Have you ever wondered about the purpose of your life? Who among us hasn’t had those moments when we stop and ask ourselves what we’re doing on this wonderful planet?
This need for meaning and connection lies within all of us. It could be that a serious illness has caused you to reflect on the trajectory of your life. Perhaps spending more time outdoors has made you marvel at the perfection of nature, and you’ve wondered about your place here on Earth.
If you’re looking for guidance and inspiration as you ponder the purpose of your existence, Eckhart Tolle is someone you can turn to. Here are some of his observations and a little timeless advice from his bestselling book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
The world we live in
Tolle makes the case that the world we inhabit today is a very difficult one. He talks about the “inherent dysfunction in humanity” with the anxiety we too often feel, the selfishness we display, and the outright cruelty we inflict upon one another.
He states that if we go exclusively by the information we receive from the media about the range of human suffering and the impact of indifference, we might have a negative outlook on the human race. However, Tolle proposes that we don’t see the entire picture reflected in the media. News outlets, whether mainstream or not, emphasize what they consider newsworthy, which is more often than not negative.
What often goes unreported are the positive events that illustrate the countless acts of generosity between people and the acceptance of one another’s differences and diversity. This means that the good news stories rarely receive the exposure that they deserve. Tolle states:
“There is growing awareness of the intrinsic oneness of everything that exists, so that more and more we are seeing an awareness of and deep concern for our fellow humans, the countless animals that are our traveling companions, and the planet itself.”
The promise of joy
Tolle believes that this expanding recognition of interconnectedness shows a deepening concern for humankind. In turn, this brings increased empathy and compassion for others even if they do not share our national, tribal, racial, or religious affiliations. This shift in trying to understand the experience of another is very encouraging — and a demonstration of our true human nature.
Therefore, despite our daily struggles and strife, all is certainly not lost. So, how do we build on this momentum? Tolle suggests that the key to finding “the freedom and joy of life” is to remain in the present.
It is, of course, no small feat to keep bringing our attention, moment by moment, back to the present. However, Tolle says this is the route we must take to get the most out of living. By focusing on the small satisfactions that happen continuously throughout the day, we’re able to create our own happiness.
He also reminds us about the power of our thoughts. Our mind has an uncanny ability to hold on to negativity. Tolle refers to this as our “pain-body” and tells us that it’s critical to consciously let go of past hurts and turn our minds to living here and now. He asserts that we must honor the present moment by giving it our full attention and being thankful for it.
The remarkable result
Living more so in the present, according to Eckhart, helps us to appreciate and learn from each experience we have. This simplicity of thought introduces more awareness of the absolute wealth we’re blessed with, whether we find it in communing with nature, our interactions with others, or even in completing our daily tasks. The idea is to turn away from the superfluous information that we’re bombarded with in modern society, as well as the ever-increasing emphasis on acquiring more and more physical goods.
Over time, the effort we make in this regard changes how we think. The subtitle of Tolle’s book is Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, and he asserts that the book’s purpose “is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness.” As more and more people are inspired by Tolle to awaken, he predicts that humankind will gradually become more humble, enlightened, and pure.
Whether or not you already feel enlightened and connected to the universe through your faith or spiritual practice, Eckhart Tolle has some wise advice.
It was the Greek philosopher, Socrates, who said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If he had known Tolle, no doubt, he would have agreed with him.