The main idea of the book is about cultivating the 'three qualities of life' for which he uses the Indian Ayurvedic tradition to illustrate. Like buddhism, Ayurveda describes qualities of mind, three qualities, that influence our entire lives. Sattva, the highest, most desired quality, is about calmness, clarity and purity. The middle quality is Rajas which encompasses passion and energy, and then there's Tamas, which encompasses dullness and ignorance. One can view the entire world through these three gunas, from food (spicy being more rajasic), to housing (concrete ugly buildings being tamasic) to people-- most of whom encompass at least two if not all three qualities at some level. Seeing in this way, we can then seek to balance those qualities in ourselves and in our surroundings, aiming for a more sattvic (peaceful) existence, rather than a tamasic (poisonous) one.
One of the main issues is that of poverty, hunger and food. I often find myself wishing to go back to nature, or living more self-sustaining, and yet at the moment that is just not a possibility. For one thing, we live in a flat, with no garden, no place to grow enough to sustain us. All the nearby allotments are taken, and there is a waiting list.
This is a point raised very articulately in the book, that poverty is not a natural phenomenon. No other animal is denied food and water from the earth-- nor made to pay for it. Why have we done this to ourselves? No other animal claims ownership. Sure they probably all mark out some territory, but in the end, their needs are met by nature (unless we've put them into a zoo that is). If we wish to become self-sustaining, we still need to buy the land to do that, we can't just pack up and head for the hills, as they'd belong to someone, or the government perhaps.
Here in England there are so many small terraced homes without gardens, in fact the same in any urban area, so a great majority of people would be stuck without any means to feed themselves should the whole commercial structure collapse.
Satish talks about the point of return, meaning we all need to take a step back, to try and live simpler lives. I have many grateful days when I truly appreciate the things I do have. I am happy to have money to buy food and have a roof over my head. But when I think deeper about what life used to be like, I wonder whether we are really 'evolved' at all. Just looking at the bread sitting inside a plastic bag brought a strange realisation of the artificiality of our lives. I took this book out the library, but it is certainly the type of book I'd consider buying to keep to refer to again and again, for when pessimism (tamasic) takes over, or you lose sight of the bigger picture.