Philosophers have often said that man has learnt much about the universe and how it functions. But, what of the inward journey? Corporate trainer and coach Shashank Kasliwal delves within the human psyche in his new book, Freedom from the I. He uncovers the origin of negativity- the ego. In the book he explores how we can rid ourselves of these negative states of mind so that we can ultimately be on the path to a free mind and real success.
Shashank Kasliwal talks about the experience of writing Freedom from the I…
For each concept explained in the book you have shared examples from your life. As a writer, was it difficult to lay bare these emotional vulnerabilities? Or, did it provide a kind of catharsis?
When one is able to see the fact as fact and not cover it up under any name, right action follows. If I am internally feeling negative about something or my energies are negative and I keep pursuing positivity, then that leads to hypocrisy and I am broken from within. But when I see myself or a situation the way it is, I am able to find the cause that helps me remove it, otherwise I keep fooling myself. So it was neither difficult nor it was a form of catharsis. It was simply seeing the truth for what it is.
Introspection and self-awareness seem to be crucial themes underlying the book. In today’s fast paced world where things spiral around us, how would you suggest a person start becoming self-aware?
The beauty with self-awareness is that you don’t have to stop other activities and close your eyes and introspect. Self-awareness is a simultaneous, constant process where I am observant about my inner states and the actions that come out of it. If I am not happy with the results I have in my life, it is the biggest eye opener to see that somewhere your inner states are not in harmony, and that’s why there is disturbance in the outer states. If one is not self-aware then whatever thoughts he gets is just a conditioned response. It will always make you react rather than act. So right now, take your attention to how you are feeling, what are you thinking, what are your intentions, are you in alignment with the purpose of your life or simply running after the goals that society has given to you. Just pause and see with all your senses; neither condemning nor criticising but just seeing the way you are, your whole inner psychological paraphernalia.
In the book there are instances when you mention how people use alcohol as a tool to escape looking inward. I would like to know more about your thoughts on the same….
The inner restlessness can be a big clue to work upon oneself. But, instead of doing that, many people consume alcohol to run away from what they are dealing with. They don’t want to look at the situation upfront but blame other people for it. People, who take responsibility in their life for their own life, need not consume alcohol and spoil their organism. When you consume alcohol it impacts your brain adversely, is bad for your body and disturbs the mental and emotional balance. People primarily drink to get out of the inhibitions and the worry mode, which are the indicators to act upon oneself. So instead of running from them, one should embrace them. Alcohol consumption for pleasure too is a bad idea because the need of pleasure indicates that you have not found your consciousness, which is a flow of bliss that does not need anything to be in that state.
You talk in detail about how emotional blocks are created and how these alongside negative thoughts can actually affect our bodies physically. How would you very briefly explain what a person can do to avoid these ‘blocks’?
When one is aware and does not let any image create in the present in his mind of the situations he goes through then there cannot be any emotional blocks. Blocks gets created when one is inattentive, not listening properly to what is being said…when one does not live from the truth of life which lies in impermanence. When one continuously while interacting stays attentive with all the senses then the old blocks too do not surface and slowly lose their grip on us.
You talk about the development of the ego due to conditioning. This implies that if parents are aware of the concepts you talk about, it can go a long way in raising children who are inward-looking and free from conditioning. Any tips you would like to give parents specifically?
When parents stop operating from fear, become authentic about their own disorderly life and are willing to work together with their children on their lives too, then something can be done about it. If they become realistic and not push their children to follow ideals and run after success, they can have their children possess an intelligent mind. This means a mind that operates with spontaneity and does not just conform and follow what it has been told. Parents need to drop their own insecurities and not try to look for securities in their children’s future. When they stop seeking for their children, children will be free internally and will be creative, understanding and complete holistic human beings. This way our nation too will be built with honest citizens who have a high level of integrity as they will not identify themselves with success, pleasure, sex and money, which is the foundation of the ego.
Are you working on another book?
I am working on “Gita”, where Krishna talks about what life is all about and how one should live it. Right from the beginning Arjuna feels that if he does not fight the war, the war won’t happen. Arjuna thinks he is the doer and that’s the cause of suffering whereas Krishna says, “war is based on other innumerable factors.” “The problem with you is that you think that you are the doer whereas all actions are happening not by you but through you by the divine.” This is what Krishna is trying to tell Arjuna- allow the actions to happen on their own and let the divine take the responsibility.
Freedom from the I by Shashank Kasliwal reveals that it is our thoughts that trap us and our thoughts that set us free. What one needs to know is how to think the right ones!
Title: Freedom from the I
Author: Shashank Kasliwal
Publisher: Jaico Books