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  • Writer's pictureJulia Gillis

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari; Book Review

Now almost at its 30th anniversary, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari still has merit, even now that much of the Western world has been drinking the spiritual awakening cool-aid for just that long; most likely due to this book's publishing.  

This fictional story is narrated by a man named John, a driven, successful, workaholic lawyer in New York. His mentor, Julian Mantle, a womanizing, high powered, aggressive & relentless litigator, had previously suffered a heart attack during court, leading him to sell all of his worldly possessions & disappear for 3 years. John has a stranger show up at his office; a youthful man dressed in the red robes of a monk. It’s Julian, returned from deep spiritual training from supposedly fabled monks residing high up in the Himalayan mountains for centuries. John is astonished and wants to know how Julian went from being old, fat, materialistic & at death’s door - to this majestic, youthful, enlightened & fulfilled human before him.

Julian has returned to carry out his purpose & his promise to the monks of bringing their teachings of health, wisdom & purpose to the Western world for those who are seeking to better their lives. John is curious & becomes engaged in Julian’s adventure. Then men stay up the entire night as Julian shares the wisdom from these monks & John plays the part of engaged student. 

One of the most successful aspects of this book is “how” it is written. The book-long conversation between these 2 men allows for many of the questions the reader themselves would have about the teaching, to be asked by John. The conversational style of the entire book offers a light hearted flow as both Julian & John are able to make small quips & jokes, due to their earlier years of familiarity, offering mental pauses or breaks as the material sinks in. The teacher, Julian, offers many of the teachings through small stories that have memorable moments & ‘landmarks’ for the reader to easily latch on to. It also shows John having moments of his own awakening & self realization that would be easily relatable to the reader. 

I must admit, when I first started this book, I had a bit of an ‘eye roll’ reaction, feeling that it had a bit of a vague, overly woo-woo delivery like The Power of Now (which I absolutely hated) or The Four Agreements, both of which I found very hippy, drink the cool-aid, 10-ply super-soft, the author-just-likes-to-hear-themselves-talk-ish. This book was nearly discarded into the “I’ve read 30 books that say the same exact thing already” pile. Luckily I gave this book juuuust long enough to hook me into the unique & interesting fables presented by Julian. 

He offers to teach John all of the important wisdom learned from the Himalayan monks that allowed him to access the fountain of youth & unfuckwithable nature he has returned with, after his soul-sucking prior life nearly killed him. There are 7 basic virtues or fundamental principles that Julian offers to John & he presents them through a very short parable about a sumo wrestler in a garden with a lighthouse slipping on a pocket watch, waking up to yellow roses & then walking down a path of diamonds. The bizarre tale is so oddly curious & enticing that you cannot help but want to learn what each ‘landmark’ means & what it has to teach you.

From here Julian & John stay up all night going through each of the seven significant elements as each of the seven virtues, which will allow anyone to unlock enlightenment. 

After I was hooked it only took me about a week to read the entire book. At first I was concerned because the first five opening chapters & then the first of the two virtues took up half the book. I felt like too much content was devoted to this and that the final virtues would surely be skimmed over & not offered enough space or credence. But I realized that the opening chapters were primers - they were necessary to connect a reader into the characters, especially Julian’s backstory, in order to hook the reader into him being an authority as a teacher & trust that his wisdom has depth. They also were primers for getting John (and the reader) to open their mind to new knowledge; a ‘how to learn what you are about to be told.’ The first two virtues (the garden & the lighthouse) did require more space for explanation as they offer more fundamental elements required for personal development. The latter virtues would be more difficult to master or comprehend & execute if the primary ones were not understood first. 

Despite how many other books that have been written later & are basically the higher-tech, mutant grandchildren of this Original Gangster of self-development, self-improvement, spiritual enlightenment literature - it is well worth the read. Although many other books have taken these concepts, virtues, principles, lessons and packaged them differently, this format for getting the knowledge to sink in is highly effective. Just the ‘story’ being told in the book is enjoyable & causes the ‘teachings’ to sink in that much better. 

So for anyone who is 30 years late on reading the extremely famous & rightfully praised book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, it is well worth the ‘better late than never’ advisory notice. 


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Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. 

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