Mankind has been 'living in a chrysalis'; he has no experience of life or living. The life that we live, which seems such a struggle and test of endurance, bears little resemblance to life as it really is, so clearly illuminated in the chapter ‘Cause and Effect’. In resting his case on cause and effect man is avoiding what is there in front of him; he is shirking life in fear; his life is shaking in fear. This chapter provides a giant step to understanding this fear and so become free of it, but it requires courage to accept what is written for fearlessness to follow: 'Courage, mon vieux', as they say in France: “Be courageous, my dear friend.”
The reward of cause and effect lies in its result to which man is attracted, as is the firefly to fire. The chapter ‘Results’ provides a unique insight for those fortunate enough to read it into the mysterious life that all living beings share. It provides the understanding that life enjoys itself without the burden of claim or responsibility. When the so-called individual appears on the stage of life, everything is there for his enjoyment until he disappears - nothing has actually happened or needs to have happened. However, by and by, the individual stakes his claim on his portion of life, denying it to all others, and thus begins his struggle for survival with an identity and a place that have no meaning or importance whatsoever - for how could the unidentifiable have an identity except as an illusion? This chapter also reveals the limiting nature of 'knowing' as a human attribute that is so revered, and the unlimited quality of simple 'awareness', usually overlooked in human affairs.
The linch-pin of everyone's life is experience - 'learn by experience'. This is the belief that goes unquestioned in society and is the guide for every growing human being. The content of this chapter ‘Experiences’ throws an entirely new light on the concept of experience, delivering a stunning blow to the supremacy of mind. Can it really be that life is paramount and singular, one without a second, already the reality we all seek, the definitive and ultimate guide? Can it really be that life itself is and always has been the true medicine of the soul, yet it has allowed man to develop a sophisticated science that constantly seeks to ensure a healthier and longer life? How can we see this and understand this? Life provides its own gift for understanding, its own irony. The gift is being presented in this chapter through its author.
Man unwittingly lives at a superficial level. Even his most profound observations are off the mark, but they have a staunch advocate to support and proclaim them - his ego. He is often awarded social distinctions for these observations or findings and his importance grows accordingly. This chapter on ‘Practice’ charts with extraordinary precision the path of man's thinking and superficiality, but provides a clear light for him to follow into life and its wisdom. Here there is no struggle for recognition or justification. Find it; live it!
Current and indeed time-honoured thinking and practice is turned on its head during the study of the chapter entitled ‘Responsibility’. The illusion of responsibility and all that it has brought on every man and woman is shown so clearly. The tale of life is quite beautiful, and so devastatingly refuted by the ego! May the gratitude that pours forth on realising the fullness of life's endowment be an eternal balm to the ills that man bears. It can only be a comfort to all who receive this wisdom that enlightenment comes, albeit gradually. This chapter reveals that watching the movements of the mind is such a grace.
Man feels that he needs to be responsible because he believes he is the doer. The chapter aptly entitled ‘Because’ is a most readable and complete exposition of the ways of man - every man, woman and child. As a child we are taught to question and explore, to ask the reason why and then explain that it is as it is 'because...' As a man or woman we have mastered the use of 'because', such that everything, but everything, must have an explanation or justification. But when something unexpectedly happens, and the 'because' does not work, and no further words arise, the mystery of life fills the being. The chapter 'Because' is the unfolding of that glorious mystery!
To begin to realise the constant presence of purposes that are supposedly stimulating our daily lives and their illusory nature is to begin to live freely with life. Spontaneity and fullness replace the stop-start routine we have all come to accept as authentic and inevitable. Without the domination of purpose, there cannot be any possibility of disappointment or the ephemeral elation of success, for there is no real goal to miss or hit! Life's gift of itself to itself begins to dawn - what a dawning! The chapter on ‘Purpose’ brings about that dawning.
'The mind exposes itself to you as if to say 'understand me'. The moment you do, you are who you really are.' These words from Dr Shankar are the guidance that mankind needs to find its way through the web of illusion. Fortunate is the man or woman who reads this chapter entitled ‘Disappointment’ and understands that through not understanding the mind he or she will forever miss life and believe the very opposite of what is true. Everything that man accepts as valid or true cannot possibly be, down to the smallest detail. We seek desperately to walk or run away from the very thing we seek - what an irony. If this book written by life in the form of Dr Shankar happens to come before you, treasure its contents. They are life's gift to you so that you may live life.
The chapter on ‘Hope’ thoroughly explores and illuminates the importance of 'hope' in each of our lives. There is no denying here of its potency in maintaining what we have come to accept as 'living'. However, Dr Shankar, as he must, presents the illusory nature of 'hope', revealing its power to blind us to who we really are. This is no mean trick by life - it is the essence of its own revelation. Let readers be patient in their study of this chapter.
What is revealed in the chapter ‘Doer’ is the central place of action and doing acts in human existence and the way life has superimposed an understanding of doing onto the whole world, extending from God to an ant. The understanding that shines through this chapter reveals the remarkable strength and intelligence of the illusion, but greater still of the reality of which it is an expression. The author challenges man to understand, to investigate his assumptions. For example, what is seeing? What do we see? Do we have the courage to look? Or does man miss the opportunity ‘to see’ in every moment of his waking state? This is an observation that is hard to digest, but very rewarding if only man comes to see.
The patience of an enlightened being in fulfilling what he must and his perspective of illusory time is to be wondered at. Such is the compassion that life affords to its own creation. Death has no relevance for such a being: the past and the future are swallowed up.
It certainly is not my right or man’s to seek for any resolution of what is happening – life just takes care of that - indeed the acceptance of ‘what is’ no matter how illusory needs to be very steady. To accept whatever life may offer, illusory though it may be, grants the understanding that acceptance is only of a drama and not anything real.
The intelligence of man has yet to advance to the point where he can understand his mind and the ways of life, or even be interested in anything beyond the sensory. Thus, he does not open a book or meet a man of enlightenment that may cast a light on his plight.
By the light offered in this volume it becomes clear that a life with thoughts as man’s guide is no life at all: just a treadmill. The book reveals that life itself is the guide and needs no secondary guide to assist it. To live in life as it flows, actually totally unknown and unknowable, is the challenge, and yet 'challenge' is only a word - it implies 'difficult'. Clear though this may be, thoughts will constantly appear, some with dire consequences. Hardly a step is taken without the presence of a thought that commands attention. Some thoughts seem to lead to darkness. Do not lose heart for at such times the understanding gifted by this volume acts like a guide to take you into life and out of the mind, to live in life as it flows vibrant and fresh, not of this world of the known, but yet life.
Peter Julian Capper
MA (Cantab) UK