Top critical review
97 people found this helpful
Some good points made, but not a keeper for me
on 25 March 2008
I have mixed feelings about "A New Earth". While I thought some very good points were made, I didn't find it easy to read because the style of writing is so dense. Many of the ideas that Tolle presents are not original (e.g. how we interpret people or events is a result of our own thoughts or egos, we must strive to live in the present moment), but they are still well made and thought-provoking.
Some parts of the book do get hard to follow. While Tolle acknowledges this, he also tells us that if we find the book incomprehensible and meaningless, it means that we have not begun the process of awakening - i.e. any fault is with the reader, which strikes me as a cop out. Tolle also implies that his view is the only correct way of viewing the world, with sentences like: "If you don't become speechless when looking out into space on a clear night, you are not really looking, not aware of the totality of what is there."
My main criticism of this book is that I didn't find it of much help in a practical sense. Tolle talks a lot about how you can effect change in yourself by bringing awareness to situations. This has not been my personal experience - while I agree it's the first step, I think sometimes we need a little more "how-to" guidance if we are to make real change. Often when I was reading this book I'd think: "wow, that's such a great point he's just made", but then it would get kind of lost as the book moved on. And ultimately it comes across as being a bit selfish. This idea that your spouse may leave you and your friends may drift away when you achieve spiritual growth, but that's all for the good.
To get the most out of "A New Earth", you probably want to read it slowly and let each chapter sit with you for a while before moving onto the next. Even better, have someone to discuss it with as you go and help you to explore the apparent contradictions e.g. when Tolle says on one hand that you don't want to dwell on the future but stay in the present, and then on the other hand he says that you must have a goal or vision that you are working towards. There is definitely a lot of interesting material in here, but I have found other books to be more accessible and useful.