The Man on the Mountaintop is about a holy man named Joe who lives on a hermitage atop an unnamed mountain in an unnamed exotic locale. During the summer there is a massive pilgrimage to visit Joe as people come to find answers and enlightenment by getting to meet him. However getting the chance to meet with Joe is not easy, it takes patience, willpower and stamina to get to Joe as the single file line slowly makes its way up the mountain, with none regardless of wealth, need or power getting to skip to the front.
As many of the pilgrims discover that actual learning and enlightenment come from the mental, emotional and physical obstacles that they need to endure and overcome to get to Joe’s door. Throughout the story, we meet several of the pilgrims and learn about what brings them to Joe and we follow along in their journey to meet him, learning lessons as we go.
Normally I don’t like books that feel like self-help but I guess that for me this book (or at least the Audible Original) came to me at the right time. When I listen to this story I was going through a hard time and questioning a lot because I was dealing with anxiety and depression caused by a toxic work environment. The gentleness of the story along with the simple but important lessons learnt by the pilgrims really spoke to me. After reading it I was left with a feeling of peace and like everything will be ok, kind of like the feeling you have after Shavasana in yoga or a meditation session.
The narration is excellent and features a huge cast including Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Clare Corbett, Rachel Atkins, Jeff Harding, David Thorpe. and more. With the variety of narrators, it feels more like a play than just a straight reading.
Read this book if you enjoy or need:
- A gentle read
- Inspirational books
- Books with a magic realism vibe
Excerpt from The Man on the Mountaintop by Susan Trott
How many places would this happen in a world of peepholes, locks, bolts, and bars? The door had been opened wide and the one-man reception committee had stood there, eyes alight, a small smile, saying, “Yes?”—a “how may I help you?” sort of yes.
Whereas the pilgrim had not greeted him at all, had not introduced himself, said hello, how are you, may I please come in, but, instead, full of his own importance, his own mission, had treated the door-opener as the lowliest servant, saying, “I’ve come to see the holy man.”
And the door-opener, realizing the visitor’s mission had already been accomplished, showed him out.
Thinking this, the pilgrim felt very sorry about his behavior and vowed that he would come again next summer and do differently.
He tried to remember what the holy man looked like and couldn’t, because he hadn’t looked at him. He wouldn’t recognize him if the same man opened the door next year. But no matter. He would be courteous and respectful to whosoever opened the door. In fact, he would be gracious to everyone from now on, imagining that everyone was the holy man, that everyone indeed had holiness in him. This would be very hard. Still he would try. Because that was what he had learned from the holy man, and it was a huge, wonderful, staggering lesson. And it meant . . . yes it meant that even he himself was a holy person somewhat.
His heart swelled and he went down the mountain path exulting, “I have seen the holy man. I have seen him.”
And as he thought this, the face of the holy man did begin to form in his mind’s eye like a photograph developing because even though he hadn’t looked at the man, now he knew he had seen him.
In the years to come, sometimes the holy man’s face would flash upon his inward eye and he would feel a catch in his throat, the pricking rush of tears to his eyes, at the sight of the beloved visage. As the years went by he felt more and more moved by his visit to the holy man which had informed his life from that day forward.