The book points the way from life’s adversities and miseries towards an unperturbed, unruffled state of mind
By Mansha Zehra
This book, by a retired IAS officer and spiritual seeker, Balvinder Kumar, delves into philosophical strands of human existence. The human mind is one of the most complex things in existence and to understand the depths it can reach can be near impossible. Like Freud’s psychoanalytic theory justifies the three levels of consciousness, Exploring Life succeeds in peeking into the subconscious, all the while making one stop reading and actually process what one has just read. The range of context covered, from self-realisation, thoughts, acceptance of God, death and suffering, is truly thought-provoking if not daunting.
Many have ideas but not everyone knows how to present them lucidly. The author, presently a member of Uttar Pradesh Real Estate Regulatory Authority (UP RERA), blends spirituality with scientific facts such as those involving neuroplasticity and the genetic blueprint of humans, making his work stand out. If you’re not into spirituality, the scientific basis of the book will be sure to leave an impression on you.
From “We always choose not to suffer” to the famous saying of the Buddha, “Suffering is Universal”, a great deal of thought has gone into delineating such topics in fine detail. Referencing ancient philosophers and their beliefs with equally stimulating opinions, it makes the reader experience a series of emotions and thoughts while reading.
For Greek philosophy enthusiasts, the book will prove to be worth their time. Numerous philosophical references from various eras of Greek history have been freely employed, bringing into relief the intricacies of stoicism and ataraxia, amongst others. It’s one thing to quote from a reference and another to integrate it into the whole in such a way that it supports the context. Each citation in the book is included in such a way that it melds perfectly to form a string of intelligible philosophical concepts.
One thing that stands out is the writer’s stance on human behaviour to be inherently negative unless we work on ourselves such as developing self-awareness to let the positive aspect through. This diagnosis doesn’t go in vain as the latter parts of a few chapters delineate how we can handle the darker side of our (sub) consciousness. Where one page grapples with rejection of God’s existence, quoting Nietzsche’s “God is Dead”, all the while speaking of nihilism and existentialism, the immediately following page speaks of the significance of remembering God. The contrast is sure to give you a whiplash with the range of perspectives proffered under a single topic.
The debate on “whether human beings are good with hidden evilness or evil people with some elements of goodness” does ignite a string of thoughts but, unfortunately, has not been recounted in finer detail as would be expected regarding such a controversial topic. Similarly, due to the extensive domain of human nature covered in a single book, there are many topics which deserve a lot more thought than just a few pages. Yet this is possibly due to the vast range of topics the book deals with. From deteriorating mental health to spiritual guidance towards inner peace, and life’s adversities to the path towards an unperturbed mind or equanimity, it covers it all.
In Chapter 11, you’ll come across one of the most constructive lessons of life regarding positive aging. The writer has discussed the passage of time with regard to the stage of life one is going through. How a summer in childhood which seemed never-ending is, in sharp contrast, just seeming to fade away in old age. Again, a biological basis has been given: As the young mind receives more images during one day than the same mind in old age.
Each chapter seems to follow a certain course. Providing an introduction to the topic and then leading to deeper insights, facts and figures, and ultimately arriving at related problems and ways to tackle them – all the while disclosing our hidden potential. It provides a sense of orderliness throughout the book.
The book provides a fine elucidation of the pragmatic side of the mind, backing which are various theories and efforts to define human nature. Not only the literary content, the visual appeal of each page is also up to the mark which makes it exceptionally interesting to read as it hooks the reader with gripping quotations. The results of studies and facts are provided in support of statements. The language used is simple, yet effective in delivering the message intended.
Exploring Life is a perfect piece of spiritual literature if you ever need to seek out your inner world. It lays down all the problems mankind has been facing from the beginning (and still does in modern times), furthermore providing ways to tackle these difficulties within ourselves without any help from the outside world. We are self-sufficient enough to gain fulfilment, needing neither materialistic things nor any other person to fill the gaps in us.
(The reviewer has a psychological scholastic background with a keen interest in literature and books.)