A New Earth

By Eckhart Tolle

There are two primary states of consciousness: the consciousness of Being and ego-consciousness. When the self is caught up in ego-consciousness, it becomes overly identified with attachment to identity, to objects, and to ideas about how the world should be rather than acceptance of how the world actually exists. Ego-consciousness imposes beliefs about what should happen in your life, what rights and luxuries you are entitled to, and the unfairness of not having everything according to your personal plan. Ego-consciousness inhibits the ability to see and accept situations as they are, which causes resistance and dissonance, which then causes unhappiness and dissatisfaction because life is not exactly as you imagine it should be. Rather than become mired in hopelessness and frustration, the other option is to see circumstances as they actually exist through awakened consciousness, or Being. Ego-consciousness is the result of human doing; awakened consciousness is human Being. Developing awareness and nonresistance to the current moment helps cultivate awakened consciousness. which provides clear understanding of circumstances and allows you make informed choices about what to do with your life and how to do it. Continuously refocusing on now centers the self, stops repeating stories of pain and suffering, and creates space for growth.

“A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle offers direct and indirect teachings for developing awakened consciousness. Early sections of the book focus on body-identification and physical awareness, which is helpful because the body is more concrete than thought. The body can be touched, sensed, and felt in a way that thoughts cannot, and the exercises he describes for practicing awareness of the body provide a foundation for bringing about conscious awareness. He spends more time describing strategies for developing consciousness awareness, also known as Being, in the rest of the book, which again is helpful because thought is intangible, constant, and reflexive, and requires more effort and practice for developing awareness. Throughout, he describes interactions with others and shares anecdotes of people who are either stuck in ego-consciousness or have moments of awakened consciousness, adding further examples of how ego-consciousness and awakened consciousness manifest. He also constantly reminds the reader that teaching about awakened consciousness is not to be confused or substituted for actual awakened consciousness. “I am the finger pointing to the moon. Don’t look at me; look at the moon.” Achieving awakened consciousness is an individual journey. His suggestions may help point the way, but his suggestions are not the answer.

When I first started reading this book, I found his lessons on body awareness interesting, but constantly found myself asking “but what about thought and emotion? It sounds like the physical ailments he describes would translate to depression and other mental illness; how does this apply to that?” Well, about a dozen pages later he answered that question. It took me a long time to get through this book, mostly because it involved a lot of stopping to think, re-reading, and testing things out. Certainly worth reading when you have a chance, better to do it sooner than later.

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