Work Title: Books for Prophet Seekers: Pilgrimages of the Mind
Work Author(s): Matt Sutherland
Byline: Matt Sutherland
Spiritual leaders do not come in many shades. The default die cast is male, Eastern, ascetic leaning, with a heyday period that pre-dates us by 1,400 or so years. Apparently, we humans prefer our prophets one step removed, as if the living flesh is proof incarnate of a compromised soul.
It's high time we throw away these unattainable notions of divinity. If, by chance, your waitress responds flippantly at lunch today with something profound, original, and transformative for you, she has justly earned prophet status and you could do worse than to genuflect across your plate of pulled pork. Perceptive wallflowers do find epiphanies in the salt mines of life.
Spiritual seekers pursue what is described as "heightened states of being" in everything from conventional religion to psychedelic drugs; of late a serious, respected movement of extreme adventure sport practitioners are heading into the wilderness Moses-style for religious experience. Author Maria Coffey, author of Explorers of the Infinite (Tarcher/Penguin, 978-1-58542-651-5), suggests that the death defying allure of extreme adventure "is not only a spiritual search, but a spiritual tool." Evidently, the powers can be honed and reaching the desired state is as straightforward as hanging precariously off a rock at night alone, for example.
Coffey finds some precedence for this calling. She writes in her introduction, "In hunter-gatherer societies, religious belief was always linked to nature. Facing constant danger, people sought ways to live in harmony with the unpredictable environment by worshipping the earth, its elements, its wild animals. Life was shot through with spirituality."
Explorers of the Infinite is a book of adventure stories featuring leading mountaineers, alpinists, free divers, solo sailors, surfers, and other athletes of the wild. Coffey then conducts probing interviews seeking the common language needed to help these experiences find acceptance in larger circles. The psychic, near-death, and paranormal tales are balanced by her sound research and attempts to find scientific explanations, ranging from mainstream consciousness studies to quantum physics.
"We spend so much of our lives in a waking trance of retrospection, regret, distraction, idling, and disembodiment through a range of addictions," writes three-time author Mark Matousek...