If you google the phrase "get out of the box" you will find more than 1.9 billion references to it. ("God," on the other hand, will only get you 368 million). Clearly, there is a growing interest, these days, about the so-called box phenomenon.
I am not surprised.
As someone who makes his living helping people get out of the box, I've heard this now iconic phrase uttered thousands of times in the past 25 years. No matter what industry, continent, or mood my clients are in, none of them aspire to be box-bound. Ask them, and they will tell you: The box confines. The box constrains. The box inhibits. Indeed, when most people hear that three-letter word they soon start thinking "coffin" or "jail" or, if they're from New York City, a painfully small, over-priced studio apartment.
While this is certainly one way of looking at the box, it's not the only way.
Some boxes, are actually good. Chocolates come in boxes. Perfume, too. And presents -- lots of presents -- especially during this gift-giving holiday season. When someone gives you a present, you do not cringe. You do not head for the hills. Quite the contrary. You get excited and start tearing at the wrapping paper, curious to see what's inside.
Which is just one of the reasons why I found Prem Rawat's newly published book, No Ordinary Box such an interesting read.
Instead of dissing the box, he reframes it -- helping his readers see it (a metaphor for our limited sense of self) in an entirely new way -- not for what it separates us from, but for what it contains. Indeed, for Mr. Rawat, the box contains absolutely everything a person needs in this life -- if only we would slow down enough, tune in, and notice what was actually in it.
Known in some circles as an Ambassador of Peace, the author, again and again, makes a compelling case for looking more deeply into the box so many of us undervalue. "The box has a precious diamond in it," Rawat proclaims. "If you don't know about the diamond, you might treat it like any other box. But if you knew that a very precious diamond was inside this box, all of a sudden, it's no ordinary box."
While most books I read, these days, move me only enough to skate across the smooth surface of the author's words, I found myself diving deeply into No Ordinary Box -- often discovering a single word, phrase, or paragraph so infused with nuance and meaning that, more than a few times, a trap door opened for me and I found myself experiencing what Prem Rawat tries so passionately to invoke in his readers: Presence. Clarity. Understanding. And the inspired moment of feeling completely alive.
Like a modern day magician, Prem Rawat has an extraordinary knack for shifting the way people experience what's right in front of them. Indeed, his book, skillfully excerpted from 20 of his recent talks around the world, is not unlike the classic magician's box -- the kind with hidden compartments. There are dimensions to it that are not immediately obvious upon first glance. The reader looks, but does not always see, the author doing his best -- via story, metaphor, humor, and a healthy dose of truth telling -- to reveal the unseen. Not the unseen as in obscure or metaphysical, but the hidden essence of what all people share in common.
Mitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, an innovation consulting and training company headquartered in Woodstock, NY. His review of Prem Rawat's first book, The Greatest Truth of All, can be found here.