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Turtle Feet, Nikolai Grozni

When you come across a hidden gem by circumstance, this is what readers live for. This book you just may consider to be one of those. The author decides to become a Buddhist monk after a sudden loss of interest in the path he’d been pursuing up until that time in his young adult life. He felt he lost his sense of purpose. He felt he never thought of looking into the room within the room, the inner space of shadows and wind and uncharted landscapes. So he travels to Dharamsala, India, situated in the foothills of the Himalaya and home to the Dalai Lama. Coming to terms with life – your life. A universe is a metaphysical reactor where opposites cancel each other out. The transcendental states of perception with increasing visibility and then familiarity. Taking the knowledge and nurturing the profound or mundane into something tangible. The connections you make with family, between people, between countries, between believers and their gods, between yourself and your body, what all that is perceived, is mind-made.

It builds into a big joke – life, death, rebirth, enlightenment… it all amounts to nothing, a play on words, a crazy puzzle that can never be solved. There becomes a certain acknowledgment of knowing you are done with this world and can focus on finding out what you’re made of. He meets so many interesting characters that will make you laugh… Tsar (another eastern block compadre and they become roommates); his battles with dysentery brought back some fine memories of my own on expeditions; his relationship with Sangyo, a Tibetan nun; accepting disappointment and heartache as a natural outcome of life; crazy nuns; pet snakes; cantankerous Tibetan language teachers; moving out of a rent shack and mud rooms, depilated, mold and leaks; the decision to escape out of India; intellectual, deep and dramatic monologues on primordial reality; karmic arbiters; gods of death and rebirth; the bureaucracy of existence; the inseparability of appearance and their illusory nature. A humorous book that can go as deep as you allow your mind to let it.


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