Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Open-eyed Meditations

Meditation is an essential tool for introspection. It helps you to look deep into your self and come up with fresh insights that is inherent within you. According to Indian thought, every knowledge that a man needs to live in the world is already provided to him. It is coded inside his subconscious. To uncover this knowledge, it only requires a patient quest into oneself. This quest itself is termed  introspection. Meditation is one practical way to do introspection. It is done by concentrating hard on only a single aspect and avoiding every other distractions, caused by self as well as the world.

Most of the ancient knowledge from India developed after undergoing a thorough polishing through meditation. All the vedopanishads, sciences and epics of India are fruits of countless hours of meditational thought undergone by several saints and teachers. That is the reason why all these works contain timeless spiritual as well as practical- real world wisdom in equal measures. For the benefit of common men, who were tied up with the living, conscious world, saints embedded the knowledge gained through meditation into tales with which they can relate easily.

The intention behind the writing of Indian epics was not just the entertainment of the masses, but their upliftment in life. The intention was to cause an awakening of sorts after understanding the principles of thoughts generated through meditation retold as relatable stories. Mahabharatha and Ramayana were stories depicting conflicts between kings. But these were conflicts that happen universally in human minds. These were tough choices and dilemmas that men faced and still faces every moment in his life. These were about how to deal with a merciless world effectively without compromising on one's innate goodness and sense of justice.

Open-eyed Meditations is a book written by Shubha Vilas that aspires to interpret some of the wisdom emanated through our epics and find out how it can be beneficial to modern living. I had read some parts of his series Ramayana- The game of life, which concentrated on retelling Ramayana in a way that would be helpful to practically use it in our everyday life. This book also has a similar approach, but instead of a structured retelling, it consists of simple essays that deals with individual issues that we face daily and remedial measures that can be adopted from classics. This is more like a self help reference guide, that can be consulted easily by using the content section which, I find more practical and effective.

The book consists of sixty four short essays about topics as varied as professional choices, mental health and marital relations. Each chapter has a clear example from either Ramayana or Mahabharatha from which we can learn how they tackled similar issues and how we too can take a similar approach in our life. Each chapter has a crisp summary in its end which is really helpful for future reading and referencing.

The topics covered in the book is pretty exhaustive, so I would have loved if the chapters were clubbed into sections dedicated to a particular aspect of life- like profession, relationships, family, society etc. It could made it more user friendly.

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