Book Reviews - Cutting to the chase
by Suma Varughese
The Buddha’s Sword, Author: Gautam Sachdeva, Published By: Yogi Impressions, Pages: 119, Rs. 195
Here is a book that is as slim and piercing as the sword it talks about, cutting through all mental clutter in search of clarity. A long-time student of Ramesh Balsekar, the well-known teacher of non-duality based in Mumbai, Gautam was inspired by his essay, The Purpose of Life, and developed on it to produce a work of striking lucidity and wisdom.
Using the tried and tested path of Vedantic reasoning, he starts off by proving how little control we have over life. What, he asks us, do we have in our control? Not our genes nor the circumstances of our lives, both of which determine our day-to-day activities. Arguing that these two factors have been given by God, he says that if we can do nothing save what God wants, then there is no need to fear God. We are therefore at liberty to love God! We will also not blame the other, for what he does is also God’s will. Of course, he adds, there are consequences to our action, which we must be prepared to accept for we must respect society’s laws.
This, of course, has often been reiterated by Ramesh Balsekar but I found this particular text to be clearer and more persuasive because it also takes into consideration that our actions are based on our thoughts and feelings. And these, it points out, arise from without. If we can accept this and I personally have no trouble doing so, then the argument that we have no control over our lives makes sense. With rather convoluted logic, Gautam says that we need to act as if we have control otherwise we could not function but actually recognise that since we have no control over consequences, we really do not have control.
Personally I prefer the Bhagavad Gita’s take on it (you have right over action, but never of the fruit), but apart from this quibble, I found the book to be a masterpiece of clear, simple writing. For instance, his argument that the purpose of life is to be happy is beautifully conveyed.
“Happiness is your true nature. It is your true nature because deep down you know what it is to be happy. Otherwise, why would you seek it? You would seek something else instead. For example, if your true nature was to have a stomach ache, you would be constantly seeking a stomach ache.”
This is one book which makes spirituality and nondual thinking simple and easy without ever getting simplistic. Highly recommended.