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The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey…
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The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of…

by Mick Brown

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I was anticipating a happy wanderer, objectively visiting churches, mosques, temples. This was a different story. The author starts his journey by openly stating that he has "received no epiphany to give (him) faith." He wanders from one cult-like spiritual group to another, finding little more than disappointment and disillusionment everywhere he goes. His last stop is to a Buddhist group where he seems to finally feel some sense of peace. My criticism of his trip centers on two things: (1) he started the journey with an admittedly strong bias against religion and (2) he only went to the very wackiest of spiritual groups. ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
In this combination journalistic endeavor and travel narrative, Mick Brown investigates the outer reaches of religion. He visits Buddhist and Hindu gurus, Theosophist disciples and evangelical Christians in the throes of a miracle. He reveals some as charlatans while still remaining compassionate and respectful to believers. He points out that the spiritual end result may be of great value regardless of the means of achieving it. Although he mostly achieves journalistic objectivity, I preferred when he explored his reactions to the people he met and the experiences he had. There are moments of exultation and skepticism as he seeks religious Truth. As someone who is most familiar with Judeo-Christian religion, however, there were times when I found that more knowledge was expected than I actually have.

Although the books sags a little in the middle, Brown ends on a high note. Perhaps this is because I agree with his ultimate conclusion. He writes:

[Love] is the thing beyond self, for true love is selflessness...Happiness does not lie in separation from others, but in unity with them. Love is timeless and endless. Love goes on, and somehow we go on as part of it, sometimes glimpsing it, sometimes blind to it, warm in its flame, cold and alone when we turn our backs to it. Ultimately only love can conquer despair. Only love makes us whole.

This is a worthwhile read for the religious or spiritual seeker who is willing to look at the variety of human religious experience. ( )
  nancyewhite | Jan 6, 2010 |
Journalist Mick Brown explores a variety of religious traditions looking for the truth. From exploring the yogic traditions to manifestations of the cross in a window pane, Brown meets every variety of self-deluded believers, charlatans and spiritual seekers that can possibly be imagined. Through out it all his persistence reveals that he keeps hoping to find the truth somewhere. ( )
  varielle | Mar 9, 2008 |
In some ways, reading this book was like bringing my own personal journey to an end. I've read a lot of books lately about the quest for personal enlightenment, including one by Osho, who is mentioned here in perhaps not the most favourable of lights.

Mick Brown's book is a personal journey through the lands of enlightenment, beginning with interviews with people on the fringes of religion in England, people who believed in higher powers and the spirit world beyond the mainstream religions.

Brown's quest takes him, inevitably, to India, and later to America, where he spends time in ashrams and holy retreats, trying to divine the secret to the gurus popularity, the hold they seemed to have over lost souls.

What makes this book so good, though, is the careful, sincere criticism and critical aspect of the writer. Never is he fully convinced; never does he look down his nose at people who believe what others would only laugh at.

In his vivid descriptions of the characters at the heart of his tale, I was reminded of people I had met on my own travels, and in a way I was brought to reconsider my own future plans and expectations.

In all, a very satisfying, if melancholy, book. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jan 22, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 158234034X, Paperback)

Nick Brown's entertaining journey into contemporary expressions of spirituality starts with bemused reports of alleged miracles in dreary North London suburbs and the appearance of Christ in the East End. The author's respect for the intensity of belief in such stories leads him to a journey along the Indian spiritual trail, where he stays among the passionate followers of the self-proclaimed deity, Sai Babi. There is a brief trip to Tennessee to witness more alleged miraculous signs, but the tone is markedly more skeptical here. The book is at its most interesting when it provides the history of the Western "prophets" of Eastern spirituality, tracing the claims of Mr. Creme in North London in the 1990s back to the story of the founding of the Theosophical Society in the 1880s by Madame Blavatsky. This hashish-smoking, circus-performing Russian occultist was condemned as an outrageous fraud in 1884, yet Theosophy has spawned an influential set of beliefs that clearly inform current New Age thinking. Mick Brown retains a healthy skepticism about some claims, but he also professes that he has "come to believe that the world is more of spirit than of matter", and so he respects rather than vilifies those he meets. The result lies somewhere between Fortean weirdness and genuine spiritual searching. --Roger Luckhurst

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:43 -0400)

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