Book Review

Book Review – If Truth be told : A Monk’s Memoir

On a lazy Sunday Morning, I wanted to go inside myself without having to do anything with the world around me. Whenever I want to read a book passively, I close my eyes and select a book randomly. There came this book ‘If Truth be told’. I haven’t even noticed who and what this book is about. But as I kept reading the story, I started getting shivers for a few sentences. It was so profound and deep. In between, I stopped and checked who the author was and felt elated that it was about Om Swami. I was even more happy to know the autobiography of the man who I admired.

 

The book was so enchanting that I binge read the book in 5 hours only taking a break in between to prepare and eat lunch. At many places it reminded me of the Autobiography of Yogi. 

 

The story is basically about a man who was destined to be become a monk even before his birth. 

 

Childhood

Om Swami grew up in a loving family where his mom was a god loving lady. In their house, they bonded and disciplined kids with love and not admonition. He was an intelligent kid who read books voraciously and started earning money through astrology and invested in stocks. He spent countless hours in the library and the remaining time was spent on keyboard and chess.

Youth

He chanted on a Mantra to go abroad and that ended him up in Australia. He started at 15$ per hour and went on to become a millionaire within 2 years as he loved challenging work and put in that effort to reach there. He mentions that there are countless people out there who are putting the same effort and without gods grace he would never be able to achieve that.

Adulthood

As a young adult, it was easy for him to earn fame and money. But he wanted to retire by the age of 30 which would be only possible by building a company of his own. He travelled across the world to establish a market for his company in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and India.

He kept spending time in earning wealth because if you have not seen it all, you are not renouncing for real.

After he earned enough wealth, he finally renounced and went through hardships under a baba who didn’t treat him well. Later, he decides that he doesn’t need a guru and all he needs is an isolated cave in the Himalayas to meet the Mother Divine. Through the multiple sadhanas, he finally meets Mother Divine. 

 

Should you read this book?

 

While it was an inspiring read, it made me feel that it was more about his purpose in this life was to become one with Divine. If I were to replicate the same, I might not be able to reach that. The talent, money, skills he had, he was blessed with it. 

 

He talks about many mantras and sadhanas but does not divulge the details much. The major influence this book had on me was to start believing the power of mantra chanting and the importance of lunar cycle dates to start certain sadhanas.

 

The most important lesson is you don’t need a guru to progress in a spiritual journey. When you are ready and need guidance, a guru comes into your life automatically.

 

Excerpts from the book

 

“Normal life? There’s nothing called a normal life. What is normal from one’s viewpoint may be most abnormal from another’s.” 

“That’s the thing with baggage—you get used to carrying it around. You know it’s heavy but the weight has a way of becoming a part of your life. ”

“This is what happens with most people: they are not in search of truth, they don’t want to know the truth; in fact, they are scared of the truth. They have an idea or belief that brings them solace and they merely want someone to validate it for them. They will run hither and thither until someone agrees with them.”

“Spiritual practice and doubt are like light and darkness. They don’t go together. Have faith.”

“That was an incredible quality about my mother: she was always giving. I never saw her express any hatred, jealousy or anger. She never shouted at us or even raised her voice.”

“I was my best friend and worst enemy on this journey. I had to create my own way, for the weeds of time had long covered the divine path trod by the ancient sages.”

“I tried to tell people that they ought to take control of their lives and it was fine to be guided by astrological charts but it was not prudent to live by its predictions. Yet, they wanted to hear that the planets were the cause of their problems, not their own choices. My view was simple: if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

“I had to go beyond astrology because it mostly dealt with the outcome, not the journey. It could predict from a chart whether a person would be a saint or a sinner but it was quiet on how one could go about it. It could show a moment but not the movement leading up to it. My horoscope said that I would achieve self-realization, but it couldn’t tell me how.”

“Writing in books was something I never appreciated. My philosophy was simple: books were for reading and notebooks were for writing. To me, books were an immaculate work of art and marking in books was like drawing graffiti on a Picasso”

“She said, ‘I believe you. You are free to lead your life the way you please. I will never bind you to something you don’t like, Amit.”

“All in all, it’s too much work. Most people get married because they feel the need to do so, but I don’t.”

“I doubt his existence sometimes because if he really exists, why is there suffering and misery in the world? If there’s one God, why are there so many religions? Why did he allow it?”

“You can only gain if you are prepared to lose”

“While driving, bathing, eating, travelling, before sleeping, upon getting up, day and night when I wasn’t doing anything else, I meditated on the mantra with great mindfulness.”

“All our pleasures live in the brain anyway. I had experienced far better, long-lasting stimulants for my gratification, and they were free of any damaging side effects. An intellectual challenge gave me the greatest thrill.”

“Money can make you feel important, and I felt important.”

“There were three people at my party: I, me and myself.”

“I needed God to help me with my programming but he was busy restoring chaos in a twisted world. ”

“Was this just due to my hard work? It would be foolish to think so. A transcendental element of grace was always there. Otherwise, there was no dearth of people who worked harder than I did and who were smarter than I was, but didn’t find such success.”

“If I had nothing to lose in the first place, what was I renouncing? I wanted to make sure my intent for spiritual life was clear and pure.”

“In the board meeting today, one of the members was sixty-five years old and still worried about getting a parking ticket. As he crunched numbers, he was coughing and sick but forced himself to attend the meeting. Why do we earn and why do we learn? What is growth? What is progress?”

“Of course I’ll change my mind. The mind is always changing. It’s the nature of the beast. What won’t change, however, is my resolution. I solemnly declare that I’ll retire at thirty, exactly ten years from now”

“I’m happy because I’m free again and I’m ready to build again. I’ve always enjoyed building more than running.”

“At the core of the thrill was a sense of deep fear. ”

“Whether big or small, a goal once attained turns into a mere experience and then just a memory.”

“objects don’t make up for what objects can’t make up for”

“The message here was not that marriage would bring self-realization, but that it could work as a catalyst for spiritual transformation. This is what the greatest seers and yogis had grasped.”

“Coincidence generally means the occurrence of something in a striking manner without any causal connection. The truth is there are no accidents in the play of nature. The creation of this universe, our galaxy, the species of flora and fauna, the five elements, a near perfect ecosystem—none of this is a coincidence. Rain, storms, mountains, seas, trees … they are all there for a reason. Nothing is non-causal; everything supports a bigger cause”

“Meditation is predominantly of two types: concentrative and contemplative. In the first kind, you build your concentration. In the second, you use it to reflect on the nature of reality and your own existence. Contemplative meditation gives birth to insight, and it is this insight that changes how you see and interpret the world around you. Deep concentration leads to samadhi, and deep contemplation allows you to maintain that state while dealing with the challenges of the world.”

“Reduction in sleep is a natural outcome of correct meditation.”

“Shift the meditation from my conscious mind, where it was an effort, to the depths of my subconscious and unconscious states, where it was effortless”

“The lineage of the sages protects a true seeker, and this is, in fact, the primary purpose of initiation through a mantra. ”

“It’s amazing what preparation can do. The right preparation is the key to the greatest attainments, the antidote to all fear, the seed of competence and confidence, I concluded”

“Our identification with the body is so strong that most people spend their lives simply taking care of the body. The body feels cold, let’s clothe it; it feels hot, let’s remove the layers; it’s hungry, feed it; it’s tired, give it rest. We become so preoccupied with fulfilling the body’s many desires—cleaning, feeding, clothing, decorating and protecting it, that we become its slaves.”

“That’s what love is: to be at ease.”

“Extraordinary bliss with an anger-free mind is an epiphenomenon, one of the by-products of intense meditation.

“When you first start meditating, it is an act of the conscious mind and you have to make an effort to meditate. Once you start to master it, however, it takes on a new form. From an act, it becomes a state—a state of the subconscious mind. And, when you persist, it changes once again. No longer an act or a state, meditation becomes a phenomenon: it happens to you.

“Why did it take the Buddha six years to achieve liberation? If it was an instantaneous thing, he could have had it in the first month. It took Mahavira ten years and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa twelve years. The experiences, lessons, insights add up, finally bringing one to the point of realization. ”

“Why should a monk be a burden to society? He should take responsibility for his own life, and not depend on others for his needs. I wanted to be a monk, not a mendicant. I vowed never to accept donations for my personal needs. I did not want to build an organization with ashrams everywhere. I had to stay focused on my mission to enable other seekers to revel in the same nirvana that I did.

“Menstruation is a sign that the feminine energy is getting ready to procreate, that it is preparing for evolution. Linked directly to the lunar cycle, those five days are most auspicious for aspiring tantriks not only to transform themselves but to transmute their desires and emotions into transcendental energy, for their spiritual growth as well as for the benefit of humanity.”

“Life is not a challenge that needs to be faced. Nor is it an enemy that needs to be fought. For that matter, it’s not a problem that needs solving either. It’s a flowing river, and all we need to do is to flow with it. Live. Love. Laugh. Give”

“Your knowledge of rituals and the scriptures, the time you spend in places of worship, the money you raise for religious causes—such things, I am sorry to tell you, have absolutely no connection with God unless the heart is open to the Divine”

“Insight does not speak at all; it just dawns”

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

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