It’s been many years since I first heard of the book called ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.’ The title always intrigued me. But somehow I fell into the impression that this was a book about better management practices. Don’t ask me how that happened. I have no idea.
Anyway, thinking that it was a book about management, I decided I had no need to read it. And anyway, it was definitely philosophy and preaching. And I, till a few years ago, had the policy to stay away from all things even remotely philosophical.
But what to do? Age catches up with everyone. And sooner or later, romance fiction loses its hold and spirituality starts asserting its existence. Okay, so I’m not yet old enough to actually hide my nose in significant tomes of ancient learning and discover solemn truths about life and the Universe. But philosophy and spirituality has, at least, stopped looking as tedious as it once did.
So, wanting to be able to boast about having read this famous book, I finally picked it up. And to my pleasant surprise (for I really did not expect to gain any pleasure from a self help and philosophical book) I liked it quite a lot.
Okay, it is not really fiction. It is just a long sermon fitted somehow in a fictional framework. And except the first chapter of the book, the entire book passes away in one man sermonizing and the other listening while they sit in a plush living room of the listener’s house. Nothing else happens. There really is no other event in the story after the hero Julian Mantle’s entry into his friend’s house. And the entire fiction part consists in one super successful lawyer named Julian Mantle being brought to the brink of death by his stressful career and unhealthy lifestyle. He becomes totally disillusioned with his way of life. He sells off all his belongings, including his beloved Ferrari, and goes away in pursuit of peace.
So basically, the man sold his Ferrari before he became a monk. Anyway, Julian travels to India and finds peace and wisdom among a secret group of hermits living in the high regions of Himalyas. He gains a lot of wisdom from them. This wisdom helps him regain his lost youth, health and vigour. A bit too fantastical, if you ask me. But anyway, he returns to his country and home with an aim of spreading his wisdom for the betterment of others. He goes to his best friend’s house. The friend cannot believe how changed and better Julian has become and wants to learn the secret behind this transformation. Julian starts sharing his wisdom. And the entire night and the rest of the novel passes away in the course of sharing of that knowledge.
However, the sermon that follows is not some pompous but boring and dull preaching as is usually the case. Instead, every advice and suggestion that author Robin S Sharma has woven into the story will come across as practical and effective. Of course, the strategies explained in the book would require willpower, determination and perseverance. But if followed as required, one can easily imagine them to have some effect.
The book actually is about management. But instead of management of some organization (as I mistakenly believed) it teaches self management. Basically, all its various teachings and principles are aimed to stress just one fact – control yourself, and you will control your life. It gives you seven life goals, and if you master these goals, the book assures you a happier and more fulfilling life. The seven main goals are, control your mind and thoughts, have a purpose in life, keep on improving yourself, be disciplined, respect time and don’t waste precious life moments (like your kid’s childhood) running after things that can’t give you real happiness, serve others selflessly, and embrace the present.
As you can see, all the goals listed above are very simple and plain commonsense. The author gives several interesting techniques to help you achieve these goals. The techniques require determination, but are easy.
‘Monk…’ is basically a self-help book geared to help you live a more fulfilling and satisfying life. That, in itself, is nothing unique. The market is full of many self-help books. So what made this book so successful? Well, there are many things that make this book work, and work excellently.
First, it speaks plain common sense. As you read the principles and philosophies propounded in it, again and again you’d wonder why you didn’t realize that before. For example, the book tells you to control your thoughts. Don’t let a negative thought enter your mind. It says that mind is like a garden. Let only healthy plants grow in it. Negative thoughts are like harmful weeds that spoil the beauty and fertility of your garden. When a negative thought attacks, immediately replace it with something happy and positive. So plain commonsense, isn’t it? And so true. (Though hard to practice!)
That’s what works best for the book, I think. It does not serve you with any metaphysical, hard to grasp theories and preaching. It just lists up some very wise, but very simple ways that can ensure you a happier and healthier life.
The second thing that I think works for this book is the simplicity of its language. The book does not read like a scholarly thesis by a great gyaani. Instead, all the teachings have been described in simple conversation between two friends, with little jokes and witty lines punctuating the lessons. You don’t have to rack your brain to understand what’s being said, or what the words really mean. Everything is plain and simple, and thus, more effective.
The third thing that I liked a lot about this book was the way the author has used memory aides to help the reader remember what is being read. All the seven main goals mentioned above have been woven in a fable to help the reader retain them. The fable used doesn’t tell a very interesting story, but it uses memorable symbols like a lighthouse and a nearly naked Sumo wrestler. Because of these interesting symbols, the fable sticks to your mind. And if you just remember what each symbol means, you will be able to keep all the seven most important life’s goals in mind.
Besides the fable, the writer uses several other techniques too to help the reader retain what is being read. The most important points are repeated several times through the book by way of simple conversation between the two friends. And after every chapter, the most important points discussed are summarized for easy revision. Not only that, at the end of the book, all the seven life goals are listed, along with the symbols used for them in the fable. All this makes it very easy to refresh and re-visit at least the most important points of the book.
The book also serves you with several very excellent lines and quotes. My favourite one is:
‘The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.’ Succinct, but so full of wisdom and meaning.
Overall, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is an excellent book, not very interesting fiction, but one that’s totally capable of refreshing the heart with rejuvenated positivity and determination at every reading.
* This is an old review. It was written for a book review site that is now dead.
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