October 8, 2012

A Book so Boring It Will Cure Insomnia.

 A Review of A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life

*Note: the author received this book for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review said offering. That said, she says what she wants—good or bad, happy or sad.

There is nothing really wrong with this book, but that doesn’t mean that I would wish to suffer my brain through another read of it.

While the title and picture of a motorcycle promises the reader something interesting this book falls flat, unless you are looking for a primer on how to be a nice person for an eight year old.

A description of the book From Marut’s website.

Through a series of meditations, exercises and useful insights, Lama Marut offers a fresh take on our quest for happiness and the good life. Each chapter ends with an action plan designed to elicit true happiness and forge a clear path toward fulfillment. Microsoft tags throughout the book link to videos in which Lama Marut discusses each step in depth, while you learn to:

  • >> Transform problems into opportunities.
  • >> Set yourself free from fear and anxiety.
  • >> Unburden yourself of past resentment.
  • >> Create an action plan for true happiness.

A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life is bound to disrupt your suffering, disturb your dissatisfaction, and elicit a deep-seated contentment. Happiness is in your hands.

I don’t know much about the author, but here is a bio I found on The Summer Retreat:

“Lama Marut is an American-born monk in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, the lineage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He received his junior ordination in New York City in 2005 from his root Lama, Geshe Michael Roach, and his full ordination in 2009 at Diamond Mountain University in Arizona. The Gelugpa is the lineage of the Dalai Lamas and was created by the great sage Je Tsongkapa, who was the teacher of the first Dalai Lama.

For twenty-five years Lama Marut, then Brian Smith, was a professor of comparative religion at Columbia University and the University of California at Riverside. He became a Sanskrit, and authored books on the subject.”

The Michael Roach root lama connection is enough to get me a bit weirded out, but I read this book before the Diamond Mountain controversy. I  have been hesitant on writing a review since I hate to write something negative, but I kind of hope that if I can save someone the frustration of wasting $20 then it is a positive function.

The information he presents is simple; there is nothing weird about it. He isn’t trying to get you to join Diamond Mountain Center or teaching you a magical wishing philosophy like in New Age hit The Secret, but I expected more for my time. I was bored to tears, and I read a book a day. I even read my shampoo bottles when in the tub, and appliance warranties.

This isn’t so much a guide into spirituality as it is a revamped 10 commandments.

A paragraph out of the intro:

“It’s for those fed up with both the dead end of modern consumer-capitalist ideology based on selfishness and greed, and the toothless, self-absorbed navel-gazing of many contemporary spiritual self-help books. It’s for those looking for a hard-core, triple-x, no-nonsense and supremely practical guidebook to how to live the good life”

Maybe this book just wasn’t for me. Maybe it is because I haven’t read any other self-help books since I picked up my mom’s copy of the Habits of Highly Effective People in the ’80s (a great book). Maybe I just don’t “get it” and this is a good self-help book. It just seemed like it reiterated common sense stuff like don’t wish bad stuff onto people and be grateful for things.

The book promised a lot, I didn’t get any ah-ha moments but maybe it’s just me. Lama Marut’s book seemed to get really good reviews from others. Here are some of them:

“While reading this book, thinking about this book, and trying his suggestions I have begun to experience what life is like when one puts ‘the horse before the cart.’ I am experiencing a lot more time and a lot more love, and I am extremely grateful. It’s brilliant.”

~ Mary McDonnell, Academy Award nominated actress, Dances With Wolves

“If you want advice on how to dig yourself out of a black hole, you need a man with a spade on the inside. Lama Marut, formerly Brian K. Smith, is just the bloke. He’s the favorite sports coach you had when you were five: big like a bear (in a reassuring way), direct, fun and with an American accent that curls around his forthright southern charm.”

~ Lisa Mitchell, “The Buddhist and the Black Hole,” THE WEEKLY REVIEW (Melbourne)

“I can think of few teachers of spirituality more capable of offering the profound and rich traditions of Buddhism and the visionary voices of yoga. When you meet Lama Marut you encounter greatness, a place where the heart and mind are one, and the company you keep presents a rare presence that can change your life.”

~ Douglas R. Brooks, author and professor of Religion, University of Rochester and Spiritual Voice of Anusara Yoga and Rajanaka Yoga

The way Marut delivers the information is to pick a Buddhist quote or a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, add a few Bible quotes, a line from the Yoga Sutra, or a quote from Ram Dass.

He brings up karma:

“The ‘laws of karma’ aren’t rally that complicated or mysterious. We can find simple summaries in the world’s religious scriptures”

‘There is a connection of cause and effect. Meritorious deeds bring pleasant effects;bad deed bring unpleasant ones.’ (Yoga Sutra 2.14)

‘No action in this world goes for naught or brings about a contrary result.’ (BhAgavad Gita 2.40)

‘Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.’ (Galatians 6:7)

He does this throughout the book, never really going in depth to any scripture, instead just glossing over it and offering a correlation on how to handle the massive letdown of your iPad breaking.

If you have never studied the Sutra’s or the Gita or even read the Bible, maybe these are new ideas to you. My expectations may have been too high. I admit I was looking for more information on a Buddhist approach since I have not extensively studied it.

The book does offer good practical advice for living, however. My final thoughts are that if I had paid for this book I would be very disappointed.



Editor: Brianna Bemel


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