I have read many articles and posts by Iyer over the years, Shambala Sun magazine was my constant travelling companion while commuting to another life in the corporate world. And I was thrilled to start the book and find in the first chapter that Iyer and the legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen (who I have loved since I was a teenager) are friends, and that in 1996 Cohen was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk.
This is an easy book to read, in fact it was designed to be read in one sitting (it is about 100 pages) and I fell effortlessly in love with the poetry of Iyer's words. In fact the words of both Iyer and Cohen are profound and insightful as they speak of the pleasures of “sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it".
From the first chapter with Iyer recounting his snaking drive up the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles to visit his boyhood hero Leonard Cohen at the Mt. Baldy Zen Centre, who says that ..
“going nowhere … isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”.. and then in Chapter 4 : Stillness Where It’s Most Needed, I felt another surprising sense of connection as Iyer talked about a visit he made to Google headquarters where he met an engineer about to write a book about the 'inner search engine' and the ways in which science now shows that sitting still, or meditating, can lead to not only better health and clearer thinking but also to emotional intelligence.
Just a few weeks ago I secured a seat the Search Inside Yourself (SIY) conference in Sydney .. based on another of my favourite book's by Chade-Meng Tan, the Google Engineer and author of The New York Times Bestseller, Search Inside Yourself.
Iyer also met Gopi the Chief Evangelist for Google+ who noted 'how easy it was, day or night, to go into a conference room and close his eyes', and that at the General Mills campus in Minneapolis there is a meditation room in every building with 80% of senior executives reporting a positive change in their ability to make decisions, and 89% saying they had become better listeners after attending the seven-week meditation program.
“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.
In an age of distraction nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still."Going nowhere, as Cohen described it, was the grand adventure that makes sense of everywhere else.
A beautiful book and one that I am so proud to have on my bookshelf, to dip into and share with others .. because I think that most of us are feeling this new wave of awareness that draws us to the adventure of going nowhere.
Hear Pico Iyer talk about where he would most like to go - Nowhere in this TED talk.