The Holy Man


Susan Trott


Fiction / Literature


Date Reviewed:

July 7, 2004

only read this book because a friend at work loaned it to me, so obviously he thought highly of The Holy Man. It didn't appeal to me. In the very first pages, we learn the basic concept - a huge throng of people form a line to visit the holy man, they can spend weeks waiting to get to the front of the line (there is a hermitage on the top of the mountain, the line of people extends down toward the town.) Yet the door to the hermitage opens and closes quite rapidly, as each person is rapid fire introduced to the holy man. We follow one character at the front of the line: The door opens. An old man ushers the visitor inside, and they walk into the hermitage. They come to another door. The visitor explains: "I am here to see the Holy Man." The old man opens the door and guides the visitor through, the visitor is dumbfounded discover outside the back of the hermitage. The old man says: "You have seen the Holy Man". The visitor realizes that the lowly doorman was in fact the famous Holy Man. This leads the visitor to the astounding revelation that the Holy Man man is inside even lowliest of individuals. The visitor vows to treat everyone he meets as if he was another Holy Man. And isn't everyone worthy of such treatment?

This sort of story holds no appeal for me, I find it unbelievable. For one thing, people make vows every New Years Day, but that rarely leads to any change in behavior, why should a 10 second visit with a Holy Man lead to any additional stick-to-it-ive-ness? A few hundred people tromp through the door every day, and they all get the same message from the Holy Man - when does one message resonate with everyone? I predict everyone who waited in line for days on a mountain, only to receive a 10 second brush off, is not going to be very receptive to the message. If that is the way the Holy Man treated me, I would try hard NOT to see the Holy Man in everyone, because obviously the Holy Man is a jerk. One platitude serves all? I also find it hard to believe that with a few thousand people tramping up and down the mountain every summer, that NO ONE has talked to the media and said: "Hey, this is a big fraud! All you do is stand in line for a 10 second message". How could word of this NOT get out? It would be in all the media, and the line of people would diminish to a mere handful.

Life is hard for a lot of people (not me, life is great for me, but I am quite fortunate). Why trivialize their problems by pretending things can be solved with a brief handshake? This book is not for me.