From being an advertising executive to becoming a follower of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living, American author Michael Fischman’s journey brought him to India as part of his book tour. In the city to release his book – Stumbling Into Infinity: An Ordinary Man in the Sphere of Enlightenment, he got chatting with City Express, telling us more about his “spiritual autobiographical sketch”. With two decades worth of experience to draw on, he narrates his personal encounters and little known stories about his guru and how they shaped his life.
What inspired him to share your experience through this book? “During the early days, Guruji asked me to write a book and share my experiences so that other people may be inspired. I am not a natural writer and had a lot of problems when I was in school because I am dyslexic. So I never thought I would write a book. I ultimately wrote the way I speak and that is how I got my own voice,” he replies. What kind of revelations has he made in this book? There are a lot of things that he reveals in the book. “I did not hide anything. There are a lot of difficult and challenging things that I went through. But I think that’s what makes the book interesting. It reads like a novel and not a memoir,” he says.Will readers identify with him in the book? The readers can identify with the protagonist because they will feel as though they have gone through similar things. “There is also a lot of dialogue between me and Guruji, so the readers will feel as if he is directly talking to them. If you pick up a spiritual book, it reads like a lecture but in the case of a dialogue, the reader can assimilate better,” he explains.
How does he think this book would impact the reader? “I think many people are looking for greater spiritual values and happiness. But we all get stuck in the wrong places looking for it. We get lost in relationships, we get angry at our parents and have problems in our offices. There seems to be no joy. Spirituality is learning that the joy is inside. I hope this book will be a catalyst or a beginning for those who are looking for something more to take a first step,” he hopes. How does he think the Art of Living has influenced lives in the U.S? He believes it has influenced lives tremendously. “One thing about the Art of Living is that apart from the meditation and the breathing techniques, it is a big volunteer-based social organisation. So through this, people are engaged in various humanitarian projects. In the U.S this is taught in various kinds of schools, so that kids can learn how to manage their own mind and emotions. It is a great advantage for the young. It is also being taught to veterans who come back from war and suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. They find a lot of solace through this,” he says. Asked to describe his spiritual journey, he explains, “My spiritual journey is to become more of myself, so that I can reach my true potential and also become more natural. There have been ups and downs. Sometimes, a little bit of a roller coaster ride but I would not trade it for anything.” Finally, what is his relationship with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar? There is only one word - love, he replies without a second thought. And, what would be his advice for somebody who wants to explore his/her spirituality?
“There are so many different types of people in this world and also many spiritual paths. Find one that works for you. You do not have to copy anybody, you should not do anything because you think it is the right thing to do. Feel it and allow your intuition to guide you. It is also healthy to have doubts. By questioning you will become stronger,” he suggests. How has his visit to India been and specifically Hyderabad? “I have been coming to India since 1980. I love it. The food is wonderful and the people are charming. I chose Hyderabad as part of the book tour because it is a major Metropolitan environment and a progressive city.”