The book takes the form of a fable about Julian Mantle, a high-profile attorney with a crazy schedule and a set of priorities that center around money, power and prestige. As such, Mantle represents the values of our society. The story is told from the perspective of one of his associates, who admires Mantle’s great success and aspires to be like him.
But when Mantle has a heart attack, he drops out of the game and disappears. He sells all his possessions and goes to India to seek a more meaningful existence. When he comes back, he’s a changed man. Really, it’s as if he’s a completely different person. He’s learned from some mythical Himalayan gurus who give him mystical and yet practical advice, which he shares with his former associate (and the reader).
The Concepts
The core of the book is the Seven Virtues of Enlightened Learning, which Mantle reveals one by one. Now, although the book presents them as actual Virtues learned from Himalayan gurus, it’s important to remember as you read that these are made up by the author — actually, he pulled them from other sources and put them together:
  1. master your mind
  2. follow your purpose
  3. practice kaizen
  4. live with discipline
  5. respect your time
  6. selflessly serve others
  7. embrace the present
Each of these Virtues is discussed in some detail in separate chapters, each of them with a number of concepts and habits to develop. Most of them are very inspiring and potentially very useful. After reading the book, I incorporated several of them into my life, including the ones that involve positive thinking, visualizing goals and more. Again, these are not new concepts, and have been discussed in many other books, but the book presents a great collection of useful concepts that you might want to try out.
The Problem
After reading the book, I began to outline each of the Seven Virtues, because I was confused about all the action steps the book recommends taking. The truth is, each of the Seven Virtues encompasses a bunch of daily habits, and incorporating all of them into your life would be cumbersome. And some of them seem to me to be conflicting.
As an example of the large number of habits in every virtue, here are the ones I have listed for the first virtue, Master your mind:
  • Habit: Find positive in every circumstance; don’t judge events as “good” or “bad”, but experience them, celebrate them and learn from them.
  • Habit: The heart of the rose: find a silent place and a fresh rose. Stare at the heart of the rose, the inner petals, concentrating on the folds of the flower, the texture, etc … push away other thoughts that come to you. Start with 5 minutes a day, stretch it to 20. It will be your oasis of peace.
  • Habit: 10 minutes of reflection on your day, and how to improve your next day.
  • Habit: Opposition thinking – take every negative thought that comes into your mind and turn it into a positive one. First, be aware of your thoughts. Second, appreciate that as easily as negative thoughts enter, they can be replaced with positive ones. So think of the opposite of the negative ones. Instead of being gloomy, concentrate on being happy and energetic.
  • Habit: Secret of the lake. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Then envision your dreams becoming a reality. Picture vivid images of what you want to become. Then they will become reality.
And that’s just with the first virtue. Each one has a number of habits to develop, and they’re not listed out like I’ve done here. If you tried to incorporate all of the habits in the book, your day would be very busy indeed. Also, I would recommend only trying to adopt one at a time — more than that, and your habit change will be hard to sustain.
Although I can’t give The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari my highest rating, because of the problem listed above, I still enjoyed it a lot and was highly inspired by it.
I give this book a buy recommendation for anyone who is interested in incorporating routines and habits that can transform their lives, help them achieve their dreams, calm them and make them more happy. Yes, it’s a jumble of too many ideas, but you can pick and choose, and the ideas contained within are potentially very powerful. Plus, it’s a fun and easy read.

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