Friday, May 30, 2008

A New Earth - Part 4

(Continuing a page by page critique of Tolle's book "A New Earth.")

This chapter is long and tedious - I'll post the critique in stages...honestly folks, there's only so much of this stuff that I can take in...

P85: Tolle refers to the ego as psychic energy – that will please some New Agers.
The ego does not seek the formless attention which is presence – Buddhism.

P86 Tolle writes about the fear of not being good enough. Paul would talk about this as falling short of God’s glory.

He also writes about the ego’s constant need of feeling superior – so why does this book attack and dismiss religion, especially the church?

P87 Eckhart writes about children wanting attention – he’s writing to his readership. Very clever. He’s identifying with their identity – which goes against what he is supposed to be proclaiming.

Talks about victimization which leads to complaining, being offended, and outraged. Somehow I get the feeling he is going to strap this one onto the Church.

P88 – Complainers feel they are being treated unfairly by life, fate, or God – this is interesting. Perhaps Tolle should have quoted some psalms of complaint, or verses from the Book of Job.

Talks about role play in relationships and how partnerships fail – this makes me wonder about Tolle’s failed relationships – is he making general observations, or is this coming from his own egoic experiences?

P89 Finishes with absurd argument about the Spanish form of “te quiero”, as opposed to “te amo”. True love is rare according to Tolle…in his life?

He suggests that Jesus saw the ultimate irrelevance of caste or social class – so how does this explain Jesus saying that soldiers should not complain about their pay, or how people should pay their taxes to Caesar, etc.

People are confused about who they are and how they fit in today’s world – this is true…but it always has been.

P90 Tolle rambles on about confusion and comes up with the idea that if we accept that we don’t know who we are, we will find peace – this is sophistry – it sounds mysterious and enlightened, but it’s really just a delusion. It kind of reminds me about a James Thurber story…

Tolle says our roles are unimportant and we should resist becoming identified with this – what about doctors, surgeons, paramedics, etc…what about Oprah? Talk show host?

P91 Don’t take ourselves seriously, if we want to be free of our roles. Which begs the question: if you are seriously ill, do you want a surgeon who is serious about his skills, or one that couldn’t care less?

Tolle insists that authentic human relationships can exist when we adopt role identities. Yes they can…doctor – patient, teacher – student; shopkeeper – customer…

Social archetypes…Tolle uses these to connect with his readers…which is another relationship…writer – readers!

P92 Playing roles leads to less spontaneity, light-heartedness, and joy – (Tolle is hitting upon the main heartfelt wishes of housewives…)

Talks about hippies as refusing to play stereotypical roles…but they became rebels…Talks about collective insanity of 1950s society…but wasn’t the hippie movement based upon insane collectives??? (Charles Manson…) Hippie movement degenerates because they had to feed their drug ridden habits…Eastern wisdom introduced by hippy culture…but it was mainly the Beatles who did that.

P93 We speak to people in different ways – Tolle suggests this is inauthentic….but most of the situations are perfectly natural. He suggests that we are playing roles, but he misses the point: we are communicating and sometimes deference to someone in authority is the only way to accomplish this.

P94 Tolle suggests that we are not relating to people when we play roles; here’ a key question: how is Tolle writing/relating to his readers???? Is it inauthentic?

A lot of what Tolle is teaching in the part of the chapter is borrowed from Martin Buber’s I-Thou theories.

He tells the tale of Kasan’s sweaty palms, in deference to his superiors. In the end though, Kasan still becomes master to his students…

P95 “Just Fine” – a lot of people live in denial with their unhappiness…true.

Tolle writes that unhappiness has nothing to do with who you are. This is absurd. Unhappiness has everything to do with how you feel, therefore it has everything to do with who you are at any given time.

P96 Separate yourself from unhappy thoughts – this is a bit like Tinkerbelle in Peter Pan.

Don’t seek happiness – if you do, you wont’ find it. This is Tolle’s opinion…What does he think about the Declaration of Independence…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

P97 Tolle writes about parents and their roles. He’s reaching out to mothers stuck in their role…this is very clever targeting.

Tolle cautions parents about being overbearing and controlling…this obstructs kids from exploring and finding out for themselves. But parenting is about setting safe boundaries, as well as ethical ones for our children.

P98 Role of parent can become compulsive and ruins relationship with child. This section makes me wonder if Tolle has ever been a parent. Is he speaking from theory or practice?

The ego motivates itself to enhance itself and look after its self interest. This used to be called ambition. Is Oprah not one of the most ambitious women in the world?

P99 Tolle writes about manipulative parents using guilt trips to get what they want. Did Tolle have a bad childhood?
Awareness is the greatest agent for change – but change for what?

He also suggests that egoic patterns miraculously dissolve when you don’t oppose them. What does he mean by miraculous?
P100 Tolle describes the generational conflict between parent & child. He writes about old thoughts and old ways…is he subtly using this as a continuing argument of breaking from the past?

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