THE SPIRITUAL SUPERMARKET by Robert Greenfield

THE SPIRITUAL SUPERMARKET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Comparative shopping among the gurus, beginning with the fat, fifteen-year-old kid, Maharaj-ji staging Millenium '73 in the Houston Astrodome while a ""blissed out"" Rennie Davis, formerly a New Left heavy, acts as his front man and a swarm of premies (rather like groupies to a rock star) fall at the Perfect Master's feet. Greenfield samples a variety of flavors: Ram Dass (the former Richard Alpert, Tim Leary's old buddy); Tibetan Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, an Oxford-educated collector of antiques who preaches that "". . . we have no way we can get liberated at all. Absolutely no hope. We are drowning in a deep pool of shit, bubbling and grey in color""; Stephen Gaskin, who heads the Farm people--a group of ex-hippies transplanted to rural Tennessee where they raise beans, tomatos, corn and ""sane children"" while renouncing alcohol, meat, eggs, milk, welfare payments, acid and uppers and downers--but holding fast to marijuana as their ""material sacrament""; and a nasty Indian from the nether world who is called Moloch by his eight wives to each of whom he has promised everlasting life--literally. In the 1970's, which Greenfield aptly styles the Age of Narcolepsy, being tripped out on God is much in vogue as the detritus of the radical politics and acid-cum-flower power generation gets busy tuning into astral flashes and primordial vibrations. It could have been a devastating book had not Greenfield's own divided consciousness interfered. On the one hand he can recognize an ersatz nirvana when he sees one; on the other hand he is ineffably drawn to this spiritual hocus-pocus. You can't have your mantra and eat it too.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1975
Publisher: Saturday Review/Dutton