Eckhart Tolle: Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness Summary

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Response to “Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness”
In the essay, “Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness”, Eckhart Tolle discusses the individual’s attempts to establish and define their identity. According to Eckhart Tolle, “The self is a story that develops in the head, very much like a fictitious creation. Yet it forms the basis of most people’s sense of who they are, and that sense, of course, is reinforced by the surrounding world” (6). There are several different aspects that Tolle says can influence a person’s view of their identity: society, our family and our past, technology, and religion and philosophy. Eckhart Tolle believes that these aspects cause a person a to view themselves the way they do and that, in turn, prevents humans from achieving the greater intelligence found within everyone, which could save the world.

Eckhart Tolle spends the majority of this essay discussing a person’s identity, saying that society, our family and our past, technology, and religion and philosophy are big factors and that this is what makes people unhappy with their lives. According to Tolle, this all starts “when your parents tell you what your name is” (6). This label is absorbed by the person and starts their mental concept of who they are. The name “becomes like a basket in which further life experiences are collected” (6). Parents will have an affect on their child’s mental identity by what they tell their children. For example, a parent telling their child that they are not good enough will make the child view himself as not good enough. Both the past and the future also play a role in this, with the memories of the past and a mental image of the future causing a person create a mental picture of themselves based on past experiences and based on what they imagine their future to be. Instead of focusing on the Now and who they are now, they are thinking of other times and creating a false sense of identity. Society’s view of someone influences this as well. Tolle...
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