I 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 doorman. 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
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 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.