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Circling the Sacred Mountain: A Spiritual Adventure Through the Himalayas Paperback – July 5, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (July 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553378503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553378504
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Thurman (religion, Columbia Univ.), 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. Recommended for any library whose travel and Buddhist collections could use a wonderful addition.
-?David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 18 customer reviews
Incredible physical and spiritual journey.
Duffer Johnson
With Tad Wise's descriptions of the scenery and Robert Thurman's vivid teachings, I felt as if I was there with them learning and experiencing everything.
Charlie Lintecum
Perhaps, if one was going to read his sermons with a couple of other books, one could get a good understanding of something.
J. Michael Showalter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By bjohnandr@aol.com on September 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A terrific book! Thurman's lectures on Tantric Buddhism are fascinating, and they are counterpointed well by Wise's narration of the trek to Kalias, his own failings and fears, and his relationship to his teacher. Thurman is (as always) enlightening and impressive, and Wise's story is wonderful in that he is "only" human, too-- it makes the path toward enlightenment seem possible for the rest of us! Also, it's a great book about an exciting trek to the backcountry of Tibet. A wonderful book!!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Uyemura VINE VOICE on December 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If Tantra is the union of opposites, this book works pretty well. Tad Wise seems likeable enough, except for the fact that he has 3 kids by 3 Moms, and leaves Mom #3 behind with a newborn to go off on this spiritual adventure. So I'm rooting for him to get it right this time and go home and help with the laundry. And Robert Thurman seems to use Tad as a whipping boy, teasing and taunting him, which doesn't make Thurman exactly shine in my eyes either. The other members of the trek are more or less invisible, though they are mentioned from time to time.

The mountain captures my attention starting from the picture on the cover. It looks extraordinary. I love Tibet, and this is deepest darkest Tibet for sure. The monasteries have all been trashed and recently rebuilt to attract tourists for China's benefit. Young Tibetans are as likely to smoke and play pool as they are to chant mantras. So all the tragedy of Tibet are here to see.

The dharma presented here is very Tibetan. Yamantaka, the fierce deity of death is invoked to stomp on and anhiliate one's self-obsession (the false self). The teaching is called the Blade Wheel of the Mind, and it is meant to work like a buzz-saw, turning all that is self-oriented into dust and all negative experiences into potential gold. To be there, exhausted and suffering from the high elevation, and to listen to these teachings, would probably be an extraordinary retreat experience. I don't know that it is particularly effective in absentia. Thurman does come off as a gas-bag. Maybe it was very unselfish of him, also worn out from trekking all day, to sit down and teach. Or maybe it was just pedantic of him. His close friendship with the Dalai Lama is name-dropped several times.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James Trattner on May 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Thurman and Wise took me on a journey to Mt. Kalish in Tibet which I will never forget. I was amazed at Thurman's crystal clear description of Tibetian Buddhist Dharma. I couldn't wait until I could get to my book each evening. This is a page turner par excellance!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Lintecum on September 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was an exhilarating reading experience. With Tad Wise's descriptions of the scenery and Robert Thurman's vivid teachings, I felt as if I was there with them learning and experiencing everything. Their journey was long and storied and well presented. Seeing the experience from two sides, the teacher (Thurman) and the student (Wise) give a wide view of this country and its religion. Wise's antidotes add the human side to the experience. It shows how even you can achieve these great things. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates journeys, religion, or even just a good true story. Thurman and Wise's account make the trek memorable.
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Format: Paperback
This is really three books in one. The first is a great travel guide of the 1995 journey to Mount Kailash, its history and significance to Hindus and Buddhists. In the second, Robert Thurman teaches Buddhist basics, and the Blade Wheel of Mind Reform. In the third, Tad Wise reflects on his life and develops his spirituality through Thurman's teachings and the Kailash experience.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dee Vine on July 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would not classify the book as totally "boring". I was able to jot down several thought-provoking, enlightening comments from the read. Chad Wise offered an entertaining perspective and I would rate him as a good writer. However Thurman, while I respect his wealth of knowledge on Tibetan Buddhism, came across as demanding and overbearing. I just couldn't relate to him. I purchased the book because I am soon making a spiritual pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash, and hoped to read more about the spiritual experiences of the two writers than was offered. Maybe that is not translatable into words. The book did give me more knowledge on Tibetan Buddhism, and that I do appreciate.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I purchased this book, i was trepiditious about Mr wises particpation. After all.Mr thurman is an acknowledged authority on tibetan buddhism,a friend of hh dalai lama,and wise is a alcoholic,trying to come to grips with his life. well, thank God for mr wises input in this Book1 It made it readable, and somewaht enjoyable.Mr Thurman comes off as a bullying professor,another self important gasbag who has spent too much time in academia.I have no doubt that he is a sincere buddhist,though what comes off here is a longwinded,pedantic bore.The cloak and dagger bit is a little much,though I am sure his fans will eat it up[will the chinese catch me at the border,etc.]The chinese come off rather brutally ,especially in regard to the compassion esposed throughout this book. For the truest of true believers,though Mr wises is entertaining, engaging and I'd travel with him anytime. Just leave Mr thurman home with a mirror and tape recorder.please.
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