At the age of nineteen, Isaac Shapiro had a very unusual experience, which he termed later as an experience of unconditional love. Through that experience and through the deep stillness it created in his mind, he had an intuitive understanding of the nature of reality beyond words and thoughts, beyond all that is passing. Shapiro's glimpse of the truth was however passing ' all it did was tell him that such an experience was possible and give him an urge to seek it. One of the results of the experience was that the young seeker left his home and homeland and began wandering through the world on a quest for answers to questions that troubled him. Eventually Shapiro reached Pune in India and met Papaji, a disciple of the legendary saint Shri Ramana Maharshi. What happened then brought the search to an end ' for he learnt that the direct experience of 'that' happens not through searches but by a totally different approach.
It Happens by Itself is a book on the perennial wisdom of which Shri Ramana was such a great master. It is also an absorbing journey into the mind, insights, intuitions and experiences of its author, into the author's 'passionate love affair with Truth'. As we journey into the world of the book, we come across a great master of the perennial wisdom in his own right, a master whose unerring insight and sparkling wit shine through each page of the book.
Shapiro's wisdom seems to spring not from any book that he had learnt but from a source that is always there in each one of us, at a dimension beyond knowing and not knowing, beyond the known and the not known, a wisdom that is as old as time and yet as fresh as this morning's sunshine, the tender breeze that is blowing now. It has the irresistible charm and simplicity of an infant's toothless smile.
The book consists of questions put to Shapiro during his 'satsang' sessions and his responses to them. These satsangs bring to our mind the satsangs that seekers from all over the world had with Ramana Maharashi himself where the sage of Arunachala answered questions less through words and more through his silences.
Shapiro is an adept at taking us into that wonder world beyond words and thoughts into the beautiful here-now that is always waiting for us behind the veil of the mind and the senses. And he does it using that ancient technique of dialogue, the deceptively simple technique that is immensely powerful in the hands of a master. As the introduction to the book says, 'perhaps that makes it an ideal crucible for the genius inherent in the Self-aware to be inspired and expressed in the most dramatic, direct and practical words. In the course of their candid revelations about their deepest fears and hopes, the audience finds their conditioned reactions derailed by Isaac's steadfast insistence that one Reality fits all and that there is no escape from it.' It is a pleasure to watch the miracle of emptiness unfolding during the sessions with Shapiro and then eternal fullness taking birth within that emptiness.
Shapiro's responses to questions always challenge you. Sometimes they bring you to a sudden halt and force you to see the truth of things which have always been so obvious but which we have been missing. Take, for instance, the question: 'Can you show me how to get there?' Promptly comes Isaac's reply: 'Actually, it is how to be Here, not there, because, where is 'there'? Your whole life you have been running after thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings are like a river, and you have been swimming downstream. Right now, sit quietly and take a moment to recognize the source of this river. Look and see where the next thought is arising from and to where it returns.'
During an interview of Shapiro by the compiler, Sinnige comments that many people spontaneously experience 'freedom' during their encounters with Shapiro and says he himself has experienced it. Here is Shapiro's response to it: 'People tell me this, and I can see actually when it happens for someone, and the mystery to me is I'm not doing anything. I'm simply keeping quiet in the truth of my own being, and then somehow people recognize this in themselves. And when it happens, there is such beauty in this person's eyes. The whole face relaxes. A lot of times there is laughter and tears all happening at once, and this person is just reporting, 'I'm home, I'm free, this what I've always been yearning for, looking for. I now know who I am, I've realized it.'
The book is a treasure chest of perennial wisdom. It consists of transcripts from twenty-two dialogues with the master with such titles as The Eye Cannot See Itself, Follow the Seeing Back to the Seer, It is Enough to be Yourself, Be Willing to Not Know, It Happens by Itself, Doubt is the Rebirth of the Seeker, Transcend Transcending and so on. Besides, it also contains an interview with Shapiro.
Books like Shapiro's It Happens by Itself have a very important place in telling us what the spiritual path truly is ' especially in our world where spirituality is often confused with curing colds and backaches.
The cover design by Abhilash Chacko and art direction by Girija Nair make the book a delight to the eyes.