Your Purpose on “A New Earth” (Eckhart Tolle Book Summary #2)

Eckhart Tolle A New Earth Purpose

This is the second 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 Purpose of the Book

  • “This book itself is a transformational device that has come out of the arising new consciousness. The ideas and concepts presented here may be important, but they are secondary. They are no more than signposts pointing toward awakening.”
  • “This book’s main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness; that is to say, to awaken.”
  • “This book is about you. It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless. It can only awaken those who are ready. Not everyone is ready yet, but many are, and with each person who awakens, the momentum in the collective consciousness grows, and it becomes easier for others.”
  • “If the awakening process has begun in you, the reading of this book will accelerate and intensify it.”
  • “That is why this book shows the main aspects of the ego and how they operate in the individual as well as in the collective. This is important for two related reasons: The first is that unless you know the basic mechanics behind the workings of the ego, you won’t recognize it, and it will trick you into identifying with it again and again…The second reason is that the act of recognition itself is one of the ways in which awakening happens.”
“The greatest miracle is the experiencing of your essential self as prior to any words, thoughts, mental labels, and images. For this to happen, you need to disentangle your sense of I, of Beingness, from all the things it has become mixed up with, that is to say, identified with. That disentanglement is what this book is about.”

A New Earth: The Purpose of the Universe

  • “Behind the sometimes seemingly random or even chaotic succession of events in our lives as well as in the world lies concealed the unfolding of a higher order and purpose. This is beautifully expressed in the Zen saying ‘The snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.’ We can never understand this higher order through thinking about it because whatever we think about is content; whereas, the higher order emanates from the formless realm of consciousness, from universal intelligence. But we can glimpse it, and more than that, align ourselves with it, which means be conscious participants in the unfolding of that higher purpose.”
  • “If you look within rather than only without, however, you discover that you have an inner and an outer purpose, and since you are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm, it follows that the universe too has an inner and outer purpose inseparable from yours. The outer purpose of the universe is to create form and experience the interaction of forms — the play, the dream, the drama, or whatever you choose to call it. Its inner purpose is to awaken to its formless essence.”
“Then comes the reconciliation of outer and inner purpose: to bring that essence — consciousness — into the world of form and thereby transform the world. The ultimate purpose of that transformation goes far beyond anything the human mind can imagine or comprehend. And yet, on this planet at this time, that transformation is the task allotted us. That is the reconciliation of outer and inner purpose, the reconciliation of the world and God.”

A New Earth: Your Purpose (Human & Being)

  • “As soon as you rise above mere survival, the question of meaning and purpose becomes of paramount importance in your life.”
  • “There is no substitute for finding true purpose. But the true or primary purpose of your life cannot be found on the outer level. It does not concern what you do but what you are — that is to say, your state of consciousness.”
  • “Although the fullness of consciousness is already there as the unmanifested, we are here to bring consciousness into this dimension.”
  • “Opening yourself to the emerging consciousness and bringing this light into this world then becomes the primary purpose of your life.”
  • “It is our purpose and destiny to bring a new dimension into this world by living in conscious oneness with the totality and conscious alignment with universal intelligence.”
  • “You are a human being. What does that mean? Mastery of life is not a question of control, but of finding a balance between human and Being. Mother, father, husband, wife, young, old, the roles you play, the functions you fulfill, whatever you do — all that belongs to the human dimension. It has its place and needs to be honored, but in itself it is not enough for a fulfilled, truly meaningful relationship or life. Human alone is never enough, no matter how hard you try or what you achieve. Then there is Being. it is found in the still, alert presence of Consciousness itself, the Consciousness that you are. Human is form. Being is formless. Human and Being are not separate but interwoven.”
  • “Those who are exceptionally good at what they do may be completely or largely free of ego while performing their work. They may not know it, but their work has become a spiritual practice. Most of them are present while they do their work and fall back into relative unconsciousness in their private life.”
  • “Human beings are meant to evolve into conscious beings, and those who don’t will suffer the consequences of their unconsciousness. They are out of alignment with the evolutionary impulse of the universe.”
  • “The very reason for our existence in human form is to bring that dimension of consciousness into this world.”
  • “Just as space enables all tings to exist and just as without silence there could be no sound, you would not exist without the vital formless dimension that is the essence of who you are. We could say ‘God’ if the word had not been so misused. I prefer to call it Being. Being is prior to existence. Existence is form, content, ‘what happens.’ Existence is the foreground of life; Being is the background, as it were.”
  • “Trying to become a good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high­-minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. This is because it is still part of the same dysfunction, a more subtle and rarefied form of self-­enhancement, of desire for more and a strengthening of one’s conceptual identity, one’s self-­image. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.”
  • “So the most important thing to realize is this: Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary. Outer purpose concerns doing and is secondary.
“Doing is never enough if you neglect Being. The ego knows nothing of being but believes you will eventually be saved by doing. If you are in the grip of the ego, you believe that by doing more and more you will eventually accumulate enough ‘doings’ to make yourself feel complete at some point in the future. You won’t. You will only lose yourself in doing. The entire civilization is losing itself in doing that is not rooted in Being and thus becomes futile.”

A New Earth: Know Thyself

  • “Gnothi Seauton — Know Thyself. These words were inscribed above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, site of the sacred Oracle.”
  • “What those words imply is this: Before you ask any other question, first ask the most fundamental question of your life: Who am I?
  • “There is nothing wrong with psychoanalysis or finding out about your past as long as you don’t confuse knowing about yourself with knowing yourself…Whatever you learn through psychoanalysis or self­-observation is about you. It is not you. It is content, not essence. Going beyond ego is stepping out of content. Knowing yourself is being yourself, and being yourself is ceasing to identify with content.”
  • “Most people define themselves through the content of their lives. Whatever you perceive, experience, do, think, or feel is content. Content is what absorbs most people’s attention entirely, and it is what they identify with. When you think or say, ‘my life,’ you are not referring to the life that you are but the life that you have, or seem to have. You are referring to content — your age, health, relationships, finances, work and living situation, as well as your mental­-emotional state. The inner and outer circumstances of your life, your past and your future, all belong to the realm of content — as do events, that is to say, anything that happens. What is there other than content? That which enables the content to be — the inner space of consciousness.
  • “Unconscious people — and many remain unconscious, trapped in their egos throughout their lives — will quickly tell you who they are: their name, their occupation, their personal history, the shape or state of their body, and whatever else they identify with. Others may appear to be more evolved because they think of themselves as an immortal soul or living spirit. But do they really know themselves, or have they just added some spiritual­ sounding concepts to the content of their mind? Knowing yourself goes far deeper than the adoption of a set of ideas or beliefs. Spiritual ideas and beliefs may at best be helpful pointers, but in themselves they rarely have the power to dislodge the more firmly established core concepts of who you think you are, which are part of the conditioning of the human mind. Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.
  • “Your sense of who you are determines what you perceive as your needs and what matters to you in life — and whatever matters to you will have the power to upset and disturb you. You can use this as a criterion to find out how deeply you know yourself. What matters to you is not necessarily what you say or believe, but what your actions and reactions reveal as important and serious to you.
  • “Who you are (consciousness), not who you think you are.”
  • “The world always makes sure that you cannot fool yourself for long about who you really think you are by showing you what truly matters to you. How you react to people and situations, especially when challenges arise, is the best indicator of how deeply you know yourself.
  • “Nobody can tell you who you are. It would just be another concept, so it would not change you. Who you are requires no belief. In fact, every belief is an obstacle. It does not even require your realization, since you already are who you are. But without realization, who you are does not shine forth into this world. It remains in the unmanifested which is, of course your true home. You are then like an apparently poor person who does not know he has a bank account with $100 million in it and so his wealth remains an unexpressed potential.”
  • “Who you think you are is also intimately connected with how you see yourself treated by others.”
  • “Spiritual realization is to see clearly that what I perceive, experience, think, or feel is ultimately not who I am, that I cannot find myself in all those things that continuously pass away. The Buddha was probably the first human being to see this clearly, and so anata (no self) became one of the central points of his teaching. And when Jesus said, ‘Deny thyself,’ what he meant was: Negate (and thus undo) the illusion of self.”
  • “So who is the experiencer? You are. And who are you? Consciousness. And what is consciousness? This question cannot be answered. The moment you answer it, you have falsified it, made it into another object. Consciousness, the traditional word for which is spirit, cannot be known in the normal sense of the word, and seeking it is futile. All knowing is within the realm of duality — subject and object, the knower and the known. The subject, the I, the knower without which nothing could be known, perceived, thought, or felt, must remain forever unknowable. This is because the I has no form. Only forms can be known, and yet without the formless dimension, the world of form could not be. It is the luminous space in which the world arises and subsides. That space is the life that I Am. It is timeless. I Am timeless, eternal. What happens in that space is relative and temporary: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, birth and death.”
“When there is nothing to identify with anymore, who are you? When forms around you die or death approaches, your sense of Beingness, of I Am, is freed from its entanglement with form: Spirit is released from its imprisonment in matter. You realize your essential identity as formless, as an all­-pervasive Presence, of Being prior to all forms, all identifications. You realize your true identity as consciousness itself, rather than what consciousness had identified with. That’s the peace of God. The ultimate truth of who you are is not in I am this or I am that, but I Am.”

A New Earth: Inner Purpose (Being)

“Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet — because it is the purpose of humanity. Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence.”
  • “So be true to life by being true to your inner purpose. As you become present and thereby total in what you do, your actions become charged with spiritual power. At first there may be no noticeable change in what you do — only the how changes. Your primary purpose is now to enable consciousness to flow into what you do.
  • “Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose.”

A New Earth: Outer Purpose (Doing)

“Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose­ what you do — with your inner purpose — awakening and staying awake. Through awakened doing, you become one with the outgoing purpose of the universe. Consciousness flows through you into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers it.”
  • “When doing becomes infused with the timeless quality of Being, that is success. Unless Being flows into doing, unless you are present, you lose yourself in whatever you do. You also lose yourself in thinking, as well as in your reactions to what happens externally.”
  • “When the basis for your actions is inner alignment with the present moment, your actions become empowered by the intelligence of Life itself.”
  • “We are also learning that action, although necessary, is only a secondary factor in manifesting our external reality. The primary factor in creation is consciousness. No matter how active we are, how much effort we make, our state of consciousness creates our world, and if there is no change on that inner level, no amount of action will make any difference.”
  • “Outer purpose alone is always relative, unstable, and impermanent. This does not mean that you should not be engaged in those activities. It means you should connect them to your inner, primary purpose, so that a deeper meaning flows into what you do.”
  • “Without living in alignment with your primary purpose, whatever purpose you come up with, even if it is to create heaven on earth, will be of the ego or become destroyed by time. Sooner or later, it will lead to suffering. If you ignore your inner purpose, no matter what you do, even if it looks spiritual, the ego will creep into how you do it, and so the means will corrupt the end.”
  • “The outer purpose varies greatly form person to person, and no outer purpose lasts forever. It is subject to time and then replaced by some other purpose.”
  • “The only actions that do not cause opposing reactions are those that are aimed at the good of all. They are inclusive, not exclusive. They join; they don’t separate. They are not for ‘my’ country but for all of humanity, not for ‘my’ religion but the emergence of consciousness in all human beings, not for ‘my’ species but for all sentient beings and all of nature.”
  • “Awakened doing is the outer aspect of the next stage in the evolution of consciousness on our planet.”
  • “It means consciousness can now begin to create form without losing itself in it. It can remain conscious of itself, even while it creates and experiences form. Why should it continue to create and experience form? For the enjoyment of it. How does consciousness do that? Through awakened humans who have learned the meaning of awakened doing.”
  • “Make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank. An enlarged image of yourself or a vision of yourself having this or that are all static goals and therefore don’t empower you. Instead, make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole. Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor and writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows form the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.”
  • “When you are Present, when your attention is fully in the Now, that Presence will flow into and transform what you do. There will be quality and power in it. You are present when what you are doing is not primarily a means to an end (money, prestige, winning) but fulfilling in itself, when there is joy and aliveness in what you do. And, of course, you cannot be present unless you become friendly with the present moment. That is the basis for effective action, uncontaminated by negativity.”

A New Earth: Awakened Doing

“The modalities of awakened doing are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. Each one represents a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness.”
  • “Modality means the underlying energy-­frequency that flows into what you do and connects your actions with the awakened consciousness that is emerging into this world.”
  • “This is my secret. I don’t mind what happens.” — J. Krishnamurti

Acceptance:

  • “Performing an action in the state of acceptance means you are at peace while you do it. That peace is a subtle energy vibration which then flows into what you do.”
  • “If you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you do — stop. Otherwise, you are not taking responsibility for the only thing you can really take responsibility for, which also happens to be one thing that really matters: your state of consciousness. And if you are not taking responsibility for your state of consciousness, you are not taking responsibility for life.
  • “Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the is­ness of the Now. You can’t argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer. Through allowing, you become what you are: vast, spacious. You become whole. You are not a fragment anymore, which is how the ego perceives itself. Your true nature emerges, which is one with the nature of God.”

Enjoyment:

  • “When you make the present moment, instead of past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do — and with it the quality of your life — increases dramatically. Joy is the dynamic aspect of Being. When the creative power of the universe becomes conscious of itself, it manifests as joy.”
  • “Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.”
  • “To be more precise, what you are enjoying is not really the outward action but the inner dimension of consciousness that flows into the action. This is finding the joy of Being in what you are doing.
  • “The joy of Being is the joy of being conscious.

Enthusiasm:

  • “Enthusiasm mans there is deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward.
  • “You will feel like an arrow that is moving toward the target — and enjoying the journey.”
  • “This is why Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, ‘Nothing great has ever been achieved without enthusiasm.’ The word enthusiasm comes from ancient Greek — en and theos meaning God. And the related word enthousiazein means ‘to be possessed by a god.’ With enthusiasm you will find that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. In fact, there is nothing of significance that you can do by yourself. Sustained enthusiasm brings into existence a wave of creative energy, and all you have to do then is ‘ride the wave.’”
  • “Through enthusiasm you enter into full alignment with the outgoing creative principle of the universe, but without identifying with its creations, that is to say, without ego.”
  • “Enthusiasm is the power that transfers the mental blueprint into the physical dimension. That is the creative use of mind, and that is why there is no wanting involve. You cannot manifest what you want; you can only manifest what you already have.

Continue to the next posts in the series: