A New Earth Book Summary, by Eckhart Tolle

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1-Page Summary of A New Earth

Overview

We often get so caught up in our thoughts and anxieties that we forget to feel alive. We can reconnect with life by focusing on our breathing. Breathe deeply, filling your body with air and feeling it fill all of the parts of you: limbs, fingers, toes, stomach and chest. It’s a simple exercise but one that is incredibly powerful when done correctly.

When you watch the news, it’s easy to be depressed by all the conflicts and man-made catastrophes that are plaguing groups of people all over the world.

Although there are many things improving in society, humans still have problems. We’re violent and greedy.

So what is the underlying cause of all these conflicts and constant misery? The answer, you’ll discover, is found in our minds.

In order to be happy, we must live in the present moment. We can do that by not letting our egos take control of us and make us worry about things that we have no control over.

In this passage, you’ll learn what sin really means in Christianity; why “evolve or die” is the twenty-first century’s motto; and why you should aspire to be like a duck.

Big Idea #1: Violence is a problem in society, and it’s getting worse.

Most people believe that we live in crazy and overwhelming times. The most renowned Indian sage, Ramana Maharshi once said that the “mind is maya” in Hinduism. Maya means a form of mental illness which affects everyone on a collective level.

In fact, most ancient religions agree that dysfunction is a large part of our natural way of living.

Buddhism describes the human condition as one of suffering. This idea is seen throughout Buddhist philosophy, and it can be traced back to Buddha himself.

In Christianity, the concept of sin means to miss the mark. Missing the point is what it means to sin.

Despite our triumphs over art, medicine and technology, we still seem to be tainted by a destructive force. It’s as if there is an insane part of us that drives people to do terrible things.

In fact, people of the twentieth century have both created and witnessed some of the most horrific, systemized methods of destruction. Such developments led to mass killings in Soviet Russia and to a brutal regime that killed over 25% of Cambodia’s population.

Even today, violence, greed and hate continue. We destroy forests, pollute the air and water, and mistreat animals in factory farms.

Even though many religions have tried to offer ways to stop violence, they haven’t been successful.

So, what is the solution? The answer lies in the following paragraphs.

Big Idea #2: Religion is not the cure for our inner madness, but we must find a solution.

Throughout history, people have attempted to improve society with ideas such as communism. Communism is an example of a philosophy inspired by good intentions and lofty ideals.

Communism failed because the people who led it weren’t able to change themselves and lead the society.

To guide us, we still have the enduring wisdom of ancient religious teachers, from Buddha to Lao Tzu. However, many of these teachings have been distorted by both their contemporaries and following generations.

Ideas were added to a lot of teachings, even though they didn’t make sense. Some teachers were ridiculed and killed because of the ideas that they had.

In this way, an idea of love and unity can be twisted into a religion that is hateful and divisive. Considering Jesus spoke about empathy and kindness, it’s surprising that brutal periods such as the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition could take place under the banner of Christianity.

In today’s world, people are desperately looking for ways to get rid of destructive habits. Unfortunately, the pattern that we’ve created is threatening our survival.

Science and technology have made the world a better place, but we’re still destroying it.

Although slavery and torture have been around for a long time, the twentieth century is when things got really bad. We need to evolve or else we’ll die out as a species.

Big Idea #3: To overcome our negative tendencies, we must understand that it is the ego that drives them.

Identifying with ego keeps us floundering in our thoughts, feelings and desires to connect with anything outside of ourselves. It perpetuates misunderstanding of the world.

It’s time to stop identifying with the ego and let it go.

The problem with the ego is that it tricks us into thinking that knowing ourselves is the same as knowing about ourselves.

The world today is driven by ego. We maintain the myth that our identity and status are defined by what we’ve accomplished, where we’re from, and what material possessions we have.

The ego, however, is more than just material goods. It’s also the sense of self that we have. The “I” or stream of consciousness that feels, thinks and forms opinions isn’t who we really are.

Our ego is a mental construct, or a story we tell ourselves about who we are. The true “I” is the one that can observe this stream of consciousness and not get caught up in it.

This self – the ego – is a mental construct, a story we tell ourselves about who we are. The true “I” is the I who can observe this stream of consciousness from the outside.

It is not easy to let go of our ego, but it’s necessary if we want to be happy. Our ego is the source of all our negative emotions and feelings that make us unhappy.

While he was in college, the author noticed a woman on the subway who was oblivious to her surroundings and talking loudly and angrily to herself.

The author observed the woman, thinking “I hope I don’t end up like her.” Yet he then realized that he had said that out loud. At that moment he had an insight: He was just like the woman, ego-driven and self-absorbed.

When he saw that she was upset, he started to question his own sanity. This led him to realize that everyone else was also out of touch with reality and just as crazy as she was. He then realized that in order to break free from the shackles of his ego, he needed to detach himself from all thoughts and analyze them rationally.

Big Idea #4: The ego is the root of human suffering. It fuels our tendency to hold onto pain and memories from the past.

Sometimes you may feel hurt or annoyed by something and then, instead of letting it go, keep thinking about it until there is no room in your mind for anything else.

The consequences of over-thinking are alienation and suffering. When someone constantly thinks too much, they become anxious about the future or regretful for what has happened in the past.

One example of negative over-thinking is in the story of two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido.

Tanzan and Ekido were walking down the street when they saw a young woman trying to keep her silk kimono clean as she tried to cross the street. Tanzan wanted to help, so he picked her up and carried her safely across.

The two monks walked on in silence, and after five hours Ekido was outraged. He told Tanzan that they shouldn’t do things like this. Tanzan said simply that he had put the girl down many hours ago. So why did Ekido still have her?

Most people are like Ekido, who collected resentments and hurts that prevented him from enjoying life.

Instead of dwelling on fights, we should learn from nature. For example, when ducks have a fight they quickly swim away in opposite directions as if nothing happened. Imagine people doing the same thing! Instead of thinking about and getting angry over an argument, we should move on and forget it.

It’s much better to let go of the incident and return to the present moment, as that is where we can find peace.

Big Idea #5: You must focus on both your outer goals and inner goals.

Regardless of your financial situation, having a true purpose in life is the only thing that will bring you contentment.

But how do you find it?

We all share the same goal: to awaken by experiencing a change in consciousness. This is also known as being present, or when we are conscious without thought.

Instead of being caught up in our egos, we can recognize that the real “I” is awareness.

It’s important to know your purpose in life. Outer purposes, such as making money or building a career, are subject to change and will eventually let you down.

If you believe that your purpose is to raise children, then your purpose depends on them. What happens when they grow up and no longer need you?

Moreover, if you’re aiming to be the best at something, it means that there’s someone else who’s worse than you. In this way, your meaning in life depends on another person’s failure.

It’s not the goal or actions themselves that determine whether they’re motivated by ego, but rather the state of consciousness from which it comes.

A person who works as an activist for homeless people may have a hidden egoistic reason to do so. She may be doing it because she feels superior and wants to gain accolades from others.

Big Idea #6: There are two main elements to living an enlightened life. The first is acceptance, and the second is enjoyment.

Do you ever wish you could dial down the pressures of your life to experience more peace? This book will help you do that by showing how people can achieve a sense of enlightenment.

If you want to change your life, then you need to learn how to enjoy and accept it as it is right now. But how do you accomplish this?

Acceptance is the willingness to do whatever you need to do in a peaceful, open fashion. It is about being at peace with whatever you are doing. You can apply this concept when taking a driving test or doing your laundry.

If you cannot find joy in what you’re doing, stop. If you do not accept the situation, then your mind will be cluttered and your life will not have meaning. You are responsible for how you react to situations that arise, so make sure that they are positive ones.

When you achieve enlightenment, your motivation to act will stem from enjoyment rather than feelings of desire or wanting.

The good news is that you can find joy in the present moment. To do this, you have to focus on what’s happening right now. This allows for a state of being called “joy.”

Remember that you’re only human, even after you’ve had a positive influence on others. Don’t let your ego get the best of you by letting it brag about its accomplishments or successes.

Full Summary of A New Earth

Overview

Most of us are too distracted to feel our inner aliveness. Focusing on your breath will help you reconnect with this. Simply take two or three deep breaths and feel your limbs, fingers, toes, stomach and chest swell with air as you fill yourself with life. It’s an incredibly simple and powerful exercise that we neglect to do often because we’re so busy.

When you watch the news, it’s hard not to be depressed by all the conflicts and man-made catastrophes plaguing groups of people around the world.

Even though there is progress in society, it seems that humanity has a lot of problems. We are constantly fighting and destroying things for no reason.

So, what is the underlying cause of all these conflicts and constant misery? The answer, you’ll discover, is found in our minds.

We’ll explore how to identify this source of suffering and then develop a plan for dealing with it.

If we are too caught up in the past or future and worry too much, our egos will dominate us and prevent us from being truly happy. If we overcome our egos, we can create a better world.

In this article, you’ll learn what sin really means in Christianity; why “evolve or die” is a popular mantra today; and why we should aspire to be like ducks.

Big Idea #1: Society is crazy. People are violent and they harm the environment.

Most people say that we live in crazy, overwhelming times. One of the most renowned Indian sages said that our minds are a form of collective mental illness.

Ancient religions and modern science agree that our natural state is not a balanced, happy one.

Buddhism shares the same idea, but describes it in a different way. They see dukkha as suffering and misery being an essential part of life.

When translated from ancient Greek, the word sin means to miss the mark. In Christianity, sin is a state of being that misses the point of human existence.

Despite humanity’s achievements in art, medicine and technology, we still struggle with an insane force that destroys us. This destructive force is not limited to humans; it’s present in nature as well.

The people of the 20th century created and witnessed some of the most horrific methods of destruction, including bombs, machine guns, and poisonous gas. These developments led to mass killings in Soviet Russia and brutal regimes like that of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Violence, greed and hate still exist. People mistreat animals in factory farms, pollute the environment and destroy forests.

Religions have tried to solve the problem of violence for centuries. But they haven’t been successful.

So, what is the solution? Well, read on to find out.

Big Idea #2: Religion is not the cure for our inner madness, but we must find a new solution.

People have always tried to improve society through good intentions. Communism is an example of a philosophy inspired by those intentions, but it had some flaws.

Communism, as an organizing principle for society, has failed. The people who tried to lead it did not possess the proper state of consciousness and ability to change themselves.

There are many religious teachers who have wisdom and advice that is relevant today. However, some of these teachings are misinterpreted or misused by people in the present generation.

Ideas were added to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who was ridiculed and killed.

Jesus spoke about love and kindness. It’s surprising that people who claimed to follow his teachings could be so cruel during the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition, which were brutal times in history.

The search for a way to rid ourselves of bad habits has become desperate. It’s ironic that this is threatening the survival of humanity.

Scientific and technological progress has allowed us to destroy ourselves and our planet, as well as magnify the problems created by human ego.

Slavery and torture have been part of human history. However, the twentieth century has raised the stakes to an unsustainable level. We need a fundamental shift in how we live in the world.

Big Idea #3: To fight our inner demons, we need to know that it is the ego that causes these problems.

Identifying with the ego keeps us from understanding anything outside of ourselves. It perpetuates our misunderstanding of the world.

It’s time to stop identifying with the ego and let it go.

The ego tricks us into thinking that knowing ourselves is the same as knowing about ourselves.

The world today is focused on ego. We pretend that our identity is defined through our accomplishments, backgrounds and material possessions.

To let go of the ego is more than just giving up material goods. It also means recognizing that our sense of “self”—the way we think and feel—isn’t who we really are.

The self isn’t something solid, separate from other people or objects in the world. Nor is it a permanent essence residing somewhere within us.

The ego is a mental construct, and it’s the story we tell ourselves about who we are. The true “I” is the I that can observe this stream of consciousness from the outside.

It’s not easy to let go of your ego, but it is necessary because it leads to all kinds of discontentment and anxiety.

The author noticed a woman on the subway who was talking loudly and angrily to herself while she stared into space.

The author was observing a woman in the airport, and he hoped that he wouldn’t end up like her. He then realized that he had said this out loud to himself. In that moment, he became aware of how self-absorbed and ego-driven he was.

He thought that if his wife was mad, then everyone else was too. This caused him to shift the way he looked at things and begin to analyze his thoughts. He eventually broke free from the chains of ego and regained control over himself.

Big Idea #4: The ego is what makes people want to hold onto the pain and suffering of the past.

We often get so wrapped up in things that we don’t stop to think about why they’re important.

When we overthink, it leads to alienation and suffering. When we ruminate about past hurts or worry about the future, it causes us anguish.

Spiritual texts provide examples of over-thinking and negative thinking. One example is a story about two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido.

Tanzan and Ekido were walking down a muddy road when they saw a young woman with her silk kimono dirty from the mud. Tanzan wanted to help, so he picked her up and carried her across the street.

Two monks walked for hours in silence, but after five hours Ekido was so upset that he could no longer hold his tongue. He told Tanzan that monks aren’t supposed to do such things. Tanzan responded simply by saying that he had put the girl down a long time ago and asked if Ekido was still carrying her on his shoulders.

Most of us are constantly collecting negative situations and emotions in our life. This prevents us from enjoying the present moment.

Instead of holding grudges, we can learn from nature. For example, ducks swim away in opposite directions after a fight as if nothing happened. If humans did the same thing, they would stop thinking about the event and wouldn’t let it bother them anymore.

It’s better to let go of the past and live in the present.

Big Idea #5: You have two different goals in life: your outer purpose and your inner purpose.

People who are struggling financially or have plenty of money may not be as happy as they could be. The solution is to find a true purpose in life, no matter what your financial situation is like.

However, how do you find it?

We all share the same purpose, which is to awaken from our ordinary state of consciousness and become more aware. This may also be described as being present or in a state of mind without any thoughts.

Instead of being caught up in your ego and thoughts, you can recognize that your real “I” is the awareness that exists outside of those things.

It’s critical to be aware of our inner purpose. External purposes like making money or building a career are always subject to change. For example, you may lose your job at some point in the future and that will affect your financial situation. Therefore, anything that feeds into those external purposes will eventually let us down.

Say you believe your purpose is to raise children. This means that they depend on you for their needs! What happens when they grow up and leave home?

In addition, if you define your purpose as being the best at something, it also means that you depend on others to fail. In this way, meaning in your life depends on another’s failure.

We should remember that it’s not the goals or actions themselves but rather the state of consciousness from which they come that determine whether something is motivated by ego.

A person who works for a homeless organization, for example, might do so because she wants to gain accolades or feels superior to people working in other fields.

Big Idea #6: To live an enlightened life, one must be accepting and enjoy things.

Do you ever wish your life was less stressful and more peaceful?

If you want to learn how to accept life as it is right now, then you need to know how to enjoy life. However, the only way for that to happen is if you learn how not be miserable and unhappy with your current situation.

Acceptance is a state of mind where you can accept your current situation and be at peace with it. This can help you when doing stressful tasks like taxes, taking driving tests or doing laundry.

If you cannot bring yourself to enjoy or accept what you’re doing, then you should stop it. If you continue with a negative attitude, then that’s your fault because life is in charge of the way things go and only you can control how you deal with situations.

When a person becomes enlightened, they no longer need to act out of desire. Instead, their actions will be motivated by enjoyment.

The good news is that you can experience joy when you focus on the present moment. This allows your body to take in the joy of being—the consciousness of the world around you.

Remember that you can affect others by being enthusiastic and enjoying what you do. You should also remember to stay humble, as it will keep your ego in check when things are going well for you.

A New Earth Book Summary, by Eckhart Tolle
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