on 18 December 2001
Michael Freeman's stunning photographic pilgrimage through Asia's multi-faceted spiritual heritage finds its perfect counterpoint in Alistair Shearer's deeply thought commentary. Those who know Shearer's other books, such as the Upanishads, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the Traveller's Key to Northern India will know what to expect. Not merely a profound first-hand knowledge of the countries and traditions covered, but also a deep experiential understanding of the spiritual paths outlined.
This is a glorious book, visually and informationally rich and stimulating. Freeman has particularly surprised with some unusual and excellent pictures taken in Tibet and China, the latter all the more unusual, given the severe repression meted out to all forms of religious practice under the current Beijing regime.
Alistair Shearer's scholarly background in both the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, together with his own years of experience as a teacher of meditation give his commentary a depth of understanding one does not normally expect to find between the covers of a "photo-essay." He knows the terrain from the inside.
The decision to limit the scope of the book to the indigenous religious traditions of Asia, animist, Hindu and Buddhist, was presumably dictated by limits of space. But it also tantalises the reader with the thought of what the authors could do with a companion volume to cover the "invader" religions, Islam and Christianity in their Asian forms. Hopefully Thames and Hudson will consider a second commission to cover this area.
An enchanting book, both for the seasoned traveller, and those just starting to explore the territory. Wonderful stuff, not to be missed.
on 26 April 2001
A beautifully presented book which provides an informative narrative set amongst some beautiful photographs of the Asia region. The book is structured into short sections covering varios religios beliefs or areas of the region of significant importance. The book not only covers the varying religions but also the people, traditions and a breif summary of local history. The photographs in the book are well selected, often quite stunning and clearly demontstrate the beauty of the region. For anyone wishing to visit Asia this book would provide a good sample of the experiences your are likely to encountered and is well worth the money.