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CIRCLING THE SACRED MOUNTAIN: A SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE THROUGH THE HIMALAYAS Robert Thurman and Tad Wise 1999 Hardcover DJ Fine
By Thurman, Robert and Tad Wise
Price: $14.95


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New York, Bantam, 1999. 384 pp, 8 pp of color photos. Hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

A narrative of a trek to Mount Kailas, and a group of American students of Buddhism who use the journey to awaken their spiritual and physical selves. The author of this book is a noted Buddhist scholar, and the father of actress Uma Thurman.

Thurman, one of the country's leading scholars on Buddhism, and Wise, Thurman's former student and a writer, have produced a vivid account of a spiritual pilgrimage to Kailash, a mountain sacred to Tibetan Buddhists. Along the way, Thurman teaches the group of nine travelers the Blade Wheel of Mind Reform, a Tibetan Buddhist approach to enlightenment.

The authors' descriptions of the exotic places they see, the persons they meet, and their reactions to it all are so well written that the reader feels like a fellow traveler. Thurman relates his deep knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism to each aspect of the journey and to the external and internal experience of each traveler. This intriguing account of a great physical and spiritual adventure keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. The combination of travel and Buddhist teachings makes this a special book indeed.

In the harsh, forsaken landscape of Western Tibet, a holy mountain rises up, the legendary center of the world. Sacred to Hindus and Buddhists alike, Mount Kailash had been in professor and popular writer Robert Thurman's mind for some time when he finally decided to organize a group and go - across the Chinese border, where he has always been persona non grata. Writer Tad Wise decides to tag along and put the adventures on paper.

While recording Thurman's dharma lectures, Wise comes face to face with the magic of the mountain, its myths and its people, and haltingly transforms from cynical skeptic to tear-streaked pilgrim. Wise's writing leans toward the quirky, pushing ordinary sentences to their lapidary limits, and Thurman, as usual, tosses off tantalizing Buddhisms like 'mind-body bubble' and 'supreme orgasm of bliss-void-indivisible.' For a book that's effectively about walking 32 miles over rubble around a remote peak, Circling the Sacred Mountain succeeds in drawing you into a mandala of swirling ideas and experiences, nudging you toward your own realizations. 


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