A Death on Diamond Mountain : A True Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment by Eric Jerome, Carney, Scott Dickey
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An investigative reporter explores an infamous case where an obsessive and unorthodox search for enlightenment went terribly wrong. When thirty-eight-year-old Ian Thorson died from dehydration and dysentery on a remote Arizona mountaintop in 2012, The New York Times reported the story under the headline: ''Mysterious Buddhist Retreat in the Desert Ends in a Grisly Death.'' Scott Carney, a journalist and anthropologist who lived in India for six years, was struck by how Thorson''s death echoed other incidents that reflected the little-talked-about connection between intensive meditation and mental instability. Using these tragedies as a springboard, Carney explores how those who go to extremes to achieve divine revelations--and undertake it in illusory ways--can tangle with madness. He also delves into the unorthodox interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism that attracted Thorson and the bizarre teachings of its chief evangelists: Thorson''s wife, Lama Christie McNally, and her previous husband, Geshe Michael Roach, the supreme spiritual leader of Diamond Mountain University, where Thorson died. Carney unravels how the cultlike practices of McNally and Roach and the questionable circumstances surrounding Thorson''s death illuminate a uniquely American tendency to mix and match eastern religious traditions like LEGO pieces in a quest to reach an enlightened, perfected state, no matter the cost. Aided by Thorson''s private papers, along with cutting-edge neurological research that reveals the profound impact of intensive meditation on the brain and stories of miracles and black magic, sexualized rituals, and tantric rites from former Diamond Mountain acolytes, A Death on Diamond Mountain is a gripping work of investigative journalism that reveals how the path to enlightenment can be riddled with danger.Praise for Scott Carney''Carney writes with considerable narrative verve, slamming home the misery of what he has witnessed with passion and visceral detail.'' Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times''Carney knows how to tell a story.'' Carl Elliott, The Wall Street Journal''A deeply engrossing account of spiritual ambition gone awry. At once illuminating and distressing, it is a riveting plunge into the liminal territory where naïvety, sexuality, and spirituality overlap.'' Mark Epstein, Md, Author of Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart and The Trauma of Everyday Life ''An engaging and sobering account of a group of Westerners who are prepared to sacrifice everything in their desperate quest for transcendence. A Death on Diamond Mountain illustrates the promises, pitfalls, and deceptions of a young man''s search for Eastern wisdom that starts in a Tibetan monastery in Nepal and ends in a cave in the Arizona desert.'' Stephen Batchelor, Author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist ''The quest for supreme bliss goes spectacularly awry in A Death on Diamond Mountain, Scott Carney''s masterful account of a bizarre tragedy in the Arizona wilderness. A tenacious reporter who writes like a dream, Carney delves deep into the tangled lives of this saga''s key players, whose motives range from pure to venal. The haunting, multilayered story that he comes away with is one that will resonate with anyone who has ever pursued even the smallest measure of spiritual peace.'' Brendan I. Koerner, Author of The Skies Belong to Us''The transmission of Buddhism and spirituality from Asia to foreign lands is prone to misreading, confusion, and, in some cases, very real danger--all of which happened on American soil at Diamond Mountain. Scott Carney''s deftly narrated story is shocking. His should serve as a warning about self-styled, so-called teachers and how their misinterpretation of meditation and yoga techniques is not only unskillful but can result in tragedy.'' Matteo Pistono, Author of Fearless in Tibet and In the Shadow of the Buddha ''In a masterful narrative, Scott Carney explores the dark side of our obsession with Eastern religions and philosophies. But in this search for Nirvana, some find insanity. Others find death. Carney takes you on a perverse spiritual journey that ends tragically on an Arizona mountain whose soil has long soaked up the blood of wanderers.'' Trevor Aaronson, Author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI''s Manufactured War on Terrorism

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