Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

There is a Buddhist proverb that says: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma is a teacher of sorts. A few months ago, I was recommended chapter 11 to read because it discussed practical strategies to manage time. (To read more of my thoughts on this chapter, please click here.) I fell in love with the message of the Deathbed Mentality which describes how to prioritize and manage your day as if it might be your last. So, I decided to purchase the whole book.

Although I have reviewed some pretty inspirational books, ones that I may describe as "life changing" and "earth shattering", I feel that The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari really met me where I am in my healing journey. I was immediately drawn into this book through the power of story. Julian Mantle was an extremely successful attorney who had it all-- money, cars, a huge house, the admiration, appeal, women, and the respect of his colleagues. He was at the top of his game. Then he had a major heart attack and he was presented with two alternatives by his physician-- give up his "high powered" lifestyle or pursue a path focussed on recovering his health. Julian decided on the latter resulting in a spiritual quest into the remote Himalayas which sounds a little cliche, but is not. He returns with a mission-- to share all that he has learned from the mystical monks who taught him the path to happiness and fulfillment. He first pupil is a younger attorney at his firm.

And this is where I am in my healing journey. I too gave up half of my dayjob (and salary) in order to focus on my healing recovery. As a result, I have also had to make some cost-saving decisions including not driving my car with the hopes to sell it, taking public transit, designing a new budget, and spending less in addition to meditation and visualization. As these decision have been challenging, I feel similar to Julian-- there are many rich lessons to be learned from this path as I feel more balanced.

Reading the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, my interest was immediately drawn through the power of story. The book reminded me very much of the Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coehlo and some of his other work. All of his stories feature a character, whether a shepherd to an exotic dancer/prostitute, going on a quest to find his or her bliss and destiny. A critical difference between The Alchemist and The Monk... is that in the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, author Robin Sharma is overtly didactic by teaching the readers lessons and providing tools and strategies for life. In this way, Robin Sharma comes across as more of a corporate trainer than a writer like Coehlo. In fact, Sharma has a series of books, CDs, and workshops aimed at the business professional. Given Sharma's background as a Dalhousie University-trained lawyer (LLB and LLM in hand), he draws from his experiences when characterizing both Julian Mantle and the younger attorney.

Through a series of enticing parables, techniques (e.g., The Heart of the Rose, The Secret of the Lake), and symbols (e.g., the lighthouse, garden), Sharma describes a simpler existence involving meditation, self-discipline, vegetarianism, goal setting, self-improvement, and the secret of happiness. Given all of the books that I have read so far, I realize that Sharma's ideas are not original, an amalgamation of Eastern philosophies, effective business practices, and research. But there is a certain magic about this book which borders that of a fairy tale. It is wonderful to read a book that embodies Kaizen (self-improvement in Japanese). It helps me to feel that I am on the right path and I am where I need to be.

Robin Sharma, author

Coming up next: Pyramids of Power! An Ancient African Centred Approach to Optimal Health by John T. Chissell, MD

1 comment:

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