- why you shouldn’t eat bullshit;
- the mountains most worth climbing if you want to find the world’s most spiritual libraries; and
- How to create your own bliss molecule.
Inner Engineering Key Idea #1: The only way to find fulfillment that lasts is to look within yourself.Have you ever noticed that the people who are the most traditionally successful don’t ever seem to find true happiness in their lives? This is unfortunately a pretty common scenario. But why is this? The short explanation for this is that straying from who you really are in order to succeed financially is only effective in the beginning. As one Indian story shows, this will never bring lasting fulfillment. The story goes like this: One day, a pheasant complained to a bull, saying, “my wings are so weak, I’ll never reach the top of this tree and take in the view.” The bull told the pheasant that he should eat a small piece of dung each day. The bull explained that this would make the pheasant stronger, eventually giving him the strength to be able to reach the uppermost branches. The pheasant took the bull’s advice, and to his surprised it worked. The bird became stronger and eventually was able to fly up and perch on the treetop. As soon as he reached the top, a farmer walked by and saw the big, juicy pheasant on the branch. He then shot the bird out of the tree and cooked it for dinner. The same goes for us: bullshit will only take you so far. In order to truly be fulfilled, you need to notice how you experience the world within yourself. This is the most important thing because people tend to fixate so much on the outer world. Many people are convinced that this is where all their experiences and emotions – negative or otherwise – lie. However, this is just an illusion. For instance, when you read a book, where actually is the book you’re seeing? Any rational person would answer that it’s in their hands, outside of themself. However, when you read, light is falling on the pages, reflecting into your eyes, and projecting onto your retina. The book is seen within you, just like every other thing in the outside world. Grasping this concept is essential, since a fixation on the external world prevents many people from finding fulfillment. Next up you’ll learn why.
Inner Engineering Key Idea #2: Human perceptions and emotions are self-generated, meaning you have the ability to guide your experience in life.Have you ever noticed that there are times when you absolutely love receiving hugs, and yet, there are other times when you’re deeply annoyed by physical intimacy? Well, you’re not alone in this paradox: one that divulges a great deal about the human experience. More than anything, it demonstrates the fact that our emotions are entirely self-generated. This means that it isn’t just physical objects, such as books, food, and houses that are perceived within yourself, but the same is true for the way you feel. If somebody yells at you, you might respond with fear or anger, and these reactions are unconsciously produced by your body. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to make theses reactions conscious and under your control. This just goes to show that humans create their own experience for their lives. While the unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of people dependent on alcohol or drugs to feel true happiness, the Israeli chemist, Raphael Mechoulam, has shown that people can naturally create their own “bliss molecule.” This is known as the chemical anandamide, and it stimulates the nervous system as much as smoking marijuana does. When the body produces this chemical, it creates a sense of absolute pleasure with no adverse side effects. In order to begin producing the chemical, you only need to exercise or experience states of ease and flow while working. But yogis are able to take it a step further. Because they’re able to control their bodies to an incredible extent, they’re able to produce anandamide at their will simply through concentration. In the coming book summaries, you’ll further learn more about how you’re able to control your own life experiences in precisely this way.
We read dozens of other great books like Inner Engineering, and summarised their ideas in this article called Happiness Check it out here!
Inner Engineering Key Idea #3: While many people respond to life events compulsively, there is a way to learn to respond consciously.Naturally, the way we respond to negative life experiences like bad breakups is to obsess over what happened. It’s all too common for us to dwell on these painful experiences for weeks, months, or even years. Perhaps, you constantly think about a past partner who cheated on you. Due to this compulsive tendency to dwell on traumatic events like this, people all too often come to identify completely with these situations, finding themselves incapable of trusting a new lover. However, there is a more conscious way to respond to these types of life events, both those that happened in the past and those that happen in the present. Reacting this way involves reflecting on these experiences and carefully learning from them. Through approaching negativity this way, you’ll eventually be able to grow from adversity. Let’s look at the author, for instance. He is acquainted with a woman who was a young child living in Austria during World War II. Nazi soldiers entered her family’s home and separated the girl and her brother from their parents, taking them to the train station. While they were waiting for the train, her brother began playing with the other boys in the group, and before they boarded the train, she realized that he no longer had his shoes. The girl scolded her brother, calling him an idiot. Immediately after she scolded him, they were separated from each other, never to meet again. She would later learn that he died in a concentration camp. However, instead of letting grief and anger at herself destroy her life, she made it her goal to learn from the experience. Now, when she is faced with a choice, she refrains from saying things she might later regret. She was able to recognize that each conversation she has with someone might very well be the last. Deciding to live her life this way completely transformed her outlook on life. This allowed her to start to live a more fulfilling life. This simply serves as an example that shows how when you spend your life dwelling on old grudges and negative memories, constantly reliving these bad emotions simply doesn’t serve us. When you become conscious of how you react to things, you’ll be able to step out of this negativity cycle and begin walking life down a more positive path. Now that you’re able to consciously react to everything life might throw at you, you’ll be able to tackle another major concept: responsibility.
Inner Engineering Key Idea #4: Contrary to popular belief, responsibility actually increases your freedom.When you picture someone being responsible, the first thing you think of probably isn’t the act of purchasing a small bus, taking off to see the world, and leaving your whole family behind. However, a choice like this might actually be the most responsible one you’ve ever made. While it may sound contradictory, responsibility actually gives you freedom. This is because, really, responsibility is nothing more than being able to take a step back, consider your options, and then decide how to react to your life. Imagine this hypothetical journey around the world. While it would mean one thing if you left town on a whim, the fact is, if you thought responsibly about it, you’d be able to see that you actually have several options. For example, you could not go. Or you could leave on your own, or even take your family with you. Simply acknowledging and thoughtfully considering what your options are is the responsible thing to do, and considering these things increases your responsibility instead of diminishing it. Basically, responsibility isn’t quite what you think it is. Responsibility doesn’t even necessarily require taking action. It definitely gives you the freedom to act, but doing so is up to you. So many people easily get overwhelmed by the amount of tragedy shown in the news, from wars to famines. This feeling is a natural response to the human instinct to take action when we hear of something unfortunate. However, the reality is that trying to fix every single one of the world’s problems simply isn’t possible, but being able to respond consciously to everything happening around you is. For instance, imagine you’ve just heard about a hurricane that’s happened on the opposite side of the world from you. The first responsible step would be to figure out whether you’re genuinely able to help the people affected by this tragedy. Do you have the money, the skills, the drive, or the freedom to step out of your day-to-day responsibilities to help these strangers without letting others down? If your end decision is that you wouldn’t be able to help, you’ve responded consciously, which is more effective than simply turning a blind eye to the problem.
Inner Engineering Key Idea #5: In order to achieve enlightenment, you must align your body, mind, emotions, and energy.It’s probably been clear to you since childhood that teamwork is the key to success. The same rule applies when it comes to individual organisms: in order to function properly, each part of your entire being needs to work in tandem with each other part. In order to reach enlightenment, you need to work on a tight communication system between your body, your mind, your emotions, and your energy. This exact idea is beautifully unpacked through another traditional Indian story. The story begins with four yogis walking through a forest. One believed firmly in the power of physical yoga, the second in yoga of the mind, the third in the yoga of prayer, and the fourth in the yoga of the chakras, which are bodily centers of energy. Each believed that his method was supreme. Suddenly, as they were walking, it began to rain, leading to all of the yogis seeking shelter inside an ancient temple. The temple had no walls: it was simply a roof supported by pillars sheltering a deity at its center. The storm continued to worsen, causing the rain to beat the roof of the temple, the yogis clustering around the deity and finally embracing it as a group. As soon as this happened, God appeared to them, however, this was puzzling to the yogis. They were confused to God appeared in this particular moment when they’d each spent their entire lives working for and praying to him. God laughed and said it was because the four of them had finally joined forces. This is the same unity that is required of a single person on the path toward enlightenment. Yoga is a tool that can help a person to achieve this connection to their higher self, as it brings together their body, mind, emotions, and energy. According to ancient yogic philosophies, if the body is balanced, yet the mind is craving food or sex, the body will quickly become unbalanced. The exact same goes for emotions and energy. In order to truly become balanced, you need to meditate, practice the physical aspects of yoga, pray, and work on exercising your energy centers. But how do you actually go about finding this enlightenment? The first step toward this is to figure out your place in the universe, which is what you’ll learn in the next book summary.
Inner Engineering Key Idea #6: Because the human body is a part of the Earth and the universe, you’re actually connected to incredibly powerful forces.So many people see the Earth as dirty, forcing us to attempt to keep everything clean and sterile. But what about our own bodies? Are they filthy too? Well, the reality is, the human body is simply another piece of the universe and the Earth itself. Our bodies consist of the food that was ingested at the moment we were created, swimming around as embryos in the womb. This food comes from the earth, returns to it, and is thus the same as the Earth itself. This means that our bodies are pieces of the Earth, and we have an intimate connection with it. Everything that happens to the Earth and the environment also happens to us. Taking this a step further, it becomes clear that the Earth, and by extension all human beings are actually a part of the universe. This means that cosmic events as well, such as the movement of the stars, sun, and moon, all affect us. The human body also has the amazing ability to tune into the universe and the Earth itself. The author once met a man in India named Chikkegowda who was partially deaf. This meant nobody would hire him, which is how he came to work on the author’s farm. Early one morning, Chikkegowda took the plow out to the fields. When he was asked why he’d done this, he replied that it was going to rain that day. Sure enough, it began to pour. This doesn’t sound like it could be a true story, yet people who live out in the country will attest that meteorological changes are able to be felt through the body, and that we can teach our bodies to become aware of such transitions. Inner Engineering Key Idea #7: Our intellect makes it harder for us to experience life to its fullest. Today, most people believe in science, however, even science has very human limitations. Our intellect, in fact, can even prevent us from experiencing life to the fullest. This is illustrated perfectly by an ancient Greek myth. The story begins with the philosopher Aristotle walking on the beach. While there was a beautiful sunset happening over the ocean, Aristotle was so lost in thought that he hardly noticed it was there. All of a sudden, he came across a man digging a hole in the sand with a very small spoon. When Aristotle asked the man what he was doing, the man said he was digging a hole into which to empty the ocean. Naturally, Aristotle laughed and asked, “how will you fit the entire ocean into this little hole?” The man, who turned out to be philosopher Heraclitus, answered, “you make fun of me for wanting to fit the ocean into this small hole, but you’re big-headed enough to believe you can fit all the secrets of the universe into your brain, which is also basically a small hole. So, which of us is crazier?” In order to truly experience life, we need to recognize how small and insignificant we are in this huge universe. Taking this a step further, it’s also important to remind ourselves often that every thought we have is even less significant in the universe than we are. The trouble come in when our intellect gets the best of us, convincing us that we’re capable of grasping the concept of life. But we can’t. Instead, when we lose ourselves in our thoughts, we end up losing sight of how massive the universe is, as well as the planets in outer space, and the complex and delicate balance of the cosmos, all of which seem to function by magic! We’ll only truly experience life if we fully release our intellect, finally accepting that reality is much larger than we’ll ever be.
Inner Engineering Key Idea #8: Visiting locations loaded with spiritual energy can kickstart your spiritual journey.Many people see the concept of spiritual energy as esoteric and lofty. Even many people who are serious about their spiritual journey often struggle with figuring out where to start. A great place to start with this is through travel. As it turns out, there are tons of locations on Earth that are concentrated with spiritual energy. For a long time, yogis and mystics were frustrated with how little attention people paid to the knowledge they possessed. Because of this, before they left Earth, they released their spiritual knowledge and energy into remote yet accessible locations, such as mountain summits. One of these places is Mount Kailash in Tibet, which is considered a sacred place by most Eastern nations and holds a massive library of spirituality. In fact, Hindus and Buddhists consider it the home of their gods. Another such holy site is a small temple in the Himalayas called Kedarnath, which is dedicated to the god Shiva. So, now that it’s clear that mystical energy can be stored in certain locations, it must be pretty obvious that visiting these sites would be a productive way to follow your path toward enlightenment and heal. Just think about it: there’s a hidden wealth of wisdom and spiritual energy on this planet waiting for you to discover it. This is exactly the reason the author made a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in 2007. He’d been struggling with his health for years, and doctors hadn’t been able to diagnose his illness. It appeared to be a mix of malaria, typhoid, and cancer. When he arrived in Kailash, the author then began connecting his energy to the energy of the mountain, and almost immediately, he began to heal. He received a rush of energy back into his body, and within hours of arriving at Kailash, he appeared to be a younger man. For so many people seeking enlightenment, this is the route that can lead them further along in their spiritual journey. It’s as simple as finding a holy place and a guru to help guide you down your spiritual path.
In Review: Inner Engineering Book SummaryThe key message in this book: The true key to happiness and joy lies within yourself. You’re the only one who can control how you experience and perceive the world, whether it’s through bliss, pain, or even despair. Through finding balance between your body and mind, seeking out spiritual places, and paying closer attention to the present moment, you can find true peace. Actionable advice: Savor what you eat. Learning to be supportive of yourself and actually enjoy every moment is a very difficult task, however, a great place to start is with your food. It’s as simple as paying attention to the tastes you’re experiencing and the textures you feel in your mouth. Nothing else is required. Instead of spending your eating time daydreaming about the person you have a crush on or the promotion you’re striving for at work, take your meal times to truly consider how your body responds to this act.
Suggested further reading: Find more great ideas like those contained in this summary in this article we wrote on Happiness