Sunday, May 25, 2008

Not Ready or Beyond?

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.


Liz said...

Hmmm, I've not heard of that book, but I think I'm a little put off by the notion that if I don't like it, there's something wrong me ME, and not the message!

You won't find that in this little gem of a book, The Woman's Field Guide to Exceptional Living, by Corrie Woods. Women of all ages and from all walks of life who are hungry for something more will get inspiration from this book. Corrie Woods has written it in such a warm style, and it's loaded with practical advice you can put to use right now.

Anonymous said...

I am so greatful to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah for turning me onto Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and her beautiful book ""My Stroke of Insight"". Her story is amazing and her gift to all of us is a book purchase away I'm happy to say.

Dr Taylor was a Harvard brain scientist when she had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke - where language and thinking occur - but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

What I took away from Dr. Taylor's book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don't have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. ""I want what she's having"", and thanks to this wonderful book, I can! Thank you Dr. Taylor, and thank you Eckhart and Oprah.