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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blaming Japhy Rider

I have to be honest with you--I wasn't quite sure what to expect with Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived by Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D. I ended up with a story of exactly what the subtitle says: a memoir of a dharma bum in search of spirituality.

Philip and his wife, idealists in their time, join the Peace Corps after college.  While in West Africa, about a year into their service, there is a motorcycle accident with Philip as the driver.  It kills Deb, his wife, and severely injures Philip. Over the course of several decades, Philip deals with his PTSD and searches for a spirituality for which he yearns.

I am very interested in the understanding of Buddhism (rather than New Age, as Bralich makes clear that he does not like--he also makes a clear distinction) so this book was interesting to read.  I am only peripherally familiar with this type of spirituality so I found Bralich's journey through spirituality to be intriguing and thought-provoking. 

The early story of Bralich's trip to West Africa and the tragedy that ensued only two years into his marriage was the most interesting part of this book for me; I was saddened when he lost his wife and was sent off on a journey to find himself.  I found his time in the Peace Corps to be particularly read-worthy and well-written as well.  It's a journey I myself won't be taking so it was lovely to live vicariously through this book.


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