Transformation Station: Great Spiritual Journeys
Wondering how to make your upcoming trip not just an escape from the daily grind, but a rewarding life experience, as well? These tales of courageous journeys reveal the ways that travel can be spiritually enhancing. While you may not be headed for the Tibetan Himalayas or the snake-riddled rainforests of Australia, the destination, as these travelogues show, seldom determines the journey. From grieving daughters and Zen students to runaways, these adventurers find self-transformation in places and ways they least expect.
Seeking physical rejuvenation while recovering from an illness, David Downie set out to make a trek along El Camino Santiago, a famous Christian pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where it is thought that the body of St. James is buried. Joining the 200,000 pilgrims who make the journey ever year, Downie sets out from France and makes his way to the Pyrenees mountains along ancient roads that date back a millennium. When he arrives at his destination 72 days later, he's revitalized in body and fully transformed in spirit.
When Peter Matthiessen, a writer and student of Zen, sets out on a trek through the Himalayas, his stated goal is to assist zoologist George Schaller in studying the Himalayan blue sheep. But privately, he holds out hopes of spotting the rare and legendary snow leopard. Over the course of the 250-mile expedition, his primary journey becomes an interior one, as he struggles to reconcile Buddhist teachings with his own inextinguishable desire to witness the one of the rarest animals on the planet.
This classic narrative of a father-son motorcycle trip across America seeks to answer questions raised by 2,000 years of philosophy, from Greek mythology to Buddhism. At the core of the philosophical journey is, for Robert Pirsig, the most important question of all: How do we distinguish good from bad?
Carlos Castaneda's journey starts as research for his Master's thesis on medicinal plants in the American Southwest, but it soon transforms into an encounter with Native American shamanism and the mind-expanding power of peyote. Now a staple of New Age literature, Castaneda describes his trek to rural New Mexico, and how his experiences with the drug, paired with shaman Don Yuan's instruction, help him to transcend fear and realize his full potential as a human.
At 25, Robin Easton, along with her boyfriend Ian, decide to jettison civilization and live off the grid in the Daintree Rainforest of Australia. Needless to say, it's not exactly the jungle paradise that they imagine. But as she learns to overcome her fears of snakes, leeches and crocodiles, Easton opens her mind to larger questions of life, survival and humans' relationship with nature. "Naked in Eden" is her full account of the experience and her eventual spiritual awakening.
Veteran travel writer Paul Theroux brings together the essays that inspired him. Spanning fifty years of writing, the collection includes works from authors such as Charles Dickens, J. R. R. Tolkien, Eudora Welty and Ernest Hemingway. Throughout, Theroux details how the essays helped inform his spiritual philosophy of travel.