Who Cares?! The Unique Teaching of Ramesh S. Balsekar: A Book Review
Who Cares?! The Unique Teaching of Ramesh S. Balsekar
If you are looking for a book that will challenge your assumptions about yourself and the world, inspire you to live more freely and joyfully, and enlighten you with profound wisdom, you might want to check out Who Cares?! The Unique Teaching of Ramesh S. Balsekar. This book is a collection of dialogues between Ramesh S. Balsekar, a renowned Advaita master, and his visitors who seek his guidance on various topics related to spirituality, philosophy, psychology, ethics, and everyday life.
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Ramesh S. Balsekar was a disciple of the late Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, another famous Advaita teacher. He was born and raised in Bombay, India, where he worked as a banker until his retirement. He was also a student of Sanskrit and a translator of the Bhagavad Gita. He was fluent in English and familiar with both Eastern and Western cultures, traditions, and sciences. He wrote more than 20 books on Advaita Vedanta, a nondual teaching that asserts that there is only one reality, which is Consciousness or God, and that everything else is an appearance or a manifestation of it.
In this book, he shares his unique insights on how to understand and apply this teaching to one's life. He explains how everything that happens in life is a result of the impersonal functioning of Consciousness, which operates according to both divine and natural laws. He also shows how this understanding can liberate one from the illusion of free will, personal identity, doership, choice, attachment, resistance, anxiety, guilt, suffering, etc. He invites the reader to live life making decisions and accepting consequences as if they have free will, knowing that it is Consciousness seeking, doing, living, deciding...
This book is not only informative but also entertaining. It is written in a conversational style that reflects the author's humor, charm, and clarity. It is full of anecdotes, jokes, metaphors, and rhetorical questions that make the reader think and laugh. It is also rich in references and examples from various sources, such as the Taoist and Chan classics, the quantum physics, the Bible, the Shakespeare, the Beatles, etc. It is a book that will make you question your beliefs, expand your perspective, and enjoy your existence.
The main concepts of the book
Consciousness is all there is
The core idea of the book is that Consciousness is all there is. Consciousness is not something that belongs to a person or an object. It is not something that can be measured or observed. It is not something that can be created or destroyed. It is the ultimate reality, the source of everything, the essence of everything. It is what you are, what I am, what everything is.
This idea is based on the ancient teaching of Advaita Vedanta, which means "not two" or "nonduality". Advaita Vedanta says that there is only one reality, which is Brahman, the Absolute, the Supreme Self, the God. Brahman is identical to Atman, the individual self, the soul, the consciousness. Brahman and Atman are not two separate entities, but one and the same. There is no difference between them. There is no duality between them.
This idea also challenges the conventional notions of free will and personal identity. If Consciousness is all there is, then who are you? Who am I? Who is doing anything? Who is choosing anything? Who is responsible for anything? The answer is: no one. There is no separate self, no individual doer, no personal agent. There is only Consciousness expressing itself in various forms and functions. There is only Consciousness playing different roles and characters. There is only Consciousness experiencing itself as different subjects and objects.
The impersonal functioning of Consciousness
The next idea of the book is that Consciousness manifests itself in the world and in human beings through an impersonal functioning. This means that Consciousness does not have a personal agenda, a personal preference, a personal intention. It does not act out of desire, fear, anger, love, hate, etc. It does not favor anyone or anything over another. It does not reward or punish anyone or anything for their actions. It does not interfere or intervene in anyone's or anything's affairs. It simply acts according to its own nature and laws.
These laws are both divine and natural. The divine laws are the laws of karma and destiny. They determine what happens to whom, when, where, how, and why. They are based on the principle of cause and effect. They are impartial and inevitable. They are beyond human comprehension and control. The natural laws are the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, etc. They govern how things work in the physical world. They are based on the principle of order and regularity. They are observable and predictable. They are within human understanding and manipulation.
These laws create the illusion of doership and choice for human beings. They make us think that we are doing things and making choices out of our own free will. They make us think that we are independent and autonomous entities who can influence and change our lives and the world around us. They make us think that we have a personal identity and a personal story that define who we are and what we want.
The simple and joyful way of living
The final idea of the book is that there is a simple and joyful way of living that follows from the previous two ideas. This way of living is based on accepting and enjoying life as it is without attachment or resistance. It is based on making decisions and facing consequences without anxiety or guilt. It is based on appreciating the humor and beauty of life as a play of Consciousness.
To accept life as it is means to acknowledge that everything that happens in life is a result of the impersonal functioning of Consciousness according to its own laws. It means to realize that nothing happens by chance or by mistake or by accident or by injustice or by evil or by grace or by miracle or by coincidence or by luck or by fate or by destiny or by God's will or by human will... Everything happens as it should happen according to Consciousness' will.
To enjoy life as it is means to appreciate that everything that happens in life is an opportunity for learning and growth for Consciousness itself. It means to realize that nothing happens for good or for bad or for right or for wrong or for better or for worse or for happiness or for sadness or for pleasure or for pain... Everything happens for experience according to Consciousness' desire.
that we make is not really ours, but Consciousness' choice. It means to realize that every decision that we make is not really important, but Consciousness' play. It means to realize that every decision that we make is not really final, but Consciousness' experiment.
To face consequences without guilt means to accept that every consequence that we face is not really ours, but Consciousness' responsibility. It means to appreciate that every consequence that we face is not really a reward or a punishment, but Consciousness' feedback. It means to understand that every consequence that we face is not really a success or a failure, but Consciousness' lesson.
To appreciate the humor and beauty of life means to see that everything that happens in life is not really serious, but Consciousness' joke. It means to see that everything that happens in life is not really real, but Consciousness' dream. It means to see that everything that happens in life is not really different, but Consciousness' expression.
The style and tone of the book
The blend of East and West
One of the remarkable features of the book is the blend of East and West that the author displays in his writing. He reflects his background and influences from both cultures and shows how they complement each other in his understanding and presentation of Advaita Vedanta.
On the one hand, he draws from his Eastern heritage and uses various sources and examples from the Indian tradition, such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, etc. He also r