I picked up a copy of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari tonight after Joel recommended it.
At first I was afraid it was going to be a Stuart Smalley self-help book, but it's not. The book is the fictional account of a conversation between two people, reminiscent of Interview with the Vampire, so I've enjoyed it so far.
I'm about halfway through at this point, and it looks like the book's central focus is around this collection of allegorical metaphors:
You are sitting in the middle of a magnificent, lush, green garden. This garden is filled with the most spectacular flowers you have ever seen. The environment is supremely tranquil and silent. Savor the sensual delights of this garden and feel as if you have all the time in the world to enjoy this natural oasis. As you look around you see that in the center of this magical garden stands a towering, red lighthouse, six stories high. Suddenly, the silence is disturbed by a loud creaking as the door at the base of the lighthouse opens. Out stumbles a nine-foot-tall, nine-hundred pound Japanese sumo wrestler who casually wanders into the center of the garden. The Japanese sumo wrestler is naked except for a pink wire cable covering his private parts. As this sumo wrestler starts to move around the garden, he finds a shiny gold stopwatch which someone has left behind many years earlier. He slips it on and falls to the ground with an enormous thud. The sumo wrestler is rendered unconscious and lies there, silent and still. Just when you think he has taken his last breath, the wrestler awakens, perhaps stirred by the fragrance of some fresh yellow roses blooming nearby. Energized, the wrestler jumps swiftly to his feet and intuitively looks to his left. He is startled at what he sees. Through the bushes at the very edge of the garden he observes a long winding path covered by millions of sparkling diamonds. Something seems to instruct the wrestler to take the path, and to his credit, he does. This path leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss.
He's going to break elements out of this tale to suggest ways of improving your life (starting with "the garden"). What other "things" are in this story that'll be subsequent chapters? The lighthouse (your world?), the sumo wrestler (your life?), his nudity (innocence?), the stopwatch (time?), his collapse (mortality?), his reawakening (thanks to the garden - second chance?), and the path of diamonds (wealth?)?
Hrrmm, I think instead of unwinding these allegories, I could just take all those components and put together a good vampire story... Vampire Sumo Guy! Ha, I jest.
What I've read so far explains "the garden" stands for for "your mind," and how its important to nurture it, practice focusing it, exercising it like a muscle, eliminating negative thoughts, and writing down goals so you know what you're aiming for (and then going public with your goals so you're committed). All good in my opinion and it doesn't hurt to have it reinforced with a nice mnemonic.
Maybe this'll be the first book I finish in 2012.