Book Reviews - It’s ignorance that burns, fire is just an excuse
by Sharukh Vazifdar
I Am Another You; Author: Priya Kumar;Published by: Embassy Books; Pages:165; Rs.: 195
When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up. That’s what motivational speaker Priya Kumar understood when her soul searching led her to experiencing the shamanic way in the Netherlands. In an attempt to escape a life that had lost all purpose and drive, she immersed herself in the three-week long rituals, and emerged with invaluable lessons that take most people a lifetime to learn, if at all they do so.
Feeling lost and out of place in a foreign land, and with nothing to go back home to, Priya went through the rituals giving it all she had. While some of the rituals were frightening or even offensive, they yielded deep learning. The sweat lodge ritual helped her understand that the ‘right’ is only what you believe as right; there is no wrong. “There is only one right thing to do and that is what you believe to be right.” Accepting the bad as part of the cycle in which good occurs is crucial to living an equanimous life.
The salt cleanse she went through taught her to break free from mass mentality and take responsibility for what we do or don’t, including popular opinion and age-old ideas. “Being ‘willing’ is more important than being ‘ready’. Ready is not the first step, willing is.” The drumming ritual gave her an out-of-body experience, a kind of mini-death. When faced with a very real possibility of death, our minds start thinking clearly, all the unnecessary rubble is discarded and only what truly matters remains. This helps you find true meaning and direction in life, doing what really matters.
The spiritual walk helped her understand that we are always where our highest learning lies. We create our own sunshine and our own storms, and facing our fear is the only way of overcoming it. “Sometimes you don’t know what lies ahead, and you will never know unless you move ahead.” The way out of a problem is never the way into it, a problem and its solution lie on different planes.
The final ritual, the fire walk, shows true mastery. Never having led a fire walk before, Priya successfully leads a group of villagers who don’t speak a word of English. “You don’t always need to know before you teach, sometimes in your teaching is your greatest learning.” She adds, “It is ignorance that burns; fire is just an excuse.”
Returning back with less baggage – both physical and mental – she is enriched with a true and complete understanding of herself and her path. The shamans have a beautiful greeting when they meet a stranger, “In Lak’ech,” which means, I am another you. Reading this book has been very transformational; I felt purged and centred, and wishing to go through such a transformational journey myself. At the end of each chapter, Priya shares her learnings from each ritual, specially mentioned for the reader. All in all, a must-read for anyone aspiring to self-improvement.