THE BOOK OF MIRDAD – AUTHORED BY MIKHAIL NAIMY
BOOK REVIEW BY: RATISH IYER
“There are millions of books in the world but The Book of Mirdad stands out far above any other book in existence. It is very unfortunate that very few people are acquainted with The Book of Mirdad for the simple reason that it is not a religious scripture. It is a parable, a fiction – but containing oceanic truth. It is a small book, but the man who gave birth to this book… and mind my words, I am not saying ‘the man who wrote this book’… nobody wrote this book! I am saying that the man who gave birth to this book – he was unknown, a nobody. And because he was not a novelist, he never wrote again; just that single book contains his whole experience. The name of the man was Mikhail Naimy.” – Osho
Do the aforementioned words from Osho suffice to trigger one’s curiosity to know more about this book, for those who are unfamiliar with this book or its author? Let us know about the creator first before understanding his creation.
Mikhail Naimy was born in Baskinta, in Central Lebanon. He was educated in Russia and obtained degrees in Liberal Arts and Law at the University of Washington, USA. In 1916, he moved to New York where he founded with his close friend, Kahlil Gibran, a dynamic movement for the rejuvenation of Arabic Literature. He wrote this book on his return to Lebanon after the 2nd World War. He has been described as one of the greatest spiritual writers of the 20th Century. He died in 1988.
If it is true that ‘A man is better known by the company he keeps’, then it would please one to know that Kahlil Gibran and Mikhail Naimy were closely associated and they were contemporary revolutionary thinkers and remarkable writers. If Kahlil Gibran is held in high regard and undoubtedly, deservingly for his masterpiece ‘THE PROPHET’, then one must also know where Mikhail Naimy stands in comparison with him:
“It is not for me to assess the relative merits of Kahlil Gibran and Mikhail Naimy, but although as a much younger man, I derived immense satisfaction from reading THE PROPHET, I now find a much deeper wisdom in the less well known works of the prophet’s friend, Mikhail Naimy.” – Dr. Kenneth Walker.
What is the book about?
The BOOK OF MIRDAD is an allegorical book of philosophy (and much more), presented in a series of dialogues between Mirdad and the abbot of a monastery along with his disciples. One finds similarities with the works of Leo Tolstoy as well as teachings of Sufism. Although the wisdom contained in this book cannot be made mortal with descriptions, but for the benefit of first time readers, here are some of the themes from this book in simple terms: the possibility to expand one’s consciousness, to uncover God in man by dissolving man’s sense of duality, love, the master-servant (disciple) relationship, creative silence, money, the money lender-debtor equation, the cycle of time and death, repentance, old age etc.
What is so unique about this book?
In my opinion, I know of no better authoritarian figure that has been able to give a better review of this book than the legendary Osho himself. For only Osho could have purported the mystical words of the author in the best way possible – from thinking to feeling; like a true Guru who guides you to cross the abyss of ignorance using the drawbridge of words on to the other side of absolute bliss. Once, the silence has been reached using words, who would desire to return to the chaos left behind? As the wise sayeth in the East, ‘Once the shore has been reached, the boat must be left behind.’
Like a parched desert, one’s famished spirit is blessed by the soothing words drizzling like raindrops from the clouds of wisdom from Mikhail Naimy. The reader when drenched in this beauty is enlightened just as struck by lightning and the heart then booms with silent thunders. Like the alternating lightning and thunder, epiphanies strike and emotions emanating from the thunderous silence reverberate from in to out and out to in – surging within and without the body, mind and spirit. Again here, Osho’s words describe it best:
“It is an extraordinary book in the sense that you can read it and miss it completely because the meaning of the book is not in the words of the book. The meaning of the book is running side by side in silence between the words, between the lines, in the gaps.”
How significant is this book?
To me, personally, if I were to be faced with a crisis of losing all my precious books and Holy Scriptures, save only one – then it would be this book alone. If yoga and Tai-chi denote meditation at rest and motion respectively, then this book is a process of meditation with words soaked in mysticism. And there is no doubt that with this book, even if the reader is not prepared, this book takes one into a meditative state provided that one surrenders unconditionally to the master author in helping one to seek the truth! Here is what Osho has to say in this respect:
“If you are in a state of meditativeness – if you are not only reading a fiction, but you are also encountering the whole religious experience of a great human being; absorbing it – not intellectually understanding but existentially drinking it – the words are there but they come secondary. Something else becomes primary; the silence that those words create, the music that those words create. The words affect your mind and the music directly goes to your heart. And it is a book to be read by the heart and not by the mind. It is a book that is not to be understood but experienced. It is something phenomenal!”
How shall the journey be for the reader?
Mikhail Naimy made my personal journey an unforgettable one! Usually, I would use a highlighter to mark interesting lines whenever I read a book. In this case, as I was already aware of Osho’s description about it and so I kept a highlighter ready – only for me to realize by the time I had finished reading the first chapter, that if I had used my highlighter at all, I would have ended up highlighting the entire book. Unbelievable? Then why not check with Osho again?
“Millions of people have tried to write books so that they can express the inexpressible, but they have utterly failed. I know of only one book, THE BOOK OF MIRDAD, which has not failed; and if you cannot get to the very essence of it, it will be your failure and not his! THE BOOK OF MIRDAD is one of the greatest devices that have been created down the ages. Don’t read it like any other book. Don’t read it like any other book. Don’t read it like Shri Bhagavad Gita or Holy Bible. Read it as beautiful poetry, as music spread on the pages. Read it as a message from a master of meditation. The words are code words. Don’t look for their meaning in the dictionary. Their meaning is when they strike something in your heart.” – Osho
What makes THE BOOK OF MIRDAD unique?
“The BOOK OF MIRDAD was created by a man who knows the inner workings of human consciousness. He was not a writer, hence, nobody ever bothered to give him a Nobel prize. He was alive in this century and he was our contemporary. His book has not been translated into many languages for the simple reason that this book is unique – it is not a book; it is a device. And it is not meant to be read, it is meant to create a certain atmosphere around you. If you are ready, available, receptive, the atmosphere will be created and there will be great silence. And silence is always blissful.” – Osho
In my view, this is one of those books that the reader does not seek – rather THE BOOK OF MIRDAD destines itself to land up on a few chosen hands; some blessed eyes and some great souls in pursuit of enlightenment. To possess the book is one thing, to read the whole book is another, to understand the challenging content is yet another; but to absorb from what is understood is a rare and a stupendous feat in itself!
“The book of Mirdad needs to be in every house – it is so precious… just don’t start having expectations and it will help you on the way immensely.”
What is THE BOOK OF MIRDAD according to…?
Ø The Author: Mikhail Naimy, the author, has described it as the ‘pinnacle of his thought and summary of his view of life.’
Ø The Master: According to Osho, “… it is a book worth reading thousands of times. You cannot understand its oceanic meaning in one reading, because in each page, each turn, each chapter, each line, there is a possibility – because the man who wrote it… I understand that man. He was one of the greatest men of this century. He lived unknown to the world, but just this one book makes him the greatest writer not only of this century, but of all centuries.”
Ø The reviewer (Yours truly): Rather than doing injustice by using my own inferior choice of words, it is best that I respect the immortality of Mikhail Naimy’s words by quoting from his masterpiece:
“I say to you, there is no God and Man. But there is God-Man or Man-God. There is The One. However multiplied, however divided, it is forever One. Is not the sea – though vast and deep – a single drop? Is not the Earth – though flung so far – a single sphere? Are not the spheres – though numberless – a single universe? Likewise is mankind but a single Man – likewise is Man, with all his worlds, a singleness complete.” – THE BOOK OF MIRDAD – A lighthouse and a haven.