Monday, July 11, 2016

Make Success Your Way of Living by Ravish Mani

Indian Bloggers

Ravish Mani is well-known in the blogosphere. His insightful comments on blogs reflect his philosophical personality. His own writings are inspiration and food for thought. He has an acumen for reading in between the lines. If you want your work to be critically appreciated, you would want him to read it. And this is no flattery. I make this statement based on the comments I have received for many of the short fictional pieces and poetry I have written.

Make Success Your Way of Living by Ravish Mani is a compilation of personal anecdotes, examples and experiments from the animal world and quotes from famous people. The author philosophically reinforces his ideas by repeatedly stressing on the significance of adopting the right 'attitude' towards success. Doubt and failure are considered stepping stones rather than hindrances. Success is measured against failure, and not along with achievement. It is emphasized again and again that winning does not make you a winner just like losing does not make you a loser. 

The beauty of the central thought of the book is captured in the lines from Bhagwad Gita that serve as the epigraph to the book. Let me quote the lines here:

He who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction is wise among human; he is successful, who has accomplished what one has to. (Bhagwad Gita Chapter 4 Verse 18) 

Achievements are not defined necessarily by what the final outcome is. Success is a journey, not an end-point. Accomplishments are meant to be glorified in the way they came about, and not in isolation. Ravish throughout the book, by way of different examples, reiterates this point. True success is desire matched with integrity. What one really wants is important, but what is also important is modelling a correct conduct. The classic example Ravish gives in this regard is that of Reuben Gonzales who chose to lose his racquetball match in order to keep his integrity intact. That does not mean that one ought to fail to succeed. Failures are experiences. They are proofs of the hard work and the effort required to reach the final goal. One who does not strive does not learn.

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The author begins by telling about his own stint with success. No, he did not become a celebrity overnight. He did not achieve the glamour associated with stardom. But within a limited span of time, he was able to achieve something he desired. All he did was take the right steps. He was willing to take the risk, and with this willingness came the idea that helped him reach his goal. That was success to him in the true sense of the word. He did not do any "preparation" but was rather "prepared" to take action. Ravish aptly differentiates between the two:

"Preparation means mechanical activity while preparedness means conscious activity. Preparation is a state of sleeping, in which you do things unconsciously. You cannot do anything new. You can only do the things that you were taught while preparing for the situation. You cannot think out of the box. On the other hand, preparedness is state of awareness. It can think new solutions because your mind is alert." 

Success according to the author, is not just a record of goals achieved. It gels with a happy personality. Happiness is crucial for success because an unhappy heart can seldom reach success. An unhappy person cannot comprehend the meaning of accomplishment for he is not in harmony with his inner self. To be able to achieve goals that are worthy, one has to first adopt a healthy attitude.  Ravish writes:

"Success means having such a personality that every effort will lead towards the achievement of a worthy goal."

Ravish uses a haiku written by Kokila Gupta to explain how our interpretation of life, and the events that happen around us define us, or rather how we give definitions to the events around us, and hence to the life we live. I have a different interpretation for the haiku but the way the author describes two contrary meanings of the haiku reflect how we are tuned to think. The thought-processes we are habitual of often trap us and limit our scope. We ourselves enfeeble us and blame it to some external source. The truth is that we choose and we are the doers, no matter what. Our perceptions can become our traps.

"We can never know what others say; we can only know what we hear.”

Our fears are our allies too, according to Ravish. It is fear, as the author notes, which awakens our consciousness. There is a great example the writer gives which I would like to share here. A man had fear of heights. He went to a saint so that the latter could help him achieve a state of consciousness. The saint asked him to climb a tall tree or go home. The man despite his fear started climbing. As he was about to reach the top, the saint asked him to be brave. On his way down, as the man neared the ground, the saint warned him to be careful. The man was angry and asked the saint why when he was so near to the summit and to the ground did he feel the need to warn. The saint replied that when he was going up, he was fearful and conscious. But as he neared success, there was danger of going back to the state of  drowsiness and he might have quit. While coming back, he was overconfident and it might have been harmful to his conscious state of mind.

Through this example Ravish has clearly brought out the significance of remaining on a sound foothold even while succeeding. It might be the last but one illusive step that can be disastrous and cause our doom. Success comes to those who choose to remain awake.

Doubt has often been a stumbling block for many. It is a paralyzing force that slows us down and eventually makes us quit. That is what we feel. But for the author:

"Doubt is an indication of a somewhat disturbed belief system which needs immediate attention and some remedial action."

Doubt is that moment wherein questions need to be asked. It is a state of consciousness not lulled by blind faith but active interrogation. Hence it has power. It has strength which can be aptly challenged towards creativity. Ravish gives fine examples to prove his point. Towards the end of the book, he even quotes one of his reader who is an avid believer but is often assailed by doubt. The reader finds relief in the assertion that to doubt is not bad. Mindless following ought to be shunned.

In order to succeed, one ought to be ready to embrace everything one would usually not relate to success - fear, doubt, and failure.

The author ends his book asking his readers to dwell on the concept of the Penrose Triangle. It is a concept new to me. But after reading the book, I thought that the 'impossible' triangle is the metaphor for the thought process that seeks to achieve a state of harmony between the doer and the action - a harmony wherein both blend into each other inseparably, a state where they exist but they are not there. It lies at the root of Hui Neng's example cited in the book wherein the disciple on being asked, "What is enlightenment?", replies “There is no mind and there is no mirror, so where can the dust gather? One who knows this is enlightened.”

Success can come only in this state of purity.

I also asked Ravish to clarify his point of view on the Penrose Triangle in regard to his book. Let me quote what Ravish says:

"A defining characteristic of impossible object is that each part makes sense but the whole does not; local geometry is satisfied but the figure’s global geometry is ambiguous or contradictory, and the viewer must constantly revise their understanding of the figure as their eye travels over it."

I highlight the last part of the answer given because this is integral to our understanding of success too. What our mind perceives as success at one point of time might not when viewed as a whole be success in conventional terms. But if we take it apart, it might be success indeed. Viewed from different perspectives, success may appear as failure and failure may appear as success. It depends on where we position ourselves. 

The last chapter of the book is crucial to understanding the whole book for that matter, and it is difficult too. I am not very philosophically-grounded to comprehend all that Ravish has written. But the duality between the doer and the action, the requirement of harmony, the necessity to reach a point of unity so that the stage of 'no-consciousness' (see Post-Script as the end)is achieved are according to the author significant in understanding wherein lies success.

There is a lot to learn from the countless examples given, from the action steps provided at the end of each chapter and from the impressive quotes from various sources Ravish uses throughout the book. The book is not just about success, but about making a habit of success - a habit that comes as an individual develops a happy personality that is eager to live with passion and integrity. The classic example of the saint enjoying the strawberries while his death is ready to devour him is cardinal to the point raised by the book. Live in the moment with a fully awakened consciousness, and overcome failures and hindrances by negating their debilitating forces.

Those who love to read self-help books will enjoy reading this book. Those who like to learn from examples will find a lot in this book that is to their taste. 

My only concern is that it has not been edited well. I hope the author makes note of it and makes necessary changes. 

To download a copy of Ravish's book and to visit his blog, click

Post-Script - After reading the review, Ravish had a question as to what I meant by 'no-consciousness'. It was something he had never meant anywhere in his book. I need to clarify that by 'no-consciousness' I meant reaching a stage of, what the writer calls, 'no-thought', when all thoughts are shattered. It is a state of mind that is free of ego and its co-relates. It is the point at which ultimate harmony can be attained.

You might also like:

पुस्तक समीक्षा - अमित अग्रवाल की चिटकते कांचघर

Tomichan Matheikal's The Nomad Learns Morality

Lata Subramanian's A Dance with the Corporate Ton - Reflections of a Worker Ant

Linking to Day 3 of Write Tribe Festival of Words # 5


  1. Thanks for your valuable suggestion and guidance. Will definitely go through the book. Keep inspiring.

  2. His examples as explained by you are indeed thought provoking. It was nice to know more about Ravish and his book, very inspiring.

  3. Very detailed review with a lot of snippets. I loved the difference between preparation and be prepared.

  4. Your write up is compelling me to go through the book... Well put forth!!

  5. It's nice to know that Ravish has compiled his success mantras in a book form.

  6. Wow Sunaina! Detailed review and insights of the book surely made me download a copy for self. I really liked your review style. And Ravish Mani's thoughtful comments on our blog has always been a treasure.

  7. Nice review. It really triggers me to pick up the book

  8. Very nice and detailed review. Makes one to pick the book.

  9. Thats sure the book will be a thoughtful and deep read :) my best wishes to him :) nice review too :)

  10. That's a very detailed review and with the examples you shared, I enjoyed reading.

  11. Nice review.The book sounds interesting.

  12. The first para about Ravish says it all I feel and know about him!
    He is a great philosopher and a fine writer..
    Your review is a wonderful compliment to his amazing writes, Sunaina:)
    Best wishes to both of you!