Friday, 2 August 2013
Think From The Heart, Love From The Mind by Gian Kumar - Mini Review
4 out of 5 stars
Awareness And A Clear View Of Life
On Monday morning, as you wolf down breakfast, drop the kids at school and fight the traffic to work, have you ever thought, “I wish I could be happy!” or even more, “I wish I could have more days of peace!” If so, this is the book for you. You may think the answer will read something like, “Think about what you like and don’t like, make lists, then work out strategies to increase and avoid them respectively. Quite the contrary, Gian suggests that the first thing you do is DON’T THINK. Instead we should calmly observe, noticing our thoughts and feelings, and the world around us. Eventually, Gian says, we will receive intuitions from our unconscious that will point us in the direction we should really go. Gian calls this whole process “awareness”, but some may know it by the Buddhist name “mindfulness” (Michael Carrithers. Buddha: A Very Short Introduction: Oxford University Press, c1996, p. 50-52). According to Gian the trouble with thinking is that our beliefs are based on past experiences while we live in a fast changing human life. Even our past experiences were interpreted by us in terms of what our parents, teachers, religious leaders, political leaders, etc. taught us. These ideologies are themselves interpretations of those people’s pasts. Gian is not suggesting that there is anything wrong with thinking, but the idea is that we be truly informed before we think.
This book could be classified as New Age, but it is much more accurately described as Eastern philosophy. Gian presents an interesting mixture of Buddhist and Hindu thought. The Hindu thought largely comes from The Bhagwat Gita (Ch. 13). There is also a sprinkling of Christian and Islamic ideas. Gian is a free-thinker, self-taught, and, as we have hinted, one of his main ideas is to avoid being trapped in any one dogma as we immediately limit our view of what is “now.”
The first quarter of the book deals with a brief overview of (1) the condition of man, and, (2), the solution of awareness. The second quarter concentrates on a largely Buddhist view of knowledge (Ch. 4), choicelessness (Ch. 5) awareness (Ch. 6), and duality and non-duality (Ch. 7). The third and fourth quarters concentrate on Hindu ideas of the absolute (Ch. 8), creation and destruction (Ch. 9), spontaneity and the now (Ch. 10), sensitivity rather than emotionality (Ch. 11) awareness in practical living (Ch. 12), completeness (Ch. 13), and zero (Ch. 14). This world wind summary of course can only hint at the depth of the book which shows much study.
The reader who is experienced in this field of knowledge may find Think From The Heart, Love From The Mind a little repetitive; however, this same quality will very much help those new to the ideas. The book indeed contains some quite difficult concepts which need to be thought about and even struggled with. In Chapter 2 “awareness,” which reveals “absolute reality,” is described as being both “changeless” and “constant flowing”: one definition implying something static, and the other something changing. If the reader keeps going, however, all will be explained later in the book. The concept of “choicelessness” (Ch. 5) is even more of a mystery, especially when faced with the problem of evil in others. What should we do? Once again keep reading and keep thinking.
For those who are particularly interested in philosophy in general, many will recognize in Gian’s work a similarity with the Existentialist’s view of ‘normal’ life as gratuitous, contingent, meaningless, and nauseating (e.g. Jean-Paul Sartre. Nausea: Penguin, 1965). More particularly there is a noted similarity with the existentialist Karl Jaspers’ view of absolute reality as immensely complex, beyond all systems of knowledge, but none the less in some way knowable through mystical experience (Philosophy Of Existence: University of Pennsylvania Press, c1971 & Reason And Existenz: Noonday Press, c1955). Also Gian’s view of creativity welling up from the unconscious is very similar to that of the existentialist psychologist Rollo May (The Courage To Create: Bantam Books, c1975).
This book is good for all ‘seekers’ from beginners to the experienced: each will take from it something at their own level. While sometimes dealing with weighty questions the book is quite short, though it probably should be read over several weekends in order to digest the issues. All in all Think From The Heart, Love From The Mind is an enjoyable and interesting read.