Book Review

Sacred Mountains: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Meanings by Adrian Cooper, Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1997; 319 pages, ISBN 086315235, hardcover $49.95.

Adrian Cooper’s interviews with 144 pilgrims of many faiths from all over the world have one thing in common: a fascination with the inspirational quality of mountains. These people each had their own reasons for traveling to their chosen mountain destinations. Through his interviews with these spiritual seekers, Cooper explores how their truths were first encountered, how they challenged the pilgrims, and how those individuals changed, not only in the mountains but also when they returned home.

Sacred Mountains took thirteen years of patient research to compile, and every contributor was interviewed over a period of years. Extracts from interviews let us read first hand what it feels like when mountains bring profound change and renewal. Another fundamental element is Cooper’s extracts from sacred texts, poems, and inspirational books which influenced each pilgrim, and what a range of books there are! From the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Torah, New Testament, Eddas, Manyoshu, Iliad, and Metamorphoses to the works of Muir, Thoreau, and modern authors, the list is long and fascinating.

But who are these pilgrims Adrian Cooper spent so much time with — famous spiritual authors or other media personalities? No, they are ordinary people like you and me: car mechanics and office workers, business people and teachers, single parents, hairdressers, artists, electricians, musicians, truck drivers, and students. The author shows convincingly that the power of mountain sacredness is available to all if only we would be humble enough to let it in. Nor are sacred mountains restricted to the distant realms of history and myth; they can be alive for all of us today. — Toni Fergusson

(From Sunrise magazine, Fall 2007; copyright © 2007 Theosophical University Press)

World Spiritual Traditions