Write what you know: Mark Batterbury, now a professional astrologer based on Canada's west coast, took that famous credo to heart when he left writing school at the cultural peak of the 1960s in hot pursuit of truth and enlightenment. Three eventful decades later, Batterbury delivers a richly detailed memoir that documents his wayward pilgrim's progress to spiritual understanding. As the years unfold, intense periods of bliss and satori are followed by disillusionment, dark depression and eventual peace as the author makes a full-circle trek back to his flawed human self.
Eager to leave his painful school years behind, Batterbury joined his generation's wave of "dharma bums" and headed east with nothing but an open mind and questing soul. His anecdote-laced autobiography includes encounters in India, Nepal, Thailand and elsewhere with such luminaries as Swami Muktananda, S.N. Goenka, Mother Meera, the Karmapa Lama and Ashtanga yoga master Pattabhi Jois. Back home in the west, he goes on retreat in the English countryside with noted Buddhist teacher Christopher Titmuss and then begins life-changing studies with evolutionary astrologer Jeffrey Wolf Green.
Rather than a dry recounting of meetings with remarkable men, Batterbury vividly captures the alternately harsh, humorous and ecstatic details of life on the spiritual path. The everyday rhythms of Varanasi, Dharmshala and Ganeshpuri. The profound pleasure of a fresh cup of hot chai. The unforgettable sight of thousands of butter lamps lighting the temple at Bodh Gaya. The cleansing torment of the sun dance and the charged ritual space of the sweat lodge.
"The book is essentially about my search to regain a natural state of inner harmony that was lost due to the impact of traumatic events," explains Batterbury. "In the journey of my life I have had to get out of my head and into the heart." Or as he writes following a conversation with a cave-dwelling guru on the banks of the Ganges: "The end of knowledge is not even the beginning of love."