Oprah’s Book Club has been around for over 25 years! Her thought-provoking book club picks are some of our favorites, too. The books Oprah Winfrey recommends often tell heart wrenching, life altering stories that ultimately uplift and inspire their readers. It’s no surprise that many of these titles end up becoming Pulitzer Prize Winners, National […]
“A wake-up call for the entire planet . . . [A New Earth] helps us to stop creating our own suffering and obsessing over the past and what the future might be, and to put ourselves in the now.” —Oprah Winfrey
With his bestselling spiritual guide The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle inspired millions of readers to discover the freedom and joy of a life lived “in the now.” In A New Earth, Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness, and shows readers how to awaken to a new state of consciousness and follow the path to a truly fulfilling existence.
Illuminating, enlightening, and uplifting, A New Earth is a profoundly spiritual manifesto for a better way of life—and for building a better world.
About the Author
Hometown:Vancouver, BC, Canada
Date of Birth:February 16, 1948
Place of Birth:Lünen, Germany
Education:University of London; Cambridge University
Read an Excerpt
The Flowering of Human Consciousness
Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet—if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it.
Much later those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species. Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a "silent sermon" once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by twenty-eight successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen.
Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature. The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness. The feelings of joy and love are intrinsically connected to that recognition. Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. They not only had a scent that was delicate and pleasing to humans, but also brought a fragrance from the realm of spirit. Using the word "enlightenment" in a wider sense than the conventionally accepted one, we could look upon flowers as the enlightenment of plants.
Any life-form in any realm—mineral, vegetable, animal, or human—can be said to undergo "enlightenment." It is, however, an extremely rare occurrence since it is more than an evolutionary progression: It also implies a discontinuity in its development, a leap to an entirely different level of Being and, most importantly, a lessening of materiality.
What could be heavier and more impenetrable than a rock, the densest of all forms? And yet some rocks undergo a change in their molecular structure, turn into crystals, and so become transparent to the light. Some carbons, under inconceivable heat and pressure, turn into diamonds, and some heavy minerals into other precious stones.
Most crawling reptilians, the most earthbound of all creatures, have remained unchanged for millions of years. Some, however, grew feathers and wings and turned into birds, thus defying the force of gravity that had held them for so long. They didn't become better at crawling or walking, but transcended crawling and walking entirely.
Since time immemorial, flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds have held special significance for the human spirit. Like all life-forms, they are, of course, temporary manifestations of the underlying one Life, one Consciousness. Their special significance and the reason why humans feel such fascination for and affinity with them can be attributed to their ethereal quality.
Once there is a certain degree of Presence, of still and alert attention in human beings' perceptions, they can sense that there is more there than the mere physical existence of that form, without knowing that this is the reason why he or she is drawn toward it, feels an affinity with it. Because of its ethereal nature, its form obscures the indwelling spirit to a lesser degree than is the case with other life-forms. The exception to this are all newborn life-forms—babies, puppies, kittens, lambs, and so on. They are fragile, delicate, not yet firmly established in materiality. An innocence, sweetness and beauty that are not of this world still shine through them. They delight even relatively insensitive humans.
So when you are alert and contemplate a flower, crystal, or bird without naming it mentally, it becomes a window for you into the formless. There is an inner opening, however slight, into the realm of spirit. This is why these three "en-lightened" life-forms have played such an important part in the evolution of human consciousness since ancient times; why, for example, the jewel in the lotus flower is a central symbol of Buddhism and a white bird, the dove, signifies the Holy Spirit in Christianity. They have been preparing the ground for a more profound shift in planetary consciousness that is destined to take place in the human species. This is the spiritual awakening that we are beginning to witness now.
The Purpose of This Book
Is humanity ready for a transformation of consciousness, an inner flowering so radical and profound that compared to it the flowering of plants, no matter how beautiful, is only a pale reflection? Can human beings lose the density of their conditioned mind structures and become like crystals or precious stones, so to speak, transparent to the light of consciousness? Can they defy the gravitational pull of materialism and materiality and rise above identification with form that keeps the ego in place and condemns them to imprisonment within their own personality?
The possibility of such a transformation has been the central message of the great wisdom teachings of humankind. The messengers—Buddha, jesus, and others, not all of them known—were humanity's early flowers. They were precursors, rare and precious beings. A widespread flowering was not yet possible at that time, and their message became largely misunderstood and often greatly distorted. It certainly did not transform human behavior, except in a small minority of people.
Is humanity more ready now than at the time of those early teachers? Why should this be so? What can you do, if anything, to bring about or accelerate this inner shift? What is it that characterizes the old egoic state of consciousness recognized? These and other essential questions will be addressed in this book. More important, this book itself is a transformational device that has come out of the arising new consciousness. The ideas and concepts presented here may be important, but they are secondary. They are no more than signposts pointing toward awakening. As you read, a shift takes place within you.
This book's main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness, that is to say, to awaken. In that sense, this book is not "interesting." Interesting means you can keep your distance, play around with ideas and concepts in your mind, agree or disagree. This book is about you. It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless. It can only awaken those who are ready. Not everyone is ready yet, but many are, and with each person who awakens, the momentum in the collective consciousness grows, and it becomes easier for others. If you don't know what awakening means, read on. Only by awakening can you know the true meaning of that word. A glimpse is enough to initiate the awakening process, which is irreversible. For some, that glimpse will come while reading this book. For many others who may not even have realized it, the process has already begun. This book will help them recognize it. For some, it may have begun through loss or suffering; for others, through coming into contact with a spiritual teacher or teaching, through reading The Power of Now or some other spiritually alive and therefore transformational book—or any combination of the above. If the awakening process has begun in you, the reading of this book will accelerate and intensify it.
An essential part of the awakening is the recognition of the unawakened you, the ego as it thinks, speaks, and acts, as well as the recognition of the collectively conditioned mental processes that perpetuate the unawakened state. That is why this book shows the main aspects of the ego and how they operate in the individual as well as in the collective. This is important for two related reasons: The first is that unless you know the basic mechanics behind the workings of the ego, you won't recognize it, and it will trick you into identifying with it again and again. This means it takes you over, an imposter pretending to be you. The second reason is that the act of recognition itself is one of the ways in which awakening happens. When you recognize the unconsciousness in you, that which makes the recognition possible is the arising consciousness, is awakening. You cannot fight against darkness. The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light.
Excerpted from "A New Earth (Oprah #61)"
Copyright © 2008 Eckhart Tolle.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsThe Flowering of Human Consciousness 1
The Purpose of This Book 5
Our Inherited Dysfunction 8
The Arising New Consciousness 13
Spirituality and Religion 17
The Urgency of Transformation 20
A New Heaven and a New Earth 23
Ego: The Current State of Humanity 25
The Illusory Self 27
The Voice in the Head 30
Content and Structure of the Ego 34
Identification with Things 35
The Lost Ring 38
The Illusion of Ownership 42
Wanting: The Need for More 46
Identification with the Body 49
Feeling the Inner Body 52
Forgetfulness of Being 53
From Descartes's Error to Sartre's Insight 54
The Peace That Passes All Understanding 56
The Core of Ego 59
Complaining and Resentment 61
Reactivity and Grievances 64
Being Right, Making Wrong 66
In Defense of an Illusion 67
Truth: Relative or Absolute? 69
The Ego Is Not Personal 72
War Is a Mind-set 74
Do You Want Peace or Drama? 77
Beyond Ego: Your True Identity 77
All Structures Are Unstable 79
The Ego's Need to Feel Superior 81
Ego and Fame 82
Role-playing: The Many Faces of the Ego 85
Villain, Victim, Lover 87
Letting Go of Self-Definitions 89
Pre-established Roles 90
Temporary Roles 93
The Monk with Sweaty Palms 94
Happiness as a Role Vs. True Happiness 95
Parenthood: Role or Function? 97
Conscious Suffering 101
Conscious Parenting 103
Recognizing Your Child 104
Giving Up Role-playing 106
The Pathological Ego 109
The Background Unhappiness 112
The Secret of Happiness 114
Pathological Forms of Ego 118
Work-With and Without Ego 121
The Ego in Illness 124
The Collective Ego 125
Incontrovertible Proof of Immortality 127
The Pain-Body 129
The Birth of Emotion 131
Emotions and the Ego 134
The Duck with a Human Mind 137
Carrying the Past 139
Individual and Collective 141
How the Pain-Body Renews Itself 144
How the Pain-Body Feeds on Your Thoughts 145
How the Pain-Body Feeds on Drama 148
Dense Pain-Bodies 151
Entertainment, the Media, and the Pain-Body 152
The Collective Female Pain-Body 154
National and Racial Pain-Bodies 157
Breaking Free 161
The Return of the Pain-Body 167
The Pain-Body in Children 169
Breaking Identification with the Pain-Body 174
The Pain-Body as an Awakener 180
Breaking Free of the Pain-Body 183
Finding Who You Truly Are 185
Who You Think You Are 186
Knowing Yourself and Knowing About Yourself 192
Chaos and Higher Order 194
Good and Bad 195
Not Minding What Happens 198
Is That So? 199
The Ego and the Present Moment 200
The Paradox of Time 204
Eliminating Time 206
The Dreamer and the Dream 208
Going Beyond Limitation 210
The Joy of Being 213
Allowing the Diminishment of the Ego 214
As Without, So Within 217
The Discovery of Inner Space 223
Object Consciousness and Space Consciousness 227
Falling Below and Rising Above Thought 229
Recognizing Inner Space 233
Can You Hear the Mountain Stream? 236
Right Action 238
Perceiving Without Naming 239
Who Is the Experiencer? 241
The Breath 243
Inner Body Awareness 248
Inner and Outer Space 250
Noticing the Gaps 253
Lose Yourself to Find Yourself 254
Your Inner Purpose 257
A Dialogue on Inner Purpose 262
A New Earth 279
A Brief History of Your Life 282
Awakening and the Return Movement 284
Awakening and the Outgoing Movement 288
Awakened Doing 293
The Three Modalities of Awakened Doing 295
The Frequency-holders 306
The New Earth Is No Utopia 307
About the Author 315
Reading Group Guide
The Power of Now established Eckhart Tolle as one of the leading spiritual teachers writing today. Now, his long-awaited follow-up brings his inspiring and profound message to a whole new audience.
Building on the astonishing success of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle takes us beyond our own lives to show that we now have the opportunity to birth a new, more loving world. This involves a radical inner leap of consciousness from the current identification with our ego to an entirely new way of thinking about who we are. For this to happen, the very strictures of the human mind need to undergo an evolutionary transformation.
In A New Earth, Tolle shows how this transformation can occur not only in ourselves, but in the world around us. In illuminating the nature of this shift of consciousness, Tolle describes in detail how our current ego-based state of consciousness operates. He then gently and in very practical terms leads us into this new consciousness. We will come to experience who we are truly are, which is infinitely greater than anything we currently think we are.
ABOUT ECKHART TOLLE
Eckhart Tolle is a contemporary spiritual teacher who is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition. In his writing and seminars, he conveys a simple yet profound message with the timeless and uncomplicated clarity of the ancient spiritual masters. There is a way out of suffering into peace. Tolle travels extensively, taking his teachings throughout the world. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
An Interview with Eckhart Tolle about A New Earth: Awaking to Your Life's Purpose
B&N.com: The theme for your new book is consciousness and overcoming our ego's struggle for power. Although you say the key to happiness is simple, why do you think it's so difficult for people to see through the ego's tricks?
Eckhart Tolle: Because the ego cannot recognize itself. To recognize the ego in oneself, another dimension of consciousness needs to arise. We may call it awareness or Presence. The arising of awareness is spiritual awakening. As long as there is no awareness, you are the unobserved mind, which is the ego. By definition, the unobserved mind cannot observe itself.
But more humans than ever before are now ready to awaken. Books such as A New Earth are here to accelerate the awakening process and are themselves part of that process.
The ego looks to the future for happiness and to the past for its identity: a recipe for continuous frustration and unhappiness. In its search for identity and happiness where they cannot be found, the ego obscures the only point of access to happiness and your true identity: the present moment.
In the section "A New Heaven and a New Earth," you say, "The inspiration for the title of this book…seems more applicable now that at any other time in human history." Why is this so?
A long time ago, some people already foresaw that the dysfunction inherent in the human mind would eventually bring about havoc on our planet and lead to a global crisis that would threaten the very survival of our species. We are reaching that point now. For the first time in history, the dysfunction of the human mind is threatening not only our survival but that of all life on earth. This is because science and technology are magnifying the effects of that dysfunction to such a degree that it is becoming an ever-increasing threat to all life on the planet.
Some people also foresaw that such a radical global crisis would act as a trigger for a shift in human consciousness. This is described in the Bible as an arising of a new heaven and a new earth. Heaven here refers to the inner dimension of consciousness, whereas earth is its outer reflection.
Describing the New Earth, you state: "…as the old consciousness dissolves, there are bound to be synchronistic geographic and climactic natural upheavals in many parts of the planet…." Can you explain a bit how human consciousness and the planet are interwoven? How can we make sense of difficult natural events like Hurricane Katrina?
One of the greatest insights that has come out of modern physics is that an event is not separate from the consciousness that perceives it. That is to say, the observer and the observed are not separate, and every act of perception is also an act of creation. Ultimately, what we perceive as external reality or the world is an outward reflection of our state of consciousness. This is to say that whatever happens on planet earth is a reflection of collective human consciousness. And when the old structures in the collective consciousness break up, as they are now, this is reflected outwardly in the breakup of external structures, both man-made as well as natural ones. This means we can expect many more such disasters as Hurricane Katrina and last year's tsunami. There is always another side to such events, which on the surface look entirely negative. Through the disruption of their lives, millions of people who otherwise would not be ready to awaken are being initiated forcefully into the awakening process by such disasters. They are forced to dis-identify from form, which is what awakening is. Many others experience the arising of compassion and the joy of egoless giving and helping. And what of those who don't make it, who die? There is not death, only the dissolution of form, which in any case is just around the corner for every human being and every life form.
Can you describe the difference between awareness and thinking? Is our essential being constant, or can it grow or even change over time?
Awareness is consciousness that has become conscious of itself. It is formless and unconditioned. Thinking is form, and form is conditioned by the past.
The arising of awareness is the dis-identification of consciousness from form. This is spiritual awakening. You can sense it as an alert inner stillness in the background, while thinking, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences happen in the foreground. The only way you can really understand awareness is by being aware, that is to say, present -- not by thinking about it or trying to define it.
Our essential being is consciousness. It is constant, eternal, that is to say, not subject to time. However, from our human perspective, it appears that it can grow over time because it is only gradually coming into this world. "Spiritual growth" means realizing and manifesting more and more fully who or what you already are in the depth of your being.
Ultimately, there is no spiritual growth, only the gradual (and sometimes sudden) dissolution of illusion and ignorance, which occurs when you stop identifying with the incessant stream of thinking.
In the book, you have tips for parents on how to raise spiritually healthy children. Do you think everyone is born with an ego that can get stronger over time; or, are people ego-free at birth, and it's created later?
Children are not born with an ego but with pre-existing mind-structures -- a blueprint as it were -- through which the ego later comes into existence. As humanity is awakening, an increasing number of humans who are coming into this world now, instead of being stuck in ego for the rest of their lives, will quickly outgrow the egoic stage of human evolution. On the new earth, many people will have outgrown the ego by the time they reach their early 20s. Ego will be recognized as no more than immaturity associated with childhood and adolescence.
You say that "the ego in search of a stronger identity can and does create illnesses in order to strengthen itself through them." Can you elaborate, and what are some examples of illnesses that the ego creates?
The ego's underlying fear, its sense of lack and incessant wanting, its resistance to or denial of the present moment create enormous stress, anxiety, and other forms of mental-emotional negativity. Even mainstream medicine is beginning to recognize that such stress and negativity weaken the immune system, create toxicity in the body, and adversely affect the heart, cell reproduction, and countless other functions. Many diseases are, therefore, an inevitable by-product of the egoic state of consciousness.
In addition, an illness can serve to strengthen one's conceptual sense of self, the ego. You then define a significant part of your identity as a "patient," a "sufferer" of this or that disease, or a victim. The ego grows through seeing yourself as being "more" seriously ill than someone else. ("You are in pain? That's nothing. I've been in far more pain for years. Don't talk to me about pain.") The mind can and does make the body ill. The ego, the unobserved mind, will sometimes use what would otherwise be a passing physical weakness or imbalance, attach a concept and a sense of self to it, and thus give it a solidity and permanency that it didn't have before. And so it grows into "my illness." Some people may feel angry upon reading this -- a sign that they have some unconscious ego investment in the concept of illness.
In other interviews, you have described your spiritual awakening and how the world changed for you, literally overnight. Do you ever ponder your life prior to your awakening, and if so, what are your thoughts about that time in your life versus now?
It is like a distant memory of a past lifetime or a dream, and I rarely think about it. I am, however, grateful for the suffering because there would have been no awakening without it. When I reached a point when I couldn't live with myself any longer, the self that created so much suffering and that I couldn't live with turned out to be no more than a phantom. I woke up from a bad dream. That's what it feels like. But if the dream had not been quite as bad as it was, I might still be dreaming today.