Monday, December 24, 2012

Inner Travel to Sacred Places, by Robet Dreyfuss

Sometimes, I open the pages of a book and find a friend. It may be the story that draws me in, or the way the author shapes his words. It may be an echo of a shared experience or memory, or just even the fragrance of what the author is trying to convey that binds me to a book. With Inner Travel to Sacred Places, I opened the book, and found all of the above. But even moreso, I reunited with a friend who left this world just over a year ago.  Through this book, written in the last year of his life, I reunited with my friend, Robert Dreyfuss; he welcomed me to his world, into his life, into his sacred places.

As I read Robert's words, I was carried along on his path for seeking his life's spiritual center. His journeys, beginning as a young boy battling severe asthma, who found himself atop a boxcar in Denver, trying to escape home, fascinated me. Knowing Robert personally, it was easy to recall some of the stories I'd heard him tell in person, especially of those early, heady days in Boston, or of his travel overland, from Europe to India for a gathering with Meher Baba. As I read, I could hear his voice in my memory telling the story in Mandali Hall, of the struggles and situations that were scattered along his path on the trip,of his heart's breaking to learn the gathering was cancelled, and then the complete joy of his meeting with his beloved master. I remembered the hilarity in telling of crossing the Deccan Plateau in a 'throne" atop a truck. I found myself taking a few side trips, as I read, for Robert's road crossed my own in from the late 70's onward. I delighted in meeting up with dear ones, old friends, and family. There were even a few episodes where I was witness to some of the scenes, though an "extra", an unnamed player on the stage.

I knew Robert had some significant health issues in his life. In fact, years ago, when discussing my career change into health care, he said to me (of chronic illness), "It can only beat you if you let it." When I developed a serious medical condition myself, I took those words as a mantra. Robert's skill as a practitioner of Chinese medicine was legendary, and was probably part of what kept him going, against many odds, as his health continued to challenge him.

One of the surprised for me was a glimpse of the artistic Robert that I hadn't really known. Sketches and snippets of poetry grace the pages, as well as a wonderful photo of art in movement --Robert practicing T'ai Chi in the Ellora Caves).  Readers journey to some other places that were of spiritual significance to him. I appreciated how Robert threaded his love for Meher Baba into a world view which took him from Machu Picchu and to the feet of the Dalai Lama. This was not a story of simply one trip, but of the journey of a lifetime.

My thanks to the publisher, Sheriar Foundation, for sending me this book to read.

*There's also a new book out of his verse, Blue Ridge Sonatas which I hope to read soon.

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