A Review of "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth is a life-changing book that contains the answers to some of our deepest questions. The premise of the book is that we are not our feelings, but rather, that we just are. Emotions linger and affect not only our lives, but also the lives of those close and distant to us. A New Earth suggests that if we are to live in awakened consciousness, which is our true purpose, we need to break free from negative and positive emotions alike. We must first willingly accept, rather than be, our feelings. We must view them from the third person, and allow the presence of our be-ing to arise.
About three years ago, I wrote a journal entry on a fresh new journal about "living in the now," the present moment, resolving that I would "live in the now" by writing in my journal more frequently. Around the same time, my best friend sent me a book called A New Earth, which was on the topic of "living in the now," and this occurrence seemed appropriately timed. Yet, I found myself years later with another new journal, resolving the same, and A New Earth remained unread.
What would be different this year over others? Last year, my focus word for the year was awareness. This year, I had claimed my word would be intention. After finally reading A New Earth this year, I remembered what awareness truly is and how I was applying it all wrong. What's different now is that I am re-awakened to the universal and creative energy that flows through me at this very moment and no other. And it is my intention to live in that awareness.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was shoved into awareness after having my heart broken. I was so consumed by sadness that I just couldn't take it one more second, and I finally picked up the book my best friend had given me. Then, I remembered who I am, and that neither the future nor the past is it. I felt sad, yes, but that was not who I was. I finally and willingly accepted the sadness; then, I was able to put enough space between me and the sadness to become present in myself and removed from the thought of sadness.
Acceptance of your situation is the gateway modality to awakened living. There is nothing the past can do, and the future is not yet here. It is delusional not to accept the circumstances of the present moment as they are, good or bad. It was this very sentiment that yielded the opening lines of my journal entry years ago, and my friend was clearly on that wavelength. I was meant to read A New Earth at the moment I read it—at rock bottom—and no other. Little did I know, it was bound to change my life.
A modality is the underlying energy that flows into what we do and connects our actions with awakened consciousness—awakened do-ing. According to A New Earth, there are three modalities to align with the creative power of the universe: acceptance, which was just discussed; enjoyment, which will be discussed now; and enthusiasm, which will be discussed last. Modalities may vary throughout the day, but one modality may be dominant in a certain stage of our lives. So, not all moments call for acceptance; sometimes, moments call for enjoyment. Enjoyment, contrary to popular belief, is different than wanting. It is finding joy in the moment—in be-ing what you are do-ing.
Stuck at the gate of acceptance, there was one day in particular that had me sobbing many tears, and I didn't even know why! I was frantic to find relief and trying hard to detach from those emotions. Where were they coming from? Was I worried about the COVID-19 pandemic? Was I sad about the breakup again? Was I just PMSing? All I knew was that I couldn't shake it, and I was living in it. I felt so upside down that I decided to get upside down too.
I went outside and started doing handstands. There was always something so great about the feeling of being upside down. It reminded me of being a child in my gymnastics days, knocking around my mom's furniture. I had so much discipline and drive during those days that I would have put my adult self to shame, and being upside down reminded me of that.
I began to focus on my form and endurance with my handstands, correcting after every try. It wasn't long before my daughter came up to me and asked if she could also work on her handstands. We helped each other, and it also wasn't long before our handstands improved.
Upon landing my best handstand, I heard applause behind me. I turned around hesitantly to find several of my neighbors clapping, exclaiming "that was awesome!" Among them was the Human Foozball owner and the lady whose car I backed into. "Thanks," I said humbly with a blushing smile, feeling so present.
The day had begun in a funk that required me to find enjoyment. I couldn't keep crying all day, so I propelled myself to do something I enjoyed doing, like being upside down. I even became enthusiastic about doing better handstands. By the end of the day, I had a standing ovation. That is, according to A New Earth, awakened do-ing.
We are be-ings of our own presence, and we are also interconnected be-ings of a universal presence. According to A New Earth, awakening is merely the realization of being present. From acceptance to enjoyment, enthusiasm then is a deep enjoyment of what we do with the added element of a goal or vision we work toward. Unlike stress, which is of the ego, enthusiasm is of the consciousness, which does not worry. Many biblical references are used in A New Earth regarding the ego, but the most prominent was "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Who are the meek? The meek are the egoless.
One of my favorite stories is Soul Surfer, which I binge-watched during the COVID-19 shutdown after reading A New Earth. The movie is based on the life of the professional surfer Bethany Hamilton and depicts the themes discussed in A New Earth. Bethany grew up in Hawaii with a Christian upbringing and a passion for surfing. Her passion for surfing was so strong that it was the only thing that seemed to matter. Every thought she processed was in pursuit of her final destination: to be a professional surfer.
As the story goes, Hamilton was attacked by a shark before the regional championships, losing one of her arms and becoming unable to compete (or so she thought). Fearing she would never surf again, she suffered from the internal pain the loss of her arm brought. She did not give up on her passion though, although she was still caught up in her ego and the ideas of victory and defeat.
After a devastating wipeout at regionals, Bethany finally had to accept her condition: She only has one arm. In a desperate search of God's plan for her purpose in life, Bethany accompanied her friend on a mission trip to Thailand. While she was there, she helped the village children find joy through surfing. When she arrived home, Bethany had developed so many fans who wanted her to continue competing because she inspired the hope that anything is possible.
Bethany went on to compete, but now she was competing to surf, not to win. With an awakened sense of purpose, she made it her goal to accomplish doing something that brought her so much joy. But, it wasn't until she was present in her condition that she was able to live out her life's purpose with enthusiasm. After a brutal meet at the national surfing championships, Bethany came out victorious. She learned that sometimes it's hard to find perspective. God works in mysterious ways, and He has a plan for us—a purpose, even when we don't understand it. Let go of the ego as A New Earth suggests, and be in acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm with your higher purpose.
© 2020 Marylin Prado