A New Earth – part 3

Globe(continuing the page by page critique of Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth.”)

P 59:    Tolle identifies the egoic mind with the inner voice we use for thinking and reading. Funny how this is a bad thing and yet it is absolutely necessary to read his book.

 

He tries to make thinking out to be something un-natural which possesses us, stopping us from being ‘aware.’ This unconsciousness (Jung) blocks out the true spiritual awareness. Hans Christian Andersen could have written a better plot.

 

P60:     Tolle tries to separate ourselves from the I (ego) that we are. He insists that we are not the “I” that we refer to in the first person. This will dissolve any personal responsibility for mistakes that we make. If we are separate from the egoic “I,” then how can we be held accountable?

 

This egoic “I” is the source for us being opinionated – Tolle is doing 2 things here: he’s trying to diminish other opinions and secondly, he is expressing his own opinion! This gets crazier and crazier. Instead of “A New Earth”, he should have called his book, “A New Wonderland for Alice.”

 

Egos deep down are all the same – this echoes some Jungian psychology.

 

“Others are most other when I see them as my enemies” – Tolle has just dismissed his opposition in egoic terms…

 

P61:     He quotes Christ’s lesson about the speck and log in the eye, equating Christ’s message with Tolle’s philosophy. Jesus is talking about hypocrisy, not opposition. (Matthew 7:3-5).

 

Tolle writes that name calling is the crudest form of labeling and the ego’s need to be right…and yet he is going to use this process when condemning religion, especially Christianity.

 

P62      Tolle gets it right when he talks about resentment – it does cause bitterness and offense.

 

Focusing on other’s faults only amplifies resentment – also true.

 

Tolle proscribe a ‘state of nonreaction’ to overcome dysfunction of resentment – Buddhist & Christian teaching.

 

P63:     Nonreaction equals forgiveness in Tolle’s book – but forgiveness is a very proactive event. He sees it as a means of not reacting to the injury, insult, or offense. But that is being passive, not forgiving.

 

P64:     Tolle urges his readers to try to catch the voice inside their heads and suddenly realize that you are not the voice. But you can no more separate the voice from self as you can the heart from the body. Is Tolle schizoid?? Also, by disassociating oneself from the “voice in the head” you once again avoid any responsibility for wrong thinking, wrong choices, and wrong deeds.

 

The old mind pattern is the ego…the new one is awareness.

 

P65:     People can become addicted to resentment and anger as other are to a drug. This is absolutely true. Ask marriage guidance counselors…

 

Collective grievances can survive for centuries and fuel cycle of violence…this is true, but is Tolle going to use this against the institutionalized church?

 

Grievances contaminate other areas of life. Tolle is making some very good psychological points here.

 

P66:     Tolle writes that Christ’s teaching to “Forgive your Enemies” is about undoing the egoic structure in the mind. This is bunkum! Jesus was relating to His culture and the hatred that His people espoused against the Gentiles, and in particular, the Roman occupiers of Judea.

 

P67: Tolle suggests that when we complain we are egoically implying that we are right and someone else is wrong – this is too general…usually we complain when something is wrong, not necessarily someone.

 

Being right makes us morally superior and highly judgmental. Tolle does not therefore seem to believe in boundaries, which makes his philosophy morally ambivalent or even amoral. He’s going to develop this argument of being morally superior against the boundaries and standards set by the Church.

 

P 68:    ‘Ego takes everything personally.’ – Amen, so why do Tolle and Oprah get so defensive about their new earth philosophy? Why are their followers so visceral in their attacks?

 

The truth needs no defense – yet Tolle is not going to accept that Christ is the Truth.

 

P 69:    ‘Only through awareness are you able to see’ – yet you need to think through to that awareness level. If it was all natural as Tolle suggests, you wouldn’t need a book to describe the process.

 

‘I am right and you are wrong is a dangerous thing in personal relationships’ – this may have been Tolle’s partnership experience, but a healthy marriage is willing to compromise and let each partner be right at different times.

 

Tolle is advocating his no boundaries, no absolutes again…calling right a mental dysfunction. He then starts to talk about moral relativism seen as a great evil by Christian teachings…but he never finishes the thought.

 

P70:     Tolle begins to question, attack and diminish the Church. He talks about people being killed in the past – yet we’re more enlightened today. He talks about the truth being a story you had to believe in – he is calling the Gospel a story, rather than the word of God.

 

He suggests that we cannot find absolute truth in doctrines, ideologies, sets of rules or stories…in other words the Bible, ten commandments, the Gospels and teachings of the Church.

 

“All religions are equally false and equally true, depending how you use them” – this is universalism…in other words, anything goes.

 

P71:     To believe in your religion as the truth is to use it to build up your ego and make yourself superior. He’s missed the point entirely. Believing in Christ’s words is to worship God faithfully.

 

There is one absolute truth according to Tolle, but it is not Jesus Christ.

 

The truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the truth. This is new Age narcissism. It points us away from Christ and puts ourselves in the place of God This is exactly why Christians should not embrace the teachings of this book.

 

Tolle even suggests that this is what Christ was teaching when He said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” He’s making Jesus conform to his philosophy. This truth is about the I Am within us all according to Tolle. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG!

 

Jesus was referring to the way in which people come to God. Again Tolle only half quotes the verse:

 

John 14:6       Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

It’s about the exclusivity of Christ being the True way to God, not an inner awareness of our own existence.

 

P72:     Love is above the Law, etc…this is true. Quotes Augustine, who is referring to 1 John.

 

He writes about both sides believing to be in possession of the truth – which is egoic. But Tolle, Oprah, and their followers do this all of the time…not practicing what they preach.

 

P 73:    Talks about religious and ideological conflicts inflicting suffering upon humanity, ‘even on children.’

 

Them and us mentality = insanity to Tolle. Normal equals insane on planet earth…this is Tolle’s opinion. (Did someone steal his candy when he was a baby????)

 

Sin is insanity, thus there is no accountability. John & Augustine however would agree, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

 

P74:     TYPICAL NEW AGE STATEMENT: our common divinity is rooted in the one Life – in other words, we are all gods.

 

Mission to eradicate evil – you are likely to turn into what you are fighting against…the story of Dune comes to mind again…Paul.

 

P75:     Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and whatever you resist, persists. Psychology of addiction. Also echoes Paul’s own words – Romans 7:19      For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing.

 

The war against – Tolle : I know that it is condemned to failure…Tolle applying his egoic mind…believe me, I know, etc…he going against his own philosophy again. Being judgmental before issue is experienced.

 

P 75/76:           Tolle talks about diseases re-emerging and new ones evolving because of modern day medicine. He goes on to say that Homeopathy and Chinese medicine do not create new diseases…this is his opinion and not based upon facts at all.

 

Ego is a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind. Once again, no responsibility for our actions. Tolle than states that “Nobody is wrong.” – this is moral relativism – so Hitler wasn’t wrong when he gassed 6 million Jews?? This is a dangerous, fascist type of philosophy that could go horribly wrong if adapted and adopted by our society – which is why the Church needs to counter it.

 

P77:     Tolle talks about the enormous surge moving through during times of fear, anger or hostility. This is ego…but it is also adrenalin!

 

Can you feel something within you driving this fear or hostility?

 

P78:     Presence will overcome ego and bring about peace. Awareness is the power concealed in the present moment. This is Buddhist teaching.

 

Ultimate purpose of human existence is to bring that awareness/presence into the world. This leaves it to us to take the initiative, instead of allowing God to usher in his presence and Kingdom. It also makes us the ones who bring salvation into the world, instead of Christ. THIS IS WHY THIS TEACHING IS HERETICAL.

 

P79:     Tolle uses Jesus again to strengthen his argument. He quotes Christ’s saying “Deny Thyself,” but once again Tolle half quotes the statement. Tolle uses Christ’s words to deny ego and find awareness. Christ uses His own words to have people deny themselves and follow Him. It’s about sacrificial discipleship, not spiritual navel gazing.

 

Matthew 16:24           Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

 

Tolle calls the essential beingness the “I Am that I Am” – this is blasphemy. Whether he intends it or not, Tolle is equating himself and devotees with God – this is the sacred name of God.

 

Exodus 3:14     And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM : and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

 

Tolle writes about the phantom self that comes into existence when thought takes over. I think he is drinking to much kool aid and watching too many episodes of Star Trek here.

 

P80:     Ego uses people to get what it wants – underlying emotion that governs ego is fear – the fear of being nobody, nonexistence and of death. I get the funny feeling that Tolle is going to use this line of argument against Church control.

 

“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” – This goes against Christ’s own statement, only the truth will set you free meaning Himself. (When talking to the Jews about His teaching)

 

John 8:31-32  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

P81:     DANGER: ALL STRUCTURES ARE UNSTABLE – a sutra – Buddhist word for sacred lesson – but this is also anti-disestablishmentarianism

 

Tolle equates formlessness – NIRVANA – with Jesus’ teaching on eternal life. But this is what Christ Himself had to say:             John 17:3       Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Faith and devotion to God in Jesus Christ is the key to eternal life, not Tolle’s formlessness.

 

P82:     Tolle talks about the egoic superiority that people feel when they pass on gossip. This is true.

 

P83:     This page may contain why the book is so appealing to Oprah – the bane of being famous…people believe that through celebrities and famous personalities, they can become more than what they are. It’s called idolization in the Bible.

 

Famous people become more alienated from themselves and others – also become more unhappy and more dependent on their popularity – is Tolle speaking to Oprah here????

 

Calls Albert Einstein superhuman and humble…does Tolle idolize Einstein here…like everyone else, Einstein was quite conceited…and Einstein’s fame was based upon his thinking…seems like an unusual choice for Tolle to make, because his book seems to want to avoid thinking altogether.

 

P84:     Genuine relationship – outward flow of open, alert attention with no wanting in between. Tolle is describing what Martin Buber called “I-Thou” relationship.

 

Egoic relationships are predominantly – wanting, thwarted wanting and indifference. Gluttony, lust and sloth – three of the seven deadly sins.

 A New Earth – Part 4

A New Earth – Part 2

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About stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over twenty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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22 Responses to A New Earth – part 3

  1. Pingback: A New Earth - Part 2 « Stushie’s Stuff

  2. Pingback: Chapter By Chapter Critique of “A New Earth” « Bruce’s Blog - The Christian Journey

  3. memama says:

    Thank you for this informative condensed discussion of “The New Earth”, it is one of the few places to go to read what the differences are in Eckhart Tolles teachings, and what a Chrisitian sees, when reading this book. The truth found in Scripture, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is eternal. Truth matters. “Let your light so shine before men……that it will glorify your Father in heaven”Matthew 5

  4. stushie says:

    Thank you memama. I hope you will share what you’ve found with other Christians.

    God bless you.

  5. Pingback: A New Earth - Part 4 « Stushie’s Stuff

  6. Jim says:

    After reading your post here, Stushie, I have the impression that your real disagreement with Tolle isn’t over his interpretation of the Bible; it is that Tolle offers any interpretation at all. Tolle views the Bible as an allegory, filled with metaphors that are not to be taken literally. You clearly do not. This seems to be a source of confusion and misunderstanding.

    My personal view is that attempting to read and interpret the Bible literally is a recipe for driving a human being crazy, and is also contrary to the intent of the authors who wrote the various chapters of the Bible. Presumably the authors of the gospels intended their writing to be interpreted as a factual account, but within that factual account are the teachings of Jesus–who spoke mostly in parables. I believe Jesus chose this style of teaching because intended for his disciples to think and discern for themselves how to live in the world. Tolle’s book merely suggests a path by which people today can access some of what Jesus taught his disciples to access: the experience of peace, joy, and love.

    Your references to Buddhism are strangely dismissive. A strong grasp of Buddhism greatly enhances, rather than diminishes, one’s appreciation and practice of Christianity. Once one develops a strong sense of the “integral self” espoused in Buddhist teachings (which admittedly takes most people years of practice), the teachings of the gospel become much more beautiful and alive. But this requires seeing past the surface level understanding of the Bible (the literal interpretation) and seeing the power of the allegories, of which Tolle gives a basic but clear description in his book.

  7. TA says:

    To Jim,

    Finally, at last, a voice of reason on this whole Tolle vs. Christianity issue. In my wildest dreams, as I was reading A New Earth, I could never have fathomed the interpretation that Christianity seems to be getting from this book. Particularly fascinating (and, I must confess, downright amusing) is this notion of Tolle (and Oprah for that matter) as “the antiChrist”. I almost laughed out loud when I began reading about this on the numerous fundamental Christian web Sites. That a group of people who claim to be so secure in their beliefs can take the work/ideas/writings of one man as such an empirical “threat” is incredible; and to call this “movement” “dangerous”, good grief!

    This is the mindset that made me leave Christianity in the first place. I felt like I was being strangled, and it looks like my experience was not too far from the truth. The fact that congregations are being “told” to “not watch Oprah”. Wow. Leaves me speechless, and glad to have moved on from this stifled way of believing.

    This situation reminds me of when I was growing up in Presbyterian Sunday School and the movie “The God Makers” came out, a movie about Mormonism (another supposed “cult” according to Christianity – in fact, just about everything other than the Bible seems to be a cult in the eyes of Christianity). We were given dire warnings about “the dangers” of this “anti Christian” movie, kind of like the way Oprah is being treated now. The whole thing is astonishing to me.

    Anyway, I am glad to have finally found someone with a modicum of sense speaking up on this topic, as I have gotten a lot out of Tolle’s stuff. I had an incredible drive to work one day as I was listening to one of his CDs, the Realization of Being and I don’t for one minute believe that Tolle “tries to make thinking out to be something un-natural which possesses us, stopping us from being ‘aware.’ This unconsciousness (Jung) blocks out the true spiritual awareness.”

    By the time I got to work I realized that I had a very enjoyable drive there – because I was not thinking things like “Oh NO! Traffic. I’m going to be Late! Then I’ll probably get fired! And what if I don’t have a job? How will I pay rent?” Etc. Perhaps for the person who doesn’t have this kind of brain to contend with, perfect stillness is not as valuable as it is for someone whose brain n-e-v-e-r shuts off, but I can tell you it was sheer bliss and there was nothing “weird” or “voo-doo” or “evil” or “antichrist” about it. Good grief.

    If anything, it’s the exact opposite. He talks constantly about the incessant chatter of the mind being absolutely natural to humans. And for anyone who has ever spent any time in their head, actually listening to the diaglogue that goes on there for many of us, it’s pretty obvious that allowing that chatter to be quieted allows more presence and an ability to sit quietly in the presence of God.

    I could go on and on but I suspect it’s pointless because most of the folks on these anti-Oprah, anti-Tolle boards already have their minds made up (because they know beyond the shadow of a doubt that any ideas that do not spring directly from the Bible are evil and the work of the Devil).

    I am so glad I don’t believe in Devils anymore.

  8. stushie says:

    Well, you can’t say you were never warned. Being sincerely wrong won’t get you past the Pearly Gates. Take my word for it, brothers – Tolle is a false teacher leading you pleasantly astray.

    Jesus is the key to your salvation, not Tolle.

  9. TA says:

    I know you think I am “wrong” when I say this and you sincerely believe that Christianity is the only “right” religion on the entire planet, but I also sincerely doubt that God’s voice ceased to keep speaking after the Bible was written, and that since 2000 years ago he has not given life to other people on this planet who have worthy ideas to teach as we all “evolve” (I know that is also a four-letter word to you, and I don’t mean to offend). Anyway, thank you for your concern. If Tolle is a false teacher, then so is every other author that has uttered any word besides the words contained in the Bible, and to me that makes absolutely no sense. I will never interpret the Bible as you do because I do not take it literally as you do; therefore I don’t take the same meaning from it, and as reasoning people we can agree to disagree.

  10. Stushie says:

    We agree to disagree, agreeably.

    May I leave you with these words from Paul?

    Philippians2:1-4

    2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
    NIV

  11. TA says:

    Thank you for leaving me with those very valuable words 🙂

    And as I was just walking and thinking more about our discussion, I neglected to mention earlier that I do I have a profound love for Christ but it is the religiousity that has grown up around him that I can no longer accept as absolute truths, mainly because I see so many inconcistencies between the Man and the subsequent man-made institution.

    Part of the problem I have with the institution is the idea that has led to our discussion, that being that it is not okay to explore other teachings, ponder them, examine them, see what I think about them, then come to my own conclusions. I am by nature someone who loves to learn and I am by nature someone who believes that we are meant to grow and explore. Therefore, I am not someone who likes to put things in a little box and label them as “wrong” or “right”. What I see happening with this book — people being told not to watch Oprah, people discounting her “brand” of Christianity, and discounting her contribution to the world, all of the stuff that is going on “in the name of Christ” — is tragic to me, and it is exactly the reason I cannot partake in organized religion any longer.

    So that is a further clarification of my “reason for disagreeing” and I thank you for letting me include my comments on your blog 🙂

  12. Jim says:

    TA,

    Thank you for your insightful comments. Like your early experiences with being taught that the Mormon church is a “cult,” my parents taught be to be suspicious of Jews. I went to my first Shabbat dinner a few weeks ago and cannot recall the last time I felt part of a group of people so welcoming and in touch with the true teachings of the Bible. I now look back and feel silly at the mental separation I created between myself and my Jewish friends/colleagues after seeing how much we have in common on a spiritual level.

    In my view, fundamentalist Christians do themselves, their children, and everyone around them a great disservice by failing or refusing to embrace the fact that there are many paths to “God” and “heaven” described by the various major world religions. Faith and spirituality should be an access to and personal expression of what is most unique and beautiful within us, not an unconditional acceptance of something imposed from the outside by any religion or religious organization. The “stillness” Eckhart writes about is one way to access that that inner beauty and power.

    I understand and respect those who are strictly observant of the requirements of their religion because they view strict observance as an access to a higher spiritual plane. What I cannot abide are those who lose sight of their own fallibility in the process–those who forget that ultimately, it is impossible for any human being to fully grasp “the truth” about God. Intollerance and spirituality scarcely belong in the same sentence. That, to me, is an essential element of Eckhart Tolle’s message.

  13. stushie says:

    The trouble is this Jim: you equate Tolle with Christ. You diminish Christ as being the true Son of God and you cast aside His Words. You’re problem is not with fundamental Christians or conservatives: your problem is that you will not accept Christ for whom He says He is.

    Until your heart is open to accepting Jesus, you will tolerate all sorts of false beliefs and wayward untruths. I feel really sorry for you, Jim. With Jesus as your Savior, you could be a great messenger for Him.

    May the Holy Spirit trouble and afflict you until the great day when You see Jesus for Who He truly is.

  14. Jim says:

    The trouble is this, Stushie: you think there is trouble. There isn’t. We just have a difference in viewpoints. You have your beliefs about Jesus and his message, and I have mine. I don’t deny that there is a chance that you are “right” and I am “wrong” as to whose interpretation is more accurate. I simply ask that you be respectful and tolerant enough to do the same.

    I don’t think you are a bad person. But consciously or unconsciously, your writings come off as pedantic and condescending. There is this subtext of “I’m more moral than you are, because I know the truth about Jesus and you clearly do not” in your posts here and elsewhere. When you start saying things like “May the Holy Spirit afflict you [until you finally agree with me]” you seem more than arrogant and self-righteous…you seem a bit deranged. That’s why people like TA turn away from organized Christian religion (and all that it can offer people).

    Appreciating what an author has to say about the interplay between Christianity and Eastern Philosophy in no way equates the author with Christ. I do not see how it is possible to read the Bible or Jesus’s teachings without doing some version of what Tolle has done in “A New Earth” (interpret the various layers within the meaning of the words). You seem to believe that when Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the light…no one comes to the father but through me,” that was a command to worship Jesus rather than an invitation to imitate him. I disagree.

    Please save your prayers for the people who really need them, because I feel quite comfortable that the way I am living my life is as aligned with the truths and teachings of the Bible as I can make it. Tolle has only deepened, not cheapened, my appreciation of the Bible, which is another reason why I wholeheartedly recommend it to all Christians. I don’t need or want your sympathy.

  15. stushie says:

    When Christianity first started Jim, it wasn’t called Christianity. the First Christians were called “people of The Way.” They weren’t called people of a way, or another way, or a different way. They were precise about it.

    My prayers are my prayers, and I’ll keep you in them. I think that by the way you sparked, the Holy Spirit is already beginning wrestling with you. God bless you Jim. Welcome to The Way.

  16. Jim says:

    I have my Way and you have yours. In fact, there are precisely the same number of “Ways” out there as there are human beings on the planet. The challenge for each of us–what I believe Jesus was really getting at–is to discover that Way and bring it out into the world. Eckart Tolle has a unique and powerful approach for starting that process, which is why I again wholeheartedly recommend him and will continue to commend his book to my friends.

  17. stushie says:

    It doesn’t matter Jim what you think Jesus said…what He actually said was that He is The Way. But I’m glad that you keep coming back…that’s called affliction of the Spirit and it’s working within you, even although you don’t recognize it. Hallelujah!

  18. Jim says:

    Stushie–fyi–the first Christians weren’t the only ones who referred to themselves as “the Way.” “The Way” of enlightenment is also the term used to describe those who practice Buddhism. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I think there is a different reason for the similarity. Buddhism and Christianity are describing essentially the same thing. That’s what Tolle is saying, and it is a beautiful message.

  19. stushie says:

    So Tolle and Buddhism are saying that Christ is the Way…that’s wonderful Jim..what a breakthrough. Praise the Lord!

  20. Jim says:

    Affliction of boredom at work would be a better way of describing it, but I assume that your responses to my comments evidence the same affliction. Hallelujah indeed.

    Again, your interpretation of what Jesus said–that he is “The Way”–is likely based on a mistranslation of the Bible from its ancient Greek.

    Awaiting your comment about how “I can’t seem to let go” and that is evidence of “The Holy Spirit working within me”….

  21. Jim says:

    I love this quote…it is immediately in line with Tolle’s message of tolerance:

    “I disbelieve in the conversion of one person by another. My effort should never to be to undermine another’s faith. This implies belief in the truth of all religions and, therefore, respect for them. It implies true humility.” GHANDI (Young India: April 23, 1931)

  22. Doug Mounce says:

    I found Tolle to have practical advice. He’s a therapist, and not a theologian or biologist, but two of his insights (one that your evolution is what it is because it is what’s happening to you right now, and the other that if you cling to this world then it will cling to you) were well-developed from the individual pscyhology of our age.

    I think the important difference with Jung, howevermuch Tolle might like Jung, is that I got no sense of Tolle trying to establish an ideology in some immortality project. It you like Tolle, particularly in the technical operations and outcomes, then I would recommend reading Ernest Becker or Otto Rank.

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