In the tradition of The Snow Leopard, Circling the Sacred Mountain is a remarkable account of spiritual adventure through the magical and forbidding landscape of remote western Tibet. A promise of spiritual transformation inspired Robert Thurman-renowned Buddhist scholar, teacher, and close friend of the Dalai Lama-to take a group of trekkers to Mount Kailash, the holiest of Himalayan mountains, and teach them an accelerated path of Tibetan Buddhism. Among the group was a former student and longtime friend, Tad Wise, who struggles with Thurman's teachings as much as with the rigors of high altitude. Together, they take us through an ominous border crossing to sites few Westerners have seen: sacred graveyards, majestic monasteries, and the meditation caves of ancient masters. Chronicling the inner as well as the outer journey, confrontations both physical and metaphysical, Circling the Sacred Mountain is an exciting account of a challenging journey towards enlightenment.
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
"In Circling The Sacred Mountain, Thurman and Wise take turns recounting their trip to Mount Kailash...Wise sculps a memorable word-frieze of the peoples and landscapes of Tibet and of his journey through them [and] Thurman's verbal virtuosity shines on these pages, as does his immense talent as a teacher, his ability to relate Buddhist ideas to everyday life and to inspire students to go further ."
"A fine adventure and a brilliant direct pipeline to the ancient teachings of Tibet."
--Jack Kornfield, author of After the Ecstasy, The Laundry
"Combines the intimacy of a memoir with the true grit of an adventure story-an into thin air for the spiritual set."
-- Harper's Bazaar
"A lively circumambulation of Asia's holy mountain in Tibet, illuminated by Tenzin Thurman's passionate teachings."
--Peter Matthiessen, bestselling author of The Snow Leopard
From the Back Cover