A powerful journey where faith, ¬philosophy, and family collide...
The philosophy was perfect. The image, so new-age. And the idea of Zen enlightenment, so fantastically nontraditional. For Jake, the Zen Center in remote New Mexico seemed like the perfect answer to life's problems, and for ten years he knew little else. His life was slowly consumed by the cult that he thought was saving him.
Acclaimed exit therapist and cult expert Joseph Szimhart crafts a narrative that explores the complex interactions between faith, family, and reality. Inspired by the author's own experiences in a cult, the story's framework is set in the emotionally rooted trappings of a fringe religious commune, which provides a poignant backdrop for examining the problems we all struggle to overcome. It also presents a chilling look at the subtle manipulations that charismatic figures use on the rest of us.
It is estimated that five to seven million Americans have been involved in cults or similar groups. Today, organizations such as the Church of Scientology continue to grow in size and in fame, even as they become more and more controversial. Through his vast experience Joseph Szimhart gives readers a unique opportunity to not only peer behind this curtain, but to truly understand what it is like to be entangled in a cult. He provides insight and perspective on the abstract, the dogmatic, the ordinary, and everything in between. Mushroom Satori is a secret glimpse into a world that most of us cannot fathom, and it serves as both lens and mirror with which to examine our own lives.
This novel ultimately presents a beautifully crafted message—one that will interest any reader who seeks more substance than just another happy ending. Readers will find themselves grieving over the protagonist's stolen youth even as they sympathize with the young man's bewildering trek toward adulthood. They will marvel at Szimhart's uncompromising account of the wild promises and limitations of faith that surround us and Jake alike. Mushroom Satori reminds us that when we are down, when we are disheartened, and when we are looking for answers, we are not alone.
But when we go hunting for answers and for messiahs we must be cautious—they are hunting us too.
|Publisher:||Aperture Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.89(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This absorbing novel is by an author with vast understandings of cult psychology and behaviour. Jake, the primary character, is on a common journey searching for life's meaning. In doing so his vulnerability is preyed upon by an "old man" preaching a distorted form of Buddhism. Jake is manipulated until his mindset is no longer his own. Doubts are berated and punished if Jake strays from the path of achieving the guru's picture of "enlightenment". The old man wants to keep his job - so he needs to "keep" his devotees. Jake's experiences may strike some readers as bizarre - but they are not. The unfolding of these experiences is intriguing and keeps the reader in a state of tension. I learned many years ago that destructive cults share many common characteristics whether the group in question be a of quasi spiritual nature, a New Age bent, a self-development enforcement organisation, or even commercial in appearance. Mushroom Satori is a novel which will contribute so much to so many. If you want a captivating novel, then read it. If you are interested in genuine self-growth then do the same. If you are concerned for a loved one who may be in circumstances similar to Jake's then you will find this book an outstanding resource. Thanks Mr Szimhart and thank you Jake!
Zen without a Motorcycle in New Mexico As a Catholic cult former member, a subsequent “cult-student”, and now as a practicing psychotherapist I was attracted to a story about an Eastern tradition: Zen Buddhism, satori referring to the experience of kensh¿, "seeing into one's true nature.” At the October, 2013, I.C.S.A. workshop in Philadelphia on exit-counseling, healing & recovery for former cult members, I grilled the author; I wanted to be sure his was not a camouflaged biography or some heavy-handed –or maybe subtle- preaching on the dangers of New Age Movements. Joe Szimhart passed the test without having to pay for my lunch. The novel successfully weaves involvement in a New Mexico Buddhist cult, a series of fascinating events, and a varied cast of characters, into a seamless page-turning yarn. An enigmatic Zen teacher and his disciple/manager are the apparent leaders of the commune. However, the attractive American woman, Marga, a generous “true-believer”, who runs the center, is another main catalyst. Her complex relationship with Jake -our likeable everyman- produces the heat that sparks the central action. In contrast to the “gringo”, an Apache friend, Waylon, keeps Jake grounded with a dry sense of humor and Native American wisdom. Their banter provides light entertainment throughout the tense and gut-wrenching narrative. The body of the novel tell how Jake, who starts off as an open-minded devotee, surrendering heart, soul and builder’s hands to the cause, very gradually becomes disenchanted. His austerely described abuse is witnessed confusedly through a victim’s blurred lens. As the plot thickens and moves to its climax, the author’s experience in psychiatric wards paints a credible picture of Jake’s desperate self-questioning, his anxiety attack soon after leaving, a subsequent psychotic break –complete with hallucinations- and his slow process of re-entry into “normal” life until eventual recovery. To draft this review I returned to the book for details and found it just as -or even more- interesting second time around. The reader will find rich food for thought in Mushroom Satori.