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Naomi Rose : When Books Are Less Than Life

When Books Are Less Than Life

(And Yet Writing a Book Enhances Your Life)

By Naomi Rose

Here is something you might not expect me to include in an article about writing books from the deeper Self: words about how reading books are not really "it."

And yet this guidance, by the Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan, has much to recommend it. I want to share it, here, with you:

"One may ask, what should one study? There are two kinds of studies. One kind is by reading the teachings of the great thinkers and keeping them in mind, the study of metaphysics, psychology, and mysticism. And the other kind of study is the study of life.

"Every day one has an opportunity for studying; but it should be a correct study. When a person travels in a tramcar, in the train, with a newspaper in his hand, he wants to read the sensational news which is worth nothing. He should read human nature which is before him, people coming and going. If he would continue to do this, he would begin to read human beings as though they were letters written by the divine pen, which speak of their past and future. He should look deeply at the heavens and at nature and at all the things to be seen in everyday life, and reflect upon them with the desire to understand. This kind of study is much superior, incomparably superior, to the study of books."

Granted, these words might seem to undercut the very work I do as a Book Developer. I mean, if books amount to less than does a study of life and nature ~ why even bother writing one?

Yet as I have experienced the reality behind these words, Hazrat Inayat Khan is saying that there is nothing outside us that is as true, as guiding, and as beneficial, ultimately, as what is inside us. Nature shows us what is inside us: in every rosebush seeking to bud and also heavy with spent blooms, we can see a way of knowing ourselves ~ our own nascent beginnings and endings, the birth-and-death that is our own inner nature. And as we become closer to our inner nature, our understanding of the true nature of others, not only ourself, develops. And so it is possible to see a person walking across the street and know the whole nature of that person simply in how he or she stands, walks, where the gaze goes.

Is this a reason not to write books? Not at all. This way of observing, in fact, is quite connected to how writers and painters often see: the gestural detail that denotes the larger story ~ a stroke that suggests the larger image. Learning to study one's true nature is the wellspring of writing that connects, guides, and offers profound solace to readers who seek (even if they don't know it) their place in the scheme of things through your book. And so there are certain books that actually add to the reader's experience of self-knowing, self-connection. Such books are gifts, and they may stay with their readers for the whole of their lives.

What Hazrat Inayat Khan writes about books reminds me of how I used to read books when I was very young. My parents both were writers, and their bookcases were more like extended family than adornment. No one ever told me not to read what was in them, and so well before I could understand plots, themes, and other adult preoccupations, I read the novels and stories that, with a word, a breath, created an atmosphere in which I resided for a time: a world unlike my own that nevertheless brought me closer to that world in myself. Developing ~ or perhaps, sustaining ~ my ability to know with the pores of my skin, to insert myself into an unknown world's language and color and dialogue through my imagination (not yet hardened off by adult survival needs), kept alive in me a capacity to know directly, to experience intuitively, to perceive directly, and to be brought to certain inner places accordingly.

And although these capacities at some point took a way-backseat to other, more left-brain skills ~ still, that memory of who I could be and where I could go through reading lay at the foot of my personas, waiting like a faithful dog for me to turn that way again.

To make books the sole determinant of our knowing is to undercredit what lies in us. But to write a book from the deeper Self is another story. For what gets engaged, inside, can be that very place that we secretly long for; and by opening to writing our books, we invite that place, that faithful dog, that sacred well, to come close.

Usually, people think of the value of writing a book as accruing primarily to the reader ~ or, if to the writer, only because it's helpful to the writer's career, something that can be sold in the back of the room after workshop-leading; something that can help to build the writer's platform and name.

But in my experience ~ really, the whole basis of my work ~ writing a book helps the writer most of all. Whether it's the relief of unearthing something wanting expression from within ~ or the joy of creating ~ or the transformative surprise of finding such wisdom and treasures within you ~ or simply finding yourself (once your destination has been reached) turned into someone beyond who you were when you first began writing (the caterpillar's surprise at being a butterfly) ~ writing a book from the deeper Self is your contract with your own soul. In that sense, it can be challenging to do; but also, it can show you things about life, and your life, that you might never have been able to bring forth any other way. Recently, someone told me that a friend of his ~ a man whom I had helped to write a book some years ago ~ probably saved his life by writing that book.

I think this may not be an exaggeration. To be able to tell the truth as you experience it ~ to put things together in a way that you feel to be real ~ to delve into what is not known, and come up with treasures ~ and to even have the opportunity to bring joy and beauty to the writing experience: this alone may save a life.

And, happily, all this does translate into a reader's experience. Writing from the deeper Self can be a transmission, as well as a gift, a warning, an illumination, a friend. The place you are when you write, the energy you are in, the intention you hold for yourself and your readers ~ all this translates into the blessing that your readers will get to experience.

So although a book is not everything ~ although reading books may offer less guidance than learning how to listen to what arises within yourself, with nature's help ~ writing a book from the deeper Self can connect you with what is in you in such a way that you surprise yourself by the magnificence and beauty of your blooming ~ and blooming into the very special kind of flower that you are.

I hope you will consider writing a book from the deeper Self for yourself ~ now, or at some point down the road. It can be a remarkable experience for you. And you will have a book to offer others, too. •

Copyright © 2010 by Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

Naomi RoseNaomi Rose, Book Developer and Writing Coach, has successfully used her "Writing from the Deeper Self" approach to help people with an inner-directed focus write the books of their hearts. More »

3/18/10