Book Review – The Diamond in Your Pocket

The Diamond in Your Pocket
Discovering Your True Radiance
By Gangaji
Foreword by Eckhart Tolle
2005 Gangaji, Sounds True

There is nothing to find or fix. Just stop, and be present.

Seekers sometimes define themselves by their search. For many, that search – the search for peace, self-realization, healing, enlightenment – seems never-ending. We look for more insight, more information, more experience. And in the end, we find ourselves back where we started, sitting with ourselves, still looking outward and elsewhere for value, wholeness, and meaning. What’s the universe trying to tell us?

T.S. Elliot said:

“what we call the beginning
is often the end,
and to make an end is to
make a beginning.
the end is where we
start from.
the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive
where we start
and know the place
for the first time.”

In “The Diamond in Your Pocket,” Gangaji has composed a lyrical, uncomplicated, and reflective book illustrating perfectly the spirit of Elliot’s poem. For Gangaji, peace and self-awareness do not come as a result of endless, relentless searching and grasping, but rather by stopping – dead still – and becoming present to yourself and the moment. There is nothing to find or fix. Just stop, and be present.

“Self-inquiry is not a path that leads you somewhere. It is the path that stops you in your tracks so that you can discover, directly, who you are.”

Born Toni Roberson, Gangaji was brought up in a small Mississippi town “with all the freedom and privilege of a white child of the middle class…”

Yet she was plagued by the constant feeling that “some force of darkness was surrounding me on all sides.” So, like many of us, she embarked on the journey of personal discovery. In spite of the moments of joy and peace she occasionally experienced, she continued to feel as though a thread of suffering ran through it all.

“I had tried many avenues to alleviate this sense of suffering – psychotherapy, affirmations, meditation, various workshops, channelers, astrology, visualization, automatic writing, dancing, psychotropic substances, acting out all my desires, and repressing all my desires. I had tried loving myself, and I had tried hating myself.”

Ultimately, she would find that the answers were not in what she was doing but in the person who was doing it. She would also find her teacher, H.W.L. Poonja, on the banks of India’s Ganges River. “Papaji,” as he was known to his devotees, was a huge influence on Toni’s life, but not because he divulged the ultimate answers to all her questions. Rather, told her, “Do nothing, your whole problem is that you continue doing. Stop all your doing.”

Truth, for Gangaji, comes in stillness. Happiness comes when we slow down, stop, and tune into our true nature. It’s not something you go out and “get,” but rather something you find you have had all the time, like a diamond in your own pocket. Gangaji says:

“To ‘stop’ is to stop searching for yourself in thoughts, emotions, circumstances, or bodily images. It is that simple. The search is over when you realize that the true and lasting fulfillment you have been searching for is found to be nowhere other than right where you are. It is here.”

This idea may remind some of you of another highly influential individual named Eckhart Tolle. Appropriately, Tolle wrote the Foreword to “The Diamond in Your Pocket,” and it’s easy to see why these two individuals have so much respect for one another. They both share an obvious appreciation for calm, direct, and open communication combined with a gift for seeing the more profound truths revealed in the simplest of ideas.

One of the most appealing aspects of Gangji’s approach as a teacher is that, ironically, she insists she is not on a crusade or mission, nor does she have all the answers. As she has said elsewhere, “I truly have nothing to teach you. There have been many teachers who have taught exquisite and useful codes of conduct, methods of meditation, ways of living and manifesting in the world. I am simply pointing to the stillness that is alive in the core of your being and inviting you to turn your attention to That, to let That live your life.”

This attitude of “pointing to the stillness” is wonderfully reflected throughout the book. Gangaji’s words cut through so much of the self-delusion prevalent in the personal growth movement today, to illuminate the power of ultimate surrender to the truth of who we are, and that we are.

Gangaji is well-known for her ability to convey tremendously potent spiritual concepts in an “unpreachy,” unpretentious manner. Hers is a calm, wise, and prudent voice. She has no otherworldly expectations of her readers. She demands no unrealistic steps away from the demands and duties of our lives in order to see and experience her truths. She simply “invites” us to be still and open to ourselves. She points the way. And she describes exactly what it feels like to experience this still openness:

“There are exquisite moments when the usual meditation stops – moments of being absorbed in a lover’s embrace, in the sound of beautiful music, or in the colors of a sunrise. There are moments where there is no ‘you’ being practiced, there is simply beingness. And in this simple beingness there are peace, insight, clarity, and naturalness, an effortless grace and ease of being.”

“The Diamond in Your Pocket” is a gem of a book, one that deserves the attention of every true seeker. But it’s especially relevant to those who sometimes wonder just how long they must run and chase after experiences of wholeness, value, and meaning when, all the time, the value is in the person reading these words, the wholeness in the stopping, and the meaning in this very moment.

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