Home > Bibliophilia > The Snow Leopard – A Zen Meditation

The Snow Leopard – A Zen Meditation

Just finished reading The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen.

In this epic journey Matthiessen accompany biologist George Schaller to Crystal Mountain in the Inner Dolpo region of Nepal to examine the behaviour of Bharal (blue sheep) during oestrus. It is as much a journey through Himalayas as an inner quest, a pilgrimage as well as a scientific expedition. Matthiessen never actually sights a Snow Leopard, but has to content with numerous pug marks. But the experience and the narrative are spellbinding.

I read a large part of the book in fragments while travelling, though the last 100 pages or so I finished in a near single sitting.

The grueling trek across a frozen wasteland, surmounting high passes, braving blizzards and crossing murderous torrents along valleys and summits of the Himalayas; the Sherpa’s and porters, yak herds, Lamas, the monasteries and Gompas, fluttering prayer flags, the reverberations of Om Mani Padme Hum, occasional references toYeti, the stalking of blue sheep, the birds, beasts and men that he meets along the way – all of it makes compelling reading. The ice crested pinnacles and falling snow vividly coloured my imagination as I walked the trail along with the author. The inner peace and the sense of being one with nature and the scheme of things that comes to Matthiessen permeated me too. I regretted his return to civilization at the end of the expedition as much as Matthiessen.

The book is semi-autobiographical with many references to his children and deceased wife. There are several allusions to Buddhism, its history and practice which demands reflective reading. To me the book  is definitely among the ones that have touched an inner chord. I guess I’ll return to it again and again. 

Most recommended.


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