Reviews

The Monk who sold his Ferrari: A quest onto Self

Many have written about this captivating tale of self discovery but is it really worth all the hype? What makes Mr. Sharma stand out from the crowd? What is that something which is unique to him?

Imagine having your dream job, a six-figure salary, a luxurious home, a Ferrari and what-not! You have everything that money can get you but something seems off, a key piece of the puzzle is missing.

About the Author

Explore the story of Julian Mantle, “the monk” who sold his Ferrari. Robin Sharma a lawyer-turned life coach and author vaguely traces his life through the book. He has penned various self-help books and founded the Sharma Leadership International. His first book, MegaLiving (1994) which discusses stress management and spirituality was self-published before being taken-up by HarperCollins for wider distribution.

Writing Style

Sharma is known for his easy to understand language. It is no wonder that his magnum opus, The Monk who sold his Ferrari also follows this lucid style of writing. The story is taken forward by conversations that Julian has with his associate thus making the language of the text ordinary day-today English, an intentional move by Sharma to make his message reach a wider audience. He is a non-fictional writer but intentionally chose to convey his message through a fictional story. Again, another master stroke that made this book standout from the millions of self-help books available in the market. The simple but engaging story combined with tried and tested life strategies explained in a simple manner quickly established this book as one of its kind and it climbed the best seller’s chart very rapidly.

Gist of values

As mentioned above the book follows the life of Julian, a successful Lawyer through the conversations Julian has with his associate. Julian’s well off  life crumbles one day due to stress and he faces a heart attack. Once he recovers, he sells all his possessions and go to India. He visits the Himalayan mountains and meets the sages of Sivana. It is from here that Julian’s transformation begins.

He learns from here the seven virtues of Enlighted Living.

  1. Master your mind
  2. Follow your purpose
  3. Practice Kaizen
  4. Live with discipline
  5. Respect your time
  6. Serve others selflessly
  7. Embrace the present

Each of these concepts are explained beautifully with the help of fables and proverbs. The narratology the author uses to convey his message is pure mastery. Each concept takes up an entire chapter in the book.

Master your mind

Mind management is equal to life management.

Your outer world reflects the state of your inner world.

Endure pain, accept it when it comes. Pain can teach you many things.

The boundaries of life are merely creations of your mind, step-up on them deliberately and you will overcome them.

Do not be covetous, it is precious time getting wasted that can be utilised on your own dream.

Follow your purpose

Have a purposeful life. The purpose of life is to have a life with purpose.

The real source of happiness can be summed up in one word; achievement. It is the sense of achievement that ushers you forward in life.

Visualize your goal, you cannot hit the target unless you can see your goal.

Understand that there is always scope for betterment and learning. Respectfully say that your cup is still empty. This is actually a way of making sure that you learn something new even when you thought that you knew it.

Remember that what lies behind you and what lies in front of you is nothing when compared to what lies within you. You are the power!

Practice Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese concept, which literally translates to “change for better”, it can also be taken as “continuous improvement”.

You are your only limit. Race against yourself and not others. Continuously push yourself for better and abundance will automatically follow.

If you think that you have mastered something then it automatically blocks you from knowing and learning anything further and will therefore limit you from any progress beyond what is already achieved.

Always be open to learning new things.

Live with discipline

Be your own master.

Strength comes from within, do not be swayed by the outer forces.

Be more than what you appear to be, all the world’s strength and power rests in you.

Practice silence except when prompted by a direct question. This will gradually inculcate self-discipline.

Respect your time

There nothing more precious than time in your life.

Use it judiciously and you will not regret later.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Have the courage to say ‘No’ when the need arises.

 

Serve others selflessly

Sharma uses a Chinese proverb to capture this message elegantly. The proverb goes like this “A tinge of fragrance remains in the hands who offer roses”.

Serve others selflessly and you will reap the benefits of good karma.

Embrace the present

Remember that happiness is not the journey, rather, it is the destination.

Enjoy each moment and embrace each moment of life.

Embrace everything that comes with life, the pain and the pleasure, and you will realize the true meaning of life.

We are all here for a special purpose, embrace it and go forward for no one will ever be able to replace the role that you are meant to do.

Become the architect of your future instead of a prisoner of the past.

Some practical tips to follow

  • Spent some time in solitude every day. This will be the time you spent in conversation with your own inner self. You can also use the aid of a rose as a focal point. Find a peaceful place where you won’t be disturbed. Concentrate on each petal, the color, the texture and the beauty. Begin with five minutes initially and slowly expand the time to twenty minutes. This will be your oasis of peace.
  • Learn to see every situation as positive. Do not label events as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, accept it as they come, embrace them as vital parts of life and consider them as experiences of learning.
  • Convert your negative thoughts into positive ones. This might be a little difficult in the beginning but there is a trick to it. Be aware of your thoughts first, understand if they are positive or negative and then slowly concentrate more on the positive ones. Substitute a negative thought immediately with a positive one as soon as it comes and your mind will gradually get into the habit of filtering out only the positive ones while eliminating the negative ones.
  • Visualize your dream, there is nothing more powerful than visualizing something. One quote that specifically attracted me was

“Everything is created twice, first in mind and then in reality”

This quote basically sums up everything about the power of visualization in a single sentence.

  • Make time for ten minutes of reflection of your day and how you can improve your next day. This will help you to embody the spirit of Kaizen.

Conclusion

It was indeed a great read and had many different concepts explained wonderfully through the organic fusion of fables, fiction and proverbs. It is to be noted that most of these concepts are not an original idea of the author rather it is taken from many cultures and various teachings.  But like any other work nothing can be created out of the vacuum and the brilliance of the author doesn’t really lie in the originality of the work rather on the beautiful organic amalgamation of hundreds of concepts, narrowing it down and blending and mellowing it down to a fictional story that can be easily accessed by millions. Sharma’s brilliance lies in this very fact that he outran his competition of thousands of self-help books which sell the same concepts but in a much less interesting way. Ultimately like his protagonist Julian, he has also succeeded in spreading his message to the millions who will come after him.

Uncategorized

Twenty Four

imgp5944

“I always liked number 24” said Lucy “Number 24 is not as friendly as number 9, yes… but she does have a distinct personality.”

Lucy was standing in the vacant corridors and examining the charts of papers with patient details. Her student Roger Humbert or as he liked to be called Hume was an attentive student, yet she did not feel the warmth that she usually feels towards her other students. He was not very bright but had a muscular body and thick eyebrows which made him look older than her. In some ways, he was unfit to be a psychiatrist, thought Lucy but kept it to herself.

“Ms Lucy if you could take a closer look at number 24…” Hume paused in the middle without knowing what to say.

“Yes… yes… I’ll see to it. But why Hume? Why do you think that she needs to be put in a straitjacket? She is doing fine. As far as I know, she has been taking her pills and have been co-operating with the staff in bathing and taking food.” Lucy asked.

“Yes, that is correct ma’am. But she has been violent recently, in her sleep she wounds herself. She is passive all through the day but at night it is a different case altogether. She starts hallucinating and wounding herself during the night.”

Lucy was confused, how shall she deal with this student who thinks mental patients needs to be kept in cages. “Listen, Hume, you need to understand that what we are dealing with are not normal people in the right set of mind, but, that does not mean they have to be denied their right as a human being. I understand that she has been hallucinating but her wounds do not look like it is a case of DSH.”

“Ma’am I do not understand. She has been making deep scratches on her thighs with her nails. You mean to say this is not a case of deliberate selfharm?”

“Yes, Hume, to some extent it is. But look at it closely, those wounds are not as deep as a blade wound”

“But ma’am it is obvious that she won’t get a blade or any sharp objects here. So it is only natural that she uses her nails to harm herself”

“Yes, Hume, please let me complete. According to my observation, she is dreaming of something terrible at night. It is true that she is hurting herself but that looks more like a natural reaction to what trauma she is undergoing during her hallucinations. This is why her scratch marks are deep but not as severe as a patient with DSH or NSSI tendencies. If that was the case then it would have been far worse than this.”

“Mm… I see. But even then, if she continues to do this is there another option than constraining her?”

“Well Hume, let’s take a deeper look at her case history. She must have undergone a trauma which is currently relapsing during her hallucinations at night. Understanding the core of the problem is the way to fixing it.” Lucy said with assertion. She had enough of convincing this man about how he needs to handle psychiatric patients. After all, he was in the final semester of his MD and it was not the first time he brought up a case like this. He seems more adamant in putting his patients in constraints than treating them into wellness.

It was almost 11 when she got back home. She was tired as hell and badly needed a long warm shower. By 11: 30 she was in her bed scrolling through her phone. She doesn’t remember when she slept off but it must have been near 12.

She woke up with a start when she found a person violently pulling off her panties. She tried to fight but with horror she found herself to be in a straitjacket. She could not move let alone make even a faint noise. She was completely in the mercy of this huge man. Pain pierced her body and expressed itself through silent sobs. Through the hazy view, she saw the sweat dripping like slime to her forehead from his thick brows. A few more minutes, she prayed, and it was over.

In the morning Dr Hubert came to check on her. “Yes, Lucy. Today also those bad dreams… huh? Now… now… you don’t want to be in a straitjacket the rest of your life, do you? Now behave yourself.” Said Hubert with a vile smile.

As he went the door closed behind him, it had the number 24 on them.

Uncategorized

The Description Of A Person

In a not so quite library a person was engrossed in looking through the pictures of a book. Of course, he was not reading, he is too bored to do that sort of thing.
He wore a turban and looked cute with his round face and curious big eyes. He wore a yellow Batman T-shirt and blue trousers, a very casual look, typical of a kid in his upper primary years.
He treasured the Batman action figure that his mausi had bought him for his birthday. The one thing he could not stand was his mother always comparing him to his little sister. She was the class topper and I wish I could say that our little hero was nothing less, but unfortunately, he was not cut out for studies. Instead, his happiest moments were lived out in the ground playing football. He visits the Gurudwara whenever his family takes him and prays that he gets a replacement for his sister.
He threw a tantrum when he was denied cotton candy yesterday but his mother had her reasons to deny him candy sold in the streets. He loved Disneyland and secretly promised himself that he would take Mili (his longtime crush) to Disneyland when he gets “big”.
He would definitely panic and cry for his mother if he ever gets caught up in a bank robbery and surely enough he wouldn’t react well to being screamed at. The worst thing he had probably done would have been stealing a collection of erasers from the guy who sits next to him in class. The erasers were of different fruit shapes and colours and he just couldn’t contain his envy. Also, he tries to cook-up things to get his sister into trouble but most of the time it just never works or backfires. He does not have many secrets in life except that he has a crush on his English teacher who apparently is strict in his terms but still is very cute.

Uncategorized

Opening Paragraph of “Elma and the Techno-Queen”

A Short Science Fiction for Children and Young Adults

18AFROFUTIRSM-WEB2-facebookJumbo

In another galaxy, in another time, the queen was shouting away at someone. That someone happens to be Elma, the tiny elephant, the queen’s bodyguard but more than that the queen’s friend. But today, unfortunately, was not the brightest of the day for Elma. So she let it all blow out and let the queen take her rage out on her. Technically though, she was not to be blamed. It was not entirely her fault that the auto-translation device attached to her vocal cords failed. This was, in fact, one of the many devices which allowed her to be in the presence of humans and cyborgs without any hassle of being an animal. Along with her small size and years of training, she could mingle with the cyborgs as easily as she mingled with her tribe. However, work kept her busy and she rarely had the time to be among her tribe. She was after all the queen’s bodyguard and it was no easy task. The queen was not only a cyborg but a highly advanced ultra-cyborg. After all, there is a reason why she is called the Techno-Queen. Like Elma, the Queen was also born out of a highly advanced cloning process which is rarely done beyond the elite royal blood. Thanks to this advanced process Elma was not as large as the other elephants but yet not so small that she could not protect the queen. She could be considered a kind of mutant whose primary duty was to protect the queen.

Well, let us come to the matter at hand. I would rather start by saying that it was a sunny day on the planet Homeron with bright fluorescent colours shining out of the sky. But unfortunately for Elma as mentioned earlier it was not the brightest of days. The queen was organizing a feast for some intergalactic guests. Elma got to know that the guests were somewhat dimwitted for they were full humans with no cyborgs among them and they were on a cosmic voyage for the first time. It was unlike the queen to be interested in such a boring race and Elma couldn’t really fathom it. From her part, Elma was ready as always to face any challenges that may arise to threaten her queen’s safety. Little did she know that this time she would be the one to wreak her queen’s party.

Uncategorized

Plot of “Elma and the Techno-Queen”

e5d886b53b15b03c07d850a4be5c6aa0

Name: Elma and the Techo-Queen
Plot threads:

1) Introducing Elma and the setting.
a) The setting is another highly advanced galaxy in a future time.
b) Elma is an elephant who is the queen’s bodyguard.
c) Elma can talk to humans and cyborgs and her size is rather smaller than normal elephants due to technological interventions.
d) The queen is a highly advanced ultra-cyborg.

2) Rising Action
a) The feast is going on. Everything is in order.
b) Elma is also ready along with her queen for the party.
c) Elma gets to know that the guests invited for the party are not as advanced as themselves.

3) Climax
a) Elma’s auto-translation device stops working in the middle of the party.
b) However, without a clue that her auto translation device has failed, she goes on trumpeting in her elephant tongue.
c) The less advanced guests who have never seen a cultivated cyborg elephant before panics, there is a lot of chaos and the party is ruined.

4) Falling Action
a) The queen is really angry at Elma for ruining the party.
b) Elma does not understand why the queen is so angry and why she cares so much about an underdeveloped race but accepts all that the queen says.
c) But Elma wants to find out why the queen is overreacting so much.
d) Eventually, she finds out that the queen is in love with a man she met while on her intergalactic tours.
e) And the party was organized as a pretext for their meeting.

5) Resolution
a) Elma understands the situation and works to fix it.
b) Even though she is sceptical about the man initially she trusts her queen’s decision and respects it.

Romantic Subplot
a) Queen’s love for a man of a so-called “underdeveloped” race.
b) Elma, being the queen’s friend intervenes in this love as she feels it is bad for the queen.
c) Elma sees them as two different entities.
d) However, the queen convinces her that she loves him exactly because he is different from her.
e) The queen is drawn to the bare nature of this man as she feels he is not yet tainted by technology like her.
f) Elma gradually understands that the very differences between them make them unique and perfect for each other and this understanding brings a closure to the story.

Uncategorized

Rethinking “Lolita”

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Do not be fooled by these lines or by the name of the novel. Of course, given the modern-day connotations of the name ‘Lolita’ it’s only natural to think of this novel as an erotic, semi-pornographic fantasy fiction. Let me be honest, it does include eroticism; eroticism to a great extent. But this is clearly not the only reason why it still remains as a classic piece of art. Today the word ‘Lolita’ is used to denote to a sexually precocious young girl. The current meaning’s lineage can be pinpointed to this novel.

The novel revolves around a paedophile and his obsession with a girl of 12 years.  He claims to be a literature professor and gives himself the name ‘Humbert Humbert’. The young child’s actual name is Dolores, whom Humbert calls Lolita. Humbert narrates the story in 1st person. The novel opens with a psychologist writing a foreword for a collection of memoirs written by a convict who recently died. Psychologist indicates that the memoirs were received from the convict’s lawyer. This sets the stage for the novel.

Afterwards, we plunge into the mind of Humbert, starting from his childhood love of 13 which was unconsummated as she died of typhoid. Because of this trauma he develops a psychological condition of hebephiliac fixation (the condition of adults being sexually attracted to prepubescent individuals). Humbert claims that the early death of his first love caused her to be ever etched in his mind as a nymphet which resulted in his fixation with young girls (this clearly does not justify what he does). Humbert in a wild turn of events gets to be the stepdad of the orphaned Lolita. The story progresses from here on to trace their story.

Why a classic piece of literature?  

Wondering why the story of a paedophile is included in the top ten novels of all time? Well, the reason is simple, Nabokov’s style of writing, his language and its lucidity. Nabokov undoubtedly is a genius in fiction writing. He not only tells the story of a paedophile but makes the readers almost feel sympathy towards him. By the end of the novel, the reader is in a dilemma. The reader knows very well in his/her mind that what Humbert is doing is sexual abuse and violation of a young child’s life yet he/she feels a pinch of sympathy towards Humbert. That is the power of Nabokov’s writing that he almost convinces the reader that Humbert really did love Lolita (in his own, weird, cracked way). The reader questions himself/herself, is this some form of love? Or just the mad obsession of a paedophile?

The second reason is the devices and the way he tells the story. The psychologist, the lawyer and the memoir set the groundwork of the novel in such a way that it can almost make a pass as a real-life incident. Through the foreword Nabokov makes the story believable as well as gives his point that this does not contain any moral values and does not intend to be didactic in nature. His language is simple to a level that it easily enters the heart.

“Lolita”, personally is not my most favorite novel, yet it is most definitely in my favorite list for its style, fluidity and Nabokov’s genius as a fiction writer and a storyteller.