Shantaram

Written By: Gregory David Roberts (Australian)

Vocation: Author

I read this book at a crucial point in my life. I felt completely depleted and defeated on virtually every level of my existence. I decided to “wave the flag” of surrender and do something radically different to change my circumstances. I went on a 30 day spiritual retreat. No it was not off to an unknown place or exotic location. It was Oregon! It was beautiful, remote, mountainous and serene. The polar opposite of Los Angeles. There a spiritual master (who is also one of my dearest family members) recommended I read this during my retreat. I read several books during that time-frame. It’s amazing what you are capable of once your spirit is renewed and revitalized. I began this book about half way through that stay.

This is an autobiographical story of a man. He was an ex-con, robber/thief and serious drug attic. He’s also the author of this book! It details his escape from an Australian prison and his subsequent life lived as a fugitive in India. What can one say about India? It’s a place of such diversity and depth. A place that is a mixture of the ancient and the modern. One that I really hope to visit one day. This book is full of the vibrancy and spontaneous changes that could only result from such circumstances. Love, betrayal, death, redemption, suffering and friendship are all on display in raw form. The inner workings of the society, from the underworld to the elite and the impoverished are mixed together to produce a real page-turner!

I feel the author did a great job of showing his shortcomings and his humanity. He did not seem to seek sympathy from the reader. Rather, he just shared the raw and unadulterated reality of a violent, dangerous and personal struggle to find peace, normality and stay alive without being caught. There are times when you want to judge characters for their outlandish and menacing actions. But, then you also can see how in those moments, and in that context, how human beings often feel that their course of action was the only one possible. There are so many rich characters in this book. I trust that even in those who are seen as the “bad guys” that you will see a hint of yourself in them if you’re honest. This is a book that puts all of the human emotions and psychological states on display. If you read it (or have already) please come back as your reading and leave your thoughts here. You’re likely to have many!

-Sensei Derek Fletcher

 

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