Breaking the ice:
This is a book everyone MUST read. And here’s the thing about this book – it is very hard to catch on to the lingo at first, if you are not used to it already. It has very deep terms – ego, being, consciousness, form, formless, a lot of analogies, references to religious teaching (ALL religious teachings), presence, awakening…
And once you move past that ‘kya chutiyapa hai yeh’ (what fucking nonsense this is) stage – you start appreciating the book. You should be comfortable with the book by the time you start reading the second chapter. Now don’t skip the first one, try and read it to grasp as much as you can, because it will help.
It explains the way we usually think and act in our day to day life – if you were not reading this book you would not see anything wrong with it, but the author explains it very well what’s the real issue and why we behave the way we behave, and how we are caught up in our life which is being directed by the Ego.
Ego is explained in a broader sense – and once you read the book you will understand the difference in the way we use it in general purpose v/s the new way which you will start seeing. And if you have been a student of psychology or read books of it, you will be able to understand the underlying principles behind different theories – cognitive, behavioural, Freud, Skinner, Gestalt, Pavlov, and you get the idea.
It explains pain-bodies, which for me was a new concept and the way it is explained, makes a lot of sense. It is the left over pain from all the painful experiences since childhood + since the evolution , as ‘everything’ in the universe is linked to one another.
The author describes the sadistic nature of the ego – it has a grip on us – through thoughts – and it makes us do stupid things. And the only way to get rid of it is to be aware of it. You don’t need to do anything else- when thoughts go through your head – just be aware that it is not you, it is the voice in your head. Don’t think about it, don’t judge it, don’t shun it – just take a back seat – pause – take a deep breath – and be aware of the thought. As the author says, “be the awareness behind the thought.”
Do not fight it:
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”
Getting to the point:
The main idea of the book is: be in the moment. As simple as it sounds – it is a hella lot difficult – because almost all the time we are either thinking of something that has already happened or something that we are anticipating in the future.
Driving to work – you are thinking of all the things you need to do. Going to bed – you are thinking about waking up. Taking a shower – well you are thinking ‘shower thoughts’. We, humans, in general, are NEVER ‘in the moment’. And that’s what the book enlightens you about.
“Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being
present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now,
what power does it have?”
Another thing that the author ties up with it is that nothing is permanent. We all know that! But how often do we bring it into our conscious thought or practice? Almost never. And that brings you back to being in the moment, where you enjoy what you are doing right now. Which is reading this sentence!!!
When you are aware of the moment, you become aware. just aware. Not aware of yourself, not aware of the surroundings, not aware of the moment. You. just. become. aware.
Who are you? Ask yourself. Come on – go ahead! Now, whatever you have answered – doesn’t matter what it is – how did you answer it? Words of course! So you are asking yourself who you are, and you are the one answering it. Using words and sentences.
The book breaks this myth. (Even I was swept under the same one…!!)
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution
of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience
you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”
Your thought is not you, your thought is just a voice in your head. If you think ‘you’ are the thought in your head – think about what the thought is saying? Words? Because without words there is no thought. And without the thought, what are you? Can you answer who you are without using words? No silly, you can’t!!
But ‘who are you’ doesn’t need to be answered. It is something that needs to be felt. You are ‘formless’. One of the other central ideas of the book. You are something that you can only feel and be aware. You cannot describe. You are not tall, you are not dark, you are not handsome. You are the formless that is within you, that words cannot describe.
A little more philosophical of us would say it is the soul. But again, it is a word that we have come up with and associated with the concept.
Animal don’t have thoughts, still they are very much capable of making it on their own!
Getting back to the point:
So – be in the moment, nothing is permanent, being aware, you are formless.
“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment. And what is that? There is a sense of quality in what you do, even the most simple action. Quality implies care and attention, which comes with awareness. Quality requires your Presence.”
Applications: (the engineer in me makes me stress on the applications of any concept)
So the author gives a lot of daily life applications of how our being affects us. And a lot of examples give me the aha! moment:
- Why people who are negative always have bad things happening to them.
- Why we have so many issues in our close relationships.
- Why we like action movies where the world is coming to an end and destruction everywhere.
- Why some kids are happy kids and some are ‘take them away from me’ types!!
- Why going outdoors cheers us up.
- And this one just blew my mind – why do women go crazy before their period!!
Outer purpose / Inner purpose:
Because we are brought up the way we are – we identify ourselves with certain roles – daughter/son, friend, sister/brother, girl/boy, wife/husband, girlfriend /boyfriend, mom/dad, grandma/grandpa…you get the point. Well, that’s just a role we are playing- we are not that. We need to do what we need to do as per our roles – that is our outer purpose. But our inner purpose if different, it doesn’t identify with your roles. The author explains how you can successfully combine both.
“A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its
image making and self-seeking.
In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open,
alert attention toward the other person in which there is
no wanting whatsoever. That alert attention is Presence.
It is the prerequisite of any authentic relationship.
The ego always either wants something, or if it believes
there is nothing to get from the other, it is in a state of utter indifference:
It doesn’t care about you. And so, the three predominant states of egoic relationship are: wanting, thwarted wanting (anger, resentment, blaming, complaining), and indifference.”
Being in the moment and being aware will bring happiness.
“Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeing
is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from
unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is rather than making up
stories about it. Unhappiness covers up your natural state of wellbeing and
inner peace, the source of true happiness.”
We all need to do things we do not like – it’s a part of life – the outer purpose. To find peace with it – there are three ways:
1. Accept what you are doing. Just accept that this is what you have to do, and be in the moment for it. And you will find peace.
2. Enjoy what you do.
3. Have enthusiasm in whatever you are doing.
If what you are doing doesn’t fit in any of these – just don’t do it. No point resenting your actions as you do – it will drain more out of you that it will contribute. Plus, it doesn’t align with nature’s plan!
This is the most beautifully explained part of the book:
- The basic concept of nature is same. You breathing in and out, your heartbeat – it happens on its own – and when you focus on it, pay complete attention to it – you become aware.
- The sleep & wake cycle and the birth & death cycle – being conscious and unconscious.
- The same way, the author explains that big bang from which all universe started – it is expanding, and it will reach its pinnacle at one point and retreat. Same as your heartbeat. Same as your breath.
- The space in the universe is similar to the space that you will find within.
After reading this book – there are a lot of thoughts that go through my head and I find myself linking the age old traditions to the concepts from this book.
To get the best out of this book – it is a must read for anyone who is even a bit inclined philosophically or spiritually. Your take away from the book is going to be totally different from mine (as I have understood from another book that inspired me ‘Now You See It’. Would love to write a review about that too.)
And most importantly, thank you to my friend vidzy for introducing me to the book.
Here’s a copy of the book that I found on the internet. It has quite a few typos – I would recommend buying a copy of your own, and to make it a regular read.
P.s.: This is my first book review – do let me know how you like it. Suggestions are most welcome!