Monday, May 12, 2008

A New Earth - Part 2

Continuing a page by page critique of Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth", which Oprah is promoting. Christians should be aware of the unChristian theology and heresy that is being presented throughout this book.

A New Earth: Critique on Chapter Two

Page 25: Tolle suggests that words are mere labels, and totally ineffective when it comes to knowing something truly. It fascinates me that Tolle insists in using words to describe this. I think he is beginning to use this for a later argument that the words we use to label God are useless because God is totally unknowable.

We know something of this from scripture: God’s ways are mysterious, yet because His thoughts and ways are not our own, He uses scriptural words and sacred history to reveal Himself to us. Tolle also forgets that God (Genesis 2) gives man the gift of naming animals, thus the source of these ‘labels” comes from God.

Tolle is using this line of argument to show us that there can be no absolutes, i.e. we only know the tip of the iceberg, so therefore we cannot be certain of anything.

Page 26: Tolle talks about the Source of all life (this is an oblique form of Deism), however he then talks about objects pointing back to this Source, to God, to yourself. This is new Age stuff…of equating ourselves with God ( which, BTW, was the original sin in the Garden of Eden).

Talks about essence being communicate from all types of objects. Tolle should perhaps read Isaiah 46!

Uses an illustration of Van Gogh feeling the Beingness of the Chair in his painting…but the painting is about VG’s genius and artistic talent, not the chair!

Tolle talks about us becoming obsessed by thoughts and words, and losing our transformational spirituality in the process…but the intricacy of our language is what makes us distinctly human!

Talks about our essential self, which can only be discovered if we disentangle ourselves from all labels and images….this sounds very like Buddhism.

Page 27: Tolle insists that labels make us shallow; we may know words but lose wisdom. This is absurd. Almost all of human wisdom has been saved with words. Without the words of previous generations, we would have lost wisdom! E.g. Renaissance occurs when Greek literature is rediscovered.
We also establish relationships with others through the knowing of our names.

Tolle is beginning to say that we are imprisoned by words…he’s going to use this as a means for rejecting scripture. He also says that the human mind does not amount to much…as compared to the mind of God perhaps, but to other planetary species, the human mind is amazing.

Tolle starts to talk about the “primordial error,” which is too much of a focus on “I.” This is what we would call original sin.

Page 28: Tolle quotes Einstein and follows his thoughts upon being isolated from the whole of existence – that we are aware of everything around us as part of an optical illusion of consciousness. But the writer of Psalm 8 went there before Einstein and Tolle – “when I consider that stars & the heavens, the works of your fingers, what am I…?” It’s called ontology – why do we exist?

Tolle suggests that everything is an illusion and that when we recognize this, the illusion will cease to exist. This is classic Buddhism – Nirvana
Paul however would suggest that now we see through a glass darkly, but then face-to-face…the illusion will not dissolve, but that which we poorly see will become more real. Calvin talks about this with regard to sunflowers – people look at them and see the glory of the flowers, but they forget to look above and see the actual sun!

Tolle continues to insist that using the book will lead to enlightenment – I can hear Obi wan Kenobi saying it: “Use the Book, Luke!”

Tolle suggests that when we use the word “I” we are not talking about ourselves – then who are we talking about? This could have moral consequences of personal disassociation e.g. George Washington: I cannot tell a lie, father. It was I (but not really who I am)????

Page 29: Tolle begins to talk about the I-thought as something separate from ourselves. This may be something similar to Martin Buber’s teaching in I-Thou.

Tolle states that we built up our identities through the things we claim as our own. This is called materialism. Jesus would teach against this as follows: “Where your heart is, there your treasure lies.”

He talks about our I-dentity as being precariously bundled together to form an illusory sense of self. But this is not precarious at all; all of this is natural.

Page 30: Tolle talks about a new awakening, a deeper sense of “I” – this is self-centered spirituality, which once again displaces God for ourselves.

Talks about materialistic “I” superseding the deeply, spiritual “I.” There is almost something Jungian in this. Thought begins to possess the mind, heart, and soul. The “I” takes over everything – Greek Orthodox mysticism has something similar – the eo?

Tolle writes about the process of dis-identifying from your thoughts. Instead of being thought-entangled, you experience peace. This is Buddhism, compartmentalism, or border-line schizophrenia. I’m beginning to wonder if Tolle suffers from this.

Pages 30-33: After arguing against being identified with the ego “I,” Tolle then proceeds to give an autobiographical account of an event in his life…isn’t he arguing against himself here?????

Page 33: Tolle writes about experiencing a detachment from his mind. “Life isn’t as serious as my mind makes it out to be.”

Jesus would say: Come to me, all of you who are burden and rest in me.”

Tolle talks about three years of anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies….uh oh! He becomes free of compulsive thinking and of the false, mind-made I. This could be psychologically serious, folks.

Page 34: Tolle doubts the absolute validity of the human intellect – here it comes: there are no absolutes. Thinking is only a tiny aspect of the consciousness that we are…???? And yet, isn’t Tolle using his tiny thinking capacity to write this book?

Egoic mind conditioned by the past – subtle implication that if religion drives the mind, then it is out-dated too.
Page 35: The mind unconsciously wants to identify with something other than itself – whereas Christians would say that we strive for completion, but will only find it when we discover God.

Tolle writes that people do perceive the success of themselves through the objects they possess. True.

Page 36: We buy things to enhance our identity – build our esteem…true. The egoic mind unconsciously wants to identify with structure (Tolle will use this to reject institutionalized religion).

Ego-satisfaction is short lived – keep looking for more, something better: but couldn’t the same be said for Tolle’s followers? Aren’t they looking for something better than the past? Is it the novelty of this philosophy that is driving millions towards it? He’s arguing against himself.

Page 37: Each thing has beingness and origin in the formless one Life – Buddhism. Again, read Isaiah 46, Tolle.

Most people don’t inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one. This is Buddhism – why doesn’t he call it this?

The unchecked striving for more, for endless growth is a dysfunction and a disease. Anti-materialistic. Also Hinduism. Christians would call this the sin of avarice and greed.

Pages 38-41: Tolle’s first person story about the Lost Ring. Letting go of the things we possess, or that posses us.

Page 40: Tolle now calls beingness “I AM-ness” This is highly controversial. “I AM” is the sacred Name of God. Tolle is discarding God for himself. Christians should understand what is happening here. God is being replaced totally. Instead of being Christo-centric, Tolle is, funnily enough, urging his readers to become ego-centric!

Page 41: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness…Paul would say that troubles lead to endurance, and in turn to faith in Christ. Tolle is advocating that our life experiences are meant to give us a higher spirituality, whereas, for the Christian, we go through experiences to lead us closer to Christ. It’s not about us; it’s about glorifying Jesus.

Page 42: Tolle insists that the ego isn’t wrong: it’s just unconscious. He is absolving us from accountability and responsibility for our sins. We’re all absolved from our greed…this isn’t Christian. This is self-centered pandering to our pride which doesn’t want to be humbled by any divine absolutes.

Page 43: Tolle suggests that on our death bed everything falls away and that no thing has anything to do with who we are/were. However, to Christians, this is not true. It’s what we do with what we have that is very important to who we are to God. NB – Christ’s Parable of the Hidden Talents.

Tolle again quotes Jesus and insists that the poor in spirit are those with no internal baggage, no “identifications.” Once again he is twisting Christ’s words to suit his theory. When Jesus mentions the poor in spirit he is referring to those who are spiritually poor and sincerely faithful – it’s nothing to do with what Tolle alludes. He also describes the kingdom of heaven as being the “simple but profound joy of Being” – this is so trite and diminishes what Christ means by the Kingdom of God – once again it’s not about us or our existence, it’s about God.

Page 44: Tolle states that the egoic mind patter sees itself as right and others wrong. He is trying to disarm his opponents, whilst at the same time bolstering his followers with the old argument of “they’re out to get us” type of cult mentality.

Mentions absurdity of land ownership & talks of the “white” settlement – isn’t this racist? Also, how much “land” does Oprah possess? And what about Tolle himself with the success of his books? Is this a barb of land-envy, or will it lead to a one world, one belief, one path viewpoint?

Page 45: Ego = the more I have, the more I am…Oprah: the more I have, the less I need to believe in God????

Collective delusion and chasing after things…anti-materialism, Buddhist??? Christian vow of poverty???

Page 46: “I am the awareness that is aware…” ego-centric theism. Tolle should read Daniel 4 – Nebuchadnezzar’s awareness story….

I don’t have enough yet…= I am not enough yet. Parallel with Christ’s parable about the successful farmer who wants to build bigger barns.

Ownership is a fiction – delusion which is Buddhist. However, you could argue Psalm 24…”the earth is the Lord’s and all that is contained therein”

Greed is an addictive need – but people like Tolle can also be spiritually greedy – I want more than Christ can give me…

Page 47: Tolle has a few good paragraphs about bulimia – is he trying to connect with women who have eating disorders? Is this a sincere example or a way of exploiting the problems of his readers????

Unfulfilled wanting leads to unease, restlessness, boredom, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. Paul would counter these with the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians.

Page 48: Tolle rants against the large corporations which is ironic because his patron, Oprah, has managed to market herself into becoming a corporation….

He talks about the egoic structures never satisfying you…will he transfer this onto the Church???

Page 49: gender = identity: fulfilling our gender identity is the means of fulfilling our lives. Talks about good looks, strength, and appearance…and how we have become obsessed with such. Appealing to his readers and the pressure they put themselves under????

Page 50: Talks about Bulimia and anorexia addicts having egoic dysfunction…healing can only come from within. Self transformation.

Tolle starts to express his view of the body not being important…this is both Buddhist and Gnostic.

Page 51: As the body weakens, the light of consciousness begins to shine – Buddhism and Gnosticism again. Also Hinduism. Whereas Christianity – the resurrection of the Body.

When ego finds an identity, it doesn’t want to let it go…same could be said about Tolle’s philosophy & Oprahism.
Page 52: You can go beyond body-identification – this is classic Gnosticism

Body is just an appearance – our outer forms are intensely alive energy fields. Too much Star Trek here…NB genesis – we have the breath of God within us…not on the outside.

Tolle does the hand imagining thing…Sci Fi writer Frank Herbert wrote about this in Dune decades ago. Tolle is borrowing from Herbert!

Page 53: Inner body & life energy are the same. When we are in touch with the inner body, we move away from form…we are no longer imprisoned by the body ( Gnotsicism). This awareness strengthens our immune system…this is dangerous for anyone who is seriously ill. Also, this is like theories practiced by Church Scientists.

Ego causes us to lose ourselves…Christ asks us to lose ourselves in order to find God.

Page 54: Tolle talks about other forms of consciousness – but there is no scientific data for this…it’s his ideas, something similar to what Uri Geller described about 20 years ago talking about Brahams.

Page 55: Tolle talks about Descartes “I think, therefore I am.” If there were nothing but thought in you, you wouldn’t even know you are thinking…C.S. Lewis writes something similar in either mere Christianity or the Problem with Pain.

An emerging new dimension of consciousness…but how can it be new if it is already there????

Page 56: Tolle ends the chapter with a discourse on peace – an elusive, ethereal, transformational peace. He backs up his opinion by quoting Paul, but he only half quotes the verse (Philippians 4:7)…Tolle calls this transformation a peace that passes all understanding, using Paul’s words, but what he deliberately cuts from the verse is the following phrase…the peace of God which passes all understanding…will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! other words, Paul is talking about a peace that leads us to Christ, not Tolle’s transformation consciousness! This is one of the worst usages of scriptures in the book.

Page 57: Spirit is released from the its imprisonment through death….Buddhism & Gnosticism together. This leads us to this great self-awareness, this I AMness which is the peace of God. But this is not what Paul states…this peace of God can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Talks about the old ego becoming contracted, more rigid, impenetrable, bitter and resentful. He’s laying the groundwork for identifying Church and Christianity with this ego. Clever move by Tolle.

Page 58: Resistance means you are closed to the transformation and that the universe will not be on your side. Has Tolle suddenly become God? How does he know what the universe will or won’t do?????

Starts to talk about creative intelligence…is this back door theism/ Deism????

You rest in God when you surrender. God = peace. There is no need for confession or conviction, judgment or absolution – just the right transformational awareness. For Tolle, this is the equivalent of being justified through faith…but not faith in Christ, faith in our own awareness, beingness, and I AMness.

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