Dan Brown writes books that are perfect for holidays. After the success of the DaVinci Code he had a tough job on his hands but I think he’s done well. While the usual criticisms apply – his dialogue and characters are pretty wooden – his assemblage of research is superb and interesting, and some of it was right up our street.
I actually think that he may have done a clever thing – written a book about a book with layers, which contains its own layers.
Obviously I’m not going to touch on the plot, I just wanted to share some of the ideas I took from it. He makes the point about how religion places the emphasis for our creation on an external force, and he makes you think about how differently we approach life when we think of ourselves as the creator of our life, not the created. After all, if we are the creator, nothing external can ‘make us’ anything – like feel stupid, ugly or unloved. All of a sudden we are in control of who we are and the world we live in.
He suggests that this was the true quest within alchemy; it wasn’t about changing lead to gold – that was a metaphor; it was about transforming yourself.
He quotes from the writings of the followers of Hermes Trismegistus “Know ye not that ye are gods?”, Buddha “You are god yourself” and Jesus “The works I do, you can do…and greater.” to make the point that the idea of us all having a divine spark within us is in the sense that we design our own reality; we each create a personal universe.
This message really sits at the heart of what I teach; that success in life comes from having an internal, not an external, locus of control:
You act on the world, not wait for it to act on you.
You make things happen, not hope things will happen.
You make yourself the writer of your story, not a character in someone elses.
It was a lesson it took me a long time to learn, but it was the lesson that has led to everything that’s good in my life.
Even his use of a phrase that appears on the Great Seal of the United States, ‘Annuit Coeptis’ made me do a double take. It means “God favours our undertaking.”
How many countries, religions and special interest groups have claimed that one? I think it’s because we assume ‘undertaking’ to be a noun. Notice how different it becomes if you make it a verb. God favours us when we undertake (and we are our own God). How pleased do I feel that the mantra that changed my life is ‘Take Action’?
Of course, I’ve gone deep, and the Lost Symbol might just be a page turner. But I guess in my universe it is what I create it to be. Buy it and decide for yourself.