On a quest for happiness? Look within

Book: A Monk’s Guide To Happiness

Author: Gelong Thubten

Publisher: Hachette

Pages: 256; Price: Rs 399

The art of meditation has been gaining precedence in our fast-paced culture. Caught in the midst of the social media frenzy, the drive to do more and be more and advertising influences that cause us to want what we don’t really need, this book by Gelong Thubten comes as a much-needed respite.

Having been educated at Oxford University and later going on to become an actor in London and New York, the author suffered from severe burnout and a life-threatening heart problem at the age of 21. This was a wake-up call for him, following which he joined the Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Scotland. Today, the monk has over 20 years’ experience under his belt, working with universities, hospitals, schools and even prisons.

Sitting on a bookshelf, the fetching book will draw your attention, and flipping through the first chapter, you will instantly resonate with the nuggets of information on these pages. The author addresses critical questions such as ‘Do we ever find long-term satisfaction?’ He makes stark comments, which jump out of the pages. We are constantly grabbing at things, yet never fully arriving where we would like to be. Struck a chord?

We liked the flow of the book, which transcends from these questions that circulate our perpetual wants and desires, and makes it way to the importance of mindfulness, the practise of being present in the moment. Very often we blur the lines between empathy and compassion, and the author distinguishes them in an uncomplicated way. We then move on to the topic of forgiveness (with respect to others and ourselves) and how to let go of the things that happen to us with every breath of the meditation process. The book concludes with the art of being grateful for what we are given and all that has happened to us, even if it doesn’t align with how we expected things to turn out.

It all boils down to the fact that our thoughts about things are what lead to happiness or despair. Since this takes place in our minds, training our minds should be top priority. The happiness and freedom we all long for doesn’t exist in any external gain, but it lies within ourselves. All we need to do is tap into it.

The author doesn’t come across as preachy in any way; in fact, the stories he shares of his own experiences in various scenarios helps us to better relate to the process of meditation that he aims to emphasise on. We liked that the book is laced with meditation practises of different forms, especially the ‘sky meditation’ technique mentioned at the end of the book. This light read will definitely leave you feeling more self-aware and will propel you to incorporate the art of meditation wherever you are and in whatever circumstance you may find yourself in.