As many viewers of the Oprah show, I have been drawn to the webcast discussions that focus on Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. This webcast is watched every Monday night by over a million people from all over the world. Each week Oprah and Eckhart discuss a chapter from the book and the viewing public interacts via videos, telephone calls, and e-mails. We are given a set of discussion questions for each web class.
As an educator, I am very impressed with the way they have designed the curriculum for the internet course. The innovation and magic of technological resources used to reach so many students is a dream come true for any educator. Educational policy makers need to look closely at the possibilities this type of media can bring to our public schools. Of course the content that is used is pivotal to maintain the interest of students. The notion that we can create a new earth is certainly a provocative idea to help students develop critical thinking skills. During one of the webcasts, Oprah spoke with an eighth grader who was reading the book. The incredible thing is that this adolescent was getting Tolle’s message which is life changing, when you do get it.
Some people may dub Tolle’s book as new age or spiritual and maybe there is no place for this kind of thinking or reflection in our schools. However, some thing has to be done to ease the pain for many of our young people. Violence, drug abuse, and child abuse continues to plague our society. Obviously, values and morals are supposed to be learned at home. But, how do we deal with the reality of bullying, gang wars, school shootings, depression, and mental health issues that schools are expected to address via the curriculum.
Eckhart Tolle argues that we all have an “ego” that influences our actions and behaviors. The human ego has been a topic of intellectual discussion, and research in psychology for many decades. According Wikipedia, “the ego is often associated with mind and the sense of time, which compulsively thinks in order to be assured of its future existence, rather than simply knowing its own self and the present.” We are in search of inner peace in a world that does not guarantee us peace at all. More importantly, we expect others to fulfill our need for peace or inner peace. Some of us have become desensitized because of all the contaminated thinking that we have come to almost embrace as a norm.
Tolle suggests that we all have a “pain body” that nourishes on the energy of our negative thoughts. This “pain body” may attract some horrible things because we become unaware of the present. His ideas have immediacy to the issues that our world is dealing with right now. Our nation at war, society in turmoil for one reason or another: we are all in what Tolle describes as an unconsciousness or dysfunction. He claims that our species as we know it will not survive if we do not learn the development of this “awakening.” He suggests that we all ask ourselves what thoughts we are thinking and what kinds of negativity we are attracting. We need to be aware of how negative thoughts may be draining our energy.
These are pivotal lessons that I suppose can be facilitated in our nation’s classrooms. I feel that my attitude toward teaching has transformed. I believe that I am slowly evolving into an instrument or vehicle that will help me guide my students to become more “enlightened.” I believe that I am becoming more aware of the “pain bodies” of the students I teach. This book suggests that we can create a new existence for all of us collectively and individually. The philosophy, psychology, spirituality and humanity of this book will definitely have a domino effect on our culture and society. So far over one million people are being affected by the concepts discussed in this book. If every one of us practices the most important lessons of being human and just simply being.
As I read some of the passages, I realize that we have been given a gift, an advantage and an opportunity to rid ourselves and free ourselves of so many negative emotions. Eckhart Tolle says, “Unhappiness and negativity is a disease on our planet.” How we rid ourselves of this unhappiness is by becoming more aware of the joy of simply being. He argues that” people believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness, that is to say, dependent on the form. They don’t realize that that what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe.”
I think that if enough of us get the essence of Tolle’s message what we become is empowered with the practice of being conscious. All that we think we want lies beyond all form or thought.
We want to attain peace that is alive. We must guide our children while they are watching television or absorbed with the distractions that keep us in the unconscious. He warns us about watching television that “assaults us with rapid successions of images that change every two minutes. He says that excessive television watching and those programs are largely responsible for attention deficit disorder, a mental dysfunction now affecting millions of children worldwide.”
I believe we need to model the joy in being to children and young people. Stay still for a few minutes before you start a lesson and write a big question mark on the chalkboard and wait for reactions. Every so often I stop talking in class, look around and focus my attention on some object for a minute and then comment on its stillness and on its simple being and presence.
According to Tolle, “awareness is conscious connection with universal intelligence.” He says that the when one understands this then the process of awakening is irreversible. Those of us who “get it” as Oprah would say get it become aware of negative thought, you opt for being present and for making the now a powerful thing.
I am grateful for having had the opportunity to get started in this process of awakening. Acceptance, joy, and peace are now, right here and I get it, really get it.