The book can be read and enjoyed on several levels.
It is interesting as the tale of one young man’s personal journey toward a better understanding of the meaning and purpose of his own life. The reader follows Max’s development from a childhood of poverty in the projects to financial success on Wall Street; from his close relationship to a childhood friend and his younger sister to a life seemingly far from each; from certainty to confusion to acceptance of both. Max can easily be the archetype young person in the Western world of 2016.
On another level, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent clarifies the basic concepts of attachment, The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the path to Enlightenment, no-thing and emptiness. I’ve been teaching meditation for close to two decades, teaching yoga for 5 years and practicing for eight. A decade of reading Buddhist thought and philosophy quite intensively as well as listening to hundreds (perhaps thousands) of hours of excellent dharma talks didn’t bring me to the clear understanding this book did.
Of course, it’s undoubtedly the combination of all those factors. In any case, I greatly appreciated this book’s crucial part in that process.
Max’s own confusion at each stage in the development of his path toward Enlightenment created the possibility for suspending my own disbelief in such seemingly bizarre events. His difficulty in grasping the logistics of his spiritual advancement allowed me to recognize the stepping stones in my own journey.
Paradoxically, the clarity I gained also brought me to the realization that enlightenment is not, in fact, something I choose to seek. To the contrary, I’ve become clearer in my understanding that should I ever approach that state, my choice would be to remain on the path of altruism in this world.