Over the past month I’ve read the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. This book is outstanding. I’ve actually read it before about ten years ago but I wanted to revisit it recently because someone told me I should read “The Power of Now” also by him but the library didn’t have it. I’ve watched some youtube videos by Eckhart Tolle and I’m always enthralled by his calm and soothing demeanor. It is evident that he takes his own advice seriously and practices a state of peaceful presence as an ongoing lifestyle. My main reason for wanting to read his works was because he emphasizes something that we all do but rarely put conscious cognitive energy or focus on: thinking or more specifically, the effects of chronic and compulsive thinking.
Having Asperger’s, a form of autism, I have many thoughts when I am not necessarily doing anything to invoke them, that is, they are resting thoughts. I don’t know at what age it started but I’ve always had someone to talk to inside my head. In fact, I have several people to talk to. To me, it’s a blessing because it makes up for an absence of real life friends. I’m not sad or ashamed about not having many friends because I realize that many women with Asperger’s also identify with the characteristic of social isolation. My youngest sister also has autism and we are very close. Having many thoughts can sometimes be distracting. If my thoughts are unwanted they become a problem which is why I chose to read “A New Earth.”
The book talks about thoughts and the ego and how thoughts are related to the ego. While I don’t know if this book is considered Christian themed, Eckhart uses many examples of Jesus’ words during His ministry on Earth. In fact he uses examples from almost all of the major religions in the world today including Zen Buddhism. I’m not one to condemn something because it’s not necessarily Christian because I believe that naturally, all truths point to Jesus. I don’t think Eckhart intends for his readers to shut down all thoughts in the brain but mostly to let them pass and choose not to react to them or create a story to explain them which would necessarily choose to enhance the ego.
What helped me most about this book was the description of the pain body. The pain body is like the ego but some Christians might consider it one’s own shadow self, demon, or even the devil himself. The pain body is the result of how we allow darkness to influence us on a personal level. I relate most to his description of how negative thoughts make the pain body bigger and stronger. He says in his book that many of the violent and negative programming in the media is the end product of pain bodies entertaining and growing other pain bodies. God’s Spirit does not enjoy violence but pain bodies sure do.
In my life I have met a lot of people but the people that are perhaps the most intriguing practice presence. I had a therapist once who’s main defining feature made her so likable. That feature was that she listened and responded according to what she heard me say. It’s very difficult to find people that actually are listening to what you are saying and allowing the moment to unfold spontaneously. She would neither categorize things as good or bad but only as they were, which is what they were meant to be. It brings to mind the saying “It is what it is.” I hate the ambiguity of this saying but the truth is one that Tolle points out, “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” I think that if you can control your thoughts you are about 98 percent closer to controlling your emotions and ultimately the direction of your life. If you can stay positive or ambivalent in your thoughts you will be a lot closer to God than most people.
In summary, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that struggles with excessive thinking. I would recommend it to anyone, honestly. It’s well written and contains enough examples for it to be very easy to understand and relate to. It’s not heady or highly philosophic but rather practical and an essential read for the thinking mind. Thank you for blessing me with this to read, Eckhart.