Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Your Life's Purpose: Insights from A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

A few months ago a friend of mine gave me the book, "A New Earth: Awaken To Your Life's Purpose" because she wanted to know what I thought about it. My friend is one who can not resist reading the latest and greatest best-sellers and wanted someone to talk with about them.

On my first reading of the book  I was curious to find out exactly what the author thought my life's purpose was. I skimmed through many pages with no mention of "purpose" until finally there was something in the last chapter that said if you live the teachings in the book your life purpose will be made known to you.

How stupid, I thought and I left the book unread for a long time.

I am not sure what prompted me to pick it up again, but this time I started at the beginning, digesting each chapter slowly and thoughtfully. I was surprised that many of the ideas in this book also appeared in a workbook I owned called "The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook". Even though the ideas were similar the main difference was that Eckhart Tolle's writing style was hypnotic, beautiful, and healing.

This was my first introduction to Eastern religious ideas. Although, at the time of my reading I didn't know where his ideas had come from. Many Christians do not like this book, stating that it is preaching counterfeit religion. To me; however, taking stress reduction principles and tying them together with spirit and God is not counterfeit. In fact everything in the universe is tied together with spirit and God so why not this too?

I jotted down some notes as I was reading and I will share those with you, then you can see if this book is for you. I realize that there are many different things you can get out of this book and one person might get a completely different message than someone else, so please realize that this is not anywhere near comprehensive or complete:

A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life's Purpose

Our natural, unchecked self, or in other words, our ego is fault-finding, critical, judgemental, etc. It believes that other people and situations and circumstances are never good enough. Our ego has rigid and stubborn beliefs and opinions. It lives through comparison. It is right and others are wrong if they don't share the same beliefs, opinions and actions. It always feels superior to some and inferior to others.

In order to separate ourselves from this ego we need a change of consciousness. We need to connect with others on a deeper level. We need to live in the present moment, pay attention to what is happening right now and be accepting in our hearts of whatever that is. This doesn't mean that our minds can't assess situations and work to improve them, it just means that our hearts and inner courage are welcoming to whatever comes into our lives (be it good or ill). We are not in a state of constant dissatisfaction, but of inner peace and equilibrium. We are accepting and loving to all.

When we are in the present moment and aware, we are in touch with our inner bodies health. We are living in a walking meditation devoid of painful, repetitive thoughts. We use our minds for awareness and not for brooding. We change our thoughts to a peaceful quietness.

Tolle advocates separating who we are with our bodies (our looks, age, weight, talents, image, clothes, house, car). When we associate with an identity we have to work really hard to maintain it in our minds and actions. Our identity often relies on a never ending stream of money. In reality having an identity makes us lose track of who we really are. Detach yourself from image and things. Heal yourself from the more, more, more disease.

Don't react to the dysfunctional ego in others. Walk away and be silent if you need to. Recognize it in others, expect it, accept it and don't react to it. Say what needs to be said calmly or say nothing in response. Stick to the facts. Simply say how you feel as a matter of fact, not complaining/whining.  Admit that you are creating your own suffering through your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and opinions. Let them know you need some time alone if necessary. Don't pretend to be feeling anything, but what you feel. Forgive easily because it isn't about them. Your job is to accept circumstances and people that you can't change. Your job is not to try to control people or situations.

Being aware of your ego is the whole battle. Knowing it is there helps to deflate it. Have genuine relationships with others through alert attention. Listen. You don't have to agree. Let go of being right. Don't use other people for your gain. Keep your voice calm. Don't criticize, find fault, complain or gossip. Don't take anything personally that others say. When others need to be right, stay quiet. Opposing them makes them more defiant.

Humility and acknowledgement that you don't know things is everything. Goodness is connection with self, others and the earth through inner feeling and rejecting the ego. Goodness is non-reaction. Pay attention to the present moment as you read, garden, visit, cook, clean, work and learn.

When you are unhappy say to yourself, "There is unhappiness in me. I create suffering in myself through my thoughts, beliefs and attitude." You don't need other people's approval. Unhappiness is an ego-created emotional disease.

Focus your attention and energy outward. Don't try to suck attention to you. Don't try to be special or loud in behavior or dress. People try to suck attention from others because it gives them a temporary boost, but lasting peace only comes from within and through God's spirit. Never feel superior or inferior.

Don't repeat thoughts that create pity parties or allow yourself to be a victim of others or of circumstances. Accept whatever comes and transcend it, by focusing on the present moment (not worrying about the past or future- all bad situations are fleeting in the present moment).

Don't expect others to lift me up. Lift myself up with God's spirit. To receive God's spirit, just ask for it. It comes through prayer/meditation and an open mind and heart.

Don't try to control other people's behavior. Respect others free will and agency. Give everyone equal respect. Don't label people, only label your thoughts. There was an anger thought. There goes a judgemental thought. etc.

Love is recognizing that we are all the same- children of God and none are superior than others. We are all equal. The light in me acknowledges the light in you. We need to work together to take care of the earth and its people and not to see ourselves as separate or elitist. Become an agent of change. Use your talents to make a difference. Be fearless.

Be enthusiastic, spontaneous and smiling in the present moment. Be fully present with other people. Enjoy life!


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