“Break Free” is actually the title of a new book by Anu Morris. She used to be Anu Sundaram when she registered for my course, Creativity and Personal Mastery, at London Business School. Since then she has traveled far and deep down the rabbit hole opened up by the course.
She has recently released her own book chronicling her journey. While it may not be flawlessly polished, it possesses a captivating rawness and effectively conveys important ideas in a straightforward manner. I love it and recommend it.”
Should you read it? I think so. Here is a substantial extract. Read it and make up your own mind.
Extract from Break Free by Anu Morris:
Imagine that you are playing with clay. The playing kind, not the one that you bake. You have a huge box in front of you to build a world with clay. You have people, buildings, businesses, everything you want in your world. First, you make a few blobs out of clay. And, as you practice, you get good at making figures with clay. Soon you have got an excellent narrative going with clay figures. The figures have their dreams, ambitions and families. There is an entire epic saga going on in your world.
The nature of the clay is such that it will settle down eventually. And that in turn means that your clay figures would turn back into clay ultimately. That means the world you have built will dissolve into the original clay. The critical thing to remember here is that no matter what the forms were, be it a billionaire or a beggar, they will dissolve back into clay. They could have been the president of the clay world. But over time, that clay will sink back into a formless mass, losing its form and stories. The world you have built dissolves back into its original form, and it does not matter what story or forms you create or how many times you do it. The forms will dissolve into clay.
It’s like clay is the background from which these forms are manifested and returned to. Now if you cling to the clay form and get upset every time a clay form dissolves, you would be considered silly. That is an illogical ask. Clay forms arise to pass away. If you’re attached to them, their passing the way will cause suffering. As the clay forms return to clay, there is a sense of completeness. When we are done playing with all the forms, they will be pristine clay. And every time a clay form dissolves, there is an opportunity to create yet another clay form.
Our lives on this planet earth are similar to worldbuilding. Life situations are like form and life is clay. Our stories/masks/egos/thoughts are like clay forms and consciousness/stillness/attention is the clay.
These clay forms are temporary, and yet we look for ourselves in them. If we identify with the clay forms alone, life will be disappointing because they will dissolve back into clay. But if we identify with the clay, we will enjoy our stories as different forms arise and pass away. Who knows, we may even look forward to being one with the clay to experience something new.
As human beings, the humanity in us is like the clay forms, and the beingness in us is akin to the clay. If we refuse to accept that human life is challenging because it is impermanent, then it is arguing with what is. It’s like asking dogs to meow or cats to bark. How can something which arises and passes be the source of permanent satisfaction or bliss? Life situations are short lived and brief.
It is possible that one of the minds reading the words right now may say “My life is terrific, I just got a bonus or a promotion, or I just got married.” The response to that is, wait a bit. You have hit that rare space between challenges in life where clay forms are perfect and everything is fine. But the only reality is clay will change. And just like the child crying over clay forms disintegrating. we also cry when temporary things do not stay forever. But if we realize that they arise and pass away into consciousness and stillness, there is a sense of joy while playing with the various clay forms.
Clay forms and human life present an illusion of control. And the word illusion is the antithesis of reality. The forms in our stories look so solid that we forget they are transient. That is why life has suffering built into it, so we can wake up. Just like how some dreams turn into nightmares so that you can wake up. Sometimes a tragedy or shock is required for people to realize the fleeting nature of the clay form. Until then, they will turn a blind eye to the impermanence around them. They have to be forced to realize the oneness of clay. The form is meant to collapse, to experience formlessness. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can see suffering as a pointer to the formless. If we understand that the clay forms and our stories are all temporary, they can be a portal to the NOW. And the day we are tired of playing with clay, we will stop becoming and just be.
Imagine that you’re about to start your day and I tell you that I’ve paid some actors to cause trouble for you. Then, as you go about your daily life, if something happens that you do not want, you will probably laugh because you know it is all acting and done in jest. The chances are you will look forward to finding out what happens next. Now my question to you is why don’t you live like that every day as things do not go your way most of the time? Why not enjoy what is happening as opposed to being upset about it? If you cannot change it, then join it.
Jiddu Krishnamurthy once asked his audience if they wanted to know his secret. They had been coming to his talks for ages, so they all nodded eagerly and he revealed his answer. “I don’t mind what happens.” I’m sure some minds are waiting for the next thing. If you do mind what happens then life will be frustrating. But if you don’t mind what happens, it is a jolly life. It is a jolly ride. If you’re aligned with the present moment, there is no resistance. You are at peace with now. Only when you bring in the past, future, or when you want to change what is does suffering arise.
There is a lot of good stuff here. It is a slim book so I encourage you to spring for it.