The full title of the book is The Unthethered Soul – The Journey beyond Yourself.
This book was recommended by a fellow classmate in my Coursera class of “Buddhism and Psychology”. The good thing about this course is the generous suggestions and recommendations dished out to help us understand Buddhism and Psychology. This book was recommended as part of our discussion on the practice of mindfulness and self-awareness through meditation. While the author tried to link his book to various religions, in my opinion, the basis of his work is hijacked from Buddhism and in part, yoga philosophy.
This book is divided into five parts each with a few chapters. The gist of the book is to be conscious of our thoughts. If you have read Eckart Tolle’s A New Earth, this book is similar and readers are bound to compare the two.
How often are we conscious about the voice in our head, giving us a rendition of our life story, the solutions to our problems (or not) or the opinions of various objects, including people? Do you identify with the voice in your head as you? The voice in your head, or the roommate living inside you, this mental dialogue, is detrimental to you and we have to free ourselves from it. And the only way is to be aware every time we hear it.
We learn about the energy flowing inside us. The Chinese knows this as Chi in yoga, it’s known as Shakri. The author added that in the west, this is Spirit, although I am not so sure about this simile. In Physics, we know that energy flows and is transformed from one to another. We are told that we need to open up and not block this spiritual energy. We should never close our heart and store this energy. For storing this energy is toxic to your soul and these stored energy would resurface and affects you. Closing is the body’s tendency for protection but ironically, we will never be free of it. Blocking the problem is not fixing the problem. If you close and protect yourself, you are locking this scared, insecure person within your heart. Living like this allows for very little spontaneous joy, enthusiasm and excitement in life. The reward for not protecting your psyche is liberation. Don’t get drawn into the drama. No matter how many times you are pulled into it, just let go. Relax and release.
We are told constantly to practise self-awareness and consciousness. Success means never having to think about your psyche again. Your current relationship with your psyche is like an addiction. It is constantly making demands of you and you have devoted your life to serving these demands. Imagine what fun life would be if you didn’t have those neurotic, personal thoughts going on within you. You could just live and experience your life, instead of trying to use life to fix what’s wrong inside of you.
I like to be reminded by what the author says : ‘Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience. Events don’t determine whether or not you are going to be happy. They are just events. You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. …You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing being bothered by life’s events.”
In the chapter contemplating death, the author tells us: “Life is not something you get; it’s something you experience. Life exists with or without you….Every one of life’s experience is different, and every experience is worth having. Life is not something to waste. It’s truly precious. That’s why death is such a great teacher. It is death that makes life precious….You fear death because you crave life….If you are living every experience fully, then death doesn’t take anything from you. There’s nothing to take because you’re already fulfilled.”
I have often heard people lament that life has no meaning. What these people are doing is just focusing on a tiny subset of life in the attempt to give life some meaning. But what actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it. It isn’t any particular event; it’s the willingness to experience life’s events.
As I reach my half century mark, it’s good to pause and take stock and this book brings a timely reflection. Yes, I found it a little long-winded as the author go on and on about the same topic, but I appreciate the examples of frustrating mundane life experiences that he reminds us we should never have to be bothered about.
So yes, I highly recommend this book.