ENLIGHTENMENT FOR IDIOTS
by Anne Cushman
Nearing age thirty, Amanda thought she’d be someone else by now. Instead, she’s just herself: an ex-nanny yogini-wannabe who cranks out “For Idiots” travel guides just to scrape by. Yes, she has her sexy photographer boyfriend, but he’s usually gone—shooting a dogsled race in Alaska or a vision quest in Peru—or just hooking up with other girls. However, she’s sure her new assignment, “Enlightenment for Idiots,” will change everything; now she’ll become the serene, centered woman she was meant to be. After some breakup sex, she’s off to India to find a new, more spiritual life.
What she finds, though, is an ashram run by investment bankers, a yoga master who trashes her knee, and a guru with a weakness for fashion models. She escapes a tantra party at the Taj Hotel, has a nasty argument outside the cave where the Buddha used to meditate, then agonizes through the ten-day silent retreat that’s supposed to make her feel better.
No, India is not what she had pictured. But she finds a friend in Devi Das, a redheaded sadhu who refers to himself as “we.” And when a holy lunatic on the street offers her an enigmatic blessing, Amanda realizes a new life may be in store for her—just not the one she was expecting.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR-ANNE CUSHMAN:As a writer and teacher of yoga and meditation, Anne Cushman explores the poignant intersection between the lofty ideals of spiritual practice and the gritty, comical, and heartbreaking details of ordinary life. She is a contributing editor to both Yoga Journal and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and the coauthor of From Here to Nirvana, a seeker’s guide to spiritual India. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, theSan Francisco Chronicle, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Salon.com, and have been anthologized in Best Buddhist Writing 2004 and 2006, A Woman’s Path: Best Women’s Spiritual Travel Writing, Traveling Souls: Contemporary Pilgrimage Tales, and other books. She co-directs the Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California; and lives in nearby Fairfax with her son, Skye.
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