The nature of humanity has always come across as an interesting topic. Perhaps this is because how complex yet simple people can become. In effect, instead of being able to understand who the person is, people tend to get more and more confused with their very own nature. Eckhart Tolle suggests that this is because humans have a great tendency to think a lot and that too much thinking can cause a generous amount of confusion. Humans are busy being humans as they are so that often times they forget who they are at the very core. In his book, A New Earth Tolle talks about human beings in the context of ego. He elaborates that ego is the primary source of separation between individuals and describes how people should recognize the humanity in each other and not merely depend on roles. On the other hand, Kahlil Gibran compliments this concept with his poem about parenthood. Entitled Your Children, Gibran’s poem emphasizes that, although parents have a role to fulfill for their children, these roles do not define who they are as a person. Parenthood is more than the role; it is the ability to recognize the humanity of their own child. Eckhart Tolle once mentioned that “to love is to recognize yourself in another” (66).
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Reading through the Tolle’s book, a rapid stream of realizations seemed to enlighten me regarding the ego and my own sense of awareness. Chapter Two, which talks about the current state of humanity, lays out how the ego works in humans. In this chapter, Eckhart Tolle discusses how we are blinded by illusions of who we are. We identify ourselves too much with the things we own and the people whom we are connected to so that we fail to remember that we are still who we are despite these identities and labels that we have associated with the “I” and the “me” which then becomes “my” and “mine.” Moreover, Chapter Three expounds on the core of the ego: what the ego is and how it works to bring about negative reactions, such as complaining, resentment, anger and ultimately, violence. The ego is not personal; it is not who we are. At times we identify ourselves with what our ego tells us because it always thrives for “more” and aims for superiority. But then, these thoughts on superiority and power never bring out the best in human beings; they feed on negative ideas, survive on the broken superficial relationships and, hence, bring about more negative reactions and emotions that will never put humans at peace. To be at peace, therefore, is to be aware of these egoistic behaviors, to realize that we are more than our identities, more than our reactions and more than the situation. We are and we still are who we are despite these. We must learn to wake up out of these delusionary states. Kahlil Gibran poetically expressed these first few lines from his poem: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself” (Gibran, 1-2). These lines depict how parents can be so consumed with their roles that they seem to think they own their children and owning their children, therefore, gives them their identity. Role-playing is a very common work of the ego, as described in Chapter Four. The ego has “many faces” and changes itself dynamically to support its all-knowing nature. These different “faces” are also roles that we perceive ourselves to be. There have been several times in my life where I became too consumed with the role I was in so that not being able to satisfy my role would mean not knowing who I am. It became a constant source of internal conflict for me. I was too involved in fulfilling goals in relation to my role that it would bring me so much pain and suffering to actually fail at it. Tolle further amplifies the significance of the pain-bodies in Chapter Five, where he focuses on emotions of both the individual and the collective. Negative emotions, such as pain and suffering, are brought forth by our own thoughts. There is an existing vicious cycle of emotions feeding on thoughts and vice versa. In the end, people who suffer such pain-bodies find it difficult to let go of their past because they are not aware of this cycle in them that confuses who they are from what is happening to them.
Finding peace, thus, is a process of awareness. Once we are aware of ourselves and the situation, we are able to detach from thoughts and emotions that would only lead to more pain and confusion. We then start to acknowledge and cherish the present. We become one with what is happening. Being one with the present is not something that humans can control. We cannot just control emotions in order to feel at peace. We must learn and be able to let go of everything that keeps us from awareness in order to live in the “now,” in order to appreciate the very nature of the human being and being the human.
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