• Monday, May 16, 2022

Author Hari Ram Speaks With Frontlist on his book 'Beneath The Walnut & Its Almond Chamber'


on May 11, 2022
Hari Ram

From his childhood, Hari Ram (b. 1979) had a passion for discovering the truth behind life steering clear of religious dogma. His journey of self-realization was backed by pure logic and science, especially neuroscience, leading to the discovery of the non-dual.

This book, his first, is a consequence of his efforts to spread awareness about the least understood (and often largely misunderstood) working patterns of the brain that could help people to break away from their existential angst, stress, and depression and experience true happiness. An alumnus of the London School of Economics, Hari is a management consultant by profession and lives in Hyderabad, India with his wife Poornima and children Vyomesh and Smrithi.

Frontlist- ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’, how did you use this quote in your book?

Hari- We have been hearing this phrase for time immemorial. A deed, whether good or bad, when undertaken, will come back to us. What does this mean? Not according to any line of thought or fancy philosophy, but actually? A subtle discovery during my journey of self-awareness was that the brain keeps track of all we want to do – promulgated by our self-talk – and throws it back at us. Such throwback, if you allow me to use that word, results in either stress, anxiety or momentary contentment.  


Frontlist- This is your debut book, share your experience of the same?

Hari- This book is special to me in many ways. First, it allowed the opportunity to explain a complex subject in a refreshingly simple way. Second, I experienced significant writer’s blocks many times. But of that block, a block of words came! Thirdly, this book helped me to experience some things I had a very conceptual understanding of – such as the nature of time and our true nature. 

Frontlist- What are some of the common misconceptions about the working patterns of the brain?

Hari- A common misunderstanding is the brain is tricking the person or wired against the person. In my view, when every other part of the body selflessly works to strive for the individual’s well-being, why and how would the brain be any different? The complex top floor organ is always around to help the person, not mislead or trick. 

Frontlist- The title of the book is quite distinctive. Why did you choose this title?

Hari- The walnut is symbolic of the brain. The term for amygdala, a vital part of the brain involved in processing of emotions, is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning ‘almond’. The amygdala is housed within a larger mid-brain structure called the medial temporal lobe which also houses the hippocampus which is the orchestrator involved in memory formation and retrieval. The medial temporal lobe looks similar to an almond and hence the name almond and its chamber to symbolize various parts within it. 

Frontlist- How can we choose to prevent being angry, stressed, and depressed and ultimately experience true happiness?

Hari- Look at anger, stress, depression and even momentary happiness as logical responses. When you are happy, it must mean that what you aspired for has come true – like traveling to a place, meeting your family members and friends, getting a job and so on. If I were to ask you why you are happy, you would immediately say that I am happy because what I aspired for came true and so on. But if you ask why you are stressed or anxious, you would be clueless. Know that your stress and anxiety are also logical outcomes rendered by the brain that effortlessly works to ascertain whether or not your aspirations have been met. If they are not met, the brain is simply deciding that things are not what they should be and hence alerting you that you need to act! Such constant alerts lead to stress and anxiety. 

Frontlist- We as humans have two kinds of memories - what are they? Please explain.

Hari- Internal (memories of oneself, one’s identity and its affiliations) and external (memories of everything around ourselves including people and things). By storage, these two types can be classified as working memory (those sets of memories that are used / recalled frequently) and distributed memories (those that are not used / remembered frequently). 

Frontlist- Ego, memories, and self-talk - what are the connections between them?

Hari- Your sense of an individual self is memory. Think about it. Were you born with a name? You were born nameless, and your name is one of the first core memories you internalized as an infant. In my view, self-talk arises out of fear and fear is an outcome of what lies in working memory. 

Frontlist- Share bits of advice on how we can get a deeper understanding of ourselves? 

Hari- We have been conditioned since childhood based on our nationality, religion, caste, ethnic origin, skin color and so on. Our true nature lies beyond all that social knowledge. Shed everything you know about yourself and the true nature will emerge. And that true nature holds good for you, me and all other beings and things around us. We may call it by different names – God, Brahman, Allah, Holy Spirit and so on – but our labels don’t matter. Our ancient scientists realized this and coined this beautiful word – Vedanta – which means Veda + Anta. ‘Veda’ means knowledge / memory and ‘anta’ means the end. The end of memory. When there is no influence of memory, the truth shall emerge! 

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