Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Open Road, Pico Iyer

Over the years I've read many travel articles by Pico Iyer and always find he is unusually sensible and thoughtful, espeicially about the Himalayan region. I've read some biographical material about Iyer as well and know he has Indian parents who raised him in England, that he lives now in Japan and regularly spends weeks at a time in a monastery in California in private retreat. He is a very "global" person, a thoughtful man who seems very well balanced. So when I read a review of his recent book, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, I knew I wanted to read the book and would find a unique discussion of a man I greatly admire.

I bought the book in Hyannis and have been reading it slowly becuase I don't want to rush through and miss his points or the complex points the Dalai Lama makes in his public speeches and private talks with Iyer -- they first met in the '50s. There are many remarkable people in the world [Iyer paints a fascinating picture of Desmond Tutu], but the more I read the more I feel the Dalai Lama is especially remarkable. Not because he has special characteristics as a an incarnate lama or embodiment, as some say, of the Buddha of Compassion. Not that, but because he has had special training, unusual life circumstances and has risen to the challenges he continues to face, and has never ceased to truly work at creating his own character. I am amazed at what he has been able to do as Iyer describes it. This is a fascianting book.

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