After being involved in a nasty little car accident, Andy quits her job in the corporate world and moves to a retreat centre in rural South Africa. She quickly finds out that self-professed gurus abound but are a lot less enlightened than they would have everyone believe. By contrast, the true teachers tend to remain hidden in the background. South of Nirvana is a novel that runs the gamut from lighthearted and positively irreverent to pensive, with flashes of scholarly brilliance thrown in (borrowed from the hidden gurus). It offers a poignant illustration of the need to balance spiritual ideals with material reality here on Planet Earth. The book will appeal to readers who are interested in Buddhism and Eastern philosophy but who, for good reason, prefer to stay living in their comfortable city houses rather than do what Andy did when she moved to the retreat centre. Readers have described the book as immensely readable, with a gentle pace and delightful characterisation.
These people were living at Hillcrest out of choice. They had done the unthinkable, that which so many city folk dreamed of and spoke about, but would never dare to do. They had filled their lives with menial tasks and birdsong. They had opted to live in smaller, not bigger, spaces. They had chosen to be closer to, not more removed from, the natural world–with all its cow-dung, dust, pollen and insects.
They preferred less, not more, of everything: less noise, less smog, fewer cars, fewer neighbours, less meat and alcohol.
All of this intrigued me.
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