When I googled for ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ image, this was one of the images that came up. I used it here because it tells us a lot about the world we live in. And it’s funny. However, the message Robin wants to communicate from his book is actually quite the opposite to the one in the image above.
This is a self-help book. It’s been told from the point of view of a protagonist who met an ‘enlightened’ friend. This friend then imparted his knowledge on to him and thus how the story is revealed.
The premise of his story is life choices. Have you heard of a saying that goes something like: I can tell who you will become in 5 years from your actions today?
In the book, the friend imparted his knowledge to him by telling him a fable which revealed a few important items. One of my favourite item in the fable is the garden which is also a symbol of the mind.
If you think of your mind as your garden, as a good gardener, what would you do? You would tend it and nurture it every day right? You would get rid of weeds. So weeds represent the negative thoughts: Worries and anxieties. And the logic goes without saying, if you let worries drain your mind of its power, it will eventually injure your soul.
To live life to the fullest, you must stand guard the gate of your garden. Let only the best information enter!
We live in this world, doing the same thing every day, in auto-mode. We worry over a person or a situation which we cannot control. We don’t realize that we have no control over our external world. However, if there is one thing that we have absolute dominion over, it would be our minds.
We might not be able to control the weather or the traffic or the moods of all those around us. But we most certainly can control our attitude towards these events. We all have the power to determine what we will think about in any given moment. This ability is part of what makes us human.
Note: this concept was also described exactly by Victor Frankl. The difference is, he used the word freedom. Not power. He refers to our freedom as a human being, to be able to choose our attitude towards any given set of situation. (I have also written a summary of his book here).
He re-iterates that focus or concentration is at the root of mental mastery. I also personally believe full focus is the most valuable asset anyone can possess.
How do you train yourself to achieve full focus?
He suggested 3 techniques which I try to use everyday now:
- The Heart of the Rose – To focus on the rose’s heart so not to have any thoughts in your head.
- The Opposition Thinking – To replace a negative thought with a positive thought.
- The Secret of the Lake – The look into the lake and visualize who you want to become.
If you asked me what would be the most valuable idea I got out of this book , I would say KAIZEN (改善).
It’s a philosophy that focuses on getting better at getting better. While I was searching for more information on KAIZEN, I also bumped into Émile Coué who developed a psychological technique called Autosuggestion.
No man is free who is not a master of himself – Epictetus
Remember that your past is history. You can’t control your external world. What really matters is what lies within you.