A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle

“You are not the ego, so when you become aware of the ego in you, it does not mean that you know who you are – it means you know who you are not.”

A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is a book about the transformation of consciousness, authored by German contemporary writer Eckhart Tolle. A large part of the book is dedicated to the ego, which the author describes as the main obstacle in the “awakening process”. By recognizing the ego in you and understanding how it works, you can succeed in distancing yourself from it.

The ego tends to equate having with Being: I have, therefore I am. And the more I have, the more I am. The ego lives through comparison. How you are seen by others turns into how you see yourself. If everyone lived in a mansion or everyone was wealthy, your mansion or your wealth would no longer serve to enhance your sense of self. You could then move to a simple cabin, give up your wealth, and regain an identity by seeing yourself and being seen as more spiritual than others.

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 (…)

Does Your Ego Define You As A Person?

Tolle describes the “many faces of the ego”. He explains that your ego likes to play roles and make you identify with those roles. When you fall into that trap, you begin losing your authentic identity.

The functions people have in hierarchical organizations, such as the military, the church, a government institution, or large corporation, easily lend themselves to becoming role identities. Authentic human interactions become impossible when you lose yourself in a role.

You become most powerful in whatever you do if the action is performed for its own sake rather than as a means to protect, enhance, or conform to your role identity.

According to Tolle, your ego can have enormous implications on your professional life.

Those who are exceptionally good at what they do may be completely or largely free of ego while performing their work. (…) I have met teachers, artists, nurses, doctors, scientists, social workers, waiters, hairdressers, business owners, and salespeople who perform their work admirably without any self-seeking, fully responding to whatever the moment requires of them.

I have also met many others who may be technically good at what they do but whose ego constantly sabotages their work. Only part of their attention is on the work they perform; the other part is on themselves. Their ego demands personal recognition and wastes energy in resentment if it doesn’t get enough –and it’s never enough. (…) When work is no more than a means to an end, it cannot be of high quality.

Are You Addicted To Negativity?

Another dimension to the ego, elaborates Tolle, is emotion. Emotion is the body’s reaction to the thoughts in our mind. The author introduces the concept of “pain body” to refer to the energy field that results from the accumulation of negative emotion –anger, anxiety, sadness, envy, fear, resentment – that we all carry within ourselves. All the negative emotion that has not been fully acknowledged and resolved in the moment it arises leaves pain, and that pain accumulates over time.

The pain-body is an addiction to unhappiness.

In most people, the pain body has a dormant and an active stage.

(…) it may be triggered by an event at any time. (…) Suddenly, your thinking becomes deeply negative. You were most likely unaware that just prior to the influx of negative thinking a wave of emotion invaded your mind – as a dark and heavy mood, as anxiety or fiery anger.

The pain-body’s unhappiness is always clearly out of proportion to the apparent cause. In other words, it is an overreaction.

You look at the present through the eyes of the emotional past in you. In other words, what you see and experience is not in the event or situation but in you.

For someone possessed by a heavy pain-body, it is often impossible to step outside his or her distorted interpretation, the heavily emotional ‘story’. (…) And so the story is not recognized as such but it is taken to be reality.

But there are ways to avoid being slaves of our “pain-body”, Tolle argues.

When you recognize your own pain-body as it arises, you will also quickly learn what the most common triggers are that activate it, whether it be situations or certain things other people do or say. When those triggers occur, you will immediately see them for what they are and enter a heightened state of alertness. Within a second or two, you will also notice the emotional reaction that is the arising pain-body, but in that state of alert Presence, you won’t identify with it, which means the pain-body cannot take you over and become the voice in your head.

Since the “pain body” is the result of “an accumulation of old emotional pain”, we should at least aim at stop adding to it.

We can learn not to keep situations or events alive in our minds, but to return our attention continuously to the pristine, timeless present moment rather than be caught up in mental movie-making. Our very Presence then becomes our identity, rather than our thoughts and emotions.

Who You Really Are?

The author emphasizes that your true self is very different from what your ego makes you believe. You can discover who you truly are only when you completely detach yourself from your ego.

You are not the ego, so when you become aware of the ego in you, it does not mean that you know who you are – it means you know who you are not.

Nobody can tell you who you are. It would just be another concept, so it would not change you. Who you are requires no belief.

A very powerful source of inspiration for personal transformation, A New Earth is Eckhart Tolle’s second most popular book after The Power of Now, and probably his best work. Both books are closely interrelated and have areas of overlap. If you are new to Tolle’s work, we recommend beginning with The Power of Now and then move into A New Earth.

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