I also want to invite everyone to please feel free to share your comments on the books we read - I love learning the different lessons/thoughts that different people take away from a book, and I am sure others do as well.
So here are my comments and VK's. :)
If you have never read this book, in a few sentences or less, it is about one man's journey to enlightenment, and a better way of life. He meets this strange guru/mentor/hallucination named Socrates, who teaches him how to become more in touch with his natural self and life lessons , such as living and experiencing the moment for what it is, that there are no ordinary moments, and that there are no accidents. My favorite line/quote is "Only the supremely wise and the ignorant do not alter."
Everything happens for a reason; synchronicity; serendipity; be willing to accept the moments/things that come into your life. Realizing that everything comes to you for a reason. You may not need the experience now, but find that at a later time the experience you have had helps you understand or deal with a different situation.
We all had many questions for each other- is this just Dan's journey, or would this path work for us too? Was Socrates merely the result of a brain touched by the hallucinogenic drugs of the 1960s, or was he really a spiritual ambassador?
Does it matter how or who one is taught by? (Consider the old testament and Moses on the Mount? Or some of the other religous teachings.) Teaching should touch the heart and rings true and do no harm to others -- each person has to judge its value to them. Millman has said that the book is a blend of his experience and some fiction (dramatic license). It was written as teaching to help others find their path.
And really, how did he jump onto the building like that? Alyssa asked if it was possible to really just live in the moment, without a plan for the future or thinking ahead.
Some people think so, but they don't have houses, families and pets - all the responsiblities that tie us to having plans, money, jobs, etc. Our living in the moment san come from accepting and enjoying a beautiful moment in nature (like a sunset or an owl crossing the night-time sky). It comes from the simple things that we tend to take for granted and don't recognize in our lives. It can come from just stepping out on the porch to enjoy the sharpness of the winter air or the sound of snow falling. We don't have the liberty of setting aside our responsiblities, but we do have the choice to take "moments" in our lives and live in them.
I am not sure anyone really answered her or not; I do believe it is possible to live entirely in the present, but I don't think it is necessarily responsible or wise. This makes me think of the story of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper plays all summer long, and does not prepare for winter, while the ant works hard, storing food for the long cold months to come. When winter finally does arrive, the grasshopper begins to starve to death, and asks the ant for a handout. The ant slams the door in his face, leaving the grasshopper to die.
You would feel sorry for any creature in dire straits. That is the nature of your heart. The grasshopper is going to die anyway, and he has enjoyed and celebrated his life. The ant is playing the odds that he will not be stepped on, eaten or his nest flooded out by a freak storm. The grasshopper if/when he dies will have enjoyed life to its fullest. The working ant hopefully enjoys working, because it has chosen that as its life plan. While neither party is wrong, both could balance their lives more.
I think this is a little uncharitable of the ant personally- sure, the grasshopper should have worked instead of singing and dancing and making fun of the ant, but the ant still could have shown pity to the grasshopper.
This would make you a Democrat or a humanitarian. The ant is a Republican, he says everyone is responsible for themselves and I have no responsibility for others outside of my family. Mind you the ant has a grudge, since he has watched the grasshopper play all summer and he has spent his time working and not enjoying life. And any act of God (or humankind) can take away all that the ant has working for, but nothing can take away the grasshopper's past enjoyment of life.
Maybe this is because Billy and I often compare ourselves to the grasshopper; we like to enjoy ourselves and live for today. Our New Year's Resolution this year actually is to plan at least a little for our future, to become more antlike and less grasshopperesque.
It is all balance. Life is balance.
So, my opinion on that question is obviously still up in the air.
My opinion on the book is that you should read it- if not for the writing style, which was not all that great, read it for the message and to see for yourself what you think. It is a spiritual book, that is supposed to change lives. None of really felt our lives were changed by reading the book, but we were glad we read it.
I think the writing style, while not great prose, did what it was designed to do - get people to read the book. Writing simply, is is gift.
Changing one's life, takes time. If the book only makes you focus for a second on a special moment or has you take the time to enjoy something. that you normally do in a different way. If you look for how life fits together and how lives intertwine in each other then the book has served a purpose.