It says a lot about the power of a book that I’m still talking about it weeks after I finished it. This is how much “A New Earth” influenced me as a counselor, an educator, a thinker, a writer, and at the end of the day, a gal who’s trying to live fully and in peace.
The message of recognizing and somehow transcending the attachment to an ego form, our false sense of ourselves as “I am,” is especially meaningful…particularly as Tolle helps us to see how this really keeps us kicking around in our misery. Because kicking around generally means kicking each other from these notions of me vs. not me, casting the person who is different in the role of Other, we perpetuate war and violence, famine and scarcity, and other human ills that reflect what he calls “collective dysfunction.”
What really works for me in A New Earth is the method for seeing myself as the chief architect in my own chaos, my own conflict. I get attached to a notion of who I am and how things are supposed to be. I ascribe a lot of meaning to this, get all up in my feelings with it, and am blown about in my own thoughts and mood. When I can instead take the time to re-center, to recognize that the suffering I’m undergoing in any moment is really something I can transcend and therefore transform…well, baby. Drop the mic.
Since I finished the book, I’ve noticed that I am more conscious of my own thoughts. I tend to operate less from what Tolle calls the “pain body,” the sense of myself as aggrieved, suffering, trapped, etc. Before I go there with getting irritated with someone’s behavior, feeling stressed with traffic or helpless in response to some terrible item in the news; I return to my deep, meditative breath, slow myself down, and ask myself “What is this really about? What really is bothering me?” With this, I glimpse peace…and as I continue to practice these efforts, the glimpses get longer and longer.
It doesn’t mean that I stop caring about things that are important, or that I numb to issues and events that reflect areas of life concern. Rather, I care differently. So instead of thinking of what I don’t have, what I am against, what bothers me; I find myself tuning into what I have and am therefore manifesting, what I am for, what inspires me. I notice the here and now, and really taste my food for example, and notice my body in the rhythm of weight lifting. It fills me with gratitude.
Because my main interest is in Otherness and the experience that being cast in the role of Other and therefore “less than” has on people who’ve faced bullying and ostracization, Tolle’s discussion on the topic was particularly notable. Lines like “It strengthens the sense of separation between yourself and the other, whose “otherness” has become magnified to such an extent that you can no longer feel your common humanity…” really demonstrate this as a phenomenon in which people try to feel superior by creating power over one another.
By contrast, “To love is to recognize yourself in another. The other’s “otherness” then stands revealed as an illusion pertaining to the purely human role” brings the reader to the reconciliation. This is really the promise of the book. It’s a path for transcending the pettiness, the hurt, the floods of feelings and self-righteousness that get in the way of our ability to care about people, to allow them to matter to us.
Perhaps the best reason to read this book is that it just seems to make life easier, more peaceful, more loving. It gets me out of the drama of my own head and helps me appreciate the wonder that’s now. I can see myself heading into negative head spaces and stop myself. I’m a nicer, more radiant person as a result…lovable and loving.
I read the book first thing in the morning for a couple of weeks. It worked well for me, setting the tone for the morning and helping the workday turn into something that was infinitely less stressful. I enjoyed being able to take a concept and chew on for the day…maybe doing some writing of my own as I applied the concepts in my life. I think it’s a great tool for healing, and for promoting healing for people around us.
I just love this book!