Eckhart Tolle’s first bestseller, The Power of Now, has riveted readers with its enlightened insights. Staying in the present moment, he says in that book, is the way to eliminate the suffering created through identifying with the mind. In his latest book, A New Earth, Tolle continues his theme of present moment awareness, elaborating on it with his unique clarity and depth, and he also explores how an awakened consciousness aligns us with our life purpose. We have both an inner and an outer purpose, according to Tolle. Our outer purpose changes with circumstances and necessarily involves time, whereas our inner purpose remains always the same: It is to be absolutely present in whatever we do and so let our actions be guided and empowered by awareness, the awakened consciousness, rather than controlled by the egoic mind. We fulfill our destiny and realize our purpose when we awaken to who we are: conscious Presence.
Tolle has taken the essence of spiritual wisdom from such great teachers as Jesus and Buddha, and put this wisdom into meaningful expression for today, just as Ernest Holmes has done through his formulation of a Science of Mind and Spirit. When Holmes says of spiritual mind treatment that it is “clearing the thought of negation, of doubt and fear, and causing it to perceive the ever-presence of God,” he is gleaning the same wisdom from ancient teachings that Tolle has also done in his books. Now, with A New Earth, he makes this key to enlightenment—being fully conscious in this very moment—real and alive for us in today’s words and for today’s world. His book title comes from the biblical passage in Revelation promising a new heaven and a new earth. It is a metaphor for the state of conscious awareness of infinite being (heaven), which continually comes forth in a new way into new form (earth). Because his meaning goes beyond an intellectual grasp, Tolle’s ideas ask for contemplation. They are more to be opened up to than studied. “Words are only pointers,” he says. “What is being communicated lies beyond words, but we can use them to go at least in the direction of what is meant and that is helpful.”
SOM: In your vision of a new earth, the purpose of life involves what you call awakened doing. What do you mean by this?
Tolle: Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.
In awakened doing there is complete internal alignment with the present moment and whatever you are doing right now. The doing is then not primarily a means to an end, but an opening for consciousness to come into this world. Aligning yourself with the Now is aligning yourself with universal purpose, the purpose of the whole. What is the purpose of the whole? The birth and flowering of consciousness. The whole then guides you in whatever you think or do.
As I explain in A New Earth, awakened doing has three modalities, depending on circumstances and the nature of the activity. They are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. If there is neither acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm in what you do, you are out of alignment with universal purpose. You are creating unhappiness, that is to say suffering in one form or another. One way of defining the ego is simply this: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. What I refer to as the “new earth”—the outer forms created by awakened doing—arises as more people realize that their purpose is to allow consciousness to emerge through whatever they do.