthening of one’s conceptual identity, one’s self-image. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.
‘Self-help’ aka ‘self-empowerment’. Are we aware which self are we empowering, the lower self or the Higher Self?
‘Conquer fear’. Is fear really a thing to be conquered? If it is, how come we haven’t succeeded in doing so?
Fear is not something to be conquered. To conquer something that doesn’t really exist gives it illusory existence. And it is this illusion, which is fear, that we only need to be aware of, not to be conquered.
As we mentioned before, and as a constant reminder, the first step to healing is to recognize fear. As we bring the light of our consciousness to it, we recognize fear for what it is – an illusion. When recognized as an illusion, fear dissolves itself. From this dissolution emerges the goodness that is already within us.
The Original Sin
Ego is no more than this: identification with form, which primarily means thought forms. This results in a total unawareness of my connectedness with the whole, my intrinsic oneness with every “other” as well as with the Source.
Ego is also called the ‘monkey mind’ that swings from thought to thought. But ego not only attaches itself to thought forms, but also physical and emotional forms.
Why attachment? Because the ego on its own is nothing, so in order to make sense of itself, it attaches to whatever form there is for identity.
This forgetfulness, according to Eckhart, is the original sin, suffering, and delusion. It is a state of separateness from the Source (God).
As he argues in the book, it is important to note here that the word sin, which has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted, comes from the Greek word that translates to “miss the mark”. To sin means to miss the point of human existence. This misinterpretation also points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition – the ego.
The ego tends to equate having with Being: I have, therefore I am. And the more I have, the more I am. The ego loves through comparison. How you are seen by others turns into how you see yourself. The ego’s sense of self-worth is in most cases bound up with the worth you have in the eyes of others. You need others to give you a sense of self, and if you live in a culture that to a large extent equates self-worth with how much and what you have, if you cannot look through this collective delusion, you will be condemned to chasing after things for the rest of your life in the vain hope of finding your worth and completion of your sense of self there.
This is the favorite motto of the ego: “I’m not enough”
Can you sense this part of you that keeps telling you this? “Not enough,” so get this, get that. Life for the ego is all about ‘for-get-ting’ because it does not know itself. All it knows is the more I get, the more I am. It finds its identity outside of itself – possessions, status, and whatever society tells it so. Its self-worth is based on what others say.
To chase after the things that we think will satisfy our need, our not-enough-ness, is an endless and tiring chase. Because no matter what and how much we have and get, only knowing our Being and finding our worthiness in it are what will completely satisfy us.
Attachment starts to drop away by being aware that we are attached.
Do you catch yourself affected by the number of followers and likes you get on your social media accounts? We probably do. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we don’t get too attached to it lest we lose ourselves in the self-image we project.
Let’s get real. Who we really are is what we give. What they see is what they get. Isn’t that much better? To be liked or not no longer matters because we are being ourselves, and in doing so, we inspire the people around us to do the same. Isn’t that liberating?
Nonreaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond the ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego. But you can only be in a state of nonreaction if you can recognize someone’s behavior as coming from the ego, as being an expression of the collective human dysfunction. Nonreaction is not weakness but strength. Another word for nonreaction is forgiveness. To forgive is to overlook, or rather look through. You look through the ego to the sanity that is in every human being as his or her essence.
The opposite of for-get-ting is for-give-ness.
Forgiveness starts with you. That is to recognize who you are not. From the recognition of who you are not comes the awareness of who you really are – a soul, from which your consciousness of the Higher-Self emanates.
Recognize first the ego in you, its conflicting nature so you can also recognize whenever others behave the same way, so you won’t need to react.
You forgive them for they do not know what they do.
As one of the central teachings in A Course in Miracles, forgiveness is our function in this world. It is how we free ourselves from suffering. It says: “Through your forgiveness does the truth about yourself return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.”
The Truth is inseparable from who you are… When you are in touch with that dimension within yourself – and being in touch with it is your natural state – all your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all life that you sense deep within. This is love. Laws, commandments, rules, and regulations are necessary for those who are cut off from who they are, the Truth within.
Let’s refer to the 18th verse of Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way):
“When the greatness of the Tao is present,
right action arises from one’s own heart.
When the greatness of the Tao is absent,
action comes from the rules
of “kindness” and “justice”.
If you need rules to be kind and just,
this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.”
In this context, we can say the Tao represents the Truth. And virtue is the fruit of spirit – we shall call this awesomeness.
When we align ourselves with this virtue of awesomeness, we no longer need rules because we are guided by the Truth that is already within us. Our actions (doing) are in alignment with who we really are (Being).
As Eckhart said, the Truth is inseparable from us. But the ego, which perceives itself as separate from the Source (God), is not aware of this Truth with-in. And thus acts with-out alignment. Its actions are based again on what the society and authorities impose as laws, regulations, and rules of conduct.
We have to realize that the more beliefs and rules we have, the further we are from the Truth.
The particular egoic patterns that you react to most strongly in others and misperceive as their identity tend to be the same patterns that are also in you, but that you are unable or unwilling to detect within yourself… Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you. But it is no more than a form of ego, and as such, it is completely impersonal. It has nothing to do who that person is, nor has it anything to do with who you are.
Jesus once asked: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
The answer: Projection. The ego sees in others what it doesn’t see in itself.
A good way in which we can examine ourselves is by noticing the programs we watch on the television, which is a device that projects images. Remember that ego is nothing more than an illusion, a self-image that projects itself onto others.
How do you feel when you see acts of violence? When someone voices out an opinion that is incongruent with yours? What scenes are you drawn to? These can provide the clues to the egoic patterns in you.
If you are not conscious enough, you might notice how some people, like the ones we see in the news or a fictional character playing a particular role in a TV drama series, can trigger a reaction from you. You might be judging the way they behave or despise something you find unpleasant in their personality. Whatever those traits may be are also present in you.
Same goes in real life. When we judge others, find faults in them, blame and point a finger, know that more fingers are pointed back to us.
As Eckhart emphasized, be aware that they are only forms of ego, our personality, but they are not who we really are. Knowing this, we don’t have to take such things personally.
Fact or Fiction
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it. Instead of making up stories, stay with the facts… Facing facts is always empowering. Be aware that what you think, to a large extent, creates the emotions that you feel. See the link between your thinking and your emotions. Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.
Separate the fiction from the facts. Whatever is happening is a fact. Our thoughts about the present situation are, for the most part, fiction, or stories we make up in our ego-mind.
Having $10,000 in debt is a fact. Having thoughts like, “I’m such a loser,” or “I’m a big mess,” or “Money is bad” are fiction.
Whenever we’re caught up in a seemingly unfortunate situation, let’s question each thought we have about it: Is it true?
Stay with the facts. Face the facts because it signifies acceptance. And then move on with how you can improve the situation. We can start by having empowering or good-feeling thoughts and focusing our attention on them.
An important lesson from the book Conversations with God is this: the meaning of everything is the meaning you give it.
Human and Being
You are a human being. What does that mean? Mastery of life is not a question of control, but of finding a balance between human and Being. Mother, father, husband, wife, young , old, the roles you play, the functions you fulfill, whatever you do – all that belongs to the human dimension. It has its place and needs to be honored, but in itself it is not enough for a fulfilled, truly meaningful relationship or life. Human alone is never enough, no matter how hard you try or what you achieve. Then there is Being. It is found in the still, alert presence of Consciousness itself, the Consciousness that you are. Human is form. Being is formless. Human and Being are not separate but interwoven.
Roles – these are what we do – the doing part
Consciousness – this is what we are – the Being part
Even if we can carry out our roles effectively as a parent, sibling, spouse, lover or friend, it is still not enough if we don’t bring in our Consciousness, our Presence, in our relationships.
What does this mean? Say, for instance, a parent. You may be able to provide all the material needs of your children, but are you providing their most essential need – your fullest undivided attention? You could be with them physically, but your mind could be wandering off to somewhere else.
Eckhart said, to love is to recognize yourself in another. The longing for love is to be recognized, not on the level of form, but on the level of Being.
Using the previous example, on the level of form, the role as a parent is superior to a child. However, on the level of Being, a parent is equal to a child.
We are different in human forms, having different appearances and roles, but we are all the same in our true essence.
This, Too, Will Pass
Nonresistance, nonjudgment, and nonattachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.
When you are detached, you gain a higher vantage point from which to view the events in your life instead of being trapped inside them… The recognition that This, too, will pass brings detachment and with detachment another dimension comes into your life – inner space.
This freedom is the arising of inner space. It comes as stillness, a subtle peace deep within you, even in the face of seemingly bad. There is also space around the emotional highs and lows, even around pain. And above all, there is space between your thoughts. And from that space emanates a peace that is not “of this world,” because this world is form, and the peace is space. This is the peace of God.
This mantra, as a means of approach to life, does not mean we cannot enjoy the good things that the world has to offer. It implies to ‘enjoy things while they last’, because no-thing lasts forever, as we would often say.
I find this particularly helpful during challenging times. “This, too, will pass” serves as a reminder not to dwell too much on our challenges. It might be us holding on (attached) to problems that won’t make them go away. Oftentimes, the solution comes naturally when we learn to let the problems pass, when we let go.
Eckhart adds that it also detaches us from outcomes. It frees us from expectations, from placing demands upon the world and thus save ourselves from self-created suffering.
Inner and Outer Purpose
So the most important thing to realize is this: Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary. Outer purpose concerns doing and is secondary.
Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet – because it is the purpose of humanity. Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence. Your outer purpose can change over time. Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose. It is the basis for true success.
Eckhart says that without the alignment of outer purpose with the inner purpose, there is no joy in any endeavor and usually ends in some form of suffering.
He calls this alignment “Awakened Doing”. With this, Consciousness flows through you and in what you do. Your actions are guided and empowered.
And there are three modalities of Awakened Doing:
- Acceptance – for now, this is what this situation, this moment requires me to do, and so I do it willingly. In religious context, this is like surrender, or doing the Father’s will, which is always for the greater good of all.
- Enjoyment – surrendered action turns to a sense of aliveness when you enjoy what you are doing. But joy does not come from the doing, but from being fully present in your activity. When you enjoy doing something, you are experiencing the joy of Being in its dynamic aspect.
- Enthusiasm – there is deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward. There is intensity and energy behind what you do. And even though there is a goal, what you do in the present moment is your focal point.
Eckhart finally suggests a goal that is not focused on having this or that because those are static goals, and therefore don’t empower you. Have a dynamic goal instead, an activity in which you are engaged in and through which connects you to other human beings. It is a goal where you can see yourself inspiring and enriching their lives.
This goal is already a reality within you. This is how we bring A New Earth to life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ECKHART TOLLE is a contemporary spiritual teacher who travels extensively, taking his message throughout the world. In 2011, he was listed by Watkins Review as the most spiritually influential person in the world. In 2008, a New York Times writer called Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the United States”.