This book came into my life in a slightly surreal way which can only mean that the Universe needed me to have it. Perhaps I am starting to turn into a hippy in my old age. I always think that whatever was an element of your childhood, though often rejected in your cool teenage years, then tends to resurface later in life. So yes the spiritual cosmic nature child in me is resurfacing. It definitely started with yoga and meditation. Eckhart Tolle's interesting thought provoking book has spurred it on. Yes, from now on I will be insufferable.
The day that this book appeared I was actually reading another book on positive thinking called Your Erroneous Zones but had accidentally left it on a flight from Madrid to London along with my iPhone. I actually felt quite philosophical about this loss (partly thanks to that book). There is no point in being upset, I thought, if it's not returned to me then I am meant to get a new iPhone. Why make a bad situation worse by getting upset?
Arriving home in this slightly strange zen state with no ability to communicate with the wider world I saw an Amazon package on my doorstop. It was A New Earth. I strongly suspected that my ex-boyfriend Matt had sent it. It was so timely that I honestly think a higher power planned it that way. Send good vibes into the universe and you will receive them back. Tell the universe your need and it will be fulfilled...These are all messages of Tolle's book. I had already experienced the truth of this before I started reading.
The main messages of the book are about being present. Living in the moment and not always being absent stressing out about the future or being sad about the past. As such you should seek to enjoy every moment - or at least accept it and be at peace with it. Anything else is a waste of your life.
Tolle argues persuasively that we are not a sum of our thoughts at all and must separate ourselves from them in order to be happy. It is through identification with thoughts that we create negative emotions that control us - I am a sad person, for example. Thoughts are part of the building of the dreaded ego - something that is constantly and destructively seeking to assert itself inside us. The ego seeks to create identity through any way possible - not just by seeking approval and success but even through self deprecation, illness or depression. Noticing the ego at work within yourself is the first step towards weakening it's hold.
The book has some great ideas. One that I particularly like is to do with the inner pain body. He talks of the inner pain body lurking inside every person feeding on drama, hurt, disappointment, irritation. This is why, he argues, we get addicted to feeling miserable. One person's pain body can be so hungry that it can cause a person to attack another, and so provoke that person's pain body for mutual feeding. The trick is to recognise pain bodies in others, and your own so that you can distance yourself from the feeling they provoke. This is how I imagine my pain body looks:
This theory was particularly interesting to me when, one morning during the time I was reading about pain bodies, I was verbally abused on the bus for talking on my mobile. The man who shouted at me was a businessman, about 50, fat, bald and taller than me. It was a 10 minute bus ride so I wasn't going to be an annoyance to him for long but his pain body was obviously ready for feeding. So much so that he was unable to keep things in perspective. His words, "Do you know how rude you are subjecting the entire bus to your annoying screeching whiney voice?", so upset me that my pain body lashed out in response and I stood in the street yelling back at him. Afterwards I was able to think of pain bodies and realise what had happened.
Tolle also does an amazing job of drawing on the teachings of great spiritual leaders like Buddha and Jesus and reinterpreting them so that they make far more sense to me. "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth", means not those who keep quite but actually those who are without ego. In fact this is the meaning of Eckhart's title. He believes that a new earth is really being born - one in which people are breaking free of ego and embracing being and presence. Turn the other cheek - because to do otherwise would be to strengthen the ego. "Ask and you will be give, seek and you will find" - well the very appearance of this book in my life proves that one.
This is a clever book full of amazing thoughts which really will bring your life into a new perspective. The book promises to change your life and perhaps it will. But you need to walk hand in hand with it and continue the process of being mindful after you finish it or the insight will be fleeting.
I give it a 10/10. At this moment I feel it has changed my life. So how could I rate it any differently?