The Swami of this book is not one but many; it's not another devotional testimonial to a particular master, but a skeptical and informative--and often entertaining--inquiry into the phenomenon of Swamihood, here and in India. Doug Boyd's first encounter was with Swami Rama, the raja yogi who made himself available to the Voluntary Controls project at the Menninger Foundation to have his physiological functions monitored during various yogic feats. Boyd became the Swami's close personal assistant, and the experiences of both astonishment and exasperation this brought him form the most intense and vivid part of the book: an encounter with a very powerful, very different being who nonetheless has a very dominating earthly ego of his own. After two years of study with an American Indian ""swami,"" Rolling Thunder (subject of his 1974 book), Boyd went to India to learn from other swamis and to follow his hunch that a momentous evolutionary exchange of East and West is taking place. He found a country aswarm with swamis of every description, from the beggar on the bed of nails to the eloquent scholar, from the serene contemplative to the contentious quarreler. Drawing upon the words of the best of them (which he recorded) and his observations of those he characterizes as mere ""dropouts,"" lloyd brings back a much-needed clarification of the high science of the East, qualified by his own rather cerebral philosophy of enlightenment-in-the-world. lloyd avoids the deep involvement, the surrender of a Castaneda, and when he quotes paragraphs of his own wisdom he lacks humility as well. But he's written a useful demystification of mysticism for a West enamored of its own illusions.