The Yardstick of God’s Revelation
The causes and the remedy for the current situation of the world, as put forth in Eckhart Tolles book , “A New Earth” are relatively easy to comprehend, if you entertain and accept his rationale on how things came to be as they currently are and the solution that he puts forth to correct it. Of course, in order to do that, one has to accept his explanation of what has taken place in the past, including all recorded history, right up to our current moment in time. And one also has to accept the solution that he expounds upon to change our faulted perception. It would appear that there are a lot of people that are willing, if not eager, to do this and the reason why this is happening is not difficult to understand because from a wide scope, his overview of the track record of man’s nature, and the current status of the world, has a ring of truth to it because our world is not the place most of us wish it could be.
Everyone that I know of, has formed an opinion on this subject in one form or another. Some of these opinions are simplistic and others have been formulated from serious observation and contemplation, producing varied explanations as to why things have gone wrong and what needs to be done to make it right. The need to find a solution to the way things are going is obvious. Humanity as a whole is not living in harmony with one another and mans ability to display his capability of acting inhumanly towards his fellow man, in all of its varied forms, appears to be increasing rather than diminishing. One could put forth that there are reasons why the negatives appear to be increasing, such as world population growth, diminishing resources, man’s misuse of our natural environment and the resulting changes taking place in our world climate, but in short, that would overlook the nature of man himself, and that has and is a deciding factor in why things are not looking good and I, like many, could not agree more.
Throughout history, man has tried a variety of external physical means to protect and expand the status quo of their own limited environment. This could be the application of force, the construction of walled fortresses and the expansion of their territory or empire, to name but a very few. And this self centered approach continues to this very day. Has or is this approach productive or counterproductive towards living in harmony? Ones answer to this question could depend upon whether you are inside or outside of a protective circle but if we look at it from a world wide perspective, the answer is pretty obvious that it is not productive if living in harmony is the objective.
This problem is not new, it has been a problem before history began to be recorded. Not everyone in the sand box wants to share, or be considerate or even entertain the option of giving you a voice to what is acceptable or not acceptable in the sand box. or as a final extreme, wants to have you in their sand box in the first place. This, unfortunately is a reality of life. Most of us understand this reality and attribute it to the imperfect nature or characteristics of man and most of us acknowledge that this problem needs correcting.
Approaches to solving this problem have long been aimed at attempting to change the nature or characteristics of man inwardly, from a moral or spiritual perspective, so that the application of external physical protective resources are not necessary. And once again, from this perspective, comes a large variety of methods, each claiming that their perspective is the correct method to employ to correct the problem. Some of these methods depend upon the individual reaching a level of enlightenment or awareness to become more divine like in nature, an upward climb if you will, and others involve a direct revelation from God to explain and remedy the problematic human nature of man.
Then, just to make things interesting, we see in recorded history, that even this “spiritual” approach to solving the problem, when elevated to a position of authority and power, can be misused and changed into a spiritual representation of a physical external force whereby the masses are controlled internally and the empire continues to expand and the status quo for a select few is maintained. Human nature is human nature. Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. Does that mean that all “spiritual” approaches to solving the problem are subject to, or limited by the shortcomings of man’s nature, some would answer yes, some would answer no. From a simplistic perspective, this would or could depend on the level of enlightenment or attainment achieved in following the spiritual path chosen by the individual. We all have seen ample examples of spiritual solutions that have fallen short of the intended mark due to the susceptible nature of man.
This is where Eckhart Tolle steps in, and his book “A New Earth”, to explain his reasoning why there have been failures and to shed his perception of light on the road to attainment of the universal oneness, which, if accepted by a big enough critical mass of world inhabitants, could bring about a shift in mindset and produce the harmony that we assume, the vast majority of world inhabitants intellectually would like to strive for.
Although Tolle’s answer to the problem appears new to the vast majority of our western civilization, his major themes are far from new, but in fact, can be traced back to the Upanishads, the concluding portions of the Vedas (the oldest Hindu scriptures). The Upanishads contain the essence of Vedic teaching and are the foundation of present day Hinduism. These Vedas teach that all men can achieve the divine state if they strive for it. Tolle says it like this (all quotations are from “A New World” by Eckhart Tolle):
“Can I sense my essential Beingness, the I Am, in the background of my life at all times? To be more accurate, can I sense the I Am that I Am at this moment? Can I sense my essential identity as consciousness itself?” (p.79)
“The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth.” (p.71)
“You realize your essential identity as formless, as an all-pervasive Presence, or Being, prior to all forms, all identifications. You realize your true identity as consciousness itself, rather than what consciousness had identified with.”(p.57)
In the Upanishads the individual personality is denied. It is considered a part of the world of illusion or “maya.” Deification involves the shedding of maya and the emerging and obliteration of the self in the One Reality, God. This, of course, is the theme of A New Earth.
Tolle’s emphasis on the “ego” is not about what most people assume. Most people assume that by “ego” he means pride, arrogance and selfishness. That is not at all the point of Tolle. Getting over the ego, to Tolle, is a denial of the individual personality and becoming “one with the consciousness.”
The Upanishads also teach that every part of the universe, both animate and inanimate objects, have essentially the same divine nature. In this teaching there is actually only one Self in the universe. Tolle agrees: “In most ancient cultures, people believed that everything, even so-called inanimate objects, had an indwelling spirit, and in this respect they were closer to the truth than we are today.” (p.37)
The Upanishads also teach that the body is the prison house of the soul. What is Tolle’s view on life, death and the afterlife? Tolle confesses his belief in reincarnation:
“Consciousness incarnates into the manifested dimension, that is to say, it becomes form. When it does so, it enters a dreamlike state…It loses itself in form, becomes identified with form. This could be described as the descent of the divine into matter…Glimpses of awakening come only at the moment of the dissolution of an individual from, that is to say, death. And then begins the next incarnation, the next identification with form, the next individual dream that is part of the collective dream. When the lion tears apart the body of the zebra, the consciousness that incarnated into the zebra-form detaches itself from the dissolving form and for a brief moment awakens to its essential immortal nature as consciousness; and then immediately falls back into sleep and reincarnates into another form.” (p.292)
For lack of better words, New Age philosophy is Hinduism wrapped in Western garb. Humanity’s primary problem, according to Hinduism, is that we have forgotten we are divine. The consequence is that we are subject to the Law of Karma, another important Hindu belief. This is the moral equivalent to the natural law of cause and effect. You always reap what you sow. There is no grace, there is no forgiveness, there is never any escape from consequences. It’s a very heavy burden to carry. Not only that, but Hinduism says that the consequences of our choices, both bad karma and good karma, follow us from lifetime to lifetime. This is another Hindu concept: samsara, the ever-revolving wheel of life, death, and rebirth, also known as reincarnation. A person’s karma determines the kind of body–whether human, animal, or insect–into which he or she is incarnated in the next lifetime.
The final major Hindu concept is liberation from the wheel of birth, death, and rebirth. One can only get off the reincarnation merry-go-round by realizing that the idea of the individual self is an illusion, and only the oneness of Brahman is real. There is no heaven, though–only losing one’s identity in the universal oneness.
To blend these concepts into our western societies religious perspective, Tolle quotes the Christian Bible over 25 times in this book. In most instances, he takes the verse out of context and misinterprets it to align with his viewpoint.
Thanks largely to Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement and utilization of her considerable media resources of radio, TV and the Internet, large numbers of people, primarily from our North American society, have been buying into this “New Age” thinking.
So where does that leave us. I will grant you that the magnitude of the problem is profound (what do you do when someone wants to kick you and those you care for, out of the sandbox?) and the task of finding a solution to the problem that works, is even more profound, in fact it can become overwhelming when one begins to comprehend the magnitude of material available addressing the problem and the proposed solutions.
I adhere to the Christian faith, i.e. the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What I see happening is that the baby is being thrown out with the bath water and I will grant you, in the minds of many, the common perception of the Christian Church has given us just cause to do so. But, I would say, don’t confuse the perception of the Christian Church with the Gospel Of Jesus Christ. There is also a significant difference between the perception of the Christian Church and what the Christian Church actually is, throughout recorded history and in our very day. And, most importantly, the witness of the Holy Spirit , Jesus Christ and God the Father in our lives.
I cannot answer for someone else, I can only answer for myself. When I was in my mid twenties I recall sitting on a doorstep and saying to God, “God, if you are real, reveal yourself to me.” The next day as I again sat on the doorstep, God sent a young Christian man to sit down beside me and my journey began. Through the years I have learned many things, things about myself and things about God. I do believe that we have been given a Revelation from God and I do believe that His Revelation is found in our Christian Bible. To some, this is adhering to a “closed mentality” and in essence, this is true. But I also firmly believe that we have been given a yardstick with which we can compare God’s Revelation to us, from the other solutions set before us.
There are those who disagree with my premise that the Word of God is the authoritative yardstick by which we are to discern what is the message or Revelation that God has given us, and they would have me set aside what it says, so that I would accommodate their premise. That is to say, that there are alternate sources of illumination, alternate perspectives, which I should entertain. Furthermore, when I do quote a scripture from my yardstick that sends from my perspective, a pretty clear statement, an example of which is, ”Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12“, the response is typically rooted in an alternate source, and invariably explains it away by indicating that “different labels” are being used from an alternate source and essentially there is no conflict between the alternate source and the meaning conveyed in the chosen scripture.
I do not buy that. The root of the argument is consistently centered on alternate sources. The institution of Christianity is not my yardstick, the Christian scriptures are. My personal relationship with God has not been overwhelmed by the institution of Christianity nor am I overwhelmed by the history of the Christian Church.
What I do see is a consistent pattern to explore and evaluate alternate sources while steadfastly ignoring the common sense language of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not an Old or New Testament scholar, nor am I an historian. I also do not possess a science degree and I have not made it my life’s work to defend the track record of the Christian Church. And, I suspect, I am not alone.
But I have studied how we have obtained the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, I have examined the scholarly work of those who have dedicated their lives to validating the authenticity of our Bible and I have read and formed opinions on scientific/religious conflicting points of view. I have studied world history and I have spent a significant amount of time tracing the journey of the Christian Church and I have read and continue to study the Word of God. My journey has led me to the Cross, where I have knelt and accepted the grace that has been placed before me via the shed blood of my Saviour Jesus Christ. And I know that I am not alone.
The evolution of New Age Thinking as explained to us in Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth” is not insignificant, in fact, in all probability, from my perspective, it is and will continue to shake our Christian belief system to its very core. There will be division, within our society, within the Christian Church and within our homes. To those who share our Christian heritage and faith, this is a call to arms, and we would be wise to prepare for the battle which is to come.
The benchmark or the yard stick per sec, the Christian biblical scriptures, are the means whereby alternate external sources are evaluated and also the means whereby we come to a more through understanding on any given subject that is expounded upon within the scriptures themselves. Is that a closed mentality, I would surmise to many it is, but to those who trust in the Word of God, trust in His revelation, trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is not only very logical to do so, but in fact is what the scriptures themselves indicate we are to do. Examples of this closed mentality are as follows:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words….” John 14:23-24
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ” James 1:21
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrew 4:11-12
“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed…. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-8,10
“…they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….” Ephesians 6:10-18
To all who are entertaining accepting the path that Eckhart Tolle has laid out before you, I would say, stop, and take a serious look at what is actually being proposed and earnestly consider the source of these teachings before moving forward.