Dec 8, 2022

Book Review: Atmamun by Kapil Gupta

 I stumbled upon this title in one of Ankur Warikoo's book recommendations. Over the past 3 weeks, I have been reading this book slowly and steadily. This book requires immersive reading and can't be skimmed through in one go.

Some books question you so deeply that it makes you uncomfortable. Atmamun is one such book, where the author raises many questions that made me go from "wow", "hmm, never thought of it this way!" to "what? no way!"

It is neither a self-help book nor a philosophy book that explains doctrines or ways of living. Rather, it is a book that helps you introspect and rewires your perspectives on many commonly held beliefs. 

To give you a sample, we have learned about the importance of mindfulness in daily life, but the author says that practices such as mindfulness are a trap. His question - "Isn't the entire problem a fullness of the mind?" makes you sit straight and wonder "aamaam la" ("right, no?").

His reasoning on this question is very valid - "The trouble with mindfulness is that it requires persistent effort. It is like attempting to empty the ocean with a teacup."

The author states that the greatest freedom in the world is freedom from our minds. And our mind stands as the single barrier between ourselves and the life that nature intended for us to live. Instead of taming the mind, our goal should be to transcend the mind.

The chapter that differentiates between doing meditation and being meditative is just brilliant. His argument on how turning inward is the greatest luxury and how wealth can enable that luxury helped me gain a new perspective.

A few of my favorite quotes:

  • The only worthwhile watch in the world is not the one which counts Up, but the one which counts Down (in the context of mortality)
  • We find ourselves constantly putting out fires. When we are not putting out fires, we are thinking about the ones that may come. And we are lamenting the ones we have lived through.
  • The question is NOT “How do I solve my problems?’. The question is “Why do I have problems in the first place?”
  • The worst thing that a parent can give to his child is his Mind.

Highly recommend this book for its simple language and powerful thoughts.

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