06 June 2007

Book for Seekers

I've been working on reading Beyond the House of the False Lama: Travels with Monks, Nomads, and Outlaws for the past couple of weeks. I just finished it. It might best be described as a philosophical travelogue. The author is George Crane, and, depending on your luck and the random number generator, you might have noticed some quotes from him at left.

It is a book about seeking and traveling and following, and how the journey never really ends. If you want a book about getting somewhere, you won't enjoy it. That's not the point. The journey in itself is the point. And what a strange journey it is. Crane basically sets himself adrift from everything, quite literally in the instance where he decides to accompany a friend on a home-built boat across the ocean. Just as hurricane season is beginning. That doesn't go so well, and he spends a good chunk of time adrift in Paris next. Finally he decides to go to Mongolia to complete his teacher's quest for the House of the False Lama. Whether he found that or not is debatable, but he does seem to find something out in the desert, something he was missing.

As I said, if you want a book that arrives at a destination, don't read this one. If you want to accompany a Jewish expatriate on his oft-bizarre search for Shambhala and, perhaps, himself, then I would recommend it. I would mention one thing that struck me about myself while reading it. George Crane seems happiest when he is adrift on the winds, with literally only the stuff he is carrying with him to his name. I enjoy being adrift, but part of my enjoyment comes from knowing I have a place to return to. An anchor somewhere, somewhen. Then again, maybe the desert is his anchor.

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