Time for Activism.

‘A New Earth’ is one of my favourite books – written by Eckhart Tolle and read by millions across the globe. I reread it recently and still find much there of inspiration. It shows its age a little, being first published in 2005 – says the pot about the kettle.

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There are two themes expressed in the book, the need to set our egos aside to find happiness and the development of a new better society, ending conflict and suffering throughout the world, when a sufficient number of us do so. The first theme resonates with the principles of Buddhism, the mystical aspects of most other religions and the lost, or rather ignored, advice of Christ; while our progress to a better society appears to be approaching a knife edge, not least because we are running out of time due to the ever developing climate crisis.

Some five years ago, Tolle re-examined the theories expressed in his book and found much in the world to be optimistic about, finding also that it is likely that the ego will become increasingly dysfunctional as it comes under pressure and he noted, “Acute crises and dysfunction always precede or coincide with any evolutionary advancement or gain in consciousness.” Likely true but gains do not arise unaided. It is no time to stand back and assume tribulation will result in consolation, trials in good fortune. Discarding our egos does not mean ignoring the call for action.

Our egos are not just big, bold and brass but also operate at subtle levels, every little slight or annoyance we feel, every time we feel cross or crossed, it’s our ego right there, egging us on, feeding us entitlement, whispering in our ears, assuring us that we deserve better, that we are better. Encouraging conflict in the world, in our worlds.

Tolle’s book will help you identify your ego and its insidious ways and once you recognise it, shine a light on it, then your life starts to change. Then your behaviour starts to change, your relationships, your family starts to change and, carefully avoiding the little traps and trips set out by your ego, your corner of society starts to change.

What could be easier?

– or more difficult?

Rereading is advised.

And Tolle slips in the answer to the universal question “Like all life-forms, they are, of course, temporary manifestations of the underlying one Life, one Consciousness” Perhaps as good an explanation of the meaning of life, of the existence of god and of the relationship between the two, as you will find anywhere.

‘Dominion’ an altogether more recent book by Tom Holland, published in 2019 is a significant part, 400 pages, in quantity as well as quality, of my recent reading endeavors. Holland’s hypothesis is that Christianity, in all its variations, has provided the dominant influence in how we, in the West, think today, in our attitude to all of life’s questions. ‘We’ being those followers of all religions and none, the adherents, the deniers, the spiritual, and the strictly secular, the latter being often unaware of the origins of their attitudes.

Image result for dominion tom holland

Holland lays out the case that all our attitudes and mores, the good, the bad and the ugly, originate with Christianity and Christianity’s attempts to deal with life’s issues. Two thousand years of dictates of popes, canon’s and bishops, revolutions and counter-revolutions reformations and crusades, are all part of our heritage, of who we are. One section of his book, in that delightful teasing way the world has, in Chapter XII Apocalypse is titled, ‘A New Earth’ and deals with the end of time, the emergence of a new order. In this particular case, the foreseer, a German Franciscan named Hiten, provided a date, 1516. The new order, when all the world would become one in Christ would follow widespread death and destruction, the appearance of all being lost. Holland’s book, both a history of Christianity and the evolution of the Western mind, confirms, in passing, one further significant point – all the revolutions, all the reformations and counter-reformations serve not the smallest jot to change the world order. The king is dead, long live the king.

A new earth did come to light in those early days of the sixteenth century though, the discovery of the americas and all their riches, candy for the taking. Columba, too, predicted the end of time, when the Temple of Jerusalem was rebuilt using the wealth of the americas, Columba predicted the 1650’s for this New Earth to emerge. Neither Hiten’s nor Columba’s nor the score of others predictions came about, apocalypses unencountered.

The history of Christianity is riddled with expectations of the second coming, of a New Earth. Can Tolle’s vision be any different?

The third volume in my recent trilogy is that of Timothy Egan – another hot off the presses, another search for meaning, ‘A Pilgrimage to Eternity’, in which he describes his physical pilgrimage from Canterbury in southern England to Rome and his spiritual search for meaning in his Catholic upbringing, more discarded than adhered to in his adult life.

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The description of Egan’s journey, the tracing of the history of Christianity, the recounting of adventures on his way are all told with a skill not surprising in a Pulitzer prize winning author. The story of the development of his faith is less well told – we know he wants to believe, prays for a miracle for his sick sister-in-law – but we share no deepening of belief, no Pauline conversion on the road to Rome. He becomes a believer but that happens in the shadows. So much for the book, but, relevant to our discussion, Egan’s history of Christianity naturally mimics that of Holland, a history of revolutions, Christ’s being the first, which all ultimately failed as the rebels became the establishment, beliefs were used to control the masses and religions became a tool of the powerful, not of the dispossessed.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

What chance is there of Tolle’s vision of a new earth coming to pass? If the son of god was not able to bring in a new order, what chance is there for the youth of today fighting to protect our planet in this climate crisis?

What chance?

And yet all three authors are optimistic.

– perhaps though optimism sells more books.

I’ll leave the last words to Egan, in turn quoting the patron saint of wanderers,

There is no way. The way is made by walking.

It is time to be active.

Walk carefully my friends


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