He's married and technically maybe not a monk, at least in some circles, but Kempf has been at Buddhism since the '70s – about the same time I took up yoga in an ashram and the spiritual path that's followed. That's where we begin.
While relating a two-week group pilgrimage to historic sacred Buddhist sites in India that he undertook with his wife in 2010, Kempf diverges to detail much of his earlier experiences in the tradition and to reflect on ways the practice and teachings have interacted with his daily life on the frontiers of high-technology. So it's not exactly a travelogue or a systematic presentation of Buddhist thought, but more down-to-earth in a dry telling that touches on both and much more. His presentation of early Buddhism and its founder, the Buddha Gautama Siddhartha, is more understandable than others I've read, and includes connections with Greece and the West that remain provocative. He clearly explains ways the Pali-based Buddhism of the south differed from the northern Sanskrit-based branch, both developing immediately after the time Gautama's death.
The guided tour itself is worth following, especially considering the hazards of driving in India's traffic and masses of beggars. Fellow travelers, of course, provide fascinating asides of their own. And then there are incidents of coping with the impact of overpopulation and the ravages of time. Kempf repeatedly wonders about how different these places are now from the way they were at the time of the Buddha.
I'm comforted to realize his insights might not be that different from those Cassia's father leaves unvoiced in my Freakin' Free Spirits novels.
By the way, this is my first ebook encounter with footnotes – Kempf's are easy to navigate.
(review of free book)