TURNING EAST: New Lives in India by Malcolm & Cynthia Giles--Eds. Tillis

TURNING EAST: New Lives in India

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sparkling report, flush with interviews, on Westerners who have moved to India to pursue spiritual search. In the early 80's, Tillis--a Briton who had himself emigrated east to study under a guru--travelled across india, speaking with over 50 Western disciples of assorted gurus and, in a few cases, with the gurus themselves. Here are 21 of those interviews, set firmly in context by Tillis' running commentary on not only his subjects, but also on his evervarying response to the project--after meeting ""India's most widely known woman saint,"" the ""bliss-intoxicated"" Anandamaya Ma, for example, he felt spiritually full, with ""no longer the slightest desire"" to pursue the book. It's good that Tillis plowed on, though, for here is some extraordinary spiritual testimony, including that of Russell BalfourClarke, who tutored the young Krishnamurti; of Simonetta, a former fashion designer who now works with lepers and speaks with raw honesty of her life with Swami Chidananda (""I don't find it hell--I find it five hells""); of Diane, an English student of Tibetan Buddhism who lives in a cave that's snowed in from November until May (Q: ""How do you manage for food?"" A: ""I get supplies in for one year and get donkeys to carry them up""); and of Fr. Bede Griffiths, busy exploring an interweaving of Catholicism and Hinduism while living in a hut equipped with ""a bed, a table, two chairs, an unpainted cupboard made out of a packing case."" Tillis winds up by talking to his wife, Kate Christie, who speaks of life with their own ""Master"" (""like living on top of a live volcano!""), and touches upon his teaching ("" [he] told us that Attention is the outer expression of the soul. This means that wherever we put our attention the soul will go""). A significant and often inspiring set of auto-profiles in religious courage and dedication.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Paragon