I said in an earlier post that Part II would be about why Eckhart Tolle's novel, "A New Earth," is not worth reading. I had previously bought the book and after reading the first chapter, formed that opinion. However, in order to respectfully and properly respond to the book, I needed to read more. I did read more, a majority of the book. For the sake of time, I skimmed parts of it. After doing so, I've decided to give it a good slow read, that in ways it actually is worth reading, when viewed through the correct lens with the awareness that my core beliefs will differ from the author's.
This book should be read with caution, but has the potential to, in fact, aid the Christian in the working out of one's salvation.
It's not surprising, actually. That the book might be beneficial is not surprising. Eckhart Tolle acts as a philosopher, observing humanity in its being, function, and purpose. He uses spiritual language to do so, quoting Jesus more often than any other spiritual teacher. He never misquotes Jesus. Misinterprets, yes. But some of the language is the same and some of the lessons are the same. Which I feel supports the truth that there is a Supreme Being, a God, who is observed and noticeable by all of humanity. By the very essence of humanity as a race, we see God. The major religions all have a similar purpose. Each one sees the dysfunction in our race and tries to alleviate it and renew humanity, individually and as a whole. Christianity is unique in that its founding prophet, teacher, leader claimed to be God. Ultimately, we believe that Jesus Christ, the second person of the divine Trinity, God himself, became man. God took on the nature of man and so redeemed mankind, making the way once again possible for direct union with God.
Ego: that is how Tolle describes the dysfunction of humanity - the thoughts and ideas associated with "I" that lead to false personal identification. This false personal identification is a consciousness which most commonly defines itself through possessions: what I have, what belongs to me, what I want. But it is also the idea that "I" is just that, an idea. The word "I" is a very small word for such a complex individual, and we tend to define our "I" by things, roles, our bodies. The ego displays itself in opinions, resentments, the need to be right, successes and failures, comparison, posturing, greed, the need for power, to name a few... Sounds like what we Christians like to call Pride. This idea is the basis for the majority of the book, and it makes sense to me. I see it. I understand it. Seeing this can help me in my life.
So what does Tolle see as the solution to this dysfunction? Awakening. Awakening to the inner being underneath the ego and then fusing it to your outer purpose, or in other words, responding to the world around you with the new consciousness of your inner being. Yes, in ways this idea can help me. But it doesn't get to the bottom of the problem, and that is: how will the dysfunction be eliminated completely? Obviously the need is within us to eliminate the dysfunction entirely. It will not be eliminated completely by this spirituality alone.
Tolle states that his book is a book on spirituality, which can be molded into any person's choice of religion. He believes one can separate religion and spirituality. I personally, don't see how the two things can be separated, for to ask oneself questions about one's spirit will ultimately lead to questions about that spirit's creator. Tolle goes so far as to discourage religion, saying it is a form of man's ego, a system of doctrine, that leads to ideologies which cause war and dissent. In fact, Tolle likes Jesus very much. However, he dislikes Christianity. He says the following of spiritual teachers, such as Jesus, and then further of religion:
"Those rare individuals then spoke to their contemporaries. They spoke of sin, of suffering, of delusion... They then pointed to the possibility of awakening from the collective nightmare of "normal" human existence. They showed the way. The world was not yet ready for them, and yet they were a vital and necessary part of human awakening... Their teachings, although both simple and powerful, became distorted and misinterpreted, in some cases even as they were recorded in writing by their disciples. Over the centuries, many things were added that had nothing to do with the original teachings, but were reflections of a fundamental misunderstanding... And so religions, to a large extent, became divisive rather than unifying forces... They brought more violence and hatred... They became ideologies, belief systems people could identify with and so use them to enhance their false sense of self. Through them, they could make themselves "right" and others "wrong" and thus define their identity through their enemies, the "other," the "nonbelievers" or "wrong believers."
Incorrect. False. A relative truth formed from his own perspective.
Christianity teaches that truth is handed down from a Supreme perspective. Not our own. That's what's missing in all of this. If spirituality can exist apart from a system of beliefs, specifically apart from Christianity, then it will be a spirituality whose effectiveness of the renewal of man is limited. A spirituality derived from man himself cannot correct his own dysfunction because he is limited by that very dysfunction. We must be given a renewed spirit from an outside Source and an outside perspective. And it's given to us by the Incarnation. By God becoming man, taking on death, and presenting the new man, the new resurrected awakened man, before God for eternity as a Living Sacrifice. This is what Christ meant by "the way." It is "the way" because it is God's way.
Christianity requires an element of spirituality that Tolle does not mention: Faith. We must accept Faith. We must awaken to it. We must keep it. The faith to believe what God has said is True.