The chapter ‘Here and Now’ throws such a light on the way man has come to live. He cannot bear to live in uncertainty, and yet he cannot truly live until he comes to understand that the life he so desires is a mystery – there can be no certainties in it. Such is his dilemma. So, he has created boundaries to live in in order to establish the certainty he craves. Throughout this chapter Dr Shankar shows that the life we have come to accept, the life that abounds with labels, labels and yet more labels, is just a fiction. There is no possibility of its providing us with comfort or happiness, never mind certainty. Nevertheless, the mind fights every inch of the way to maintain its position, illusory though it may be, and then, suddenly, clarity in understanding happens, and all effort to find that clarity dissolves on the instant. There is no end to life: it is without end; it is open; it is unknowable. Such is the gift of understanding offered by ‘Here and Now’.
The chapter ‘Now or Never’ reveals the place that mind has assumed in each of our lives. The mind that each one of us resorts to every living moment of our day is singularly and spectacularly examined. In every waking moment we refer to our mind as the authority, beyond question, of all that we seek - even the most profound and innermost desires. Man can find no clearer exposition of the way the mind works and has come to control everything we live for. Ironically, this handing over of control for the things we most earnestly seek to the Department of Mind surely guarantees that what we are seeking will never be realised. The mind is a wonderful aspect of this illusory world we enjoy, but we need to realise that it can only cover reality; it can never reveal it. Dr Shankar's revelations of the ‘Now or Never’ is the gift of enlightenment for every one of us, for we are all in search of real happiness.
The chapter ‘Ever After’ embodies one of the most significant insights into man and his nature. It reveals the mechanism by which he has first become trapped and then utterly lost by his endeavours to find and secure the very thing that he most desires in his life. In ‘Ever After’ Dr Shankar shows that what man desires is already his, but first he must let go of mind, his most trusted authority and guide, and enter life. This is every man’s resurrection and his redemption, the life that is alive.
In our quest for the infinite and the divine, we believe earnestly that the 'rights and wrongs' of the world in which we live, or rather in which we struggle to make a living, has to be bypassed. That world is not relevant to the spiritual desires and aspirations of man - rather it is a hindrance, an obstacle to be overcome, or at least tolerated. Such is the deception that Dr Shankar exposes in this chapter ‘Infinity’ with such clarity. It is the gift for each one of us simply to watch whatever comes before us, as it were, in silent reflection, should we accept the gift. Here is life's real challenge.
No time means no place, no purpose, no raison d'etre, no plan, no strategy, no where, no here and, finally, no identity. This, unequivocally, is life's message, profoundly revealed by life's messenger, Dr Shankar, a man no more a man, who has crossed beyond the zone of time in which we are all cocooned. We cling to time and all its associates as though there is no tomorrow. In truth, there is no tomorrow, as revealed with clarity in this chapter - it is just a dream, a drama put on for our enjoyment. That we do not enjoy the drama is indisputable for we suffer terribly needlessly. The wisdom that expresses itself in the chapter 'No time' stills the troubled mind - it will. Only do not attempt the impossible - that is to trust life and yet give credence to mind's arena, time, where ego dwells and reigns supreme. Step over your fear of being no-one and trust life - there is no other way for enlightenment. This chapter is such a challenging insight. It challenges us to understand that the ego is illusory.
Whatever the mind proposes or supposes can never be what is happening, what is. It can only be illusory. The mind cannot appreciate nor have any awareness of what is, so why has man become so dependent on mind for answers? This mystery is unravelled and revealed with extraordinary precision in this chapter ‘As it is’. Stand firmly in the present and watch how the mind spins the story that is not true. Stand firmly in life as it is - it is here, now, vibrant and brilliant. Live this life; don't miss it.
Life is unbelievably fast and unerringly accurate - it cannot help being so, nor does it need any help to be so. The mind cannot cope with this and so, in order to establish itself, it tries to slow life down by making a facsimile of what has happened, or rather what it supposes has happened. In order to strengthen its authority further it even begins and ends what it fabricates and, magician-like, conjures up the appropriate feelings and sensations to match the deed. Dr Shankar's chapter on ‘Endless End’ reveals this spider's web in which man is enmeshed by the mind, and it gives him this silken thread by which he may find his way back through the illusion to himself. Beautiful as this thread is, it must be let go for it too is part of the illusion. To let go draws courage and fearlessness from life.
The reality of life and the make-believe of mind cannot be doubted after considering the contents of the chapter ‘Nice Day’. Such is the knife-edge clarity and unrelenting detail with which Dr Shankar carries out his investigation into mind, as a surgeon examines the innermost contents of the body, that it is as though Dr Shankar himself, or life itself, has entered one's own being so that the two are realised as one. Mind insists that there must be work or personal endeavour to achieve enlightenment, and thus it draws up a road-map for peace or bliss. This becomes man's imperative, his master, until he stirs from that horrific dream. The release from that bondage is here - it is your own already, but you have yet to realise it.
When we choose the permanent, we choose that which is dead; when we choose the momentary, we choose that which is alive. In this chapter ‘Eternal Life’, Dr Shankar stands the traditions and values we have all inherited on their head and exposes the mortuary, the mind, in which they are stored. Such is death, and yet such is life for, without such exposure, we would remain entombed in the dark labyrinth of mind's imaginations, the blind led by the blind. We would remain as Homer's spirits - twittering, bat-like, in the land of the dead. This you may mercifully come to understand should you be gifted with the wisdom of this chapter ‘Eternal Life’.
It has been the custom to think in terms of polishing the mind so that it reflects more clearly what is to be known and understood. It has also been the custom to respect the words and thoughts appearing in the mind as authoritative and valuable in trying to control outcomes in life. In fact, mind has been taken for granted to such an extent that it has become part of oneself.
With a critical and deep examination of mind, which has been gifted by life as Dr Shankar, there is less turning towards that so-called 'fountain' of wisdom and intelligence, the mind. Its offerings are more obviously related only to what is known and past, though it is nonetheless an extraordinarily subtle form of energy. Life provides a deep examination of mind and by this reveals its potency.
This volume not only gives the reader a lucid and objective description of the evolution of mind, it also allows witnessing of the mind as it unfolds. The description in every chapter transforms into simple witnessing. The understanding of mind revealed here strips it of its position of absolute supremacy in determining human affairs, yet shows that the mind, although illusory, opens the way to man's understanding of himself. Remarkably, understanding of mind's illusory nature opens the way and misunderstanding closes it.
Man loves to build great mythological characters to worship, adore and, at times, despise. The whole of mankind is turned outwards to find some meaning or anchor in life, and this is not surprising. However, this book reveals, quite stunningly, that no matter how much searching a man may undertake or how adept he may become at discoursing on spirituality and the divine, he has in truth been going up a blind-alley. The illusion of the mind is presented here with refreshing and fearless clarity. So much has been invested in the spiritual industry, but there are no dividends for the investor - there can never be! But what a lesson from life.
Life is enjoying itself and inviting everyone - for we are all its expression or reflection - to enjoy ourselves too. Realise what is through realising what is not; then describe it and you have described what is not. Your desire to understand reality will always circulate within unreality and then, through understanding unreality, you have become reality. But you do not know reality, for there is no place and no time where reality is - no, nor even where you are. You are no more, nor, actually, have you ever been, nor, actually, will you ever be! And what have you proved? Why nothing, nothing at all. You have proved that there is nothing except life itself - the prover, the proof and the proved are one.
Like the flower of the cactus, which appears but briefly in the eternal moment, so too the flowering of enlightenment is given as a gift to man in the moment. The wisdom that breathes as the breath of life in this volume has enlivened life itself - it is utterly beautiful, complete, perfect, full of love. That words can express such perfection is a miracle.
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