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With his Westerner's skepticism, Max wants to see for himself whether a flesh-and-blood man can truly achieve nirvana. He endures extraordinary physical hardships, eventually embarking on a dangerous solitary meditation in a Himalayan cave in an attempt to penetrate the truth about human suffering.
Both a pause-resisting adventure story and a journey of tremendous inner transformation, The Yoga of Max's Discontent is a compelling novel of spiritual transformation.
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By Darwin8u on 06-13-16
Then the seer dwells in His own true splendor.
"Suffering alone exists, none who suffer;
The deed there is, but no doer thereof;
Nirvana is, but no one seeking it;
The Path there is, but none who travel it."
I was a bit skeptical of this book at first. I've read a lot of really good novels/books surrounding the Western urge for Nirvana, the allure of the East. This genre of literature isn't quite a Bildungsroman, but close. My search for the word has taken me from master (Google) to master (Yahoo). Certainly, there MUST exist already a perfect word for 'fictions of enlightenment'. There does exist a German word for what drives these novels (or transcendental travel lit): "Lebenskrankheit" or "sickness with life". Certainly there must exist in the Universe a word that covers such diverse works as:
1. Hesse's - Siddartha
2. Matthiessen's - The Snow Leopard
3. Maugham's The Razor's Edge
4. Harrer's Sieben Jahre in Tibet
These types of novels/travel books don't just exist in the West, obviously. There are such famous works as:
1. Wu Cheng'en's - Monkey: The Journey to the West
2. Tung Yüeh's - The Tower of Myriad Mirrors
If there isn't a word, I will make it. I will call these novels -- vanaprasromans. These novels aren't quite tracts for Yoga or Buddhism or even enlightenment, but artistic and often fictionalized stories about the journey away from pain and toward knowledge.
Karan Bajaj's book is a nice addition to the vanaprasroman cannon. Did I enjoy it as much as Maugham, Mathieson, or Hesse? No. As far as "literature" goes, I don't think it climbed to the same heights. However, I think the 'Yoga of Max's Discontent' worked well as bridge. Bajaj is able to span the gulf between East and West fairly well. And this gulf is hard to travel across without falling into kitsch or cliché. So, while my first impulse was to give this 3-stars, I don't think that adequately covers the challenge of writing fiction about enlightenment. It seems to me that writing without restriction about a spiritual journey is about as difficult and perilous as writing about sex. Writing a spiritual narrative is definitely one of the most difficult poses to hold.]
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