In "A New Earth",
Eckhart Tolle defines the ego and describes its powerful impact on human
beings, on their attitudes, their actions and their emotions. Through this book,
the author helps recognize the ego and transcend the state of ego-consciousness
to reach self-awareness, as an attempt to achieve personal happiness, to end
suffering and to avoid conflicts between people around the world. Moreover, as
follow-up to his first book “The power of Now”, the author clarifies the
importance of Presence in accepting one’s reality, reconciling the past, awakening
the pain-body, and reaching spiritual peace.
One of the most basic mind
structures through which the ego comes into existence is identification. The
word “identification” is derived from the Latin word idem, meaning
“same” and facere, which means “to make.” So when I identify with something,
I “make it the same.” The same as what? The same as I. I endow it with a sense
of self, and so it becomes part of my “identity.” One of the most basic levels
of identification is with things: My toy later becomes my car, my house, my
clothes, and so on. I try to find myself in things but never quite make it and
end up losing myself in them. That is the fate of the ego.
Paradoxically, what keeps the
so called consumer society going is the fact that trying to find yourself
through things doesn’t work: The ego satisfaction is short lived and so you
keep looking for more, keep buying, keep consuming.
ego and peace
When you are ill, your energy
level is quite low, and the intelligence of the organism may take over and use
the remaining energy for the healing of the body, and so there is not enough
left for the mind, that is to say, egoic thinking and emotion.
There are many accounts of
people who experienced that emerging new dimension of consciousness as a result
of tragic loss at some point in their lives. Some lost all of their
possessions, others their children or spouse, their social position,
reputation, or physical abilities. In some cases, through disaster or war, they
lost all of these simultaneously and found themselves with “nothing.” We may
call this a limit situation. Whatever they had identified with, whatever gave
them their sense of self, had been taken away. Then suddenly and inexplicably,
the anguish or intense fear they initially felt gave way to a scared sense of
Presence, a deep peace and serenity and complete freedom from fear.
If there is unhappiness in
you, first you need to acknowledge that it is there. But don't say, “I'm
unhappy.” Unhappiness has nothing to do with who you are. Say: “There is
unhappiness in me.” Then investigate it.
ego and complaining
The ego loves to complain and
feel resentful not only about other people but also about situations. What you
can do to a person, you can also do to a situation: make it into an enemy. The
implication is always: This should not be happening; I don't want to be here; I
don't want to be doing this; I'm being treated unfairly. And the ego’s greatest
enemy of all is, of course, the present moment, which is to say, life itself.
Complaining is not to be
confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be
put right. And to refrain from complaining doesn't necessarily mean putting up
with bad quality or behavior. There is no ego in telling the waiter that your
soup is cold and needs to be heated up – if you stick to the facts, which are
always neutral. “How dare you serve me cold soup...” That's complaining. There
is a “me” here that loves to feel personally offended by the cold soup and is
going to make the most of it, a “me” that enjoys making someone wrong. The complaining
we are talking about is in the service of the ego, not of change. Sometimes it
becomes obvious that the ego doesn't really want change so that it can go on
power of Now
Only Presence can free you of
the ego, and you can only be present Now, not yesterday or tomorrow. Only
Presence can undo the past in you and thus transform your state of
Being at one with what is
doesn't mean you no longer initiate change or become incapable of taking action.
But the motivation to take action comes from a deeper level, not from egoic
wanting or fearing. Inner alignment with the present moment opens your
consciousness and brings it into alignment with the whole, of which the present
moment is an integral part.
ego and control
Whatever behavior the ego
manifests, the hidden motivating force is always the same: the need to stand
out, be special, be in control; the need for power, for attention, for more.
And, of course, the need to feel a sense of separation, that is to say, the
need for opposition, enemies.
If you are alert enough,
present enough, you may be able to detect a momentary sense of satisfaction
within yourself just before imparting the news, even if it is bad news. It is
due to the fact that for a brief moment there is, in the eyes of the ego, an
imbalance in your favor between you and the other person. For that brief
moment, you know more than the other.
It is not the formless attention
which is Presence that the ego seeks, but attention in some form, such as
recognition, praise, admiration, or just to be noticed in some way, to have its
Parents then cannot let go of being
a parent even when the child grows into an adult. They can't let go of the need
to be needed by their child.
…. If their desire to control or influence the actions of
their adult child is thwarted – as it usually is – they will start to criticize
or show their disapproval, or try to make the child feel guilty, all in an
unconscious attempt to preserve their role, their identity.
If you have young children,
give them help, guidance, and protection to the best of your ability, but even
more important, give them space – space to be. They come into this world
through you, but they are not “yours.”
At times, you may also have to
allow them to suffer. Suffering may come to them out of the blue or it may come
as the consequence of their own mistakes.
… Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of
consciousness and the burning up of the ego.
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.
The past lives in you as
memories, but memories in themselves are not a problem. In fact, it is through
memory that we learn from the past and from past mistakes. It is only when
memories, that is to say, thoughts about the past, take you over completely
that they turn into a burden, turn problematic, and become part of your sense
of self. Your personality, which is conditioned by the past, then becomes your
prison. Your memories are invested with a sense of self, and your story becomes
who you perceive yourself to be. This “little me” is an illusion that obscures
your true identity as timeless and formless Presence.
It is not so much that you
cannot stop your train of negative thoughts, but that you don't want to. This
is because the pain-body at that time is living through you, pretending to be
you. And to the pain-body, pain is pleasure.
Pain-bodies love intimate
relationships and families because that is where they get most of their food.
It is hard to resist another person's pain body that is determined to draw you
into a reaction. Instinctively it knows your weakest, most vulnerable points.
If it doesn't succeed the first time, it will try again and again. It is raw
emotion looking for more emotion. The other person's pain-body wants to awaken
yours so that both pain-bodies can mutually energize each other.
You don't just marry your wife
or husband, you also marry her or his pain-body – and your spouse marries
Almost every woman has her
share in the collective female pain-body, which tends to become activated
particularly just prior to the time of menstruation. At that time many women
become overwhelmed by intense negative emotion.
If you were not familiar with
our contemporary civilization, if you had come here from another age or another
planet, one of the things that would amaze you is that millions of people love
and pay money to watch humans kill and inflict pain on each other and call it
The pain-body can only feed on
films in which violence is portrayed as normal or even desirable human
behavior, or that glorify violence with the sole purpose of generating negative
emotion in the viewer and so become a “fix” for the pain-addicted pain-body.
So when watching television,
the tendency is for you to fall below thought, not rise above it. Television
has this in common with alcohol and certain other drugs. While it provides some
relief from your mind, you again pay a high price: loss of consciousness.
Excessive TV watching and
those programs in particular are largely responsible for attention deficit
disorder, a mental dysfunction now affecting millions of children worldwide.
purpose and outer purpose
Your life has an inner purpose
and an outer purpose. Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary. Outer
purpose concerns doing and is secondary.
… . Your inner purpose is an essential part of the
purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence. Your outer
purpose can change over time. It varies greatly from person to person.
Enthousiasm and acceptance
Whatever you cannot enjoy
doing, you can at least accept that this is what you have to do. Acceptance
means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do,
and so I do it willingly.
The “waiting to start living” syndrome
is one of the most common delusions of the unconscious state. Expansion and
positive change on the outer level is much more likely to come into your life
if you can enjoy what you are doing already, instead of waiting for some change
so that you can start enjoying what you do.
The word enthousiazein means
“to be possessed by a god.” With enthusiasm you will find that you don't have
to do it all by yourself. In fact, there is nothing of significance that you
can do by yourself.
I don’t agree with
Religion and truth
All religions are equally
false and equally true, depending on how you use them. You can use them in the
service of the ego, or you can use them in the service of the Truth. If you
believe only your religion is the Truth, you are using it in the service of the
ego. Used in such a way, religion becomes ideology and creates an illusory
sense of superiority as well as division and conflict between people. In the
service of the Truth, religious teachings represent signposts or maps left
behind by awakened humans to assist you in spiritual awakening, that is to say,
in becoming free of identification with form.
I think one embraces a
religion because he believes it is the Truth, otherwise why wouldn’t he choose
another one? However, to adopt a religion doesn’t mean to hate people from
other religions. On the contrary, one has to respect others’ choice and treat
them with sympathy, love and tolerance because he must understand that for those
people their religion is the Truth.
War is a mindset
War is a mindset, and all
action that comes out of such a mindset will either strengthen the enemy, the
perceived evil, or, if the war is won, will create a new enemy, a new evil
equal to and often worse than the one that was defeated.
I agree with the author that
war is evil, but the problem is that sometimes, we don’t choose to be in war.
When a country decides to invade another country, expulse its people and plunder
its wealth just because it’s stronger, it becomes legitimate for people of the
invaded country to defend themselves and their families even with violence. It
Other cultures and religions,
such as Judaism, Islam, and even Buddhism, also suppressed the female
dimension, although in a less violent way. Women's status was reduced to being
child bearers and men's property.
That is not true. As a Muslim,
I believe that Islam grants women all their rights, preserves their dignity and
aims at ensuring a happy life for them. Unfortunately, some Muslims don’t apply
Islam rules and thus distort the image of Islam. I think it is necessary to distinguish
between a religion and the attitudes of people who adopt it, because sometimes
the gap between the two is huge.
Conflicts in the middle east
In some nations, for example,
in the Middle East, the collective pain-body is so acute that a significant
part of the population finds itself forced to act it out in an endless and
insane cycle of perpetration and retribution through which the pain-body renews
…Prolonged violent conflict in
the Middle East are all painful episodes in human history dominated by extreme
It’s not always true. Palestinians
don’t fight because they are paranoiac; they fight to defend themselves, to
protect their families and to bring back their stolen country. Anyway, I don’t
know why the author mentions repeatedly the example of the Middle East as if
the whole world is safe except this area. Wars are everywhere today and the
world is no shortage of examples.
With forgiveness, your victim
identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence.
Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.
You forgive when you are
allowed to forgive, not when you are forced to. You forgive when you are in a
position of strength not a position of weakness. It’s not human to ask someone
who suffers injustice to forgive until we give him back his right, otherwise,
his forgiveness will be considered as subservience.
All over the book, the author takes
examples, tells stories and cites quotes from different religions (Judaism, Christianism,
Buddhism, Hinduism), but he strangely takes nothing from Islam, except when he
wants to give some negative examples related to violence or women abuse. Knowing that the
Islamic heritage is a rich source of Wisdom and is full of stories about peace, tolerance and serenity, I really don’t understand
why the author ignores it completely!
The author tells the story of
the Zen Master Hakuin who kept saying “Is that so?” when he was accused by making
a teenager pregnant and then when he was asked to take care of the born baby,
until he lost his reputation. The author calls this “The power of
non-resistance”. But why one has to suffer injustice and lose his reputation
when he can defend himself? I think I would rather call this “Passivity”. I don’t
say that one has to defend himself to satisfy his ego, but one could “hold the
stick from the middle” as we say in Arabic, he can defend himself for the
purpose of realizing Justice, he just has to provide evidence for his innocence,
and only when he can’t prove it, at that moment, he can accept the situation,
but he must fight first.