Each and every one of us has developed a security check that spins into action every morning when we awaken from sleep – it resides in the mind and waits for the call. Each one of us spends every waking moment of the day listening to the spinning thoughts – we have come to depend on them; they have become our total reality; we have become them. More often than not, these thoughts lead us into a negative mood with which we become hopelessly identified.
In the chapter entitled ‘Attraction’, Dr Shankar reveals with astonishing clarity and understanding the mechanism by which this works, governing man through all his waking hours, governing man throughout his pitiless life. In the Greek mythological tradition, Clotho, one of the daughters of Fate, spins out a man’s life until her sister, Atropos, cuts the life off – snip! Considerable pain will be experienced on reading the words of ‘Attraction’, as they draw out their own illusion. The mechanism is so painfully present and with every ‘snip’ there is revelation. We try to make the unknown and unknowable known, such is its attraction and such is the illusion. Life is bursting out of this chapter – let each and every one of us be ready to be snipped.
Dr Shankar provides such an important insight into man's own understanding of the world in which he lives and works. Motivated and inspired, often even depressed by his thoughts, man lives a life that is entirely imaginary. That man’s own thoughts, each and every one, are Life's expression, is truly astonishing and such a release from the bondage of the ego. Can we understand that destruction destroys nothing; that nothing is lost or can be; that re-creation arises from the transformation of energy, which the mind insists is a tragedy or worse? Understanding of these mysteries of Life is the gift offered by the chapter ‘Sensations’.
Such was the delight of the youthful Narcissus when he saw the beautiful image of his own face's reflection in the lake, such was the infatuation that gripped him in that moment that he lost all touch with reality and was held fast in adoration of that image. Thus and there he perished as he reached out again and again to possess it, neither eating nor drinking. The chapter ‘Attachment’ illustrates the adamantine grip that the simple word 'mine' has and the inevitable descent into perdition. However, it also shows the grace of Life that gifts man this miracle word ‘mine’ so that he may find himself. What a wonder is Dr Shankar, the messenger of God.
The chapter ‘Satisfaction’ shows so clearly, without any demur, even in the mind, that rooting around in the so-called mind for satisfaction is a fruitless exercise. What is taking place or happening is not what is taking place or happening; what is not taking place or happening is obviously not what is taking place or happening. Mind hovers in a vacuum of its own imagining where nothing is taking place or happening, and where nothing is not taking place or happening. Mind, aided and abetted by logic, cannot grasp this conundrum for it has no shape or form, and so it is tossed about in uncertainty and hopefulness, neither having any substance. Here is life’s breeding ground for satisfaction and dissatisfaction – either a mire in which man is lost or the gift of the illusory, realising which man becomes steadfast – utterly and eternally satisfied. Dr Shankar’s chapter on Satisfaction penetrates this illusion, and brings man to the threshold of understanding.
'Judge not that ye be not judged' has for many generations been the scriptural guide for living for many. The mind has rejoiced in this maxim and has made it its own. It has not yet been understood, however. Dr Shankar's chapter on ‘Behaviour’ shows that, by inquiring deeply into mind, man has made thinking and not living his way, such that thinking about another has made living with another impossible. Patient study of 'Behaviour' reveals the gift for living life that is presented here.
Gossip, like its stablemate Rumour, travels fast, so fast. It strikes the very heart of man and takes hold of him. It is usually pernicious and destructive, laced with poison. That Dr Shankar has named the thoughts and interpretations of the mind, by which we are almost always persuaded, as gossip is a remarkable perception. But it truly is so. This perception highlights the world of make-believe that we respect and admire: the thoughts and interpretations of the mind. When situations are overwhelming you, when people demand your attention from every direction all at once and when there is no other person there to help you, realise that you are looking, thinking and dealing through the mind. All at once life shows her beautiful hand and all the imaginations of the mind recede. The beautiful hand is always there and the imaginations of the mind are always imaginations. The flow of life was missed, yet it flowed; the turmoil of the mind and the mind itself faded.
The realisation of the outer as no different from the inner, or of the outer as the inner, may be the reader's profound realisation upon studying this chapter. Such is the force behind the feeling of guilt that reveals itself in the chapter ‘Guilt’ through the wisdom of the enlightened being. Every emotion and feeling associated with the sense of guilt of having performed or the belief in having to perform the action, throbs with an inner power, revealed here as the force of life. There is no other source or force for any manifestation save the 'potential silence within'. There is no other real existence. May the words offered here as a gift to man not 'fall on deaf ears' - but this is determined by life. Thank life for the wisdom of the sages; thank life for its messenger, Dr Shankar. Thank you. We attribute high honour and a high place to those amongst us who indulge in gossip and assume the cloak of scholarship. Let the learned ones and the men of influence, be they religious or secular, cry out against this exposure of their beliefs, exposed in this chapter as ‘gossip’.
Man is so well acquainted with frustration that the very mention of it gnaws at him. He can see the rise of it clearly and this gnaws at him the more: how to get out of it, how to stop it, how, how, how? Dr Shankar's deeply penetrative understanding of mind shows that through the mind we live on scraps - bits of this and bits of that. The diet is not fit for any living thing. We have come to play a game of tenpin bowling with life, where one pin falls, then the next and then the next. We are convinced that one has fallen (the past), that another is in the process of falling (the present), and that another will soon fall (the future). We measure our life's achievements by this systematic process.
The wonderful realisation upon reading the chapter ‘Frustration’ that the future of which man wishes to see is the present of what he is seeing is stunning to the mind; it is silenced and man is contented, at peace with himself. Looking, seeing and expecting disappear in the moment, which is eternal. Life's gift is the realisation of the moment that is, and this chapter is that gift.
Man lives parallel lives - the one that is present, about which he understands very little, and the one that he imagines and he is convinced is real and is actually happening. How clearly and compassionately this double existence is presented in Dr Shankar's chapter ‘Conditioning’. The whole system of conditioning is beautifully described here and there is no fault. The belief in 'fault' is itself the state of a conditioned mind, for this is how the mind finds its bearings in its unreal world. To this conditioned mind man has sold himself in slavery, utterly but not hopelessly. With careful observation and patience man will uncover the conditioned state of his existence and the deconditioning process described here will begin. The light of life will begin to shine through and man may then turn from criticism and all its associates to simple wonder at life's perfection.
Life, in the manifestation of Dr Shankar, speaks to you, not from the outside, but from the inside. Dr Shankar reveals life to you from your own inside and not from anywhere or anything outside. That would be impossible: that would be no revelation, just illusory words with their illusory meanings - nothing wrong with any of that, but just illusory. In this chapter ‘Life Settles’, Dr Shankar does not provide any doors to enlightenment, nor does he or has he ever in his life. This last chapter, astonishingly, shows you that the way to your own self is not through any doors that men may invite you through. They are all Alice's doors on her way through the Looking Glass to her dream world - a wonderful world of make-believe, but so important for man to understand, if he will.
The title of this last chapter, Life Settles, means that there is no agency whereby a person's life may be settled - it just settles. The host of ways man resorts to, be they thoughts to work out a solution to a 'problem' or actions to keep one at bay, only serve to intensify what is keeping the mind unsettled. The belief that 'my life is unsettled' also unsettles. Man's belief in free will, as clarified in this chapter, gives him the freedom to believe, the freedom to choose, the freedom to reject whatever life brings. It also invites him to believe in 'actual' situations and solutions to improve or deal with them. Any attempts to escape from these illusory situations simply give him more of the same - more to be unsettled about. The understanding that life and everything that we experience in it just happens, without any agency, is the heart of this chapter. With patience and courage, the reader's heart also will open to and embrace this understanding.
You, as the reader, are invited to take your stand in your life as it is. You cannot run from it - it is perfect for you where you are now, for that is where you are in every moment: ‘here and now’ and ‘thoughtless and timeless’.
Peter Julian Capper
M.A (Cantab) UK
Price: EUR 15.95 Change to USD