Many people feel trapped by their lives. They have responsibilities they don’t want, or lack the opportunities that they think they deserve. When life feels this way, it may seem limited and small. However, this is just an illusion of the mind. In his book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle informs readers that in reality, life is unlimited if we discover who we really are and identify our true purpose. Tolle explains that we are really one with the universe, and since the universe is infinite, so are we.
Therefore, in order to find peace and contentment, we need to see that the self and the universe are unified. In his book, Tolle explains that the thing that we identify as the self is actually just the ego, and that the ego creates great negativity and harm in our lives. He spends much of the book explaining how to be free of the ego. However, the book reaches a higher level when he begins to explain what happens after we leave the ego behind. That is when new possibilities open for our lives.
Tolle focuses on these new opportunities in Chapter Eight, “The Discovery of Inner Space. This chapter describes what we will find when we leave behind the ego and the pain-body. If we become aware and awake, suddenly we will discover this huge inner space that allows us to experience the universe in ourselves. When that happens, we stop worrying about what will happen in the future or what happened in the past. Tolle writes, “Once you see and accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, you can enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last without fear of loss or anxiety about the future” (Tolle 225).
This statement shows what is necessary in order to reach this state of inner space. We have to just take each moment as it comes and stop living for the future. We don’t know what will happen in the future, but if we focus on it all the time, we will not be able to enjoy what we have. I know that I am always worried about the future because I am nervous that I will not have a good job and be able to support myself. But that means I think a lot about my worries instead of enjoying my day. It would be good for me to try to relax and enjoy the sun or a flower now and then.
I don’t think I can be that aware permanently, but I can try to do it part of each day and see if I get better at it. Getting past the ego and opening up inner space requires us to stop sleepwalking through life and doing things according to habit. When we unthinkingly follow habit, the ego takes control. David Foster Wallace illustrates this point in the reading, “This is Water. ” Wallace writes, “And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our default setting is to be controlled by the ego and the pain-body, and not to see inner space. We are not allowing our true self to be in control, and that will cause us to be controlled by others or by the pain-body. In order to solve this, we have to open our eyes to Now and be Present. If we can open up our inner space by getting rid of the ego, then we will see that our inner purpose does not have anything to do with our individual desires.
Tolle explains this in Chapter Nine, “Your Inner Purpose. This chapter is starting to go beyond the idea of ego and even happiness. The idea of purpose as explained by Tolle is not even very individual because everyone has the same purpose at the same time. Tolle writes, “Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet—because it is the purpose of humanity” (Tolle 258). In other words, our purpose is actually a shared purpose, and because of that we should want to help each other. But that rarely seems to happen.
People get distracted by their outer purpose of achieving things through action, and they become competitive with each other instead of realizing that we all want the same thing and can help each other along the way. I rarely think about trying to awaken or trying to become one with the universe because I am too distracted by daily life. It is only when I get away from my normal routine that ideas like being one with the universe can get past my busy mind. Reading Tolle has made it clear to me that I need to be more aware of the Present and stop worrying about what might happen.
The future will happen no matter what I do, and so I should enjoy the present and become awake. One useful way to try to become more awakened is to think of our daily life as a dream. Bill Hicks in the course readings offers a useful suggestion. He tells us that “Life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves. ” In other words, reality is not in the things that we do or the things that we own, but in our hearts and spirits. We can create our own vision for the world if we just open ourselves up to Being. If life is a dream, then we don’t have to worry about what happens, and we can just enjoy how interesting the dream is.
This is kind of like the inner space that Tolle describes in the previous chapter, but it also relates to having an inner purpose, because the imagination that Hicks mentions is the way that we follow the inner purpose and do what it is intended to do. It is a little hard to think about life in this way because no one teaches us to be that way. Other parents and teachers always push us to work and to worry about how we are doing compared to other people. They warn us that if we don’t study hard we will never be able to live well, and so we can’t ever stop following our outer purpose.
Tolle’s book is one of the few things I have ever read that states that we should place less emphasis on achievement and activity, but he has arguments that make a lot of sense. If he is right, then after we become more aware and accepting, then we will be able to choose an outer purpose that is more in harmony with our inner purpose instead of just pushing to survive. Once we adopt the attitude that daily life is a dream, and our inner life with the universe is what is real, then we can see that every aspect of life is amazing. In his poem “My Life,” Billy Collins shows this kind of attitude in action.
First, Collins describes how he used to wonder what his life was, but does not do that anymore. He writes, “I will cease to wonder if it is one thing, a large ball of air and memory, or many things, a string of small farming towns, a dark road winding through them. ” As this quote shows, Collins knows that life can seem to be many different things, just like the self can be confused by the ego as Tolle explains in his book. But then Collins goes on to compare his life to a field that he works on, a nest, a hallway, and finally a lake.
In my opinion, the meaning of this poem is that our life has many different aspects, and we cannot pin it down to just one thing. He uses many metaphors for his life, but the one he likes the most is the one he mentions at the end when he writes, “I am a lake, my poem is an empty boat, and my life is the breeze that blows through the whole scene. ” This seems to suggest that life is an activity that we can create content for as we go along. This is exactly the way that Tolle encourages us to think. Our daily life is an activity, not who we are.
We can do many things, but our identity does not change because in fact we are actually just part of the universe. When we remember that, we stop worrying about other problems because they will seem so small. When we finally understand ourselves and accept inner space and our basic purpose, we will stop thinking that the universe is separate from our self. Tolle explains that when we do this, we will gain the power to transform the universe itself. He explains this in Chapter Ten, “A New Earth. ” This chapter, which has the same name as the title of the book, describes what people’s true role can be in the universe after they are awakened.
Tolle believes that more and more people are becoming conscious, and so they are beginning to transform the universe. Tolle reminds us that because there is no difference between us and the universe, then the universe can also have a purpose. Tolle states, “since you are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm, it follows that the universe too has an inner and outer purpose inseparable from yours” (Tolle 280). In other words, because people are at one with the universe, it is pointless to be worried about small, individual problems when in reality we are helping the universe to fulfill its purpose.
Tolle also explains that everyone is a part of that purpose, whether or not they are outgoing or quiet, or what type of personality they have. Once we awaken, we will not worry about things like getting old or dying because we will understand that these things are just part of the natural cycle of coming and going that repeats for eternity. This can give us peace because we will understand our role in the universe. If we are helping the universe achieve its purpose, that means we have a role to play that is much more important than worrying about our individual lives.
The course reading from Tomas Transtromer shows our true purpose in the line, “I am still the place where creation works on itself. ” This quote is another way of stating Tolle’s idea that we are connected to the universe and we are the means that the universe uses to carry out its purpose of experiencing consciousness. Transtromer is stating that we are part of creation and that creation is a part of us, and creation works on itself when it works through us because we are unified in reality. This is similar to Tolle’s idea that the universe is conscious and everything happens in the present moment.
We can help the universe achieve its purpose by acting with an awakened consciousness. The question I am left with is how I can put this into practice moving into my future life. Up until now, I have mostly focused on doing what I need to do because I want a secure job in the future, and I want to make my family happy. However, I have started to rethink whether this is a good enough motivation. If my real purpose is to awaken, then I should spend more time just enjoying and experiencing the moment.
What I have gained from the readings in the class is a reminder that I need to take the time to reflect and slow down now and then. In this way, I can become more awakened. The book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle is full of wide advice about how to see past the ego and realize our true identity and purpose. If we read the book carefully and apply it to our lives, we will stopped being trapped by the ego and will begin to feel unified with the universe. In reality, we are helping the universe achieve its purpose, which is to awaken, and that is much more important than any individual goal we might have in our lives.