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Leggo My Ego
Caution: move slowly through this review and give the whole message a chance, especially if you are a die hard Eckhart Tolle fan. I am still a big fan, but this time, there is something amiss and I'm left feeling like I want to say "Leggo my Ego."
"A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" is Eckhart Tolle's latest eye opening book and other probable hit on the best seller list. I found his latest book even more filled with great teaching and also, in some parts, quite a bit more difficult to accept than "The Power of Now".
While in the "Power of Now", I felt that Tolle's term ego was more self evidently limited to thoughts that arise out of the not always so helpful conditioning of our past, in "A New Earth" I sensed there might be a new level of meaning added to his use of "ego" that seems a bit over the top. Of course, this could be my ego running away with me, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. However, there are certain passages in Tolle's new book that had me wondering whether Tolle now is teaching some concepts that fly in the face of the beauty of this world. While I'm not sure that Tolle meant to be interpreted in this way and I can appreciate that his concepts could be as true as anything that I believe, this time around there are some feelings I have about some of what he is saying that I believe should not be too easily dismissed.
What am I talking about? I'm referring to Tolle's statement about the end of belief systems, his contradictory references to moral relativism, and how he curiously points to the lack of the existence of anything personal as the truth in what appears to be his confusion of Source with the self.
Okay, I'm found out. I happened to have gotten a degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology, so of course, when I read that "we are coming to the end not only of mythologies but also of ideologies and belief systems," (p. 21) my attention stood straight up. I can imagine a world without mythology, but personally (there I go again), I'd like to keep at least history of it so we can have something to do besides snore. Maybe I can go as far as imagining a life sans ideology at the macro level, but my heart starts to hurt when all of our beliefs go. Why? I say so because to me our beliefs are both the potential for all good as well as bad. Here sits our raison d'être in the seat of free will and of the purpose of duality itself. If there is nothing to believe, if all truth is known in the absolute, then there is no choice and furthermore, there is no more learning. Perhaps this is the goal, the Omega Point, I don't know, but something tells me that learning (requiring mistakes) is just as easily a part of the expansion of the Universe - eternally.
On the topic of relative and absolute truth Tolle has me logically baffled and also questioning the level of spiritual inspiration for parts of this new book. On the one hand, I fully understand the spirit behind the idea that a "right versus wrong" attitude is behind so much conflict and violence in the world. There is no doubt about that. But then Tolle goes on:
"...does that mean there is no such thing as right or wrong behavior, action, or belief? And wouldn't that be the moral relativism that some contemporary Christian teachings see as the great evil of our times? The history of Christianity is, of course, a prime example of how the belief that you are in sole possession of the truth, that is to say, right, can corrupt your actions and behavior to the point of insanity. For centuries, torturing and burning people alive if their opinion diverged even in the slightest from the Church doctrine or narrow interpretations of scripture (the "Truth") was considered right because the victims were 'wrong.'
... [a paragraph down the way]
The Catholic and other churches are actually correct when they identify relativism, the belief that there is no absolute truth to guide human behavior, as one of the evils of our times.... (p.69-70) .
[Much further into the book] "Does this mean that people are not responsible for what they do when possessed by the pain-body? My answer is: How can they be? How can you be responsible when you are unconscious? However, in the greater scheme of things, human beings are meant to evolve into conscious beings, and those who don't will suffer the consequences of their unconsciousness." (p.163).
Ah, the relative truth is just so hard to understand sometimes. And, Tolle verges on making a Boomeritis mistake. (Check out the boomer philosopher Ken Wilbur's book for the origins of the term Boomeritis. Wilbur makes a darn good argument that relativism leads to extremely egoistic, even narcissistic behavior). Tolle's mistake is that he doesn't make it clear that at the level in which we live, accountability is a must, but that on the level consciousness of the Divine, accountability for the unconscious mistake makes no sense and is not in keeping with Divine Mercy. I think Einstein had a handle on it when he said "No problem can be solved from the level of consciousness from which it was created." However, that doesn't mean we should or even can skip all the way to the absolute level. Wouldn't it defeat the purpose of having experiences in time if we could just skip it and Be God? It's all for the greater good.
Yes, in my belief system we must hold each other accountable for our actions even though we do not have the benefit of the perspective of the absolute. We obviously do not do a good job of holding each other accountable and the current use of the death penalty among so many other brutal practices point to this. So, let's improve, but please, I don't want the Hells Angels to be security guards at the next concert that I attend and I'm really feeling weak kneed at the idea of my child's next school teacher being a redeemed child molester.
Next let's take a look at some of what Tolle says about all things personal and what seems to be a confusion of Source with oneself. He writes on page 57, "you realize that your true identity in consciouness itself. ... The ultimate truth of who you are is ... I Am." While I seek to become one with I Am, I do not believe that I Am (God Himself/Herself). Instead I believe that I am OF God I Am and that I am truly one with I Am in eternity similarly to the way that my finger is a part of my body in the world of the finite. I also believe that my personality and my experiences are a gift forevermore if I so choose. I am not simply a total illusion whose reality is only that of an impersonal and neutral God who is using my eyes and personality filter to experience a unique view. Existence is existence. It is not a television show with virtual experiential capabilities and simultaneous observation capability - God as actor and as spectator, while the actor's consciousness apart from being God is an illusion. Whew. That Seems like a cruel joke if it is true.
Perhaps it is easier to think of the Universe impersonal because our minds have so much trouble imagining the infinite number of unique personalities. But, in my experience, and this is probably only really understandable at an experiential level, God is both impersonal and very, very personal. And, all of the celestial and mortal beings who live in this Universe are undoubtedly personal and uniquely individual.
Maybe it’s just easier to overcome our negative and imbalanced egos and become balanced and forgiving human beings by depersonalizing our viewpoints. However, it seems to me that the concept of each of us being the impersonal God I Am tips the scale of balance over to the other side with too much weight being added. On this point and without fear of being judged as egoistic, I'll stand by my personality as the essence that I recognize as myself through the window of my eyes when I look in the mirror. Though my body will perish, the unique essence of my soul, the snowflake that I am in the blanket of snow that is I Am will live on. That is God's gift to me and the gift that I have in common with each of my fellows.
Stay tuned for part two - the rest of the review and the reason why in spite of part one of my review, "A New Earth" is definitely still a great book and a keeper.
About the Author: Self Expression Coach - Helping you express yourself fully