[Epub] ➞ The Snow Leopard ➣ Peter Matthiessen – Motyourdrive.co.uk

The Snow Leopard summary The Snow Leopard, series The Snow Leopard, book The Snow Leopard, pdf The Snow Leopard, The Snow Leopard 2d495bbdb6 When Matthiessen Went To Nepal To Study The Himalayan Blue Sheep And, Possibly, To Glimpse The Rare And Beautiful Snow Leopard, He Undertook His Five Week Trek As Winter Snows Were Sweeping Into The High Passes This Is A Radiant And Deeply Moving Account Of A True Pilgrimage, A Journey Of The Heart


10 thoughts on “The Snow Leopard

  1. says:

    The sun is roaring, it fills to bursting each crystal of snow I flush with feeling, moved beyond my comprehension, and once again, the warm tears freeze upon my face These rocks and mountains, all this matter, the snow itself, the air the earth is ringing All is moving, full of power, full of light Peter Matthiessen, The Snow LeopardI m a little embarrassed to say I hadn t paid attention to much of Matthiessen s work before he died I had Shadow Country on my shelf and every intention of getting to it soon, but didn t realize he had this whole other nonfiction output I read the Snow Leopard after I read his obit three weeks ago and discovered he was the only person to win the National Book Award for BOTH fiction and nonfiction OK, so, maybe it was time to throw off my veil of ignorance and start reading some Matthiessen I figured The Snow Leopard was a good place to start I loved it Part travel writing, part nature writing, part spiritual journey, this book has it all It is beautifully written, and seems to float the reader up and down the mountains At its heart Matthiessen is traveling with his field biologist friend George Schaller GS into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Blue Sheep and hopefully see the elusive snow leopard and hell, maybe a Yeti Matthiessen was also on a spiritual journey after the loss of his wife to find the Lama of Shey and to find a path through the difficulties associated with the impermanence and suffering of life His journey is a melting into the now, a search for the present, and an acceptance of finding and not finding the thing s you think you seek.


  2. says:

    I have taken months since reading this book to finally write this long review Here s some selections from the book to begin, so you can see Matthiessen s spirit, his Buddhist nature, and his love of language, without my intervention or commentary The secret of the mountain is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself the mountains exist simply, which I do not The mountains have no meaning, they are meaning the mountains are The sun is round I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed, knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day Peter Matthiessen Today most scientists would agree with the ancient Hindus that nothing exists or is destroyed, things merely change shape or form the cosmic radiation that is thought to come from the explosion of creation strikes the earth with equal intensity from all directions, which suggests either that the earth is at the center of the universe, as in our innocence we once supposed, or that the known universe has no center Peter Matthiessen The sun is roaring, it fills to bursting each crystal of snow I flush with feeling, moved beyond my comprehension, and once again, the warm tears freeze upon my face These rocks and mountains, all this matter, the snow itself, the air the earth is ringing All is moving, full of power, full of light Peter Matthiessen The Lama of the Crystal Monastery appears to be a very happy man, and yet I wonder how he feels about his isolation in the silences of Tsakang, which he has not left in eight years now and, because of his legs, may never leave again Since Jang bu seems uncomfortable with the Lama or with himself or perhaps with us, I tell him not to inquire on this point if it seems to him impertinent, but after a moment Jang bu does so And this holy man of great directness and simplicity, big white teeth shining, laughs out loud in an infectious way at Jang bu s question Indicating his twisted legs without a trace of self pity or bitterness, as if they belonged to all of us, he casts his arms wide to the sky and the snow mountains, the high sun and dancing sheep, and cries, Of course I am happy here It s wonderful Especially when I have no choice Peter Matthiessen Left alone, I am overtaken by the northern void no wind, no cloud, no track, no bird, only the crystal crescents between peaks, the ringing monuments of rock that, freed from the talons of ice and snow, thrust an implacable being into the blue In the early light, the rock shadows on the snow are sharp in the tension between light and dark is the power of the universe This stillness to which all returns, this is reality, and soul and sanity have no meaning than a gust of snow such transience and insignificance are exalting, terrifying, all at once Snow mountains, than sea or sky, serve as a mirror to one s own true being, utterly still, utterly clear, a void, an Emptiness without life or sound that carries in Itself all life, all sound Peter Matthiessen Figures dark beneath their loads pass down the far bank of the river, rendered immortal by the streak of sunset upon their shoulders Peter Matthiessen, all from The Snow LeopardI started this book a few times in my twenties It won the National Book Award in 1978, when I was first teaching, and I was not yet ready to read it Or maybe, if I had gone on the road as Kerouac got a generation to do, one way or the other, I might have taken it with me then and actually read it I tried on a few other occasions to get into it, and I couldn t do it, for one reason or the other, but for some reason I always knew at some point it would be important for me to experience Something like Zen and the At of Motorcycle Maintenance, it was a book for a time, highly influential But even then, having slow read it over the month of my trip, it has still taken me months to get to writing about it I warn you, this could go on for a while I m mostly writing it for myself, but you are welcome to come along for my reading journey.The Snow Leopard is one of the best and important books I have ever read, and I finally read it not in some hippie solo way or at an Ashram or something, but on a one month road trip in a mini van, no less, ha with three kids and my wife, making a big western circle of the U.S., leaving Chicago and going through Montana to Seattle, down the Oregon coastline to Monterey Bay, across the desert stopping at Vegas for a day, which was of course surreal in comparison with everything else , through the Rockies and across the Great Plains back home An epic, once in a lifetime trip, tent camping, hiking several national parks, driving through the west I know and love, sometimes reading the poetry of the region if I remembered to look it up as I went A pilgrimage, of sorts, for me, anyway, partly spiritual as much as getting in touch with natural beauty and friends along the way I m not as Matthiessen is, a Zen Buddhist, by the way, but in addition to Buddhism inspired poetry like Gary Snyder s, I also read a Buddhist themed architectural book on the trip, The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, that explores the relationships between selves and surroundings Organic architecture, in harmony with place Also perfect for the trip and in tandem with The Snow Leopard I also reviewed Alexander s book on Goodreads awhile ago Matthiessen, equally adept at fiction and non fiction, in The Snow Leopard writes the book of his life He s on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas a year after his wife is dead, leaving his eight year old son behind with family as he seeks at least two things A glimpse of the rare and the presumedly soon to be extinct Snow Leopard, and a visit with the Lama of Shay at the Crystal Mountain, where few westerners have dared venture As I said, he s a Zen Buddhist something I in the seventies casually studied, as I eased slowly but inexorably out of my Dutch Reformed Christian upbringing , and this is a time in his life he wants needs to make this quest, this journey And he makes it with a friend, crusty field biologist George Schaller, who is there to study the Himalayan Blue Sheep Matthiessen is crusty, too, actually he doesn t project himself as a saint They go with a number of sherpas and encounter a very few people along their way, though PM does actually meet the Lama of Shay But the book is mainly Matthiessen s account of his inner and outer journey, past and present, as they all become one, a study of grief, beauty, impermanence, related in some of the most beautiful language to ever grace the page You know Bill Bryson s A Walk in the Woods Or Cheryl Strayed s Wild, or even old John Bunyan s Pilgram s Progress The travel narrative that is also a journey of the soul has a long tradition, and a rich one It s worth the time to travel with them once in awhile But speaking of harmony, and seeking a creature as you are also essentially seeking yourself, which is a kind of contradiction to Buddhism about being content where you are There were two key Snow Leopard like creatures on our trip s list Hump backed whales and elk, though we hadn t sought them out in particular, initially The hump backed whales, orcas and other whales were closer to the shoreline than in decades around Monterey Bay in late August 2015, and we stood with various locals reverently and feverishly, able with our naked eye to see them spout, breach and feed, boats and kayaks hovering around them at a respectful distance It felt like what the Indians call a ceremony to have been there As would have been the case in the seventies, a couple evenings there were guitars and much wine, as locals excitedly told about how wonderful this occasion was even for them, having lived there all their lives.http sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com 2015In Colorado, in the Rocky Mountain State Park, a week or so later, we were privileged to be around for the once a year bugling or mating call of the Elks, which felt completely magical to experience of comical, too, right That some mate, any mate, might find that noise inviting But we found it pretty transformative, that and the whales, though we saw many many other species of animals and birds we dutifully recorded along the way.In the seeking, PM learns the Buddhist patience of expecting nothing as he seeks The seeking, the journey, is key We did see all these creatures, and were happy to find them Did PM find his snow leopard Did it matter to him, either way Read it to find out.Reviews then and now have been critical of Matthiessen for leaving his son home, his son s mother dead less than a year ago, to make his own lonesome spiritual trek, and I ll admit they have a point In a way it seems selfish On my trip I had also left my 15 year old son home, as there was little room in the van and he had other responsibilities at home, but we could have made it work, and I felt guilty for failing to do so When I saw and felt the criticism of PM for his fatherly desertion, I felt this sense of responsibility for desertion as PM felt it I should have taken my camping passionate son I should have just found a way to do it, but I left him with his mother, guilt replacing him every mile of the way But the point of this book is to neither romanticize nor demonize PM or myself I think we mostly do come to admire PM, at times, but that is not decidedly not the point in his writing, overall His goal is is to be honest, and clear He is trying to empty his soul of all self destructive desires and needs But he has a son that needs him, you say, and you d have a point PM is not always an easy guy to get along with or like He sometimes seems, regarding his hired sherpas, a tad ethno centric, as even so does his friend GS, if not downright racist on the rare occasion But PM is not trying to whitewash his story He is trying to be truthful about himself, and he is, about his marriage, for sure I believe this is one reason some reviewers like the book less, that he is grumpy and cool and removed even by his own accounts, but this is one reason I admired his account The account feels real His observations of environmental devastation, even already in the seventies, even paling in comparison to the acceleration of the extinctions now, is nevertheless poignant, of course His thrilling poetic descriptions of the Himalayas make it all seem timeless, eternal, on the one hand, separate from selfish humans, and yet also fragile, in many ways, vulnerable to human devastation On our trip we traveled through the massive west coast drought, through the haze of unspeakably scary fires The trip from Spokane to Seattle, for instance, took place in smoky haze Even in the car with windows closed a couple times we felt it difficult to breathe It felt at moments like Cormac McCarthy s The Road in places, apocalyptic A massive old growth tree fell in Redwoods National Forest not a hundred feet from our tent, a victim of the worst drought in anyone s memory The exposed roots were sadly dusty Park workers told of the loss of many such trees What the hell were we doing there, while the landscape and the people there were suffering What kind of self indulgence had traveling become as the planet was dying before our very eyes Was this just a na ve and selfish vacation on our part, to think we could just enjoy nature and somehow pretend for a time that we as a race were not in the process of contributing to this devastation Maybe Maybe we should have taken the trip money and contributed it to environmental organizations.But so many good things happened, including a deepening commitment to enviromental awareness, for all of us Our study of tide pools in Oregon was amazing, for instance Watching shooting stars in Arches National Park Hiking the Narrows in Bryce Canyon These are the privileges of the middle class, to spend lots of money as PM and I do to experience nature on spiritual journies Is it merely sixties inspired individualism Or in experiencing nature travel in this way is it possible we bring to loving the earth I hope it is the latter and not just an escapist frolic when this happens for any of us who do it The Buddhism of PM does seem inner than socially focused, and we too at times seemed to be escaping our lives, as travel can be, but on the whole, and speaking for myself, I felt the occasion as traveling into myself, and at the same time linking with family and friends along the way, and the greater world We made a commitment to increasing our advocacy for the environment as a family on this trip I loved Matthiessen s parallel and integrated inner and outer searches in this pristine natural setting, looking for these rare and special and still not quite extinct animals in their habitat, as he seeks himself and reflects on his life with his wife and family I found it very moving and inspiring Sometimes reading books like this can be just important, as you know Some books as you read them can be almost autobiographical, as in telling you your own life But I can t imagine this book would be the same to everyone at all stages of their lives And PM s Buddhism might annoy bore some readers at times, as it did a couple friends I know I loved every page of it, though, I really did P.S There were two Snow Leopards born in the summer of 2015 at Chicago s Brookfield Zoo Several times now I have seen them, but I waited to see them until I was done with this book I traveled the country to see the Snow Leopard at home Is that like the Wizard Oz There s no place like home Here they are Update August 2107 The snow leopards are still doing fine here at the zoo


  3. says:

    This is a beautiful book about a personal and physical journey in Nepal by Peter Matthiessen It is also a spiritual journey where the goal becomes completely interiorized by the author as it progresses A wonderful book for meditation on higher values in these times of, well, no values.


  4. says:

    Matthiessen s The Snow Leopard is his account of his two months in Nepal He was invited along by field biologist George Schaller on his expedition to study Himalayan Blue Sheep and perhaps catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard Said in the book to consist of only 120 remaining individuals Thankfully, at least according to the Wiki, the current population is estimated to be in the thousands So on September 28 of 1973 two white sahibs, four Sherpas, fourteen porters assembled to make their way up the Himalayas As the introduction notes, the book begins like many a scientific log with maps and ends with notes and index, and this book was found in the nature section of my neighborhood book store And the nature and travel part of this narrative was superb Matthiessen has a gift for bringing to the page vivid details of the landscape and people, painting it so vividly you hardly yearn for photographs His writing at times approaches poetry and there are many beautiful passages Where it loses points for me Well, it might have been shelved with books on science, but despite the title there s really little here about the snow leopard and not enough really about nature On the back of the book it s described as a spiritual journey and I could have used much less of the spiritual Matthiessen at the time considered himself a student of Zen Buddhism and according to the introduction would later be ordained as a Zen priest I could identify with the irritation of Schaller, his scientist companion, at Matthiessen s mysticism even as Matthiessen insists Buddhism has nothing to do with the occult He s the kind of guy that takes seriously the Yeti and Carlos Castaneda I know for many the spiritual aspect of the book is the point for me it was intrusive and Matthiessen s tone often hectoring I found his attitude towards the Sherpas and porters all the annoying because some of them shared his faith at one point he compares amulets with one of them and yet he displays plenty of condescension towards them describing them than once as childlike Admittedly, I don t agree with his philosophy, though after reading Thich Nhat Hanh, Thoreau and Emerson and Joseph Campbell within the last few months, I also felt as if the way Matthiessen conveyed Buddhist philosophy was trite It was like going from reading the New Testament, Saint Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and C.S Lewis to reading the ramblings of some narcissistic Christian television evangelist as he treks over the mountains Add to that Matthiessen s rapturous description of his experimentation with mind altering drugs in search of enlightenment and his abandonment for months of his young son who had just lost his mother in search of a Buddhist lama on Crystal Mountain well, it was hard to tap down my disdain at times Very, very hippie.


  5. says:

    I really took my time with this book I didn t want to be disturbed by the sounds of subway trains, interrupted by phone calls or daily trivialities This wasn t a read I just fit in but truly savored And oh, my heart hurts a little now that it is over It is a slow book, and thus may not appeal to those looking for action or conclusion even It is a book that celebrates the spark of life that propels us towards transcending our heavy human existence in pursuit of something Here, the journey begins with the goal of being able to see the ever elusive snow leopard in a very remote part of the Himalayas The descriptions of birds and animals and plants so unfamiliar to my citified self had me running to Wikipedia quite often But than just a travel journal, or a meditation on nature, it is a primer on the essence of Buddhism, and the contemplation of just being It is quite beautiful as such and if I can take away the glint of perfection he describes in those moments of just taking in what is there as it is when it isI feel lighter already.


  6. says:

    A masterpiece of travel and nature writing that gloriously transcends both genres This is one of the best books I ve ever read in the English language Yes, that s right I m including a quote at the end of this review so you can see what I m talking about When you get to that quote, try reading it aloud The beauty of those words spoken will break your heart.At age 46, in 1973, Peter Matthiessen walked, with biologist George Schaller, from Kathmandu to the Crystal Mountain in Tibet and beyond Matthiessen was a novice at this kind of extreme expedition, as who among us wouldn t be, yet turned in 10 and 12 hour days walking up and down icy, fragile, whip thin mountain trails Food was meagre Boots caused blisters Winds blew cold Grief over personal matters was impossible to shake.At the end of each grueling day, Matthiessen gathered the emotional and physical resources to record the day s events The incredible vividness and immediacy of his account is a result of that nightly discipline, observed against great odds.It was late fall, with winter a whisper away Would they make it before the snow season turned the world impassable Would they see the snow leopard The element of suspense at the heart of this story exerts a mighty pull I m still in grief that the book is over The afterimage of it is with me and will be for a long time, I hope The power of it is such that, a couple of weeks ago, walking before the rest of the world was awake, in a city park after a snowfall, I saw a pure cobalt sky and brilliant, glittering snow with Peter Matthiessen eyes.Here s a quote from page 73 of the Penguin edition From deep in the earth, the roar of the river rises The rhododendron leaves along the precipice are burnished silver, but night still fills the steep ravines where southbound migrants descend at day to feed and rest The golden birds fall away from the morning sun like blowing sparks that drop away and are extinguished in the dark.


  7. says:

    Damn This book started out so well.However, after only a few pages it seems to have turned into a version of Log from the Sea of Cortez which also was a massive disappointment for me , complete with philosophical and religious musings on the author s own life, his experimenting with different drugs, and his understanding of Buddhism in none of which I have any interest at all.The parts where Matthiessen describes the natural environment of his trek through Nepal are fascinating Unfortunately, these are too few and too far between for my enjoyment.I read 85 pages, then skimmed skipped to the end view spoiler The only sighting of the snow leopard is literally mentioned in the last 3 pages and he doesn t go into much detail because he wasn t even there He simply included a very short letter from George Schaller which briefly stated that he did manage to see one in the end and after Matthiessen had returned home hide spoiler


  8. says:

    THE SNOW LEOPARD was a book I nearly didn t finish It does get trying in some parts This is one of the few books that I actually had a dream about while reading it It seemed profound at the time, and I was very glad that I soldiered on to the end of Matthiessen s wonderful story.


  9. says:

    Ok, I admit after the first chapter I considered not carrying on reading At this point around a third of the content was religious philosophy which is not for me However the third of the book that was the hiking expedition and the third that was about the flora and fauna was great, and I am glad I persisted.Despite a few forays into the spiritual journey, the expedition and scientific research parts of the book are much heavily featured in the following chapters.The book is Matthiessen s account of his two months in Nepal, in 1973 He was invited along by field biologist George Schaller on his expedition to study Himalayan Blue Sheep and to perhaps catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard The destination is the Crystal Mountain in the remote Inner Dolpo region of Nepal, which was formerly a part of Tibet It was an area difficult to obtain permission for, and that permission was often not enough to stop the local police turning travellers back.They commence the trek in at Pokhara, Two white sahibs, four sherpas, fourteen porters , heading west to Dhorptan, then north It takes a little over a month to reach Shey, a very small village consisting of a locked Monastery and a handful of houses, empty for the most part The expedition is timed to allow Schaller s research of the Blue Sheep or Bharal Pseudois nayaur , and be present at the rut This valley at the Crystal Mountain is particularly suitable as the Lama at the Monastery has prevented any hunting in the area for the many years The sheep are therefore much tamer that those regularly hunted.The two sahibs basically do their own thing, which for Matthiessen is climbing each day to observe a flock or two flocks which have combined temporarily , and their behavior There are interludes of wolf, snow leopard, various birdlife, yeti and the interactions with the Tibetan Nepalese passing through, and with Schaller and the sherpa, all of which make fascinating reading.The journey out has them heading further west, to Jumla, near the Indian border, from where they can fly back to Kathmandu.


  10. says:

    I don t want it to seem like I didn t enjoy this book I did You do get a feel for how liberating, calming, centering, that it would be to walk out of the modern world to the cold and quiet mountains and let it all go all the complications and illusions of life He is a student of zen Buddhism and is trying to write a zen Buddhist book I think if this were a different book I would like it better but these people, this place his attempt to be zen all the time, it just feels detached and that we are missing lots of wonderful, dirty, complicated, vivid stuff He isn t on a meditation retreat He is walking through people s lives in living breathing communities and he barely seems to notice.All journeys change us and teach us new things about other people and about ourselves This book is written as if he knew it all before, the name of every bird, everything about the unique Buddhist traditions there, and also it seems that every animal, prayer stone, person and even every mountain was there just for him Possibly this is quite an honest portrayal of our inner lives but it feels a little self absorbed.I actually feel like his interest in Tukten is showing how he recognizes this deep down Perhaps Tukten would have shown him the real people, the real place that he was walking past in his bubble if Matthiessen had just stuck his head through once and asked.Or maybe I m missing the point He didn t see the snow leopard because he is the snow leopard.


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