In Michael Singer’s Living Untethered, readers are invited to let go of their personal preferences and attachments to achieve inner peace and freedom.
Singer’s book (and his whole life for that matter) draws heavily from the teachings of Eastern spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism and Taoism. This puts Living Untethered in the company of other modern spiritual classics like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness, which also explore the rich intersection of Eastern and Western spirituality.
Singer’s work highlights the importance of mindfulness, self-awareness, and the pursuit of inner peace. This emphasis is crucial in Eastern spiritual traditions, as it helps individuals to become more conscious of their thoughts, emotions, and actions, ultimately leading to greater self-realization and spiritual growth.
This is also a common theme in my path of Advaita Vedanta (also known as non-dualism). Its foundational belief is that spiritual growth comes from self-awareness and the realization that the true self is not the body, mind, or ego, but rather the unchanging awareness that underlies all experience.
Singer introduces the concept of samskaras, which are the mental and emotional impressions that are formed through our experiences and actions. Singer explains that samskaras are like grooves that are etched into our minds, shaping our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. These impressions can be positive or negative, and they can either limit or enhance our ability to experience inner peace and freedom.
He argues that the key to transcending samskaras is to become aware of them and to observe them without judgment or attachment. By becoming aware of our samskaras, we can begin to see them for what they are – mental and emotional patterns that are not necessarily reflective of our true selves. This can help us to break free from our habitual patterns of thinking and behaving and to open up new possibilities for growth and self-realization.
Singer’s ruminations about samskaras are consistent with the teachings of Advaita Vedanta, which also emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and the transcendence of mental impressions. In Advaita, samskaras are seen as the result of past actions and experiences, which create a kind of karmic residue that shapes our present experiences.
These impressions can either reinforce our identification with the body and mind, or they can help us to transcend these limitations and realize our true nature as the unchanging consciousness that underlies all experience. The practice of observing samskaras without judgment or attachment is also central to Advaita.
Another central theme of Living Untethered is the idea that spiritual growth comes from surrendering our egos and letting go of our personal preferences. He explains that surrendering our personal preferences and attachments is not about denying or suppressing our desires, but rather about acknowledging them and recognizing that they are not who we truly are. This allows us to let go of our attachments to them and experience a deeper sense of inner peace and freedom.
This idea is also central to Advaita Vedanta, which teaches that the true self is beyond all desires and attachments, and that the ultimate goal of spiritual practice is to realize this truth and abide in the true self.
Living Untethered stands out from some of its predecessors by addressing contemporary issues including social justice and environmental sustainability. Singer argues that in order to achieve true inner peace and freedom, we must also work to create a more just and sustainable world.
This is in line with the principles of karma yoga, which is one of the paths of spiritual practice in Advaita Vedanta. Karma yoga teaches that selfless action, done without attachment to the results, is a means of purifying the mind and achieving spiritual growth. By working for the benefit of others and the world, we not only contribute to a better society but also can access a deeper sense of inner peace and freedom.
In Living Untethered, Michael Singer provides readers with practical insights and tools to achieve inner peace and freedom. Singer’s work is accessible to readers from all backgrounds and beliefs. Its emphasis on mindfulness, surrender, and selfless action, is relevant to anyone seeking to cultivate a deeper sense of inner peace and connection to the world around them. It is a worthwhile read simply for its insights on the potentially life-altering impact of addressing samskaras.