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The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way (Shambhala Classics) Paperback – November 6, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Way of a Pilgrim is a spiritual classic, but its origins are shrouded in mystery. It came to a remote monastery in Greece in the 19th century and was first published in 1884. Whether it is literal, fictitious, metaphorical, or pedagogical is unknown. The story follows an itinerant spiritual wanderer, all the time practicing Saint Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing." Specifically, the pilgrim repeats one prayer unceasingly, the Jesus prayer, until it becomes a sort of mantra. Through repetition of the prayer and encounters with his fellow inhabitants of 19th-century Russia and Siberia, the wanderer finds a spiritual enlightenment.

The Way of a Pilgrim is an oddity, but it can also be strikingly profound. In its sequel, A Pilgrim Continues His Way, the pilgrim engages an even richer dramatis personae in dialogues and spiritual lessons. Olga Savin's crisp, straightforward translation preserves the distinctive timelessness that makes the book great spiritual literature. This edition also includes three appendices that elaborate on the narrative's themes and a helpful glossary. --Eric de Place

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"The pilgrim's journeys and his various encounters are recounted in an appealing, unaffected manner, and Savin's flowing translation serves this tone well."— Publishers Weekly Religion  BookLine

"One of the most influential spiritual books of the last hundred years. It is one of those rare books that can make a difference in a person's life."—Jacob Needleman, author of Lost Christianity

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (November 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570628076
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570628078
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Craig Stephans VINE VOICE on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes "Pray without ceasing," (1 Thes 5:17) and in his letter to the Ephesians, he writes "Pray at all times in the Spirit." (Eph 6:18) What does it mean to pray at all times without ceasing? Can it be done? These are the questions asked by the pilgrim, the main character of The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues his Way, two books written in the late nineteenth century by an anonymous Russian Christian. The pilgrim character tells of his journeys through Russia as he seeks to learn to pray unceasingly.

Through the telling of his tale, the pilgrim shares much about prayer. The focus of prayer is The Jesus Prayer, and the goal for the pilgrim is to continually pray this prayer from his heart. The writer introduces lessons on prayer and the Christian life through other characters such as priests, wise teachers called "starets" and other Christian travelers who share their stories of faith. The pilgrim carries two books with him that are his sole possessions on the earth and his treasures. These are The Bible and a book of Eastern Church Fathers called The Philokalia. The narrator references both books to provide lessons on prayer.

His journey reveals what he learns about prayer. Through the book, the narrator reveals several lessons about prayer for reflection and practice. The main theme is ceaseless prayer.

An older teacher shares with the pilgrim that, as Paul writes to the Romans, "we know not what we should pray for as we ought." (Rom 8:26) The teacher advises that the perfection of prayer is not within our power, but we can pray often and always.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter on December 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read several books on Orthodoxy and The Jesus Prayer and this is one of the best. The Way of a Pilgrim, in and of itself, is incredibly inspirational and well worth acquiring; a true classic in Christian literature. However, what I liked best about this particular version is the appendix. Included are several writings from the Fathers regarding The Jesus Prayer intelligently hand-picked by the authors to illuminate how the text can be transformed to your own life by learning how to use The Jesus Prayer. The writings are condensed, key points from authorative Fathers in Orthodox history regarding the Jesus Prayer. The text and the appendix have been deeply rewarding for me. This is one of the few books I return to again and again for inspiration. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The anonymous confessions of an early 19th century Russian aestetic to his spiritual adviser, THE WAY OF A PILGRIM is a classic of Orthodox Christian spirituality and contains within its humble account a message accessible to every reader. Far from being a highfaultin' work of theology, its theme is simply the ability of any individual to dwell in the presence of God.

The author of the account speaks of how one day in a sermon he heard St Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing", and he wondered how that might be possible. When he asks the question of the abbot of a nearby monastery, the wise old monk introduces the pilgrim to the tradition of the prayer of the heart, or "Jesus prayer". The pilgrim wanders all over Russia, as far as Irkutsk in the east of Siberia. His account gives us an enjoyable account of Russian peasant life of the time. As he journeys about, he reads much of the Philokalia, the classic compendium of mystical writings by Orthodox saints. Essentially, the Jesus prayer is an attempt to come closer to God through ceaseless repetition of the phrase "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." In the initial steps of his prayer life, the pilgrim says this first hundreds and then thousands of times a day. But the Jesus prayer is no mantra, having intrisic value in its, nor is it "vain repetition". Rather, the prayer is meant to guide the Christian into a ceaseless longing for God in his heart. Without that centering in the heart, speaking the words of the prayer is an empty gesture.

The work is an important representation of Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox, and it dispells two popular misconceptions about the Church.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stratiotes Doxha Theon VINE VOICE on October 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
A classic in the search of how to live the Christian life. The Pilgrim is a young man searching for the meaning of how to pray without ceasing and through that search his life is altered for the better. By way of Pilgrim's search, you will find yourself seeking the same passion for God he does.

Though the book is sadly unknown outside Orthodox Christian circles, it is an enjoyable and inspirational read for Christians of any denominational persuasion. It is also key to understanding Orthodox Christian theology at its roots. To compare it with other works that might be more familiar I think _In His Steps_ (ISBN: 0800786084) by Sheldon comes close. But Pilgrim remains a classic in its own right.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. Larson on March 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Occasionally a bad print job will slip through. Maybe the press was running short of ink. I've gotten one or two books like that. It is annoying, but Amazon will replace it and pay return shipping. The replacement was always fine.

I don't read enough Russian to comment knowledgeably on the translation, but it seems fine to me. There is also an appendix of nearly 50 pages with additional information culled from the Holy Fathers.
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