Subtitled A Book that Changes Lives, it was originally published in the late 80's and took a long time to build a following - mostly by word of mouth. Well, life changing or not, it certainly provides a different perspective which is essential to making life changes. This book is one of those wonders that appeared when I ordered a very different book through Amazon.com. One of my favorite features of Amazon is not only have they tracked every book I've purchased on their site since 1997, but they provide those highly targeted recommendations based on what I am clicking on. So that is how I came to order this book. Or maybe it was Karma.
It goes hand in hand with some of the other books I've read this past year involving the theme of personal journey. One of the themes that resonated with me in The Daily Six (Sep. 07) was the idea that we should focus our efforts on being someone rather than something - that we are not the sum of our job title, our skill set or our assets. This book goes one step further, saying we should stop focusing so much on being someone, and concentrate on being at one with everything around us. And I very much like that message.
I've come to realize that we are what we think about. Hardly a new idea, but my mind whirls constantly with the number, variety and complexity of thoughts that I don't seem to be able to control. Meditation would seem to be the answer to that, but it goes beyond even the simple practice of meditation to understand how disconnected we are from the physical world around us. One of my favorite lines in this book, toward the very end, is when Dan says, "I lost my mind and came to my senses." That very much resonates with me. I live a very cerebral sort of existence with much of my life centered around my thoughts. It needs to be balanced with an awareness and appreciation of all that exists that has nothing at all to do with thoughts.
The book is a great read and very engaging because it's sort of an autobiography that reads like a novel and it weaves in themes that make you ponder. Well, it made me ponder anyway. The central character in the book is the author's spiritual mentor whom he calls Socrates. In this character, I recognized many traits of my own mentor. I could see he is like Socrates in many ways, while at the same time he is like the student Dan. He's farther along in his journey than I am, but we both still have a ways to go.
The quest for enlightenment and transcendence is centuries old. Each new generation seems to produce new writers, thinkers and spiritualists engaged in their own personal search that mirrors the particular time and place in which they find themselves living. This tale is both ancient and modern. Has it changed my life? Well, not yet. But it's definitely had a major impact that is potentially life changing. I really loved the book.