Letting go of the person you used to be – a book review

Do things just happen by accident? The way that I came to read this book made me question that statement. Is there some sort of intentionality behind them? Sometimes. Perhaps. Let me explain the circumstances and see what you think.

It was a balmy autumn Saturday in 2004 and I was looking forward to my usual Saturday morning ritual, to have my breakfast of toasted Turkish bread, smothered in butter and vegemite out on the balcony while I read the Sydney Morning Herald, something I couldn’t manage during the working week. I am in the process of doing the Mastery and Service course with PeopleKnowhow, a four month long personal development course and it is stirring up some “stuff” such that I am feeling a little off this morning. My breakfast routine might help with the mood so I go out to get the paper from my drive but what, no paper! I look up and down the street, but no papers delivered anywhere. Damn! But ok, I will just drive down to my local shopping centre and pick up a paper from the newsagents and have a nice coffee with a breakfast down there.

When I get to the shops I notice that I am still feeling strangely restless. It also occurs to me that the paper may well be delivered later so why pay for another one. What else to do while I enjoy my breakfast and coffee? As I wander around the shops looking for some inspiration I happen upon the local branch of a national bookshop chain, Dymocks. It is sure to have something I might want to read. However browsing around the shop in my current state of mind presents a myriad of options but no ready solutions. As I walk along the last set of bookshelves against the wall one book is sticking out of the row as if someone browsing it hasn’t pushed it all the way back in. Of course I have to look at it and the title was enough to grab me instantly. It was exactly what I was starting to go through with the Mastery and Service course. I quickly flicked through the book and saw enough to suggest I needed to buy this book and read it right now.

Suffice to say, this book lived up to the promise of the title and certainly exceeded any expectations I may have had. Once I started on it I couldn’t put it down. I have re-read it recently to bring this review to you and I still found it difficult to put down and full of new and interesting things that I might have missed the first time around.

Firstly a little about the author. Lama Surya Das is an American who as a young man in the 1970’s travelled through India and Asia seeking answers to growing up in a post war era like many others of his generation. Das went a little further than most and became a Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He returned to the USA in his thirties to help bring the Buddhist philosophy to his fellow Americans. This book followed on from his epic “Awakening” trilogy of books.

We must learn the hard lesson that without the pain of inner irritation, the pearls of wisdom will not be produced within us. I lovingly call this The Pearl Principle: no pain, no transformative gain.

Lama Surya Das in “Letting Go Of The Person You Used To Be”

I have often heard the phrase “getting in touch with the real you” as if there is a mystical persona within us that we have lost touch with. I see that “real you” as just the original pure love that we started with before we added with age and experience layers of things like phobias, fears, likes, dislikes, prejudices, preferences. And that is just what they are, layers. Layers that we can shed like snakes shed their skin from time to time. We are still the pure essence of love below that surface of the various personae we adopt and take on. And that is what this book is designed to do, allow you to shed your old persona and take on a new one, with the security of knowing that the “real you”, the all loving you, will remain intact and that you may even get closer to this essential you in the process.

“There is a world of difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up implies negative feelings of hopelessness or despair. Letting go means letting come and go – letting be. It means coming to accept what can’t be changed even while working for positive growth, change and transformation. Letting be is a way of oneness and loving life in all its surprising forms. This is how we befriend ourselves and befriend the whole world.”

Lama Surya Das in “Letting Go Of The Person You Used To Be”

This book is not a structured A to Z, step by step, type of instruction book but rather a collection of notes and exercises, tools that can be used to make subtle and some not so subtle changes in the way you live your life. It is a book that could have been written just for the time we currently live in where people are being forced to re-evaluate what is important to them, what options for change do they have available to cope with the current situation where their old jobs, their old way of life may no longer fit, like the old snake skin, and needs to be let go.

I highly commend this book to you to read, to live, and re-read as things change for you.


Author profile on Wikipedia

Author profile on Amazon

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