Humanity’s Evolution to “A New Earth” (Eckhart Tolle Book Summary #3)

Eckhart Tolle A New Earth Evolution

This is the third of three posts in a book summary series on Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. You can jump to the other two posts here:

Before we dive in, some quick housekeeping: All quotes are from the author, Eckhart Tolle, unless otherwise stated. I have organized my notes into my own categories, and I’ve added bold to some quotes for emphasis. If you want to skim this post, read only the text in bold.

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth: The History of Humanity

“If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived ‘enemies’ — his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.
  • “For thousands of years, humanity has been increasingly mind­ possessed, failing to recognize the possessing entity as ‘not self.’ Through complete identification with the mind, a false sense of self — the ego — came into existence.”
  • “The possibility of such a transformation has been the central message of the great wisdom teachings of humankind. The messengers — Buddha, Jesus, and others, not all of them known — were humanity’s early flowers. They were precursors, rare and precious beings. A widespread flowering was not yet possible at that time, and their message became largely misunderstood and often greatly distorted. It certainly did not transform human behavior, except in a small minority of people.
  • “Throughout history, there have always been rare individuals who experienced a shift in consciousness and so realized within themselves that toward which all religions point. To describe that non­-conceptual Truth, they then used the conceptual framework of their own religions.
  • “Religions, to a large extent, became divisive rather than unifying forces. Instead of bringing about an ending of violence and hatred through a realization of the fundamental oneness of all life, they brought more violence and hatred, more divisions between people as well as between different religions and even within the same religion. 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 ‘others,’ the ‘non-believers’ or ‘wrong believers’ who not infrequently they saw themselves justified in killing.”
  • “In spite of all the insane deeds perpetrated in the name of religion, the Truth to which they point still shines at their core. It still shines, however dimly, through layers upon layers of distortion and misinterpretation.”
  • “No doubt: The human mind is highly intelligent. Yet its very intelligence is tainted by madness. Science and technology have magnified the destructive impact that the dysfunction of the human mind has upon the planet, other life­forms, and upon humans themselves. That is why the history of the twentieth century is where that dysfunction, that collective insanity, can be most clearly recognized. A further factor is that this dysfunction is actually intensifying and accelerating.”
  • “By the year 1914, however, the highly intelligent human mind had invented not only the internal combustion engine, but also bombs, machine guns, submarines, flame throwers, and poison gas. Intelligence in the service of madness!”
  • “The hippie movement represented a loosening of the hitherto rigid egoic structures in the psyche of humanity. The movement itself degenerated and came to an end, but it left behind an opening, and not just in those who were part of the movement. This made it possible for ancient Eastern wisdom and spirituality to move west and play an essential part in the awakening of global consciousness.”
  • “As tribal cultures developed into the ancient civilizations, certain functions began to be allotted to certain people: ruler, priest or priestess, warrior, farmer, merchant, craftsman, laborer, and so on. A class system developed. Your function, which in most cases you were born into, determined your identity, determined who you were in the eyes of others, as well as in your own eyes. Your function became a role, but it wasn’t recognized as a role: It was who you were, or thought you were. Only rare beings at the time, such as the Buddha or Jesus, saw the ultimate irrelevance of caste or social class, recognized it as identification with form and saw that such identification with the conditioned and the temporal obscured the light of the unconditioned and eternal that shines in each human being. In our contemporary world, the social structures are less rigid, less clearly defined than they used to be. Although most people are, of course, still conditioned by their environment, they are no longer automatically assigned a function and with it an identity. In fact, in the modern world, more and more people are confused as to where they fit in, what their purpose is, and even who they are.”

A New Earth: Humanity’s Current Challenge Today

“To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. That means now.
  • “Responding to a radical crisis that threatens our very survival — this is humanity’s challenge now. The dysfunction of the egoic human mind, recognized already more than 2,500 years ago by the ancient wisdom teachers and now magnified through science and technology, is for the first time threatening the survival of the planet.
  • “The collective disease of humanity is that people are so engrossed in what happens, so hypnotized by the world of fluctuating forms, so absorbed in the content of their lives, they have forgotten the essence, that which is beyond content, beyond form, beyond thought. They are so consumed by time that they have forgotten eternity, which is their origin, their home, their destiny. Eternity is the living reality of who you are.
  • “We only need to watch the daily news on television to realize that the madness has not abated, that it is continuing into the twenty­-first century. Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life­forms and the planet itself — the destruction of oxygen­-producing forests and other plant and animal life; ill­-treatment of animals in factory farms; and poisoning of rivers, oceans, and air. Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction.
  • “A significant portion of the earth’s population will soon recognize, if they haven’t already done so, that humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die. A still relatively small but rapidly growing percentage of humanity is already experiencing within themselves the breakup of the old egoic mind patterns and the emergence of a new dimension of consciousness.”
  • “When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life­-form — or a species — will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap.”
  • “When you live in a world deadened by mental abstraction, you don’t sense the aliveness of the universe anymore. Most people don’t inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one.
  • “We are a species that has lost its way. Everything natural, every flower or tree, and every animal have important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look and listen.”
  • “There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges — the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
  • “Compassion arises when you recognize that all are suffering from the same sickness of the mind, some more acutely than others.”
  • “Spiritual practices that involve the physical body, such as tai chi, qigong, and yoga, are also increasingly being embraced in the Western world. These practices do not create a separation between body and spirit and are helpful in weakening the pain­-body. They will play an important role in the global awakening.”
  • “What is arising now is not a new belief system, a new religion, spiritual ideology, or mythology. We are coming to the end not only of mythologies but also of ideologies and belief systems. The change goes deeper than the content of your mind, deeper than your thoughts. In fact, at the heart of the new consciousness is the transcendence of thought, the newfound ability of rising above thought, of realizing a dimension within yourself that is infinitely more vast than thought. You then no longer derive your identity, your sense of who you are, from the incessant stream of thinking that in the old consciousness you take to be yourself. What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that. The awareness that is prior to thought, the space in which the thought — or the emotion or sense perception — happens.”

A New Earth: Challenging Modern Day Social Norms

“Many people who are going through the early stages of the awakening process are no longer certain what their outer purpose is. What drives the world no longer drives them. Seeing the madness of our civilization so clearly, they may feel somewhat alienated from the culture around them. Some feel that they inhabit a no­-man’s land between two worlds. They are no longer run by the ego, yet the arising awareness has not yet become fully integrated into their lives. Inner and outer purpose have not merged.”
  • “What the world doesn’t tell you — because it doesn’t know — is that you cannot become successful. You can only be successful. Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment. And what is that? There is a sense of quality in what you do, even the most simple action. Quality implies care and attention, which comes with awareness. Quality requires your Presence.”
  • “Let’s say that you are a businessperson and after two years of intense stress and strain you finally manage to come out with a product or service that sells well and makes money. Success? In conventional terms, yes. In reality, you spent two years polluting your body as well as the earth with negative energy, made yourself and those around you miserable, and affected many others you never even met. The unconscious assumption behind all such action is that success is a future event, and that the end justifies the means. But the end and the means are one. And if the means did not contribute to human happiness, neither will the end. The outcome, which is inseparable from the actions that led to it, is already contaminated by those actions and so will create further unhappiness. This is karmic action, which is the unconscious perpetuation of unhappiness.”
  • “Most people’s lives are cluttered up with things: material things, things to do, things to think about. Their lives are like the history of humanity, which Winston Churchill defined as “one damn thing after another.” Their minds are filled up with the clutter of thoughts one thought after another. This is the dimension of object consciousness that is many people’s predominant reality, and that is why their lives are so out of balance. Object consciousness needs to be balanced by space consciousness for sanity to return to our planet and for humanity to fulfill its destiny. The arising of space consciousness is the next stage in the evolution of humanity. Space consciousness means that in addition to being conscious of things — which always comes down to sense perceptions, thoughts, and emotions — there is an undercurrent of awareness. Awareness implies that you are not only conscious of things (objects), but you are also conscious of being conscious. If you can sense an alert inner stillness in the background while things happen in the foreground — that’s it!”
  • “We need to honor the world of things, not despise it. Each thing has Beingness, is a temporary form that has its origin within the formless one Life, the source of all things, all bodies, all forms. In most ancient cultures, people believed that everything, even so­-called inanimate objects, had an indwelling spirit, and in this respect they were closer to the truth than we are today.”
  • “There is in our civilization a great deal of ignorance about the human condition, and the more spiritually ignorant you are, the more you suffer.”
  • “Why is old considered useless? Because in old age, the emphasis shifts from doing to Being, and our civilization, which is lost in doing, knows nothing of Being. It asks: being? What do you do with it?
  • “When you have had a direct experience of the unstable nature of all forms, you will likely never overvalue form again and thus lose yourself by blindly pursuing it or attaching yourself to it.”
  • “One can go far as to say that on this planet “normal” equals insane. What is it that lies at the root of this insanity? Complete identification with thought and emotion, that is to say, ego.”
  • “If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. This spiritual truth is diametrically opposed to the values of our contemporary culture and the way it conditions people to behave.”

A New Earth: Humanity’s Evolution to a New Earth

“The next step in human evolution is not inevitable, but for the first time in the history of our planet, it can be a conscious choice. Who is making that choice? You are. And who are you? Consciousness that has become conscious of itself.”
  • “One thing we do know: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”
  • “Anybody who is one with what he or she does is building the new earth.
  • “As the new consciousness emerges, some people will feel called upon to form groups that reflect the enlightened consciousness…Enlightened collectives will fulfill an important function in the arising of the new consciousness. Just as egoic collectives pull you into unconsciousness and suffering, the enlightened collective can be a vortex for consciousness that will accelerate the planetary shift.”
  • “There is the dream, and there is the dreamer of the dream. The dream is a short­-lived play of forms. It is the world — relatively real but not absolutely real. Then there is the dreamer, the absolute reality in which the forms come and go. The dreamer is not the person. The person is part of the dream. The dreamer is the substratum in which the dream appears, that which makes the dream possible. It is the absolute behind the relative, the timeless behind time, the consciousness in and behind form. The dreamer is consciousness itself — who you are. To awaken within the dream is our purpose now. When we are awake within the dream, the ego­-created earth­-drama comes to an end and a more benign and wondrous dream arises. This is the new earth.
  • “The new earth arises as more and more people discover that their main purpose in life is to bring the light of consciousness into this world and so use whatever they do as a vehicle for consciousness.”
  • “As the new consciousness is beginning to emerge on the planet an increasing number of people no longer need to be shaken to have an awakening. They embrace the awakening process voluntarily even while still engaged in the outward cycle of growth and expansion. When that cycle is no longer usurped by the ego, the spiritual dimension will come into this world through the outward movement — thought, speech, action, creation — as powerfully as through the return movement — stillness, Being, and dissolution of form.”
  • “Fulfilling your primary purpose is laying the foundation for a new reality, a new Earth. Once that foundation is there, your external purpose becomes charged with spiritual power because your aims and intentions will be one with the evolutionary impulse of the universe.”
  • “The doing unfolds not only more easily, but more powerfully when the dimension of Being is acknowledged and so becomes primary. The arising of that unifying field of awareness between human beings is the most essential factor in relationships on the new earth.
  • “On the new earth, old age will be universally recognized and highly valued as a time for the flowering of consciousness.”
  • “On the new earth, enjoyment will replace wanting as the motivating power behind people’s actions.”
  • “Collective human consciousness and life on our planet are intrinsically connected. ‘A new heaven’ is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and ‘a new earth’ is its reflection in the physical realm.
  • “The foundation for a new earth is a new heaven — the awakened consciousness. The earth — external reality — is only its outer reflection. The arising of a new heaven and by implication a new earth are not future events that are going to make us free. Nothing is going to make us free because only the present moment can make us free. That realization is the awakening. Awakening as a future event has no meaning because awakening is the realization of Presence. So the new heaven, the awakened consciousness, is not a future state to be achieved.”
  • “A sane, balanced, and fruitful human life is a dance between the two dimensions that make up reality: form and space. Most people are so identified with the dimension of form, with sense perceptions, thoughts, and emotion, that the vital hidden half is missing from their lives. Their identification with form keeps them trapped in ego.”
  • “A new species is arising on the planet. It is arising now, and you are it!

Continue to the next posts in the series: