So, everyone of us will be ready with a so-called “Bucket-list” or “To-do-list” as new year approaches. The “new year resolution” fills everyone with great energy towards success but it is just the starting point for a long journey.
Wait!!! What is success? What is its relation with happiness???
Recently, I have read an old book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” authored by Robin S Sharma. It is a 200page book which tries to explain different methods to improve one’s living. It can be useful to set your new year resolutions as well.
So, just hold my hand and walk till the end of the journey as it takes only 20min to cover 200pages.
The story starts with a well reputed, famous lawyer Julian who has seen all the riches of the world. He works day/night and has achieved “so-called” success and still runs behind it (like a never ending marathon). Suddenly, when he was in the court, he falls down unconsciously.
The lawyer in the story is none other than us. Each one of us run behind something, worrying about it and striving to achieve it. After achieving it, most of us still feel disappointed that we didn’t get better and still strive harder to achieve something that even we don’t know what we are chasing after, just like the lawyer. And eventually, one day, we would be falling like the lawyer. Mayn’t be physically, it’s just a symbolic representation to mean that one will fall from the “so-called” pseudo riches one day.
“The work that we are going to do today is well below our capacity” — Winston Churchill(edited)
So that we should work to the full capacity to complete the difficult task and which eventually drains our energy, both physically and mentally.
The news that Julian was quitting his profession and was going to the East(Mystical India) had reached John(Julian’s close friend and assistant). He sold all his properties and left to the East. So, John was thinking about Julian everyday and on one such day to his surprise sees him. A transformed, never before seen, healthy, sounding fit Julian. It is like a form of energy is radiating from Julian. Shocked, surprised John was awestruck and his mind runs a million questions.
John is also a regular character like us in real life. As they both are in same profession and as John knows the path Julian has taken to succeed, he puts himself in that way thinking becoming like Julian is success or it brings him loads of happiness. In our daily life, we are in various situations where we look at other and feel that is real success and we should strive to achieve it. Pause for a moment and ask yourself these questions
1. “What is success/happiness/sad(X)?” — X can be any emotional, mental, spiritual trait
2. “Is the X that you defined above is according to you? ”
If the answer for 2nd question is no, or even if you become hesitant for a moment before saying yes, then you need to rethink first question. Because John, who has been characterized as a busy lawyer just like us.(Busy engineer, doctor etc. Profession doesn’t matter) starts rethinking and spends time for his family, kids after his father says -
“On your deathbed, you won’t wish to spend more time in the office”
So, the mysterious visitor starts explaining his journey and how India, the mystical land helped him to understand and view situations in different perspectives, how to see beauty even in the smallest things. His transformation can be best explained as a cocoon breaking the shell and seeing the outside world. Till then, Julian felt, he has seen all the paths of the world. But he has explored only a well and now he has realized that. Finally, with great difficulty he goes to the place “Great Sages of Sivana”
For John, Julian is a role model, who has seen the path of lawyer profession till the end and so he believes what Julian is saying. It mayn’t be true in every case. So, start reading good books, appreciate music, dance like you are mad, paint like a kid and what not. Do all the stuff and eventually you end up finding something that interests you. When you find it, make it as a habit. Make a stable career and practice your hobbies. Improve your skills. We need to be like a stubborn Julian who climbed until he explored the “Great Sages Of Sivana”. The traits of stubbornness, focused mind to achieve something comes only by training our mind.
“One who can’t spend some qualitative time for himself(physical, mental, spiritual) can’t change anything. Because the change should start within you”.
Is it too philosophical? Okay, look at it this way
“Cleaning a house starts from cleaning a room and cleaning a room starts from the place where you stand in”.
Does it sound stupid? Maybe, but it works.
The house → Outside world.
The room → You.
Your standing place → Mind.
Broomstick → Techniques.
In the same way, when you want to do something in the external world, first we need to do that in our mind. Author names it as “Blueprint”. And to do blueprint, we need to know how to access that and formulate. Just as how to use broomstick and clean.
“Your life has been made of your choices. Only YOURS”
Though there is absolutely no control on the situations that you are facing, the way you want to react is in your hands. And to act in a better way, one needs to think more effectively by some means.
Chapter- 4, 5, 6 & Reflections
In simple terms, Julian explains about “Great Sages Of Sivana”, their lifestyle, their preachings and how it has changed him. He explains everything in a small fablewhich is as follows(abridged)
“You are sitting in the middle of a placid garden. There is a six stories high lighthouse infront of you from which a 9ft tall, 900 pound Japanese sumo wrestler (who has only a pink wire cable covering his private parts) stumbles out disturbing the silence of garden. As the sumo wrestler roams around, he finds a gold stopwatch which someone has left behind many years. He slips on it, falls on the ground with a thud and goes to unconscious state for some time. Just when you think he is in his last breath, suddenly the wrestler awakens maybe because of some fragrance of roses and when he looks around, he finds a million sparkling diamonds and something seems to instruct the wrestler to take the path which leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss”
The seven timeless virtues are:
1. The garden →Your mind
2. The lighthouse →Your purpose
3. The sumo wrestler →Kaizen/Endless improvement
4. The pink wire cable →Self-control, will power
5. The stop watch →Importance of time
6. The roses →Selfless service, compassion
7. Path of diamonds →Enjoy the present
The story may seem simple. But the yogi says
“Never overlook the power of simplicity”
So, in our lives too, we shouldn’t just leave out simple things. Enjoy even the smallest work that you have done for the day. Incrementally, it adds to your basket of happiness. On the long run, your bag should be filled with memories, not questions.
“Your past should be your teacher who guides you. Not the teacher who punishes you.”
“Great dreamers dreams are never fulfilled, they are always transcended” — Lord Whitehead
“Your vision will become clear when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams and who looks inside awakens” — Carl Jung
When you go out of your filed only, you can be able to know many things. Who knows, a technique in one field may bring a breakthrough in another. It’s not meant to study all the fields to the deepest. When you read good books(mayn’t be related to your subject always), you will end up with some ideas which can change your life(and others too).
In short, in these 30 pages, author says about three techniques that can be used to train your mind(The Garden). We already know how important it is to train our mind. If we don’t train it, it controls us.
1. The Heart of the rose: Best when practiced in open air. A silent room also works fine. Look at the heart of the rose. Focus on it. Just as the rose petals are as delicate and beautiful as the success that you want to achieve, the thorns are the obstacles in your way. These are just setbacks.
“Everything is temporary in this permanent world. Even the problems!!!”
2. Opposition thinking: Whenever you get a negative idea into your mind, just pass it away. Like moving away a slide. Simply speaking, your mind is a projector. Focus more on good thoughts and when you encounter a negative thought, just click the right button.
But to do this, one requires a lot of patience, will power because you are forcing your mind to work. Just like at the starting of the gym, one feels tired after workout, in the similar way we feel exhausted after doing this because we are draining our mind. In fact, that’s the positive sign to indicate we are going the right way.
“A negative thought is like a weed. Though it is one, it spoils the rest”
3. Secret of the lake: Reflect yourself. Think what you are doing. It is similar to the classical “Mirror technique”. Just imagine what you want to do.
If you want to complete a project, just think about that. Your project should be completed twice. One in your mind, which is called a “blueprint” and other which is a replica of blueprint. When your blueprint is not clear, how come your real version be. Just like the original is not proper, how can you get a good xerox out of it.
It doesn’t mean to take stress. Just make sure how you are contributing to that everyday. It mayn’t be on a daily basis. But weekly, monthly, or yearly. When you are thinking about it only once a year, how can you justify it as a prioritised task. So, with this one can prioritize their tasks which brings more efficient output.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge” — Albert Einstein
Give it a try. Knowledge can be brought from books but imagination is no where. You need to make it from your DNA and only you knows how to make it.
“When one eye is fixed to destination, only one eye is there to help in journey”
So, don’t ponder about the result always while working. If effectively reduces the capacity.
“When your mind is full of thoughts, there is no room for rethinking. Just like a cup filled to its brim can’t be filled”
So, empty your mind to give fresh thoughts.
Naturally the question comes. “How to empty the mind?” It’s not really emptying the mind.
It mainly says never be preoccupied while listening to someone. It’s good to have doubts but leave your mind open. Afterall, the mind will be still in between those giant shoulders.
It is to trigger the parts of mind by performing various exercises as above for nearly one month that we can find changes in our inner self. And once it is achieved, the rest is a mirror.
“When you accept yourself, the world starts accepting you”
And you can accept yourself by accepting even the smallest mistakes/flaws that you have and you can do that by only proper training.
“Ink in pen slowly vanishes when writing just as mind gets tired”
The first week of anything will be the toughest. “The 21 day rule” of psychology also supports that. So, don’t worry. When it starts paining, it means you are actually using it which is far better than keeping it still and letting it rotten away.
Chapter — 8
“People who study others are wise, who study themselves are enlightened”
It is just similar to “First clean your house before worrying about the ward”. In a way we can understand it as to spend sometime of our everyday life to understand ourselves which makes life more clear in all aspects.
In this, he clearly explains the importance of the “lighthouse” which corresponds to the purpose of your life. In other terms, one should find his/her “Dharma” which means life’s purpose in Sanskrit.
Just as lighthouse has a purpose to guide the ships/boats in sea you also do have.
But, why is it we need to know purpose of what we are doing? Just ask this question to yourself when you are doing any work. And it means “any work”. “What it is giving? Is it wealth, satisfaction or health etc.” When you come to know that and if it is what you are striving for, then this is the thing that you need to pursue.
In simple terms, you need to discover yourself and mission of your life.
“Self knowledge is the DNA of self enlightenment”
So, when you know your purpose/mission and you strive to achieve it, you become great in that field. Some become actors, others become scientists because they found their mission of how to serve this world.
So, the first step towards passion hunt is goal setting. So, as we know what we are really interested in, if we focus our entire energy towards the goal that we set, it automatically drives us towards our passion. And as we accomplish our passion it makes our life fulfilled.
So, this goal setting should be clear, precise and sure shot. In the book, the author demonstrates by an example:
“Yogi, who was an excerpt in archery, who never misses bulls eye, one day ties a knot to his eye and standing after 100 feet aims at bulls eye and misses”
This demonstrates that the goal that we set should be clearly visible, precise and we should know where it is. Even Arjuna, in Mahabharatha knows where the fish is when he has assigned the challenge. But there the goal can’t be perceived clearly. It is Arjuna who trained himself to make it clear. In the same way, we need to make our goals clear to achieve them which ultimately brings our passion together.
Assume you want to lose weight. So, here the task is weight loss. Now set a clear, precise goal of what you can do to achieve that. Is it related to food that you can change or exercise or what else. After making it clear, just stick to it. It follows the rest.
Isn’t it so? Just give it a thought!!
So, passion driven by goal setting. Now how to make goal setting?
Simple. Take a piece of paper and write all your thoughts/ goals that you have.
But, why to write maybe the question? It is good to be skeptical because then only we are actually going through the process.
An average human makes 60,000 thoughts a day and the most important are to be noted so that we can remember them. As simple as such.
“Even the big bungalow has to be build using small stones”
So, don’t worry if your goals are small. They are cool because at the end of the day, they help you to build something big.
In the book, author gives 5 steps for goal setting
1. Make a clear mental image of the outcome (If weight loss, then everyday visualize yourself fit in a small shirt. It may sound crazy but it will work)
2 .Get some positive pressure on yourself (Go on, say it to your friends, put some constraints, all in a healthy manner)
“Associate pressure with good habits and punishments with bad habits”
3. Setup a timeline for sure.
“ A boat without a rudder can’t be controlled”. Timeline serves as a rudder to our goals to be achieved.
Three mirrors that forms a person’s reflection
· How you see yourself
· How others see you
· The truth
This can be understood only if we starts writing something on a piece of paper.
4. Apply the magic rule of 21. In simple terms, it takes nearly 21 days for a new habit to be installed in our routine life. Psychology supports it. That’s it. The focus is not on 21. It is about the consistency, perseverance that makes us to achieve this feat.
“Never do anything because you have to do. Do everything because you want to do and you believe that is the right choice to do”
“Bad habits can never be erased. They can just be replaced”
When you understand this, it becomes easier to install a new habit.
5. Enjoy the process. It is as simple as it is but the most difficult one when it comes to practice.
Chapter — 9
The “sumo wrestler” in the story represents “kaizen” which means constant and never-ending improvement.
The never-ending improvement starts from improving one’s inner self. In other terms
“Self mastery is the DNA of life’s mastery”
“No man is free who is not a master of himself” — Epictetus
Give open mind to new ideas. It is the first step of self improvement.
“The only limits of your life are those that you set yourself”
So, why not extend it. Afterall it is you who has put the limits.
But how can you extend that? For that you need to say to your mind to perform the task which in turn brings us to control our mind.
So, kaizen can be practiced by pushing the limits daily which requires a powerful control of our mind.
When you push your limits, you will feel one thing for sure. It is fear
“Fear is nothing but a stream of negative consciousness”
In simple terms, do the things that you fear which can help you to push your limits further.
“Put the short term happiness aside to achieve the long term success”
The author gives a beautiful anecdote of why it is required to improve oneself.
A tired father reads newspaper when his son pesters him to play. Irritated, he tears a paper having globe image into small tit-bits and asks his son to arrange it so that he can get some time to relax. But, to his surprise, his son arranges it in a minute. When asked how, he says “On the other side of the globe, there is the picture of the person and once the person was clear, the globe was okay”
This beautifully explains how imaging oneself helps to view the entire world.
When you feel like you don’t have time to spend on your personal improvement, just remember this quote and I feel it makes you think differently.
“You resemble a car with mind as the engine. The mind needs some rest to work back properly and rest implies looking into yourself and improving the engine”
The author provides “Ten Rituals of Radiant Living” for self improvement
1. Ritual of Solitude: Ensure you have mandatory period of peace. Just keep calm and let the thoughts flow in. It helps you to answer who you are, where you are, where you want to go, why you want to go etc. thus helping for self improvement
2. Ritual of Physicality: Spend at least 5hr/week for the nourishment of the body. Let it be gym, exercise, yoga but focus on body as
“One’s engine can’t be safe with a weak car”
“We need to breath for thrive, not for survive.”
Breathe properly. As simple as such, your abdomen should move a bit while breathing.
3. Ritual of Live Nourishment: Maintain a healthy diet. Author prefers for a vegetarian whenever it is possible.
4. Ritual of Abundant Knowledge: Read good books. Improve your knowledge. Become the student of the life. Read at least 30min/ day and in a course of time, you will have fair amount of knowledge on the topic which improves yourself.
“Study the books, not read them”
“Books help you see what is already within yourself.”
5. Ritual of Personal Reflection: Definitely, in your day, you might have done something that you regret doing. This is simply what personal reflection is and writing on a piece of paper and acting makes it a ritual and improves one’s self. Simply,
“Correct your wrong deeds and improve the right ones.”
6. Ritual of Early Awakening: As simple as the title suggests, wake up early and do practice other techniques. But this is the most difficult to ingest in the routine.
7. Ritual of Music: Enjoy good music, mostly classical. It helps to enrich and relax your engine(mind !!!).
8. Ritual of Spoken word: Practice chanting. Simply because when you do it for some thousands of times you mind makes more clearer picture of yourself which makes it easier to achieve the task.
9. Ritual of Congruent Character: Build your character that helps you to achieve your passion and accomplish your mission.
“You sow a thought, you reap an action. Reap an action, you sow a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow your character, you reach your destiny”
Simply, Thoughts →Actions →Habit →Character →Destiny.
“Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as to think”
The qualities that author says are
10. Ritual of Simplicity:
In simple words, “Be simple, live simple. Understand the power of simple”
Finally, “Nothing to extremes, everything in moderation”
Success comes in physical, mental, spiritual forms when one strives to improve oneself. But in the process failures do occur. Then remember this one
“Failure is your friend. Pain is your teacher. Embrace them with brave, courage. The universe takes care of the rest to fulfill your dreams.”
Chapter — 10
The “pink wire” which covers the private parts of sumo wrestler in the story symbolizes the power of self-control, discipline, will power. As the saying goes “Divided is weak, united is strength” alone each wire is weak while together they can’t be broken. So, your small deeds should contribute to the greater will power.
“When spider webs unite, they tie up the lion”
Without will power, you are like a mariner without a compass. Even Gandhi couldn’t do meditation and fasting during the initial days of his journey. His will power, self discipline helped him to achieve it.
“Never be the slaves to the weak impulses. It is like the freedom to choose what is right rather than what is pressing.”
“Change your liberty to freedom by the act of will power”
What I meant is you may be liberal to do some task but restricted because of some weak impulses. Break those with will power and attain freedom.
For example, you are liberal to wake early but your weak impulse says “Com’on, sleep for some more time”. Now, you need to break with your will power and as you practice it daily, you attain complete freedom from all weak impulses and that ultimately gives you an achievement and purposeful life.
“When you control your thoughts, you control your mind. When you control your mind, you control your life and when you control your life you become the master of destiny”
The author gives a mantra to chant to improve will power
“I am more than I appear to be, all the world’s strength and power rests inside me”
It may seem simple, even ridiculous because we may think “What one sentence can do?” But as we continue to chant it continuously, our neurons get programmed to it. It is like you see a dozen car images at your childhood and recognize a new one as a car. It’s all about what our neuron perceives.
Another technique is to “Start doing the things that you don’t like”. By practicing this continuously, you cease to be a slave of your weaker impulses and exert your will. Afterall, a little positive pressure is good for health.
Be silent for a day. Though you want to speak, if you force not to, you are trying to control your will. And practicing this simply makes you the conqueror of your will. Push yourself from the gravitational forces to see till what extend you can go.
“Know your limits and extend them like a band. But it may seem you will reach your normal position. Do it again and again and at one point you will be at the other state permanently”
Chapter — 11
“Well arranged time is the surest mark of well arranged mind” — Sir Issac Pitman
The “golden stopwatch” in the fable marks about the importance of time. Everyone of us has heard a lot about this topic.
“Time once lost can’t be returned. Time and tide never waits for anyone”
The time how you spend can be reflected by the ancient rule of 80
“80% of the results you achieve in your life come from only 20% of activities that occupy your time”
So, just pose this question to yourself once
1. When I am getting 80% from 20% of my time, what am I doing the rest 80% of my time?
Just answer this one question to yourself and you can understand how you are wasting your time. Then make a list and cut down the junk activities just like you cut down the waste before cooking vegetables.
“Enlightened people are priority driven”
If you see, the world’s busiest persons has a lot of time in their schedule. Because they can manage time efficiently, they can do a lot many things and thus they become busiest persons and thus has free time. (Piece of logic!!!)
“Don’t let others steal your time. It is yours. It can’t be brought back. Learn to say NO”
“Phone is there for your convenience. Not for others.”
“When you wake up, feel it is the last day of your life and live it to the fullest.”
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having human experience. I am not in the world. The world is within me.”
By simplifying your life, you can cut down junk time which ultimately gives you a lot of space.
Chapter — 12
“Everything that lives, lives not alone, not for itself” — William Blake
The “yellow roses” in the story where the sumo wrestler falls unconscious reminds us about the “selfless service” to do just as the flowers give fragrance. It helps for their own growth too. When I say selfless, it actually has some self as helping others would help you to improve yourself.
“The quality of your life will come down to the quality of your contribution”
“Look with multiple perspectives. Try to wear different hats. Some may feel awkward but atleast one will solve your problem”
“When we born, we cry but the world rejoices. When we die, the world should cry while we rejoice”
It is possible only by your services, deeds, contributions.
The author gives a heart felt example where the son of a old woman will not take care of her and makes her sit aside a table while eating. The daughter of this gentleman(granddaughter of the old woman) starts making a table because she says, “Tomorrow when you become old, I need to make you sit there right”
It tells us “What you gives will be returned in the same style. Just like a spring balance.”
So, serve the world. Be kind, good, compassionate, improve yourself and make your mark in this world.
Chapter — 13
“When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator” — Mahatma Gandhi
After gaining consciousness, the sumo wrestler walks to the “path of diamonds” and attains happiness. The path of diamonds will remind you of the “Final virtue of the enlightened living. Embrace the present.”
Just live your life. “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. Enjoy the small elements of nature and you will start an improved yourself. In all aspects.
While you need to strive for the achievements that you need to get in the future, you need to live your present to the fullest.
“Never put off happiness for the sake of achievement.”
“For what lies behind you and what lies infront of you matters littles when compared to what lies within you”
“Your past is water under bridge and your future is on the other side of bridge. You can’t reach any one of them at the given time. So, why worry about either”
But you need to make lessons from the past and train yourself so that you won’t commit them in future. As simple as such and you achieve all that you have dreamt of.
The author explains the importance of “Living at the present” with a very beautiful fable “Peter and the Magic Thread”
Peter, a kid is presented with a magic thread. As he pulls harder it takes him forward in his life. (Just like the fancy time machines). Peter, who is not content with the present goes on and on and on till he comes to old age where he realizes that “In search for a better future, he has sacrificed the present which eventually becomes past as he goes in the future”. But he has been gifted to come back to his childhood and he feels happy. Suddenly, his mother wakes him up saying “If you continue to dream, you will miss school bus”
Though the fable is fictitious, it is what most of us are doing. Analyze yourself and you will know it. Make life simple.
Finally, “Do Everything in moderation. Nothing to extremes”
Though it gives a brief synopsis of the book, it is highly advisable to read the book to get more insightful meaning.
Now, try to make your new year resolutions accordingly and observe the improvements.
Thanks for travelling with me till the end of the journey. Any suggestions are welcome.
One hand is good for throwning stones on someone while it takes two to clap. Try it out
Personal Website: namburisrinath.github.io
Medium Handle: namburisrinath.medium.com