I’ve found myself at a crossroads. I’ve read a lot of books in the last few months, but few have had the profound life-changing effect that I recall experiencing after reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth two and a half years ago. It is no surprise then, that in the midst of an over-stimulated mind and a restless heart, I re-sought the solace of the book that transformed my life.
One of the books I’ve read recently was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k. And I enjoyed it. I thought it was a great, easy read (probably because Mark Manson speaks my native tongue). In the book, Manson essentially talks about how we choose our problems based on where we place our “fucks”. Despite resonating with this, and many of the other books I’ve read recently, I found myself wanting to get through it as quickly as I could so I could get onto the next book on my list. A list that only seemed to be subject to the laws of expansion and a list that was only contributing further to my feelings of uneasiness and restlessness.
I was using these books as a means to an end. Although they were incredibly stimulating and I found myself absorbing substantial information from each of them, the absorption was hollow and meaningless. The words penetrated my mind, but they ceased to feed my soul.
After catching up with a dear friend recently, she sent me home with a few questions to ponder; “If you cook yourself a meal with beautiful fresh ingredients, take time to wash and cut and prepare [them], worked through each step, smelled the aroma, watched as it was changing from raw to cooked, anticipating when you get to sit down and enjoy all the hard work and love you have put into said dish. Finally getting to taste that which you desired so much, what does your body do or say to you when you have finished your meal, your stomach is full, and you are proud of your accomplishment…Aside from these physical gratifications…what does your mind and body say to you?”
My initial response to her questions was, “I don’t like to cook because I’m lazy and don’t have time.” But I stopped; I was reacting. I questioned the real reason. And that reason? I don’t know how to be still with myself. I can definitely be alone, but being still? Nope, not for me. And that helps to explain the excessive mental distractions. It also explains my incessant need for growth and unquenchable yearning to better myself.
It seemed that any consciousness I had experienced the first time I read A New Earth had all but disappeared. I was dominated by my ego again. And it was showing in my relationships and in my seemingly unconscious addiction / attraction to drama. My mind (ego), because it’s so clever, would justify the drama in my life by stating that I am doing everything within my control to protect my energy from these individuals; I don’t reply nor engage in them in any way. Yet they keep reappearing in my life. Why is that? Well, the law of attraction states we attract what we elicit. So on some level, I was eliciting an energy that was attracting individuals with heavy pain-bodies and I, despite what I consciously thought, was still communicating that I wanted that energy in my life.
The other day I received a few messages from different people whom I have tried to create some distance from and I found myself snapping inside. Why can’t they just leave me alone? I’ve communicated, by both not communicating and with my words, that I no longer want them in my life. And so I drafted this message; “In all honesty, the energy you elicit is not compatible with the energy I desire in my life. I often feel drained after conversing with you so in order to become the best version of myself, I need to remove you from my life.” But something within me couldn’t send it. And it’s because I knew I was being reactive. I was dominated by my ego. I was unconscious. But I knew there was another way. And that way was through consciousness.
This internal reaction started me to question some of my beliefs – I’ve believed, and frequently acted on, that when people are leeching your energy, the best solution is to remove them from your life. But isn’t that egoic to believe that your energy is something that can be drained by others? I do still believe we operate on varying frequencies, but when you come from a place of true presence, what I’ve found is that your energy cannot be drained because it is not your energy; it’s the energy of the universe. When you find yourself feeling negative or feeling drained, that is an indication that you are being dominated by the ego as the ego requires substantial energy to survive. It is then not the other individual that is draining you, but your own ego, your own unconscious being.
As another friend of mine said: “Eradicating negativity isn’t a bad thing so long as it’s not coming from a place that says, ‘I’m better than that negative person, and they’re the reason I’m being pulled back or drained.’” And that is the exact place I unconsciously was coming from. It’s as though my ego sought out individuals with heavy pain bodies, related to them with my own pain-body story, but once my ego felt like it had helped the other person it decided, I’m done here, I don’t need you in my life anymore. It rationalised these interactions with clever little arguments (because the ego is very clever); “Oh you were just getting to know them, that’s just what you like to do, it’s not your fault that they keep wanting more of your energy.” Worded like this, it becomes very evident that I’ve been operating from a clear place of unconsciousness.
Having said this though, there is a line about pain-bodies that resonated deeply with me, particularly because of who I have dated in the past, “It would be hard to find a partner who does not carry a pain-body, but it would perhaps be wise to choose someone whose pain-body is not excessively dense,” (151). Individuals with dense pain-bodies will only continue to suffer until they have their first glimpse of awakening. It is then that their pain-bodies will become lighter and their partnership more desirable and compatible.
The ego likes to mask and justify itself behind good intentions. As Tolle states, “If caring for your children gives meaning to your life, what happens to that meaning when they don’t need you and perhaps don’t even listen to you anymore? If helping others gives meaning to your life, you depend on others being worse off than yourself so that your life can continue to be meaningful and you can feel good about yourself… “Making it” in whatever field is only meaningful as long as there are thousands or millions of others who don’t make it, so you need other human beings to “fail” so that your life can have meaning,” (291). Tolle is not stating that “helping others, caring for your children, or striving for excellence are not worthwhile things to do,” (291) but that so long as one’s outer purpose is not aligned with their inner purpose, which is to awaken, then it will always be of the ego and thus self-serving.
The aforementioned desire for growth is seen as an admirable trait in the western world and it is a trait I have valued throughout much of my life. But what growth really is is an unquenchable seeking for more. It’s a pursuit that never ends and one that communicates, “I am not enough yet,” (46). In essence, growth is the ego in disguise. “No content will satisfy you, as long as the egoic structure remains in place. No matter what you have or get, you won’t be happy. You will always be looking for something else that promises greater fulfilment, that promises to make your incomplete sense of self complete and fill that sense of lack you feel within,” (48).
Reading this excerpt caused an unconscious resistance within me. In the past few weeks, I’ve had a conversation with numerous people about friendships and how they are all essentially transactional; the people in our life are there because they offer us something, whether it’s a challenge, validation, or just simply an ear to listen, we gain something from their existence. And because of that, I’ve been very intentional about the people I keep in my life. I always question; how can they help me to become a better version of myself? And if I don’t feel like they have anything to offer, I’m quick to eradicate their presence. I realise though, how egoic this really is. Wanting something from another, that’s ego. Gaining something from another, that’s also ego. If I’m constantly concerned with how the other person might be able to benefit me, I am not present. And not being present is to miss the point of existence entirely.
I think the reason that I found A New Earth so profound, even more so than The Power of Now is because it’s unlike most meditative books and practices that I’ve come across. Yes, it focuses on presence, but through consciousness and by eradicating the ego. Many mindfulness practices focus on the same things; be still, be aware of the breath, be present. But I find these suggestions to be hollow, they don’t speak to the consciousness within. They don’t alter one’s inner reality. Perhaps this is why many self-help books struggle to have genuine lasting effects, yet still continue to be extremely successful and are frequently on The New York Times Bestseller list. And it’s because they’re tailored towards our ego. Our ego relates to the content and we feel inspired to make changes to our lives. But the changes we make are superficial; behaviour is the least successful predictor in determining permanent change. Tolle states, “If there is no change on that inner level, no amount of action will make any difference. We would only re-create modified versions of the same world again and again,” (290). So instead of listening to your ego’s insecurity of not being good enough and picking up your next self-help book, I highly recommend feeding your soul with A New Earth.
The crossroads I mentioned earlier is between the ego and the highest self that I am. I feel myself being drawn to this path that has gifted me some beautiful opportunities of late. Catching up with a dear friend, whose presence is one of calmness and stillness, directed me towards an energy healer who then recommended I partake in yoga and attend a wellness workshop. Yoga with a former teammate of mine introduced me to an individual who specialises in peak performance in sports through the use of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and the wellness workshop has potentially gifted me with an opportunity to work with a phenomenal mentor and to resolve my history of injuries and digestive issues. There is some resistance though, because from my experiences the athletes that “make it” are invariably those dominated by ego. But even as I type this, that latter argument, which was once so convincing, now seems hollow. Perhaps this is the start of the space within. Perhaps this is the start of my awakening. Perhaps this is the start of “my” new earth.