Book Reviews

Life Enrichment through Self Empowerment

Robin S Sharma spins a story of life enrichment through self empowerment with interesting symbolism given to the virtues of life that makes "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" an introspective must read. In this fast paced self help book, words of wisdom are added to the tale with relevant quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

The circumstances surrounding the protagonist, Julian Mantle, touches a cord since many will tend to identify themselves in somewhat the same mould. The lawyer in Julian Mantle reminds one of the perpetual rat-race; the race to excel that seems to embrace us in every walk of life. Be it personal or on the career plane, the frenetic pace following us is the shadow that eventually engulfs us. The mind-body-spirit well being lost to this very shadow, as is the case with the protagonist.

Herein lays the essence of ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" whereby the author through a short fable brings out the seven virtues of life. The fable, the readers’ will find it to be no ‘earth shattering knowledge’ but the manner in which the author has unraveled the wisdom from the fable, is what great books are all about. 

The dazzling life of Julian Mantle was a dream many wanted to live. A successful legal career, a fashionable social life and of course the red Ferrari, a jewel in the list of his acquisitions were all much to be desired and admired by the people around him. John, as the young intern sees the life of Julian become successful on the materialistic plane but the out-of-balance lifestyle eating into his well being. The heart attack of Julian Mantle is the starting point of not only the book but also the transformation of Julian Mantle. The post heart attack life of Julian sees him bow out of the legal and social race in search for ‘some answers’. The search for which, makes the lawyer sell his ‘Ferrari’ for a more spiritual quest and existence. John, the narrator is the face that the author wants the protagonist to tell his remarkable story of transformation and change.

John's image of an over worked, jaded and cynical lawyer is a stark reminder that the reader gets on his own life. It is the author's attempt to make the reader relate to his own being. Perhaps the knock on John's door is the knock on the door of the reader's soul.

The journey undertaken by the 'Monk' Julian Mantle seems more of a personal journey that one engages in while reading the subsequent chapters of change. The Great Sages of Sivana, somewhere in the upper reach of the Himalayas handed over the wisdom of the golden keys to Julian. The golden keys to 'radiant health, lasting happiness and inner fulfillment' now are offered to John through a fable describing the seven virtues in their most interesting symbolic form. The 'Magnificent Garden', 'Towering Red Lighthouse', 'Sumo wrestler', 'Pink Wire Cable, 'Gold Watch', 'Fragrances of Yellow Roses' and the 'Winding Path of Sparkling Diamonds', each emanating a word of wisdom for bringing about personal change. 

The 'Most Extraordinary Garden', all about 'mind management is the essence to life management'. One has to cultivate the 'garden' with positive thoughts and only 'let the very best information enter'. Your outer world reflects the state of your inner world. When one is faced with varied circumstances, one has to understand the opportunity that lies in the negative experiences. The opportunity to grow, learn and advance along the road of self mastery. 'A Concentrated Mind' helps in making us run our own race. This will mean that we 'find out truly what we love to do and then direct all our energies doing it'. Setbacks as 'energy leaks' should be taken more as opportunity for personal growth. The author has interwoven the story of Malika Chand to strike home the wisdom of 'power of wisdom in the face of adversity'. The mention of the philosophy of Patanjali is to give it the ancient Indian feel to the story. The self help comes in the form of 'Heart of Rose technique', which is to bring about a concentrated mind. The 'Opposition Thinking' will enable us to wrestle out any negative thought and the 'Secret of the Lake' helps in envisioning our dreams becoming a reality.

The eighth chapter brings us to the 'Lighthouse', one that symbolizes that 'the purpose of life is a life of purpose'. Clearly defined goals and life objectives will act as our guiding light when the seas of life become rough. The concept is very similar to the role played by a lighthouse. In this day and age, things that are most important to us should never be sacrificed to those that are the least important. To rekindle the inner fire, one must write down ones goals. These goals should focus into the mind-body-spirit triangle of life. The fascinating aspect of the lighthouse technique is the 'Magic Rule of 21'. Wherein, with a concentrated mind we practice a ritual or a task continuously for a period of 21 days. This will make a habit of our practice and eventually the mould of transformation will have been set. Through social pressure and attaching a deadline to the activity, we can succeed in its achievement.

The Sumo wrestler represents 'the practice of 'kaizen', meaning constant and never ending improvement'. Personal expansion and the strength of character can be built by developing mental toughness and living with courage. The author explains that the fear is the mental monster that you have created. By conquering our fears, we can conquer our lives. The effectiveness of being a sumo wrestler is to take a pit stop in the race of life and enrich our lives by following the 10 rituals of radiant living. First ritual is about creating space for oneself and building upon an energy reservoir. We must give our body its due by nourishing it with regular exercise and even yoga. Moderation in our diet is one virtue that one must adopt so that the reservoir of mental and physical energy may be created. To hit a point across about the ritual of knowledge, Julian tells John some very interesting lines. He says, 'It's not what you get out of books that is enriching, it is what the books will get out of you that will ultimately change your life'. The other ritual on personal reflection is about 'Retrospection' of our today, which is the only way we can improve upon our tomorrow. The other rituals give words of wisdom on the arising with the sun and being able to laugh whole heartedly for more than, sadly 5 times a day. Ritual of music, spoken work, a congruent character and simplicity takes John to a journey wherefrom radiant living is about leading a life of fulfillment. 

The power of discipline in chapter ten comes when the ten virtues are embodied in our mind-body-spirit. The race is not against others, rather it is against you. The 'pink wire cable' is your will power. When you liberate your will power, you become the master of your personal world. It is this will power that 'allows you to hold your tongue when a less actualized person insults you'. Simple exercises for exerting will power is to do the things you don't like doing. Take on responsibility for your actions. Maintaining silence for a few moments everyday is the key whereby we can enhance our will power. This virtue will enable us to have the 'freedom to see the forest beyond the trees'.

The 'shiny gold watch' in the fable is the most precious commodity in our lives, time. 'Well arranged time is the surest mark of a well arranged mind'. Julian goes on to say that you must 'have the discipline to focus your time around your priorities'. Have the courage to say 'No' and act as if this might be your last day, are some techniques offered for imbibing this virtue. The 'fragrance of the yellow roses' reflects on the quality of our contribution in this world. It symbolizes the 'gestures of warmth offered to friends in need'. 'A person with three solid friends is a very wealthy indeed'. This brings us to the last virtue of the fable, the winding path of sparkling diamonds. Meaning, 'live in the present and savor every moment of it'. The gift of the family makes the journey of life worthwhile. Starting today, learn more, laugh more and do what you truly love to do. 

With the night shining with stars of wisdom breaking into dawn, Julian handed over the baton of the 'golden keys of radiant living' to John and asked him to spread the rich legacy of the Sages of Sivana to the people around him.

Perhaps the following lines sums up the essence of the book, 'You sow a thought, you reap an action. Sow an action, you reap a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap your destiny.' The author has made a successful attempt to serve us another 'chicken soup for the soul' for our well being.  


More by :  Vickram Sahai

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