I recently started reading Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. It’s been getting a lot of attention and I’m always open to new ideas and ways to improve myself. I was about halfway through the book when I realized that, not only was I not enjoying it or getting anything out of it, but it was, for me, quite boring. So I set it aside. The next day, I was in a bookstore buying a few books, when a woman browsing in the same section started talking to me. Eventually she asked if I’d read A New Earth. I told her about starting the book and deciding not to finish it. She replied, “Oh, you just aren’t ready then,” and she turned and walked away. What? Not ready? Not ready for what? I found the comment a little offensive, but went on my way. The following day, I was in line at another bookstore which was having a going-out-of-business sale, when I began talking with the woman in front of me about the wonderful bargains. She agreed and went on to point out to me that there were several copies of A New Earth still available if I hadn’t already read it. I gave her my little rundown about not liking the book and, much to my surprise, she said, “Oh, that just means you aren’t ready for it.” She turned from me, quickly finished her transaction and left. I stepped up to the counter, feeling a little irritated by this comment that kept being thrown at me. After all, I consider myself to be a fairly enlightened person with a huge amount of empathy for the other lives sharing this earth. I revel in the beauty of nature. In the past few years I’ve found an inner peace that guides my days. What gave these two women the right to decry that I’m “not ready”? As I set down my books, I made a comment to the bookseller who had witnessed the conversation and he said, “Perhaps it’s not that you’re not ready; perhaps you’re just beyond.” Having always strived to excel, I liked that perspective, but still, the comments continued to bother me, so I went back to the book.
I re-read portions, I tuned into Oprah’s webcast and watched a bit of it, I read an interview with the author and I still don’t want to read the entire book and I still do not see what all of the excitement is about. I can see that the book has some ideas for improving how we live our lives, how we experience the world around us, but, as with many self-help books, the author takes a few points and stretches them out to make an entire book. The short interview had, I believe, as much concrete information as the entire book. I am bothered, too, by the author’s statement early in the book that his book will be life-changing for the reader and, if the reader has already started the journey of awakening, the reader will be further awakened by the book. However, if the reader does not like the book, well, that means he’s just not ready – Mr. Tolle pretty much makes it clear that you must enjoy the book or find yourself unworthy of it. I’ve decided to put the book back in the garage sale bag and take on the bookseller’s viewpoint that I’m not unready or unworthy, just beyond.
Post-script: If you’re a fan of A New Earth, I’m sure that you’re saying to yourself, well, she’s just shown her ego! And I just want to say, that I’m okay with that – my ego and my humanity walk side-by-side and I like the person that, together, they make-up.