Written in an engaging Question-and-Answer format and using a conversational style, this book is a treasure-trove of wisdom.
QUESTIONS You Must Answer Before You DIE!
Author: AiR (Atman in Ravi)
Published by A.i.R. Institute of Realization, Bangalore
Reviewed by Roshan
Earlier known as Ravi V. Melwani, AiR or Atman in Ravi was one of Bangalore’s most ‘successful’ businessmen till he realised that making money wasn’t the purpose of life. Today, he is a well-known inspirational speaker and spiritual writer.
Written in an engaging Question-and-Answer format and using a conversational style, this book is a treasure-trove of wisdom. AiR reflects on some of the most basic existential issues, such as who created the universe, the purpose of life, what happens after we die, how we can be truly happy all the time, why bad things happen to good people, and who, what and where is God. Finding answers to such questions is essential for us to fulfil the purpose of our being on Earth.
One of the most fundamental questions we could ask ourselves is: Who are we? AiR explains that we are not the body, nor are we the mind. True, we have a mind and a physical body, but we aren’t them (although most people think contrarily and so suffer). We are actually the Soul/Spirit/Atman or Life Energy, that keeps a person alive. It arrives at birth and departs at death. It is invisible, intangible and beyond human comprehension and definition. No one can see it, but it manifests in every cell of the body. It is the energy that gives us life. It is in every living creature. We are this Soul, not the body-mind complex.
The ultimate goal of human life is to realise the self.
Self-realisation leads to the Truth. Most people don’t realise the Truth before they die. We must go on a passionate quest to find out who we truly are. AiR notes that many people think money is the only priority. “We have wrongly defined success as an achievement in financial terms. We pay attention to physical aspects, emotional conditions, and intellectual growth but do not pay attention to our spiritual growth”, he says. True, we all need money. But, Air explains, “True success isknowing who we are and why we are here”.
True success, he says is “spiritual achievement”.
A complicated creation like man must have a Creator, AiR believes. God, AiR says, is beyond human comprehension and definition. The entire creation is proof of the Creator. The laws governing the universe are an inferred proof of God. We cannot see God, but if we come to know who we really are, we can realise who God is, Air opines.
Noting the confusion that exists about death, AiR says that while the physical body completes its journey with death, the mind doesn’t it has to redeem its good or bad deeds. What happens to us after death depends on our state of self-awareness and self-realisation and so differs from person to person.
Eternal happiness is something that many people hope for. Is there a way to acquire this? AiR believes there is. We are unhappy, he says, because we have desires and expectations, and when they fail, we become sad. It is possible to be happy always if we eliminate desire and remain in a state of contentment and fulfilment. We aren’t able to do this as we naturally crave and desire due to our senses and our wandering mind so we become disappointed and unhappy. If we realise the cause of misery and overcome desire we can overcome disappointments and unhappiness. Those who realise the truth that we are not the ego, the body or the mind but are the Soul escape unhappiness and are in a state of eternal bliss, AiR explains. While their body may suffer, they distance themselves from their body and mind and remain in eternal happiness.
Among the other basic issues that AiR reflects on are the nature of the mind and how to control it, knowledge, wisdom and realization, prayer and meditation, relationships and non-attachment, serving the poor and prayer to God, and the relationship and difference between religion and spirituality.
In the book’s ‘Afterword’, AiR provides some interesting details of his own life. He reflects on some of the questions that he asked and the answers that transformed his life. For many years, he thought making money was the goal of life. “Like most of humanity I lived in this ignorance”, he says. “[…]I was in this rat race because everybody is.” But when he crossed 40, he shut down his business he realised that life wasn’t just about making money. He found more happiness in making a difference doing humanitarian, inspirational and spiritual work, which gave him far more contentment and fulfilment.
This book, like many others he has authored, is a result of his inspiring spiritual search and his commitment to making a difference to the lives of others.