Michael James is amazing! Here we have the most articulate spiritual man in our language who doesn't claim to be enlightened. This is a first. Imagine a business-man who admitted that he wasn't really an entrepreneur. Being rich isn't the same thing as being an entrepreneur, you see, but people mix up the two (especially the rich).
An entrepreneur is a rare state indeed. Only a few special people achieve entrepreneur-hood. From the outside, an entrepreneur looks like a business-man and this is how the rich get away with it.
The guru industry is the same. The world 'enlightenment' is used by almost all people who have published a book to describe themselves. Or the modest are merely 'awakened'.
I listen to the excellent podcast called Buddha at the Gas Pump and I have noticed a pattern. Almost all the guests claim to be there already and most of these guests say that is was a 'park'... An obvious cliché because Goethe loved nature, as did Terence McKenna, and all genius' rave on about nature, so its an obvious meme that you will use when you want to convince yourself. Personally, I enjoy grand architecture.
People claiming to have had a glimpse and are indeed enlightened because they can talk the talk are two a penny these days. But Michael James is one of those very clever people who really understands all those Sanskrit words and Tamil worlds, but he is honest and humble enough not to anoint himself semi-devine, like a mad emperor from Roman times.
This book is big and all you need to know is in these pages. James lived in India for years and he really knows a thing or two.
One worrying thing that I'm sure others have noticed. Michael James is so so articulate and nice but he admits to not getting anywhere near this stuff! What chance do you and I have?
Those who are looking for both an introduction as well as an in-depth study on the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi will be very pleased with this book. The book presents the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana in a systematic manner.
Sri Ramana's original works are quoted throughout the book with excellent commentaries. For example, Michael James has presented all the twenty paragraphs of the original essay version of Sri Ramana's 'Nan Yar?' or 'Who am I?' in different parts of the book with detailed commentary for each paragraph of 'Nan Yar?' Such a detailed commentary of 'Nan Yar?' is not available anywhere else. He seems to have mastered classical Tamil and it shows in his translation and commentary of 'Nan Yar'.
The final chapters deal with the technique of self-enquiry and will be very useful for serious practitioners of self-enquiry (atma-vichara).
Those who prefer a more concise discussion of Bhagavan Ramana's teachings can read Sri Sadhu Om's Path of Sri Ramana, Part 1. Both books follow similar pattern of discussion. (It should be noted here that Michael James spent more than eight years with Sri Sadhu Om who was a direct disciple of Bhagavan Ramana and also a close associate of Sri Ramana's foremost disciple, Sri Muruganar.) However, as mentioned above, 'Happiness and the Art of Being' also contains detailed commentary of Sri Ramana's original works like 'Nan Yar?' Personally, I enjoyed both the books and feel each has its own flavor.
Strongly recommend this book to any sincere student of Self-Enquiry (or Atma Vichara).
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the lifechanging teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Of all the books I have read on, and by, Sri Ramana, I have found this the most useful.
It is extremely well-written and it explains ideas clearly and logically. I found it immensely helpful, explaining clearly and simply concepts that I hadn't understood from reading other books. I also found it very inspiring, written with great love and care.
Michael James book "Happiness and The Art of being" is a priceless treasure for the English speaking world.
You see Michael not only speaks English but he is also extremely knowledgeable and proficient translating Tamil and Sanskrit into English. As you know Bhagavan Sri Ramana wrote his teachings in these languages not in English.
The usefulness of translated texts are hugely dependent on the accuracy of the translation. Plus the passion, enthusiasm and skill of the translator is a vitally important factor.
It becomes clear from reading this book that Michael James is filled with love and is completely devoted to Bhagavan and his priceless teachings. This wonderful book is a manifestation of this love and devotion.
The knowledge in a translated book can be very easily misinterpreted and misunderstood. Lucky for us Michael James spent many years in India and more than 8 years in the presence of one of Bhagavan's closest devotees Sri Sadhu Om.
Michael therefore has the rare gift to be able to combine his knowledge of English, Tamil, Sanskrit and use it to help him share his deep understanding about Bhagavan's teachings with us. The same understanding he gained through the many years of study,devotion and the time he spent in the close company of Sri Sadhu Om.
If you speak English then there are a lot of books on Bhagavan Sri Ramana to choose from.
I highly recommend this book to you along with Michael James & Sri Sadhu Om's other books / translations of Bhagavan Sri Ramana's teachings.
These books could be the only books you need on your spiritual journey (contradiction I know).
If you speak English and want to deeply understand the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana then quite simply buy this book .. you will be so glad and grateful that you did.
I must point out like most great books it is best to read it many times as your understanding deepens on subsequent readings until eventually no more reading is necessary. All that remains is to be.
All the best to you and thank you very much for reading my review of this wonderful book.
When Michael James says in this book that the teachings of Sri Bhagavan are the love of his life who can doubt it? Here is a commentary on Sri Bhagavan's original Tamil works given with a relentless, meticulous and in-depth clarity that is nothing short of staggering.
The book reveals that in his talks with people at Sri Ramanasramam Sri Bhagavan tailored his teachings to the capacities of his questioners, and hence often diluted his own teachings if the person before him was unable/unwilling to receive his highest teachings. As these 'Talks with Ramana Maharshi' were later published and widely circulated it led to widespread misunderstanding about what exactly are the highest teachings of the Sage. Michael James' book, by concentrating on the works written by the Sage himself, clears up that misunderstanding.
Happiness and the Art of Being is a masterpiece. It is so rich in depth and meaning that although I have just finished reading it for the second time I will be re-reading it over and over again. In order for Self-realisation to happen Bhagavan spoke of the need for 'the push of the Guru from without, and the pull of grace from within'. I regard this book as a very significant part of that 'push' that Bhagavan is giving his followers today. What greater service could a book provide than that?
This is a great book with loads of detail about the philosophy and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Michael James writes with great authority on those teachings . I have found it, along with Michael James's own website very, very helpful in enabling me come to grips with the great profundities in those teachings. The addition of an index at the back would be a great help for serious study, this is the only thing missing from a great book Still even without that, I would say it deserves a 5 * rating . Very impressive indeed.
This excellent and outstanding book is undoubtedly the clearest, best, and most important Commentary that has been written on Sri Bhagavan Ramana's Teachings up to now. Currently, I would say it ranks as the next in importance after Ramana Maharshi's own, and Muruganar's Collected Works. The Book's painstaking clarity explains all the principles of Sri Bhagavan's Teaching, so many of which many Devotees find it difficult to grasp. Alan Jacobs, President Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK.