There comes a book, once in a blue moon, that I become a little bit obsessed with (that I underline passages in, that I reread constantly) and it earns a permanent place in my bookshelf. In the past the books that have hit home include Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Well for 2019, I think that book is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Now before you go and dismiss me as being totally woo-woo (or hippie, new age spiritualist, etc.) I don’t always agree with him 100% and I sometime think his overly flowery spiritual language can be sometimes hard to swallow. But there are plenty of gems in this book that I think are worth internalizing for a generally more content life. I’ve already quoted him here and here on the blog (pertaining to my/our overconsumption habits).
A lot of this book is about the ego, or what I like to think of as the monkey mind (that voice in our head that we 100% identify with as “me” but really is just that voice in your head. You are not your thoughts—lessons I learned from 10% Happier). I truly believe you don’t need to identify what is “you”, that there is no need for labels and such restrictive thinking. Humans are beautiful beings with many everchanging facets that don’t need to be nailed down with categories and labels. We just are. And the sooner we can identify the monkey mind/ego and let go of certainties, and instead be grateful and marvel in the present moment, the more content, generous, and loving we could all be. Mindful meditation definitely helps with this, though it’s no cure-all and there’s no ticket for a 100% happy life.
One more on our need to consume
Anyway this is just to say, this book has so many good points when it comes to this unconscious ego that we let rule our thoughts and our lives. Here’s one last quote about overconsumption:
“The ego identifies with having, but its satisfaction in having is a relatively shallow and short-lived one…The ego wants to want more than it wants to have. And so the shallow satisfaction of having is always replaced by more wanting. It is an addictive need, not an authentic one…Most egos have conflicting wants. They want different things at different times or may not even know what they want except that they don’t want what is: the present moment. Unease, restlessness, boredom, anxiety, dissatisfaction, are the result of unfulfilled wanting…[Nothing] will satisfy you, as long as the egoic structure remains in place. No matter what you have or get, you won’t be happy. You will always be looking for something else that promises greater fulfillment, that promises to make your incomplete sense of self complete and fill that sense of lack you feel within.”
On Complaining and Resentment
He also talks about the ego and how it needs to create stories about “the others” in order to uphold its own stories about being in the right and being superior:
“Complaining is one of the ego’s favorite strategies for strengthening itself. Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up that you completely believe in…When you are in the grip of such an ego, complaining, is habitual and of course unconscious…Complaining as well as fault finding and reactivity strengthens the ego’s sense of of boundary and separateness on which its survival depends…There is nothing that strengthens the ego more than being right. Being right is identification with a mental position—a perspective, an opinion, a judgement a story. For you to be right, of course, you need someone else to be wrong, and so the ego loves to make wrong in order to be right….You construct a conceptual identity for an individual or a group and you say: ‘This is who he is. This is who they are.’ When you confuse the ego that you perceive in others with their identity, it is the work of your own ego that uses this misperception to strengthen itself through being right and therefore superior, and through reacting with condemnation, indignation and often anger against the perceived enemy.”
He goes on to say that this kind of thinking is what creates and perpetuates wars. And for peace, we need to all recognize our egos and also to live in the present moment, to live in Being (his capitalization, not mine), to realize the “impermanence of all forms” and let go of the fears surrounding that. Yep it’s a lot to ask for and sounds like a great idea, but how to execute that? He advises some form of meditation, even if it’s just a brief breathing exercise everyday to bring you back into the present moment, to get the feeling of Being.
Anyway I could go on and on with quotes from this book but I feel like it would just bore you (I might already be boring you lol) so I’ll save it. But unlike my other book reviews, I won’t be doing a giveaway on this one because I’m keeping it! I don’t think this book will “Awaken your life’s purpose” as it promises on the book cover, but I think it has some great points on how to be more at peace with whatever is happening in your daily life. I read this while I was in the hospital and it really helped me find peace and even enjoy my time there a little bit, even though I didn’t want to be there (thus the pic up top). So whatever preconceived notions you have about Mr. Tolle and these types of book (I know I had tons), I highly recommend just trying it out because I think we all need a little time out and space from our monkey minds.
P.S. Re-reading this now, after having posted about my overconsumption in March has reminded me that my monkey mind pretty much took over last month. For April, I’m going to renew my efforts to identify when my ego is doing the decision making!