By TA Balasubramaniam The Simple Way,15 Rules for Transforming Life J P Vaswani Gita Publishing House, Paperback, INR 150; 120 pages
The unwanted troubles in our lives bring suffering. We use two ways to respond to this suffering. The first way is to avoid troubles. This is folly. The second way is to become resigned, passive and submissive. This is avidya – or ignorance. But there is a third way. You can greet the unwanted, the unexpected trouble, as a friend. Greet it by saying, ‘Welcome friend. What message do you bring to me from the Lord?’ ” JP Vaswani (fondly called Dada Vaswani by his followers), points out this simple path in the first chapter of this uplifting compilation of inspiring talks. Vaswani is the popular 97-year-old spiritual leader and head of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission. In the 15 chapters that form the thread of the book, Vaswani highlights 15 ‘rules’ that, when laid out end-to-end, become “the simple way” of the title. These rules have evolved from his experiences in life, and his encounters with various challenges, people and situations in his early years. They are encapsulated as simple aphorisms that start off each chapter. For example, the second rule reads, “If fear knocks on the door of your heart, send faith to open it, and you will be free from distress.” Fear is a common emotional response that grips us at critical times, and often for no reason at all. Vaswani prompts us to seek out help instead of suffering in silence. He narrates a childhood incident at school where he accidentally jams the keys of an office typewriter. He is petrified with fear. The school’s Principal, however, calms him by assuring him that a mechanic would be summoned to fix the keys. “Remember, Jeshan, call the expert when you have a problem. He is sure to fix it.” All you need to do is to summon the expert when you are stuck in a situation that petrifies you. That’s one lesson in the simple way. Likewise, in the other chapters, we are guided to examine other simple ways to live and to respond to critical situations. Vaswani invites us to consider looking at our lives as lessons, and our experiences as teachers. So we learn how his life experiences have taught him many lessons – the virtue of humility, detachment, and timely action, the futility of guilt, regret and hatred, the efficacy of prayer, and the deceptiveness of external appearances, and the value of looking within ourselves for answers. In each of us, says Vaswani, there is a ‘powerhouse’ that lies dormant. He observes, with examples, how our entanglements with temptations and addictions make us oblivious to our spiritual side.
We are urged to seek out the expert (a guru) who can guide us through the swirl of confusion. “The answer is within us. We have to sit in meditation, enter into silence, and go deep within to release the ‘powerhouse’ inside into action.” Vaswani blends sage advice with personal stories and apt quotations that make the book an enjoyable read. For those who are afflicted with battling doubts and confusion this is an uplifting and reassuring set of parables to understand our place in the universe a little better.
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