BOOK: THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI
AUTHOR: ROBIN SHARMA
GENRE: INSPIRING FABLE
COMMENTS: Very inspirational, apparently selling your possessions and becoming a monk has never been cooler. A must-read!
Ever since we were born, we have been conditioned to believe that an ideal life is one where you are brought up responsibly, get educated, obtain a high-paying job, have a family and die peacefully. That is what the society has ingrained in our minds – and who is to say that it shouldn’t be this way.
But in THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI I found a really exceptional case of a man going against the grain. At first glance, the book sounded like a fictional story until I got to the eye-opening parts of the book that I was able to pick out the inspiring framework behind it.
THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI follows the transformational life of a well-renowned and classy lawyer, Julian Mantle, who experiences a spiritual paradigm shift in his out-of-balance life.
It is a narration by Julian’s friend and workmate, John, whose first-person narration really captivates and captures the highs and lows of Julian Mantle.
Julian was “tough, hard-driving…and was determined to do things his own way” (p.2). John explains that Julian picked him out right after he had graduated from Harvard Law School to help him on a sensational murder case regarded as “the Mother of All Murder Trials” (p.3). Here is where they grew close as buddies and workmates.
Through the course of their camaraderie, John observed that Julian was becoming enormously successful and enjoyed life on the fast lane. Perhaps that’s why the opening courtroom scene (p.1) where Julian Mantle collapses in the middle of a case doesn’t come as a surprise. He had a heart attack and was rushed to the ICU.
John observed that Julian “was driving himself deeper into the ground” (p.5) and his life was crumbling, ironically. He had everything a lawyer would want, and more, but nothing ever satisfied him. He was living recklessly. The heart attack was a sort of “wake-up call” for the fifty-three year old.
After recovering from the heart attack, Julian quits his job, sells all his property (including a Ferrari) and goes off on a spiritual odyssey in India, where he becomes a sage. A monk. Hence, the monk who sold his Ferrari.
Through out the course of reading the book, I picked out very important points from Julian’s transformation from a rusty man to one leaving a vibrant life. He shares his odyssey to India with his friend John and explains the teachings he received from the wise sages of Sivana, a mystical place on a hill with ageless monks.
I took my time and noted out Julian’s wisdom in a nutshell, and here are four key points I found out. I hope you enjoy.
1.PERSONAL CHANGE IS IMPORTANT
Julian opens up to John about his life as a lawyer, how the “hyper-competitive legal world had taken its toll on him” (p.12) and I was surprised that he confessed his emotional, physical and even spiritual side had been scarred. Normally people get fed up physically or even emotionally, but to hear that his spirit was also fed up was a surprise for me.
When one’s spirit is affected, it is usually the symptom of a deeper problem. And that’s exactly what prompted Julian to leave for India, in search of spiritual ease. While he describes it as a “personal odyssey of the self”, I found the journey to be some sort of a self-actualisation voyage for the man who had suffered and recovered from a heart attack.
He showed the willingness to change in every aspect. Maybe importantly, he acknowledged that he needed help. He wanted closure, resolve and a solution.
Julian’s search for inner peace made me wonder about my own life, about life in general. Most people believe their lives are running smoothly and they don’t need to improve or tweak. These are the sort of people who sink while others watch them sadly. They don’t like to be corrected because their lives are “perfect”.
I found inspiration from Julian Mantle and his subsequent revolution to become a happier man, free from the shackles of his past life as a lawyer. It only shows how important personal change can be.
2. OUR THOUGHTS ARE ALIVE
Julian credits Yogi Raman as the monk who mentored him throughout his stay at Sivana. Among his innumerable teachings was the fact that “thought mastery is self-mastery”. And it got my mind cogs churning.
It is said that human beings don’t make use of their maximal mental capability. We are not yet 100% efficient at how we use our minds. Sad as it may sound, Julian noted that “If you care for your mind, nurture it, cultivate it like a fertile, rich garden, it will blossom far beyond your expectations” (p.47).
He even went as far as saying that our thoughts are alive since they manifest in our actions. They direct what we do. Sadly, most people let destructive thoughts run their lives and they end up regretting their choices.
Knowing that one has the willpower and discipline (p.146, 148) to control their thoughts is encouraging news as it means we are in control of everything that happens to our lives. I know it’s easier said than done, however developing willpower and discipline is key to taking full control of your thoughts and consequently your actions.
As Yogi Raman told Julian: “the only limits on your life are those that you set yourself”(p.100) and it indeed remains relevant to our present lives.
3. GOAL SETTING
Over the course of John and Julian’s conversation after Julian’s powerful transformation, John admits to Julian that he has goals he’s yet to achieve, and that his career in the legal corridors seems to get in the way. Julian points out that one needs to find their Dharma, their life’s purpose (p.76)
Dharma is what one is destined to achieve in their life. These are one’s desires and clearly defined objectives one has for their life. Everyone has a life-long desire in their heart. It could be music, art, science or dance. The major problem is when one’s desire is clouded and you lack the motivation to work towards it.
Simply put: “You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see” (p.80).
Julian laid out the goal-setting process as follows (p.84-90):
- Form a clear mental image of your outcome.Envision the person you want to be and the results you want.
- Pressure yourself. This allows you to follow through on your goals and avoid slipping back.
- Attach a timeline to your goal.
- Commit your goals on paper. This breaths life into the goals.
- Apply the Magic Rule of 21. Stick to your goals for a maximum of 21 days to develop ease of performing your objectives.
- Enjoy the process. Have fun and stay focused.
4. BE SELFLESS
The final teaching I found very pertinent was that of giving your best in everything you do. The book describes it as “The Ultimate Purpose of Life“. It may sound corky and cliched, but think about it.
There is a reason that each and every one of us is here on this earth. And no matter what you have achieved or what you own, it’s what you do to those around you that matters the most. “The quality of your life will come down to the quality of your contribution” (p.174) sums it all up.
He used the analogy of fresh roses which leave a fragrance on the hands that touch them. It is all about service to people, elevating those around yourself and practicing random acts of kindness. This is how you lead a richer and meaningful life.
Everything that lives, lives not alone, not for itself – William Blake
Look back at how far into the year you are and ask yourself how many people have needed your help and you showed up for them. It may not be financial help. It could be your mere presence, your words of encouragement, your professional guidance or even your prayers. If you can’t count at least five people whom you’ve been around for, then understand that the noblest act of humanity is giving more to those around you.
You can imagine how inspired I felt, and still feel, to have read Robin Sharma’s THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI. It is an inspirational book that is written in the format of a conversation between an inspired lawyer-turn-monk and a friend in need of spiritual awakening. I liked the fact that the advice was practical and didn’t seem over-the-top.
There is definitely more I haven’t discussed, like the Ten Rituals of Radiant Living (p.107) which I found very thrilling. I didn’t know that there was a lot of healing potential in silence, music or even just five minutes of solitude each day to meditate. And there’s also the Seven Virtues of Timeless Living (p.198) which the monks attributed their ageless living to.
All the more the reason why you should strive to get a grip on the book and see how life can take a shift in just a matter of time. I couldn’t believe it when Julian Mantle gave up his work to become a monk, but as the book winds down it becomes very evident that he had lost his job and gained something far more enriching and beneficial – wisdom.