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on 10 July 1999
Mick Brown proves to be the perfect travel companion as you travel the globe with him on a spiritual tour package. Sounds tacky I know but it isn't. Brown's search is essentially for clarity in what proves to be a global mall-like atmosphere of belief systems which rangefrom tacky (Sai Baba) to what looks like the real thing (Buddhist monks in Darahmasala). You could probably get information on these centers of holiness from other sources but Mick Brown writes with a peaceful mixture of cynicism and broad mindedness that often leaves you chuckling along with him in as you journey together into some interesting dimensions. The best thing about it is that is not overly didactic which is rare for a book on spiritual journeys and Brown leaves you as the reader the room to decide what you think for yourself. On ya!
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on 2 March 2002
what a jolly good book this is. as a practising member of the c of e i did not expect to like it because i feared mr brown was another new age pontificator. but not a bit of it. at its core is his belief in the Almighty. he makes no pretence of saying he has all the answers as he traverses the globe with wisdom. he asks questions and leaves the reader wondering. better this than shovelling his deep beliefs down the throat of a reader such as myself. as a bonus there are laughs aplenty in this book but lest anyone thinks this is a joke book i must say mr brown leaves no stone unturned in his quest for answers.
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on 15 June 2001
I had gone to my local bookshop in search of my favourite travel author, an American called Bill Bryson, but they had just been visited by a coach party from Ohio who had bought every Bryson! I was desperate for "a fix"of travel writing and the assistant recommended Mr. Brown's book. I was doubtful since I had never hard of him and had no interest in spiritual matters ( my neighbour upstairs is always holding seances, which make my ceiling shake!). But I took a chance and bought it. I am glad that I did. It is a really smashing read, full of jokes and astute observations, mixed with interesting observations on the nature of Man and his relationship to the Cosmos. I am still a sceptic about matters spiritual but thanks to Mr. Brown I am a much better informed one! It is only a pity, in my humble opinion, that Mr. Brown chose a title which put off "non-believers" like myself!
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on 11 August 2000
I really love this book. I love the genuine spirit of enquiry and the laid back humour. It tells me more about the spiritual disciplines Mick Brown visits than numerous religious tomes would and I enjoyed reading so much that when I got to the end I started over again. Buy three copies because you'll need two to give to your friends...
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on 10 April 1999
Mick Brown's spiritual journey takes us through North London, India, Germany, Knoxville Tennessee and Eskdalemuir in Scotland. He meets Gurus, believers, freaks and cynics in his quest to discover "what it's all about". The book is an excellent read and has just the right mix of wisdom and criticism, especially of the commercial razzmatazz surrounding many religions. Highly recommended.
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on 6 January 2002
what a breath of fresh air this book is. after so many earnest books extolling the virtues of things spiritual to the detriment of established religion along comes mr brown to debunk it all. he is a satirist in the mould of the late auberon waugh or pj o'rorke. he gives the impression he is taking the weidoes and posers seriously and then he hits the reader with a joke to remind us all this new age stuff is so much baloney. so subtle is mr brown many readers are taken in and think hes one of them in their sandals and caftans. hes not. he is a hard core satirist who gets to the heart of the matter. if there are answers then established religion has them and not the con artists he has written about. well done mr brown!
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This is a wonderful book beautifully written, as might be expected by a professional journalist, but with the humility and integrity of an earnest seeker after the truth. Brown's pilgrimage essays the search that all of us at one time or another must embark on in order to try to make sense of our own existences. Predictably it offers no answers and there is no safe haven at journey's end: the bleak and sometimes terrifying idea that we may be, that all of this might simply be the result of the random jostling of cataclysmic forces that none will ever truly be able to understand, is not banished by cosy but ultimately unconvincing conclusions. It has a similar feel to Will Storr's book, 'Will Storr vs the Supernatural'. Both written by journalists who are both on the trail of truth but this is slightly less tongue in cheek and slightly more reverential!

Following the echoed call from Christ's exhortation to seek the truth Brown searches for it along the unsurprising and well trodden byways towards India's ashrams as well as the somewhat more prosaic but, at least, genuinely surprising streets of North London in search of the miraculous and provides an interesting, informative and, often, humorous account of the `sages' he encounters and their acolytes. As I said, it offers no answers but it just might inspire the `right' questions.
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on 2 June 2000
I am only a few pages away from the end now, and i must say that it's the first book I have actually read in a long time. There's a little too much in the way of quoting other stuff in the book, rather than Mick laying his thoughts down on the line, so to speak, but it's beguiling and entertaining nonetheless, from a man, who like most of us, is trying to find his own way. You don't get any sense of timescale in the book - how long his journey is, was it just as a journalist, or did he go to places of his own accord. The section with the Dalai Lama is mercilessly short - I wanted to hear more about him ! And my other main criticism is mainly that the beginning of the book is more colourful than how it pans out. I love these characters in the East end and stories of Vibhuti - and the rest of the book is a kind of eastern odyssey to put those experiences in context. Anyway, having said all that, I am reading the pages, getting into into it, loving his research and experiences. I just wish there was a bit more of him in it...
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on 26 January 2002
I read this book on my annual skiing holiday in Aspen, Colorado. It made me wonder if my life was worth much. Sure, I make buckets of cash, drive a Ferrari and live in a big house in Chelsea from my job selling mineral futures in the City but I wonder if this is enough. My girlfriend says I am being silly and would miss the good life but I am inclining towards jacking it all in and following in Mr Brown's learned footsteps. I want to feast like him on the world's great religions and philosophies and find for myself what really matters. Because, as he rightly says, he has little in the way of material success and trappings but he has what money cannot buy: an inner peace bred of real honesty. Not for him glib platitudes about God and Faith; no, he says we must look inwards and outwards simultaneously to find who we are and why. Unlike him I am no writer and have spent my life making money but I see how that is pointless and intend to spend my holidays in future in the search for truth. But I will do it in five star comfort since I am only a novice! Thank you Mr Brown for changing me for the better.
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on 29 August 2000
Brown is one of the most perceptive and elegant writers in British journalism and this book shows him at his brilliant best: he is wry, perceptive, provocative and, above all, questioning. This is definitely not the typical "alternative" book. It deserves to be read, several times, by anyone who wonders about the nature of reality.
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