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Lama Marut (aka Brian K. Smith) has written a wonderful encore to his excellent 2012 offering A Spiritual Renegade's Guide to the Good Life, though if you haven't read his earlier book, don't let that stop you from picking up this book. The message in Be Nobody, told in the author's wonderful hybrid style of a light-hearted scholar, is to let go of one's desire to "be somebody" and live a life of happy humility. The author notes that in an age where people anxiously collect Facebook friends and Twitter followers, more people suffer from depression and related illnesses than ever before. He makes the case that if we only drop our focus on growing our self-centered roles, and instead adopt an attitude of "what can I do for you", we will actually become more fulfilled, not less.

As with his previous book, Lama Marut steps outside of the theoretical into the practical and offers a number of action plans and meditations to make this transition. Especially helpful are what he calls "weapons" to fight mental negativity, such as recognition, understanding, disassociation and determination. This is not to suggest that this is the standard mechanical self-help fare which tells the reader how to "change you life in four easy steps". This book is more nuanced and cerebral, while maintaining just the right amount of levity. For example, the way that the author makes the connection between an explanation of Karma and the childhood love of television wrestling that he shared with his grandfather is brilliant. He also provides some very specific examples of random acts of kindness if the reader is inclined to do this type of homework.

This book provides the reader with an understanding of the reasons for abandoning ego-driven pursuits, and of the benefits of adopting a manner more considerate of others. The author makes the case for why doing so will make us happier as individuals and how it actually can bring about a positive change in the world. His explanations are pleasant and enjoyable, never overbearing or guilt-tripping. As the book's cover states, " we're desperately trying to be somebody. Maybe we've got it all wrong." Lama Marut makes the case for this perfectly.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2014 08:15 pm (UTC)
I have mixed feelings about humility. It takes quite a bit of determination to be selfish enough about my time write novels and make sure I get to the gym, it takes quite a bit of ego to shove off the criticism of others and do as one wishes with one's life.

But as proud as I can be about my abilities, my ego is also still capable of feeling humility when I read a novel better than I could have written, or a philosopher that impresses me.

And as selfish as I am about my writing, teaching has given me more happiness. I'm happy while writing, but the business of writing gets me down. When I'm teaching, I often transcend my normal emotions (egoistical, bitter, annoyed) and be more patient and helpful than I usually am outside of work. My writing that has probably contributed the most to this world are the student recommendation letters I compose for their applications to American universities.
Jun. 24th, 2014 01:02 am (UTC)
I'm not sure whether you would enjoy this book or not. I think I found it valuable because, from my own experience, when humility is my natural state, I feel happy, whereas the times I feel least at ease are times when have an over-inflated sense of my own self-importance (something that happens more than I wish it did.)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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