The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

25 Dec 2011

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Book: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Author: Robin Sharma
ISBN-13: 978-8179921623

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.

Sounds superficial?. Not to me. This book was released 14 years ago and I saw this book in every bookstore, everyone told me that this book is awesome, but somehow this book eluded me, even though I wanted to read it. I did not bother much then. In recent days, my life was not happening as I wanted it to happen. Everything was out of my control and I wanted to discipline my life. Viola… The book appears next to my bed. My roommate bought a book. So, I started reading…

If you want me to write one line review, I would say, “One the best books that I have read so far”.

This is a self-help book written like a novel. The story is so well written that you don’t even feel like someone is teaching you something. Every tip that he gives, go to your subconscious mind without any effort. I even wondered how can so much of practical wisdom be packed into a single book. Robin Sharma shares his wisdom with a mystical fable of an uber-successful lawyer Julian Mantle and his assistant John. Julian Mantle is the hotshot millionaire lawyer in the country. During his middle age, in one of the courtroom arguments, he gets a massive heart attack. He suddenly realizes that he has more life to live and there must be a reason for his existence. He leaves to the Himalayas learns the tricks of life and comes back to the US to spread the wisdom.

Here is a gist of what he teaches in the book. I would suggest you read the complete book in Robin Sharma’s words. He explains the seven virtues of life with a simple tale. Each character and object in the mystical fable has a meaning.

You are sitting in the middle of a magnificent, lush, green garden. This garden is filled with the most spectacular flowers you have ever seen. The environment is supremely tranquil and silent. In the center of this garden stands a towering red lighthouse, six stories high. Suddenly from the lighthouse, comes out a nine-foot tall, nine-hundred pound Japanese Sumo wrestler who casually wanders into the garden. He wears nothing but a pink wire cable covering his private parts. He slips on a shiny gold stopwatch and falls to the ground with an enormous thud. The Sumo wrestler is rendered unconscious and lies there, silent and still. After a while, he awakens by the fragrance of the fresh yellow roses blooming nearby. Through the bushes at the very edge of the garden, he observes a long winding path covered by millions of sparkling diamonds. This path leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss.

1. Master Your Mind

The garden in the fable represents your mind. Like the fresh, fragrant roses in the garden, fill your mind with pleasant, happy and positive thoughts. Good gardeners don’t allow the weeds to take root in their garden. So, do not allow any negative thoughts to wander in your mind. You cannot afford the luxury of even a single thought. He gives some techniques to do that.

Heart of the Rose: Pick up a fresh rose flower or a plastic one in your hand in the morning as soon as you wake. Just look at the flower, it’s color, its petal, its curves. Just enjoy the flower and do nothing. Initially, your mind won’t let you do that. It will wander in all possible directions. Do not worry. Just follow the ritual for 15 minutes or more daily. Slowly you will be able to calm down the mind. You can choose alternatives to meditation or chant any mantras. The idea here is to spend some time for yourself to calm down the mind in the morning.

Opposition Thinking: Whenever a negative thought appears in your mind, just pause for a while and replace it with opposite positive thoughts. For example, if you begin to think about your current debts, suddenly change your thought to something like you have more than enough money for everything you want. Initially, you may feel awkward. Do not mind. Just let your imagination fly. Slowly, you will begin to notice that there are no negative thoughts and you start taking positive actions. You need to do this all the time.

The Secret of the Lake: Everyone should have goals. If you don’t have one in your life, sit down and think about it. Once you are sure about your goals, you need to find a calm place to sit and visualize in your mind screen a movie, in which all your goals are achieved and you are experiencing eternal joy. I do it differently. As soon as I finish meditation, I close my eyes with my palms and I see nothing but darkness. I visualize my goals as a movie in that dark screen. Try!

2. Follow Your Purpose

The lighthouse in the fable represents your purpose in life. You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see. So, figure out your goals. WRITE them down in a paper. When you do that you send a flag to your mind that these thoughts are far more important than the other 60,000 thoughts. Your mind will become acutely aware of your goals and start realizing it. This is science. You can follow the five steps.

Picture the outcome: If you have a goal to lose weight, picture the outcome of it. Picture yourself being lean and fit. Do this every morning as soon as you wake up. You set the motion for the rest of your day with this visualization.

Create Positive Pressure: Public pledge is one of the best positive pressure for humans. Tell everyone about your goals. They will be watching you. No one wants to appear as a failure among others. This positive pressure will help you to keep up with your plans for achieving your goals.

Attach a timeline: To breathe life into your goals, attach a timeline to your goals. A goal that is not committed to paper is no goal at all. Buy a notebook and call that your “Dream Book”. Fill that book with your goals, desires, achievements and the things that you want to improve. Get to know about yourself completely. Fill that book with the images of all the things that want to have or to be. Refer to this book every day.

Magic Rule of 21: For a new process to install as a habit, you need to do that consecutively for 21 days. This is proven by many people over the years. So, keep doing the above for 21 continuous days and viola it will be a habit.

Enjoy the journey: Do not fix your eyes on the destination only. Enjoy the route to your destination. Enjoy every happiness that you can while you are practicing the above.

3. Practice Kaizen

The Japanese word Kaizen means constant and never-ending improvement. The sumo wrestler symbolizes the constant self-improvement and personal expansion. People grow the most when they enter the Zone of the Unknown. He urges us to do the things that we fear and suggests 10 ancient rituals for a radiant living. Just follow these rituals for 30 days and your life will begin to change drastically. Here are they.

Ritual of Solitude: Ensure that your daily schedule includes a mandatory period of peace. Find a quiet and beautiful place to sit still in contemplation. You could do the heart of the rose technique or any other kind of meditation. The place could be a spare room in your house or a corner in your apartment or a natural backyard. Please make sure that you do this daily at the same time and at the same place until it becomes a habit. Just by doing this simple ritual, your life will well balanced and you will enjoy good sleep at night. Guys - trust me. It works. I do this every day, first thing in the morning. Please try.

Ritual of Physicality: This says as you care for your body, so you care for your mind. Please take some time every day to nourish your body with physical exercise. It could be weight training, aerobic training or yoga or a simple walk around the park. Choose whichever is comfortable for you, but persist. At least 5 hours a week is suggested.

Ritual of Live Nourishment: Eat live foods. Foods that are not dead. He suggests vegetarian foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, grains etc. It may not be possible for everyone, but we could add a few fruits or salads with each meal. I am finding it very difficult to eat vegetarian food but started eating fruits after lunch. Did not see much improvement, but I could feel hungry before dinner. Otherwise, I will be full all the time.

Ritual of Abundant Knowledge: This centers on the whole notion of lifelong learning and expanding your knowledge base for the benefit of yourself and those around you. Read at least 30 minutes a day. It will do wonders in your life. I know this very well. I read about an hour a day. Solutions to almost every problem are already in print. Just grab a good book and start reading.

Ritual of Personal Reflection: Spend some time on personal introspection every evening or night. Just sit down in a silent place and write down all the actions that you did on that day and think if those activities are positive or negative. If negative, come up with an alternative course of action to correct it. Initially, you may not be able to recall every event on that day. But persist. Eventually, you will be able to and your behavior would turn positive and optimistic.

Ritual of Early Awakening: Rise with the sun. Taught by almost all the self-help gurus. The thoughts you think, 10 minutes before you sleep and 10 minutes after you wake up have a profound effect on your day. So, think nice and happy thoughts. Laugh even if you don’t feel like. Listen to music. Watch the sunrise. Read a good book. Prepare your course of action for the rest of the day. You can achieve so much, just by this ritual.

Ritual of Music: Music has the capability to soothe the raffled soul. It’s one of the finest motivators. Enjoy the music you like, at least once in a day.

Ritual of Spoken Word: You can choose any mantra or positive affirmation to recite in the morning, noon and night or whenever you feel drowned in negative thoughts. Spoken affirmations are as good as written ones. You may say. “I am strong, able and calm” many times when you need to be.

Ritual of Radiant Living: This ritual requires you to take daily, incremental action to build your character. You should have a set of principles/virtues to live by and take daily action to strengthen your character aligned with those principles.

Ritual of Simplicity: This ritual requires you to live a simple life. Focus only on your priorities, those activities that are truly meaningful. Your life will be uncluttered, rewarding and exceptionally peaceful. This doesn’t mean that you should not strive to be rich and wealthy. If that is what you want, go for it. Make sure that you spend time on actions which tops your priority list and close to your heart. Don’t just chase money.

4. Power of discipline

The pink wire cable which covers the private parts of the Japanese Sumo wrestler symbolizes the discipline, self-control that you should have in your life. Robin says, “When you control your thoughts, you control your mind. When you control your mind, you control your life. Once you reach the stage of being in total control of your life, you become the master of your destiny”. You slowly nurture the embryo of self-discipline day by day and one day you will have the enormous willpower to do the things that seem impossible.

Mantras: Robin stresses again on the importance of mantras/affirmations that keeps us focused on our true goals. Words have power. By repetition, you would develop self-control and indomitable will within a short period of time. The same is referred to as the Ritual of Spoken Word in the previous chapter.

Vow of Silence: He suggests us to go on an entire day without speaking, except for the answers to the direct questions. Whenever you feel the urge to speak, suppress it. It will help to improve your willpower. Somehow, I don’t buy into that concept. I am not going to try this.

5. Respect Your Time

The shiny gold stopwatch symbolizes your time, the most precious commodity. “Being an excellent time manager doesn’t mean that you have to become a workaholic. On the contrary, time mastery allows more time to do the things that you would love to do and the things which are meaningful to you. Time mastery leads to life mastery. Guard your time well. Remember, it’s a non-renewable resource”. Some of the things that you may do are

Ancient Rule of 20: The statistics say that 80% of your success comes from 20% of the action that you take. So, prioritize things and spend more time on the things that bring you success and happiness. Just don’t be busy being busy.

Learn to say NO: Many people drift from their goals or distracted by others very often. Learning to say NO to the less important things in life, allows you to spend more time on the things that truly matter. Don’t pick up all the calls. Don’t respond to every email. Few other practical stuff.

Deathbed Mentality: I have heard this from Steve Jobs as well. “What would you do, if this is your last day in your life?” Ask this question every morning and let it decide the course of action for the entire day. I am personally not into this. If today was my last day, I would spend all the time with my love, family, and friends, roam around, enjoy and have fun. I would never think about work. Is that what he suggests? I don’t think so. Also, I would not prefer to think about death every morning.

6. Selflessly Serve Others

The fresh yellow roses in the garden symbolize the essential virtue of an enlightened living - Serving others. “The quality of your life will come down to the quality of your contribution”. When you work to improve the lives of others, you indirectly elevating the life of yours. He suggests a few tips to start serving others.

Random Acts of Kindness: Just make sure that you do few kind actions throughout your day. It could be helping the old woman cross the street, helping your colleague with a small problem, simple appreciation to a friend in need or just flashing a smile across a stranger. Just keep doing it. When you do the ritual of personal reflection, these random acts of kindness will soothe your soul and in no time, you will become a kind person doing big things for the society.

Give to those who Ask: How many times in your life, that someone came to you for help and you were too busy to help them?. I get the point that it is not possible to help everyone else all the time. But, whenever possible take an extra few minutes to help them. They will never forget your help.

Cultivate Richer Relationships: Should I even describe this technique?. Develop a richer relationship with friends and family. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have in life, what matters is with whom you can have a belly-busting laugh at sometimes for no reason. Go for it.

7. Embrace the Present

The long winding path studded with millions of diamonds represents the final virtue of the fable. Living the Present. Happiness is the journey, not the destination. Some of the things to remember are

Live your children’s childhood: The best gift you could ever give your children is your love. Show them that they are far more important than anything else in your life. Within a blink of an eye, they will grow up, start their own family and leave. But then, it will be too late. One of the most precious moments in anyone’s life is the time they spend with their children. Don’t miss it for anything.

Practice Gratitude: Be grateful for all the small things that you have in life. Even if you are bankrupt, you can be grateful for being alive, being able to think and read. When you are in a grateful mood, your mind becomes very positive and optimistic and you start doing positive actions which would bring you success in whatever you desire.

I felt like writing an entire book, for writing just this review. Whooh. This is not just a book review, but a booklet version - for those who don’t have the time to read. I will come back to this blog post often to remind me of all the virtues. Some books are meant to be read again and again. This is one of them. Get your copy and start reading!

Please buy the book from your local bookstore.

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